Decent Writing, Breathtaking Art
One of the more interesting aspects of the Flashpoint event has been just how closely the various writers and artists have stuck to both the traditional aspects of their various characters and to the overall plot of the Atlantis-Themyscira war. JT Krul and Mikel Janin's Deadman series, for example, offers both radically different versions of their spotlight characters and a side-story to the larger conflict that is still directly affected by it. The end result is a story that, thus far, feels very self-contained but also firmly within the framework established by the other Flashpoint material.
The defacto star of this series, as the title implies, is a very not dead Boston Brand. In his death-defying alter ego of Deadman, he is the self-proclaimed star of the Hayley Circus. Much to his dismay, he has to share the spotlight with the Flying Graysons, a trapeze family act. The Haley Circus finds itself caught in a difficult position when a European tour becomes longer than expected, with the majority of West Europe now beneath water. The show must go on, however, and the circus travels from town to town, trying to stay ahead of the encroaching forces of both Aquaman and Wonder Woman. However, when Dr. Fate's fortune-telling helmet turns out to be more powerful than anyone else realizes, the Circus finds itself the target of some very unwanted attention.
But that is saved for the next issue. This issue is dedicated to character development and establishing the core conflict among the main characters, namely the Grayson's sense of humble family unity versus Boston's self-centered egotism. These are played rather broadly, and the point is hammered home perhaps one time too many. But the characters are well-defined enough to give some shape to the conflict, especially to Boston, an egotistic loner who only finds joy in thrilling his captive audience. A short segment where Boston and young Dick Grayson interact is especially tragic, as Boston is unable to imagine why Dick's family is quite so important to him. This is pretty basic stuff, but done with a workman-like quality.
The art, however, is the center ring for this circus. There is a quiet beauty to Mikel Janin's art, which is given additional volume with Olises Arreola's painterly coloring. The trapeze scenes in particular are breathtaking, with characters effortless flying through the air. Janin's ability to convey kinetic energy with minimal visual cheats is very impressive, as is his clear appreciation of the human form. His faces can be a bit samey at times, especially when all the Graysons are interacting with each other, but the maturity of his composition is impressive and engaging, especially when you consider this is only his second assignment with DC. The art of this book goes a long way to convey the romantic perspective of the life in the circus the story demands, and the sense of dread with the final page is especially impressive.