Flash-fried after trying to recreate the accident that gave him super-speed, Barry Allen's in a bad way. If Batman Thomas Wayne weren't a doctor, he'd likely be dead. As it is, the pain of third degree burns doesn't stop him getting back into the Wayne Manor electric chair for another attempt.
And for whatever reason - right type of lightning bolt, chemicals having reached a certain intensity, heavenly helpmate - this time it works. Barry's physiology is once more connected to the Speed Force and he begins healing. Soon he and Batman are seeking out Cyborg's help to find Kal-El in the World of Flashpoint (henceforth WoF); Barry knows he has to be out there, somewhere.
And they find him, at a government bunker under Metropolis (as teased in the Frankenstein issue). Having been kept indoors all his life, Kal-El is a sorry sight, emaciated from lack of contact with Earth's sun, his prison cell seemingly infused with red solar radiation. He can barely speak, but Flash, Batman and Cyborg manage to break him out into the fresh air, past military muscle, and the effect is instantaneous. Kal-El begins to be Superman, immediately floating, using heat vision and ... zooming off into the sky. Bang go Barry's hopes of forming a Justice League to change reality back to what it was before Professor Zoom twisted time, and Cyborg's vision of an end to the Oz/Wonderland ... sorry, Themyscira/Atlantis war.
Or do they? The departure makes for a cliffhanger, as Batman frets about the next wave of government goons, but I reckon it's simply a dramatic feint (hint: super-speed, cybernetics, Batman-ness). Superman's flying up so that he can come back down with extra force. You'll see.
Well, maybe. This issue also shows us Cyborg being decommissioned as President Obama's secret weapon, his attenpt to form a super-group having failed. Lois Lane, nevertheless, reports in from New Themiscyra aka London, and meets up with the Resistance - that would be the bunch from last week's woeful Canterbury Cricket one-shot. There's the idiotic insect himself, along with Godiva, the Demon, Mrs Hyde and a new face, Grifter - and they have their work cut out, as Aquaman's all-out assault on the Amazons is only a day away.
I enjoyed this instalment lots. The storyline jollied along nicely, with plenty of interesting tidbits along the way. For instance, in the WoF, Hal Jordan is, according to the Coast City Gazette, a 'controversial pilot'. That's pretty marvelous, isn't it, that the public takes an interest in test pilots attached to private firms?
Then there's the possibility that the traitor within the Resistance, as hinted last issue, is in the US, rather than, as I assumed, the UK. I can't imagine who it might be (click to enlarge)
Element Woman? No, she's always been one of my favourite characters! Oh, hang on, she's original to the WoF, and has barely had a paragraph of dialogue. Her being the traitor would be meaningless, emotionally. Plus, why attach negative baggage - even alternate world negative baggage - to her before she joins the relaunched JLA? I reckon this is another bluff, that she's realised who is the weasel, hence the super-sad face.
Batman is a lot less hi-tech in this world, we learned last time. And here's further proof, as we learn that Wayne Manor has but one old computer, and a clunky one at that. Ms Internet, Thomas Wayne's just not into you.
So how is it that he knows enough to tell Cyborg: 'You could be the single most powerful source of information on the planet. A physical and digital tank.' This had me picturing Cyborg as a fishtank full of iPads, but he obviously (!) means a big assault machine.
This is writer Geoff Johns setting out Cyborg's claim to be one of the core members of the post-Flashpoint Justice League. If Batman - any Batman - says it, it must be true. But God bless Cyborg for not punching Batman for stating the bleeding obvious, and in a patronising manner at that. He's Victor Stone, inventor extraordinaire, who has his own 'industrial headquarters' in Detroit, where he constantly upgrades his capabilities. I think he has some idea of his potential. As for the 'tank' business, he already is that, Flash having observed earlier in this scene that Vic is 'broader ... taller' (than in the regular DC Universe).
This is also the point at which Thomas Wayne basically turns into Bruce, manipulating colleagues and insisting that only he can run the show. And of course, Cyborg and Flash capitulate. It's as if Grant Morrison's Bat-God never went away.
As I never followed the early Image books, the surprise appearance by Grifter means nothing to me, other than as a preview of the character before his DC series begins. I suppose, having him around means Lois will never be short of a hankie.
I like that Barry refuses to wear the yellow Professor Zoom costume left for him, preferring to sew up a new outfit from lovely red and yellow fabric Batman keeps around Wayne Manor. This is the great thing about his mother having not been murdered (apart from, not being murdered) - she raised a metrosexual.
Kidding aside, Barry finally has some spark for the first time since Johns brought him back from the dead; he's confident, brave and even laughs at the rubbish love life of controversial pilots. I hope the character template sticks.
I don't get the supposed explanation as to why Zoom can change time but Barry can't: Zoom uses Negative Speed Force, which Barry ain't got. Yes, but Barry has Positive Speed Force, from which the Negative originates, so of course he'd be able to reverse Reverse-Flash's changes. It'd make more sense were Barry to say that theoreticaly, he could change things, but without knowing the exact butterflies Zoom flapped, he's clueless. He needs Zoom's map of malevolence.
Animal lovers should avoid this issue as we learn that just as Kal-El is Subject 1, further rockets brought Subjects 2 and 3. And 2, at least, isn't too well ... please let 3 be OK!
Cyborg, like Barry, has regained a parent in WoF, his father, Silas, being still alive. Saving the world, reckons Vic, means he'll 'finally make my dad proud'. Talk about tough to please. That apart, Barry's silent reaction shows he's feeling bad that if he and Batman succeed in changing Cyborg's world - without having put him in the picture, remember - Vic loses that chance. It's a good moment.
Vic's new design is pretty impressive, as are the pencils and inks of Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope throughout this issue. Flash reborn is thrilling, the skinny Superman is poignant, Lois is spunky, Batman is scary and Hal is controversial. The pair's storytelling complements Johns' script nicely, and it's gladdening to see that Johns isn't going all grim, all the time. I really appreciate the lighter moments.
This is shaping up to be a fine summer event. The stakes are big, but the underdog heroes are coming together to fight the challenges on different levels. The mix of familiar faces repurposed and new ones coming to the fore makes for a heady brew. And best of all, Barry Allen is once again a Flash worth cheering for. Finally.