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Action Comics #900 / Flashpoint #1 / Batman: Arkham City #1


What’s up with Superman, Batman and The Flash lately?

Rod Lott May 27th, 2011

Recently, when I overheard two Bubba types talking about how "left-wing nutty" and "un-American" that DC's oversized 900th issue of "Action Comics" was, I knew I had to check it out.

action-comics-900-cover

The point of controversy isn't to be found in the main story, which finds a Phantom Zone-radiated Lex Luthor taking Superman on a tour of his past to try and break him, and thus, gain his infinite power. Or something like that. Since the tale completes a serialized storyline I haven't been exposed to, it's more than a little confusing.

The back half of the 96-pager is comprised of several shorter tales, starting with "Life Support," by "Lost"'s Damon Lindelof, a touching prequel piece taking place on the planet Krypton. Other selections find the Man of Steel having a convo with a mystical hippo that hovers, and allowing Lois Lane to cook din-din for his pals, but it's David Goyer's "The Incident" that has the Fox News nation up in arms; after getting his ass chewed by the NSA for flying into Tehran, Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship.

The hubbub over it is, unsurprisingly, much ado about nothing. Typical of those who speak in "us vs. them" tones about seeming everything, certainly the complainers haven't read the story or simply chose to ignore its true point. (Besides, don't they remember Supes is an alien? I thought they hated aliens.)

Meanwhile, the only ones making waves over "Flashpoint," a five-issue series from fan faves Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, are those among the comics blogosphere. The event isn't designed to gain mainstream publicity, but placate hardcore readers who obsess over minutiae.

They'll find plenty to love in the first issue, which kicks off, as far as I can tell, an alternate-universe storyline for Barry Allen, aka The Flash, aka the fastest man alive. Here, he's suddenly without his costume, but with his mother, who's no longer dead. That's a plus, yet his wife, Iris, is someone else's significant other.

Elsewhere, Cyborg attempts to recruit Batman into joining a team to take out Aquaman and Wonder Woman; cameos abound from the likes of Captain Marvel (here called Captain Thunder) and The Sandman (the gas-masked one, although Neil Gaiman devotees aren't left behind).

It doesn't make sense — at least not yet — but the story is set up in such a way that I'd be interested to see if it ever does.

Finally, another five-issue limited series begins in “Batman: Arkham City,” a welcomely daffy adventure spun off from a video game, yet written by Paul Dini, who help shepherd the Dark Knight through TV-cartoon greatness in the 1990s. That experience pays off here, as the tale is, above all, fun, without losing the character’s edge.

With Arkham Asylum secure and Gotham City safe once more, it’s only a matter of time before that changes. Enter Two-Face. Don’t let the cast and neck brace fool you: He’s still one mean sonofabitch.

Whereas many prequels exist only as marketing tie-ins, here’s one that justifies its existence. —Rod Lott
 
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