Life is a Circus
Deadman and the Flying Graysons are the star performers at Haley's Circus, which is traveling from town to town throughout eastern Europe in flight from the Amazons and Atlanteans who have submerged and decimated the west. The story is essentially about the importance of union and cohesion between family and friends, especially in the midst of trying times, and a criticism of solipsism and arrogance. But it also offers some very interesting parallels between the relationships of Deadman and Dick Grayson and Batman and Robin, and gives some insight into how Dick Grayson differs from Bruce Wayne even though they may have endured similar hardships with the death of their parents. While the Graysons perform with the goal of bringing joy and wonder into the hearts of their audience, Deadman's goal, like Batman's, is to instill fear. He's something like what Batman would be if he remained isolated and obsessed with his alter ego, becoming increasingly self-absorbed to the point where the needs of others are entirely subservient to his goals. Dick, however, would never reach that point because of the strong foundation he has of love and support within Haley's circus and his family. Where Bruce and Boston never had the chance to have time with their family, Dick had many years of encouragement and training from which to draw upon and gain inspiration. As they said, in one of the most heart-warming lines in this issue, "Okay, Graysons, how do we swing? With Grace. How do we fly? Like Birds. And how do we land? - Together." Moments like those make me wish that J. T. Krul was writing for Nightwing.
I love Mikel Janin's artwork and I'm especially thrilled to his work in the upcoming Justice League Dark, but it seems very incomplete in this issue; however, that may be due to time-constraints, which was felt across all the Flashpoint titles. Otherwise, it's very competent artwork and Ulises Arreola's colours fill each page with a beautiful, otherworldly ambiance that I really love. Cliff Chiang's covers are a real delight, though! I love it whenever artists take an idea and really develop it like he has done across these covers. It's a real shame, though, that there has to be that Green Lantern advertisement on the top of the cover. It's almost enough for me to recommend that you get it in trade.
The page that I've looked over possible two or three dozen times by now is the page where they show the map of Europe during the war between Atlantis and the Amazons. I just love maps in fiction; they open up the world give and it a much deeper, global perspective. I can honestly look at maps like this one and the one in No Man's Land all-day long, if only to imagine how things must be like in all the corners of that world. What is it like to be in the Denmark Wasteland, Alps-Head, New Austria, upon the new European coast-line?
Final Rating - 4/5