So Much for Lightning Never Striking Twice
Between this and his tie-in series which has also come out this week, Thomas Wayne has now utterly stolen the spotlight from Barry Allen and become the star of Flashpoint. There is really no contest here. From Thomas' less than impressive resources to his manipulation of Cyborg, most of the interesting character work revolves around him.
On the flip side, some of the weakest things about Flashpoint revolve around Barry Allen. Just like last issues, Barry's attempt to regain his powers is ridiculous. The man is a forensics scientist attempting to recreate a completely freak accident in the rain. This is unbelievably stupid and is made even worse by how it actually works this time. Also in this issue, Barry tries to deliver some exposition about Reverse Flash's Negative Speed Force, a concept Geoff Johns really wants to catch on but just seems silly. You almost wish Thomas would start punching Barry again when Barry stumbles through this vague and nonsensical explanation about how Thawne's Negative Speed Force lets him do some things Barry cannot. Why is this even necessary? Why not go with the more logical explanation that Thawne is a more advanced scientist and would just naturally figure out ways to use the Speed Force that Barry hadn't?
Related to Barry, this issue suffers from a problem that somewhat dragged down Blackest Night, and that is Johns' underwhelming cliffhanger formula. He builds up an issue to a huge, exciting cliffhanger that he then proceeds to quickly dismiss in the next issue in completely disappointing fashion. For example, Sinestro becomes the White Lantern at the end of one issue and in the next, achieves nothing. Or, all those characters become deputized Lanterns in a cliffhanger moment only to then really do nothing in the story. In the previous issue of Flashpoint, Barry stupidly tries to recreate the accident that gave him his powers and rightfully gets burned crisp. This issue? He tries again, and it works. He heals up, and everything is fine now. Last issue's cliffhanger was just a cheap moment that ultimately means nothing to the story.
Having been disappointingly absent last issue, Cyborg reenters the stage here. While he doesn't steal the show as much as Batman, Johns' and Andy Kubert's take on Cyborg definitely makes the character a star. The little "made in America" moment is a great touch that really helps sell him as the United States' number one superhero. This also bodes well for Johns' ability to elevate Cyborg's status in the DCnU relaunches.
This issue also features the debut of Flashpoint Superman. While it is not as show-stealing as other alternate takes in Flashpoint, it is interesting, though it is a little disappointing that we don't learn more about him before the issue end. Barry Allen, yet again, seems less than brilliant with how sure he is that this Superman will naturally help them.
Flashpoint does somewhat coast through its third issue, but that is a bit natural for a middle chapter. We are now past the excitement of seeing what this alternate world has to offer. The setting up stage is complete, and this issue does a good job of getting things together and the plot moving forward. Sure, it is a little sad that the Flash is turning out to be the weak link in Flashpoint, but this is a well done issue nonetheless.