Saturday, November 17, 2012

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman Is The Best Of The Peripheral Flashpoint Books!

The Good: Interesting characters, Great plots, Decent artwork
The Bad: Some mediocre artwork, Overall irrelevant, like most Flashpoint-related books.
The Basics: The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman is an impressive, if impermanent graphic novel.

When it comes to the Flashpoint Saga, it seems pretty obvious that the perfect marriage of my interests would be in The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman. After all, three years ago, when I began studying a single character from comic books and graphic novels each year, my very first subject was Wonder Woman. So, as I race toward the end of my Flash Year and go through the multi-title crossovers that started with the Flash in Flashpoint (reviewed here!), it seems perfectly reasonable that The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman would be high on my reading list.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman is the essential supplemental volume to understand the events surrounding Flashpoint. In Flashpoint, the shattered world altered by Barry Allen is coming to a boiling point, a conflict that seems to have no rational resolution. While the war between the Amazons and Atlanteans is a background event in the main Flashpoint story, it is one of the most intriguing incidents in Flashpoint. That conflict is the centerpiece of the stories in The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman. As a result, The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman is one of the most cohesive volumes in the Flashpoint Saga!

Opening with “Wonder Woman And The Furies,” The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman explores the Amazons in the new world. Fourteen years before the events in Flashpoint, the defiant Princess Diana builds a boat and sets sail to explore the world. That impetuous event brings the attention of a Kraken, who attacks Diana. Diana is rescued by Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis. Years after the rescue, Diana and Arthur move to a marriage of convenience as they announce the presence of the Amazons and Atlanteans to the world. Unfortunately, more conservative elements on both sides arrange for the murder of Diana during the wedding, an assassination attempt that takes the life of Queen Hippolyta instead. What follows is the degeneration of relations between the Atlanteans and Amazons. When the peace talks are attacked by an unknown force, Diana destroys Themyscira and part of the Atlantean fleet. The air force of Themyscira takes the UK and Wonder Woman consolidates power by surrounding herself with loyal female metahumans. Fending off an assassination attempt by Mera, Diana and Arthur Curry move into position to destroy the world they once sought to save.

“Wonder Woman And The Furies” is an entirely political story and it is well told, well-paced and presents two intriguing characters whose best intentions continually come under attack until they are manipulated fully into the worst actions their characters could take. Rendered with brilliant artwork that presents a number of characters clearly and with a wonderful sense of movement, “Wonder Woman And The Furies” is like reading the probable history of the disintegration of the Cold War into an all-out armed conflict. While the characters are initially well-established, it quickly becomes clear that the principals are manipulated from all quarters and that makes this one of the best and most tragic stories in the Flashpoint universe. The real success of it is that, while the plot points are mentioned in virtually every other chapter in the Flashpoint Saga, it still makes for an exceptionally good read and an engaging, well-paced story that is thoroughly engrossing.

“Emperor Aquaman” begins eight month before Flashpoint with Aquaman investigating Rome after the Atlanteans had sunk most of Europe off the map. His tale chronicles the Atlanteans allying themselves with King Brion of Markovia in an attempt to sink New Themyscira. With flashbacks to Aquaman’s origins, his story retells the conspiracy between his brother Orm and Diana’s aunt.

The change in perspective offers a few minor character enhancements, but little else. Still, the story is interesting and the artwork is wonderful, with rich colors. The only problem here is that in a few of the fight scenes, the sense of movement in minimized and, as a result, lacks some of the impact one would like from a graphic novel.

The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman continues with “Lois Lane And The Resistance.” Fleshing out the events alluded to only as background information in the Wonder Woman chapter, “Lois Lane And The Resistance” chronicles Lois Lane’s survival and uncovering of the dark machinations of the Amazons. In Paris covering fashion week when the Atlanteans sink most of western Europe, Lois Lane is rescued by Amazons, witnessing their indifference to men and Christians. She spends thirty-two weeks contained and set for Amazon re-education, gathering information for Cyborg. But, when she is scheduled for conversion to Amazonian, she uses the opportunity to escape and join the Resistance in New Themyscira. Rescued by Penny Black, Grifter, Etrigan, Godiva, Hyde and the Canterbury Cricket, Lois Lane joins the Resistance on a mission to recover Penny’s Britannia armor suit. Betrayed from within, the Resistance runs headlong into a trap that puts Lois Lane’s life in jeopardy!

“Lois Lane And The Resistance” is plagued with inconsistent artwork, especially as the second volume drags on. The story is dragged down by the most sensible type filler the writers could come up with: full backstories for characters like Grifter and Britannia. The thing is, knowing that Grifter and Penny Black are essentially one-shot characters, it is impossible to get emotionally invested in them and care who they are and where they come from, even in the Flashpoint universe. I respect the writers for trying to be thorough, but when Lois Lane has a knife to her throat, it seems a pretty inorganic digression to get Penelope Black’s personal history (or care about it!).

Given how Lois Lane’s emergency broadcast plays an essential role in the main Flashpoint story, where this chapter is going is no real surprise, but it offers some redemption to the Wonder Woman character as we see how Lois gets to where she is headed. This chapter reads as a “necessary evil” chapter in the book.

The final chapter in The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman is “The Outsider.” Seen briefly in Flashpoint as one of the metahumans Cyborg is desperately trying to enlist to save the world, “The Outsider’s” chapter in the book tells the complete story of the unique-to-Flashpoint character. Starting with his mystical birth in Chandigarh in 1960, the story of Michael Desai (the Outsider) is chronicled. Eager to capture Blackout to power all of India, the Outsider is attacked and begins an investigation to find who exactly it is who wants him dead. Confronting Teth-Adam (Black Adam), the Outsider fights to discover the person who wants him dead.

I did not care about “The Outsider” section – at all – until the revelation of the Outsider’s enemy. The villain made me realize exactly who from the DC Universe was missing in all of the Flashpoint crossovers and it was a very clever use of the missing character. In fact, I felt a bit stupid given how important the missing character who appears in “The Outsider’s” chapter was to one of my recent favorites, the Brightest Day Saga. While this chapter (I think) should have been in the World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman to be more relevant, “The Outsider” turns interesting pretty late. The artwork in the chapter is erratic, but when the villain of the chapter is revealed, the identity of the Outsider becomes subtly obvious and the chapter has enough depth to be enjoyable, if not at all relevant in this book.

Ultimately, The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman might well be the best of the World Of Flashpoint books because it enhances the very simple story presented in Flashpoint with interesting characters and engaging plots.

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
The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Batman


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

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