Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman Is 3/4 Wonderful Comic Book Storytelling!

The Good: The Batman story is pretty awesome, The Deadman and Deathstroke stories are entertaining and well-paced
The Bad: Mediocre artwork, Secret Seven story is an unreadable dud.
The Basics: The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman is three interesting stories with enough to establish the peripheral characters and world in Flashpoint without making one worry too much about how the final section is just crap.

For those who do not follow my graphic novel reviews regularly, I make no secret about not being a fan of Batman comics. What little I have read of them, they tend to be repetitive and that bothers me much much more than the violence and lack of character growth. So, as my Flash year nears its end and I find myself taking on the Flashpoint Saga, it will not surprise anyone that I was not hugely excited about reading The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman.

So, I was pleasantly surprised!

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman, like most of the World Of Flashpoint books, features four stories that are set in the alternate reality that is Flashpoint (reviewed here!). These tend to focus on Batman and those peripherally related to Batman and, as such, is one of the darker anthologies in the Flashpoint Saga.

Opening with “Batman: Knight Of Vengeance,” The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman explores Gotham City. Ruled by business magnate Thomas Wayne, Gotham City is filled with casinos, so Wayne can control the funding of the mob. At night, Thomas Wayne takes up the mantle of the Batman, as his son, Bruce, was once killed in a random act of violence. When Harvey Dent’s children are captured by the Joker, Wayne and Jim Gordon follow the clues to find the new lair of the Joker, a mission that pits Thomas Wayne against one of his greatest, and most personal, adversaries.

“Batman: Knight Of Vengeance” is a clever twist on the familiar Batman character and villain. Much like the classic The Killing Joke (reviewed here!), this chapter of The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman fleshes out the Joker in an intriguing way that is super creepy. This chapter had a huge significant reversal in the identity of the character that made me, a complete non-fan of this character and story, engaged and excited for the rest of the book.

The second section of the book is “Deadman And The Flying Graysons.” Coming off the Brightest Day Saga, Boston Brand (Deadman) was one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe, so I was biased toward this story as I began reading it. The carnival is traveling through Europe, featuring the Daredevil Boston Brand as its high flying solo trapeze artist, opposite the troupe the Flying Graysons. With the Atlantean/Amazon war spreading through Europe, the troupe heads toward Poland. En route, Dr. Fate gives Boston a vision of his future as an Amazon begins hunting for Dr. Fate’s helmet. The Amazons attack the circus, killing Dick Grayson’s mother and scattering the allies. When Dr. Fate is slain, Vertigo (from the Resistance) arrives to take the helm, Boston Brand, and Dick Grayson to safety. With their search for the helm turning desperate, the Amazon’s set the country ablaze!

The “Deadman” section of The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman is an absolute bloodbath. However, given that many of the characters killed off are secondary characters like Ragdoll and Dick Grayson’s mother, it is hard to get overly invested in the trauma and war story. Come to think of it, given that this is an obscure corner of a very temporary world, this chapter is diverting and entertaining, but very hard to get excited about. It is a novelty chapter, though, to be fair, the artwork in it makes it feel top-notch.

I had absolutely no interestin the “Deathstroke And The Curse Of The Ravager” chapter, despite finally knowing who Deathstroke is from reading Teen Titans graphic novels earlier this year. Deathstroke, in his chapter, is a literal pirate. Out on the high seas, he encounters Warlord (recovering a woman in suspended animation in the process) and then Aquaman and his brother. The entire time, Deathstroke is searching for his captured daughter, Rose. Rose is being traded around metahuman ships and as Deathstroke assembles a team to recover her, he must put down a mutiny, learn who his new “cargo” is and fight off a deathblow to survive long enough to save his daughter.

The Deathstroke chapter is engaging, though it is a very limited story that has some obvious elements. In addition to Deathstroke being characteristically obsessed with his daughter, it has such banal elements as Aquaman declaring himself mad with grief, which sounds more like a writer’s note on the character than an actual plausible line. The artwork in this section is decent and has a good sense of movement. For those who like pirate stories, this satisfies.

The Secret Seven section of The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman is utterly unbearable, though. Filled with magic-users, like Zatanna, it seems to serve only to explain how and why Enchantress switches sides in Flashpoint. I didn’t care there and this story did not make me care here.

Ultimately, The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman is one of the better compilations, with three of the four stories being engaging, clever, and interesting and the final one being nothing more than deadweight.

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
The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Superman


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

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