If the final issue of Flashpoint #5 doesn't bring a tear to your eye, then you have no heart. Here it is, the last issue marking the end of an era for DC Comics as the publisher prepares for the relaunch of their entire universe. So how did the culmination of this event fare? Caution: some spoilers below.
The greatest thing about comic books for me is the way they make me feel about the characters. I become attached and I love them a little bit. I think it's that way for a lot of comic book readers -- we all become a little bit invested in the things that happen to the characters and the way that they evolve. I think Geoff Johns knows this, and he used that here, in the final issue of Flashpoint.
Like the Rolling Stones said, "you can't always get what you want," and Barry Allen learns that the hard way. In his attempt at saving his mother's life, Barry alters the entire course of history. He sacrifices the lives of millions so she can live, and he learns the hard way the repercussions of his actions. Barry isn't only faced with the harsh reality that he would have to lose one of the most important people in his life, but he deals with the fact that in this case he is not the hero, but the villain for the first time. At the end of the day, the hero can't always win everything and save everyone. At the end of the day, there is always one life that will get away -- and sometimes it is for the greater good.
Johns draws an interesting parallel between the loss of Barry Allen to that of Bruce Wayne, whose entire career as a superhero has been due to the loss of his parents. In this ending, Barry gets to say goodbye. He gets to see and touch and smell her one last time before he makes the decision to let her go. It's poignant and sad, and it's a luxury Bruce Wayne never had. At least Barry gets to keep his memories.
Bruce Wayne's tough outer shell is not often stirred or broken. He is stoic not only in appearance -- his toughness surpasses his exterior and permeates deep within him. He is cold, hard and unmoving -- which is probably why when he actually shows some emotion, it's so powerful. The latter half of the issue is absolutely brilliant and will surely move even the most stoic of readers.
As good as it was, I can't call Flashpoint a perfect issue. I can't say that yes, it was flawless in absolutely every way because it was not -- no matter how deserving it is of it's perfect score. There were scenes in this issue that felt disconnected from the Flashpoint story as a whole. The most jarring moments were those that featured the characters from the different Flashpoint offshoot books (Project Superman, Lois Lane and the Resistance to name a few). The scene where Grifter appears accompanied by The Resistance is erratic and doesn't fit into the final issue. It feels out of place. Yes, I get that these characters appear to reinforce that the heroes have banded together and are fighting, united, against the Atlanteans and the Amazons -- but it feels unnecessary.
Initially, I also thought that Flashpoint #5 would have acted as a bridge between the old universe and the new universe which launches with the release of Justice League #1. However, the reasons for the reboot don't feel explained and remain unclear as far as Flashpoint is concerned.
While these might be considered "flaws," I still don't think that the writer should have tried to incorporate all of these elements into the final issue. Johns didn't expound upon Grifter and the Resistance or the appearance of Superman because it would have been too much. The appearance of these characters in the issue was enough -- anything more would have taken away from the bigger story.
This is, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time. Everything from the explanation of what Flashpoint is and how it came about, to the gut wrenching, tear-jerking moments at the very end; if you go out and buy anything this week, make it the final issue of Flashpoint.