What is…Flashpoint?

This week’s DC comics include a teaser for something called Flashpoint, coming in 2011 from Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. It’s not clear whether it’s a storyline in The Flash or a separate event, but considering how Blackest Night grew from a Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps storyline to the year’s big event, it may be too early to reach any conclusions.

Long-time Flash readers may remember that Flashpoint was also the title of an Elseworlds miniseries from 1999-2000 — the only Elseworlds tale outside his own book to focus on the Flash, in fact.

In this story, a paralyzed Barry Allen has turned his super-fast mind to scientific research and development. A mission to Mars discovers a key designed to open a gateway to (essentially) the speed force, which they call the Flashpoint, and which appears to be linked to other realities. Only one problem: the last time it was used, it destroyed all life on Mars. (Interesting side note: The current Flash logo is actually based on the Flashpoint logo, rather than the other way around!)

Back to the teaser, here’s a quick photo of the ad that I took with my phone scan of the ad from Flash #1:

The text reads in full: “Even the fastest man alive will run out of time. The Flash’s world will change and their world will cahnge with it. If there is to be anything left of the past, present and future, they must learn the secret of…Flashpoint.”

It could be a multiverse epic, but based on Geoff Johns’ GL:Space = Flash:Time analogy and the “past, present and future” line, I’m going to guess that we’re looking at a temporal war in which one side is altering history and the other side is trying to repair it.

One more thing worth noting: Andy Kubert’s father, Joe Kubert, drew several Golden-Age Flash stories in the late 1940s, including the three stories featuring the original Thorn.


20 thoughts on “What is…Flashpoint?

  1. Xian

    Continuity, undoubtedly, will be just one casualty.

    After the mess of the past 5 years, a genuine restart could be good, but I’ve lost a lot of faith in Johns’ ability to rebirth or originate things….

    And yet another continuity reboot/re-imagining in less than two years? Really frustrating.

    Who knows, it might be good. I’m just worried it’s another amalgamation of “Big Ideas” not entirely baked all the way through. Sort of like all the dramatic shifts the Flash franchise has been going through of late that have been suspended on just one or two “Big Ideas” without thinking through all the subtle implications, character effects, and franchise consequences.

    1. Sarah

      Don’t want to sound crass, but continuity is crap. I’d rather have fun stories that didn’t deal with continuity than get bogged down with it.

      The whole continuity issue is what makes lots of folks hate DC. They become too focused on the past and shoehorning storylines to fit that a lot of creativity gets sacrificed in the process.

      So screw continuity.

      1. Xian

        Re-read the post. I don’t hold up continuity as an absolute good. As I say, the last five years of it have been pretty bad and worthy of a complete reboot IF handled well (which, as I say, I don’t currently trust Johns to do).

        Read my post below and you see all I care about are good stories. I’m willing to sacrifice time-travel cosmology and even continuity if the story is good, BUT Rebirth was anything but and was absolutely SOAKED in continuity AND retcons (if you’re going to ignore continuity don’t have 80% of your story rely on obscure stories from the early 90s and a huge roster of characters you haven’t introduced; if you’re going to do a retcon, do it clean, consistently, and don’t make it hamstrung by a prior history and time paradoxes).

        If you look at Kelson’s retcon post you see how mired the “retcon” was in continuity… it’s hardly a clean fresh reboot, but a boatload of “shoehorned storylines/fact points” to achieve the desired end.

        That said, read the post below and recognize the value of continuity. Frankly, continuity is the ONLY advantage that corporate owned characters have over creator owned/indie books. The long history, iconic status, and deep characterization is something only possible with characters that outlive their writers in a rich shared universe. Spitting on that undermines the point of mainstream books.

        Sure, a flash in a pan character can do alright if you soft reboot them every so often, but the very reason Flash was climbing in significance even when the rest of the DCU was falling away or scrambling for sales was because of long term careful management of his continuity. Even as other books were changing hands and characterization 6-8 time a year, there was a deep and abiding respect for a book where there was a long lasting growing vision of the character and his history… that’s why Flash- a tertiary character by outsider standards- climbed the charts and critical acclaim up until ’05.

        All that said, a good story isn’t beholden to continuity either.

        A deft storyteller can leave all of it there and still tell any story he wants to. Johns’ common problem is that he feels compelled to either inject continuity porn or retcon it rather than leave it well alone and just tell the story apart from it.

        Simply put, you present a strawman… not only is continuity not crap, even if it were it doesn’t compel you to do all the bad things that Johns sometimes does with it.

      2. yranigami

        What part of the any previous Flash arcs are you reffering to as “being bogged down” by continuity? NOTE: please exclude any episodes or plots with retcon changes made by the writer(s)in an effort to make his story flow smoothly in lieu of the previous writer’s retcon changes, in lieu of the previous writers retcon cnahges, in lieu of the previous writer’s retcon changes, in lieu of the previous writer’s retcon changes…. [ad infinitum] Where do you draw the line?!?

  2. EJ

    Are people still complaining about continuity even though, it’s been made clear that Barry’s timeline has been changed and it’s a plot point that will be touched upon with and dealt with in Johns run?.

    Seriously this looks very cool, though i’m hesitant about Kubert being involved with this because this Flash relaunch has already been delayed way too much. But Geoff has been hitting it out of the park with Barry since he returned so i’ll be on board with this when it comes out.

    1. Xian

      That’s a terrible counter. Continuity is shorthand for all the benefits it brings- meaning investment into a character’s history, the consistent development of characterization and motivations, and meaningful data (otherwise you might as well tell Kelson to give up on the Hyperborea database because historical continuity is meaningless).

      Hope in a future “fix” undermines all the development in the meantime (you’re learning the history and character of someone who is just going to be rewritten/fixed) and no solution at all except at the expense of new readers or those who actually bothered to read the stories leading up to the fix.

      I’m all for wacky time adventures and so long as it’s actually a story and not an excuse to do more continuity laden “fixes”, I can forgive even poorly conceived conceptions of time travel. Rebirth was filled with time paradoxes and inconsistent portrayals of time-travel and if this is going to be an extension of the bad scifi writing in that- no thanks.

      But if this is a clearing house set up as an excuse to explain what survives “of the past, present and future” in checklist fashion… I suspect you’ll get the same critical response to Flashpoint as Rebirth got, which is to say, not all that good- lukewarm to bad.

      Johns can tell a story, no doubt, but he’s also very guilty of trying to force feed checklists AS stories… I hope its the former and not the latter.

      1. yranigami

        It’s a self-sustaining curse! Message to Johns; (or -any- graphic novel writer!) Just write FORWARD and give us a good story! Enough with retcon plotlines!

        1. papa zero

          I think the intended goal was to establish a new character engine for Barry Allen to facilitate potential storylines. Any change to his history is secondary to that potential. The advantage of using a “brand name” character and acknowledging some continuity is that you already have a built in audience.

          I happen to not like the implications for the character that the changes infer (specifically the murder) but then we haven’t seen the story unfold yet… and the writer doesn’t care what I
          (or you) have to say about their short term arcs. 😛
          .-= papa zero’s latest blog post: DEAD P.A. is attending Party Monster! on Saturday, Apr 17, 2010. =-.

  3. Bandito

    Rather than wade into a debate about continuity, I’ll just say that I like the teaser and I’m excited about the possibilities.

  4. Mr Maczaps

    i liked what issue #1 had to tell us.
    intrigued by the “future rogues”…

    not so much with the ad for the Flashpoint…

    Continuity… as far as that goes, like a couple people said… tell further stories… not past… don’t kill “mommy & daddy” just because… Barry was & is a good Hero with his folks around… if it has a point and soon, then is corrected, okay fine… but if someone hasn’t read all 245 Barry comics what do they care?

    tell good stories going forward without “killing” my back issues and making them pointless…

    1. Ted

      i dunno. you still read them. you still own them (maybe). they’re not pointless. they’re not going anywhere. they exist. even in the story they existed. they all happened… just now things are different.

      far from pointless.

  5. Dan

    My copy of Flash #1 is still in the post thanks to the powers of mail subscription services, but this teaser to me is optimistic in that it at least shows there is a thought out path for The Fash family, and that Andy Kubert is doing the art chores.

    Andy has a great eye for perspective and angle and I’m looking forward to see how he handles the fastest man alive.
    .-= Dan’s latest blog post: THE FOUR ‘WE ARE THE X-MEN’ TEASERS THAT SHOULD BE, BUT WON’T BE =-.

  6. liquidcross

    It would be nice if Flashpoint would explain and/or flesh out the retcons introduced in Rebirth, but given Johns’ work on Green Lantern and other DC heavyweights, I think we’ll be seeing more of a “scorched earth” policy when it comes to any stories post-1987. (Johns dislikes just about everything written after the original Crisis!)

    1. Xian

      Yeah, I take full responsibility for inciting that thought in the first comment, it’s quite possible that it’s just a wacky adventure tale and if that’s the case, I look forward to it. But you have to admit that the teaser text is loaded with terms that implicate continuity:

      The Flash’s world will change and their world will change with it.

      Granted, teasers would undone if they were expressly truthful and said, “Flash’s world is going to change temporarily; going forward only; or it’s not really Flash’s world.”


      If there is to be anything left of the past, present and future…

      Implies that not everything survives (whether Chain Lightning predicted futures or post-Rebirth pasts) as opposed to saying, “All will be preserved…”

      Terrible advertising copy to be “honest”, sure, but you can see how an expectation of continuity changes isn’t completely unreasonable given what we were told.

      1. Bandito

        The Flash’s world will change and their world will change with it.

        I think you could say the same thing for Green Lantern with “Sinestro Corps War”. That’s what I’m assuming “Flashpoint” will be equivalent to.

  7. kyer

    I got the impression from the artwork that Flashpoint is going to be something akin to Morrison’s Earth 2 (Not Jay’s home Earth, mind)…where alternate realities or characters collide for a time….not that the collisions will remain permanent by the end of the story.

    On continuity….I always enjoyed History classes in school. History is the foundation of a culture and a person, so to just chuck it or ignore it because it’s not palatable…no.

    A character’s past should be the foundation and the latest writer is free to write in new walls, add rooms, plumbing enhancements…raise the roof (heh)…but the foundation needs to remain or the edifice crumbles. If the foundation is already a patchwork of crumbling concrete…patch it up (reboot) as needed–but only as needed.

    That’s my feelings, anyway.

    Not to say that stories need to deal with history at all. I remember some good ones that had nothing to do with the Flashes past experience: they just went out, saved victims and generally kicked villain buttoosies. 😛

  8. Pingback: An Open Letter to Geoff Johns Regarding Flashpoint «

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