Monday, November 12, 2012

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman Is A Distant Tangent Of Relevance To The Flashpoint Saga.

The Good: The colors, Booster Gold’s story
The Bad: The Traci 13 story is utterly unnecessary. None of it truly holds together or is in any way vital.
The Basics: The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman is one of the least worthwhile tangents to the main story of the Flashpoint Saga.

For those who do not follow my many reviews of graphic novels, I now find myself deeply immersed in the Flashpoint Saga. I was resistant to get into Flashpoint, but as the subject of my study for the year in graphic novels has been the Flash, it seemed unavoidable that I would get into the Flashpoint Saga. As I realized upon reading Flashpoint (reviewed here!), though, the supplemental stories to Flashpoint are distant tangents to the main story and in no way vital to the Saga, in stark contrast to many of the volumes in the Blackest Night Saga. Even so, there were a few World Of Flashpoint books I was looking forward to reading.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman was not one.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman seems to be selling itself mostly on the Superman name (which is not a selling point for me!). Flashpoint disposes of Superman in an interesting way, but his presence in the main story was just enough to annoy me. It is always refreshing to me to see a major DC Universe crossover that does not hinge on Superman and using Kal-El to resolve part of the main thrust of Flashpoint left me peeved. So, I was not looking forward to The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman.

Not at all a linear story, The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman is a collection of four tangent stories that merely flesh out the background of Flashpoint. The book is made up of stories that focus on Project Superman, The Canterbury Cricket, Booster Gold, and characters unique to the Flashpoint universe.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman opens with “Project Superman.” In that, General Lane works, thirty years before Flashpoint to create a super soldier using DNA from “Project Six.” Unfortunately, Sinclair, the test subject, quickly evolves abilities well beyond super strength, speed, endurance and healing. When his project is about to be terminated, fate intervenes and Metropolis is struck by a small alien ship carrying Kal-El. From his prison, the altered Sinclair watches the tests done upon Kal-El and communicates with him, waiting for the moment they can break out of the facility. In the attempt, Subject Zero and Lane get teleported to the Phantom Zone and Subject One meets Lois Lane and develops a crush. And, when the main story of Flashpoint occurs, the team that infiltrates Project Superman unwittingly releases Subject Zero from the Phantom Zone.

The Project Superman story unfolds in an interesting enough way. As it progressed, I became deeply curious about what Project Six was that leaves Sinclair so altered and the payoff was worth the wait. My biggest issue with this section of The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman was that the artwork steadily degrades throughout the three chapters until it is almost stylized like anime by the last portion of this part of the story.

The section that follows in The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman are focused on Traci 13, a character who apparently is not unique to the Flashpoint Saga. One of the DC Universe characters I had not heard of before now, Traci 13 is a magic user who loses her mother (who had the ability to see the future) and saves her father when the Atlanteans sunk Paris. She recalls the regular DC Universe and is confused by it. In the Flashpoint Universe, she is a sixteen year-old girl who is an exceptionally powerful mage. She teleports around the world on a quest to try to stop her father from utilizing H.I.V.E. satellites to destroy the Amazons and Atlanteans and killing 118 million people.

This set of three chapters is little more than a travelogue of the World Of Flashpoint. Traci 13 is a marginally interesting character who interacts with the Flashpoint variants of Guy Gardner, Circe, and Jason Todd (and looks entirely age inappropriate while doing it). Her quest is fine, but given how very distant a tangent it is to the story of Flashpoint, it feels entirely gratuitous. Indeed, when it came to whether or not Traci 13 might succeed or fail, writer Rex Ogle entirely failed to get me invested.

Booster Gold is one of the characters I have honestly come to enjoy, largely because of his heroic arc in Justice League: Generation Lost (Volume 1 reviewed here! and Volume 2 reviewed here!). His story in The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman is a four-chapter arc that has Booster, armed only with Skeets and a blackboard of information about the new world, going out into Coast City and getting shot down by the military, namely Nathaniel Adam (Captain Atom in the regular universe!). Booster Gold flees as Doomsday is set upon him by the U.S. military! Booster, with his new friend Alex, must work together to survive Doomsday and track down Barry Allen.

The Booster Gold section of The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman is arguably one of the most engaging. The U.S. military, characteristically, is utilizing something it does not quite understand and given that Booster has confronted Doomsday before, the conflict “reads” as very true to the character and the story. While the end might seem a little cliché, it works. However, it is not enough to make the book worth buying.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman closes with the story of the Canterbury Cricket, a unique-to-Flashpoint hero. Once an arrogant young man, the Canterbury Cricket survives the Amazon attack on the UK and is transformed into a giant cricket by god. He then joins the Resistance against the Amazons. The Canterbury Cricket’s section is well-rendered and includes the demon Etrigan, though none of his Resistance comrades are familiar to me. The story is basic and not at all distinct in the Flashpoint peripheral stories.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman, at best, rises to average thanks to its inclusion of the Booster Gold chapter. The rest of it, though, could easily be avoided, even as it fleshes out the inconsequential world of Flashpoint.

For other Flashpoint-related books, be sure to check out my reviews of:
The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues
The Road To Flashpoint
The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern


For other graphic novels, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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