So, I attempted to get started on this review almost a week ago. But to be honest, I was at a loss for words, unsure what to say about the issue. I didn’t like it and didn’t dislike it either, somehow managing to fall into both camps at the same time. To find out more, see below the cut for spoilers.
From my perspective — and your mileage may vary — there are two strikes against it. Though the lead character is Heat Wave (written as ‘Heatwave’ in the issue), he bears very little resemblance to the character we’re familiar with in the mainstream universe, either physically or in personality. This story takes place in the often-different Flashpoint universe, of course, but I bought the issue to see Mick Rory and this is a complete stranger. He has a full head of hair, is a lot meaner and crazier, and interacts with an entirely different set of associates. He’s nothing like the Mick we know apart from an interest in fire, and even that obsession is handled differently so there really isn’t anything in common between the two besides the Heat Wave costume. That’s strike one.
My other complaint about the issue is that it’s depressingly gruesome. It could certainly be worse, I’ll grant that; we could have been subjected to more graphic depictions of burned bodies. However, the scene of Plastic Man bloodily emerging from Cluemaster’s innards was needlessly awful. It was a great plot twist and I liked the concept of him being smuggled in by a drug mule, but could have been done with less horrifying imagery.
There were aspects I did like, such as the realistic depiction of prison life and interactions between some very bad men. I tend to grumble about the odd aspects of incarceration in the modern DCU, in which prisoners often wear costumes rather than uniforms, and once out of their cells seem to have powers at their disposal. Here the prisoners wear standard uniforms, and those with metahuman powers have them negated by technology like mutants in the Marvel universe, which simply makes sense. In the real world prisoners often divide themselves into gangs along certain ethnic lines, and in the Flashpoint universe they divide between metahumans and non-metas, which again makes sense for the world they live in. This attention to detail and realism is the story’s greatest strength and most enjoyable aspect, and I think would have made it great if the creative team had toned down the gore and made Heat Wave more recognizable.
The art didn’t particularly enthuse me, unfortunately. Many of the characters had very similar-looking faces and there was a sketchy quality to the artwork that I didn’t really care for. However, the artist did capture Heat Wave’s costume very well and had some effective facial expressions in some panels. The delighted surprise and then disbelief on Mick’s face when he expects a big subway explosion but then gets thwarted was good, for example, as was his despair when locked in solitary.
Overall I was fairly disappointed with this issue, and that’s particularly a bummer after how much I loved Citizen Cold. There’s still room for improvement though, and maybe the upcoming two issues will pick up. I certainly hope so.
Flashpoint: Legion of Doom
Story by Adam Glass
Art by Rodney Buchemi