For better or worse, 2011's Flashpoint event series is an important chapter in DC's history, and of course even more so for the Flash. The line-wide crossover that preceded the 'New 52' about a dark alternate timeline that Barry Allen created by going back in time to stop the Reverse-Flash from murdering his mother has been adapted in the CW television series and is confirmed to play a part in the upcoming live-action feature film. With Bryan Hitch handling both scripting and penciling duties, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1 provides a what-if story that takes a great look at the Reverse-Flash and provides a darker twist to a darker world.
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Scott Hanna, Alex Sinclair, and Jeremiah Skipper
Letters by Rob Leigh
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
The opening to the issue features Tempus Fuginaut as he scours the Dark Earths, looking for hope. After introducing readers to the positive/negative dichotomy of Barry Allen's Flash and Eobard Thawne's Reverse-Flash, Hitch drops the audience into a familiar setting with familiar characters - Barry Allen with Thomas Wayne, this world's Batman, as Allen tries to restore his Flash powers, which in the original Flashpoint reality he never received. The deviation on this Dark Earth is that rather than restore the Speed Force to Barry Allen, the accident kills him and Thawne is brought into this part of the timeline. Free from the source of his obsession, Reverse-Flash revels in the Flash-free world that has come to exist.
The story is co-narrated by both Tempus Fuginaut and Reverse-Flash, and Rob Leigh does a great job with his lettering to help let the reader know whose narrative captions they're reading. Reverse-Flash's captions in particular are a lot of fun. Writer-artist Hitch gives Thawne's voice a sense of gleeful menace and brings to life how powerful the speedster is here. Without the Flash or Superman to stop him, Reverse-Flash is free to do just about anything he wishes, and Hitch takes advantage of the 'Dark Multiverse' concept to ensure the reader understands just how dangerous he is.
When Thawne dispatches a team of heroes, he does so with a smile on his face and creatively taking advantage of his vast Speed Force powers. Inkers Andrew Currie and Scott Hanna help the artwork pop on the page, especially when Reverse-Flash is moving so fast that he appears in more than one place on the panel.
However, the story here isn't just a shallow 'what if the villain won' scenario. Hitch also explores Thomas Wayne's Batman, examining the man's moral dilemma as he realizes that the villain he was trying to stop could save the life of his son, Bruce. It's this storyline that gives the issue its heart. Tempus Fuginaut has been searching for hope in the Dark Multiverse, and the hopes of Thomas Wayne and Eobard Thawne are the perverse shadows he is able to find.
Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1 preview
While the story itself is quite exciting, providing nice twists and turns atop the original Flashpoint story, the artwork here suffers a bit, in particular the color. Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper handle those duties for the issue, and unfortunately, the work just misses the mark. The color palette feels washed out and though a muted color palette may have been used to capture the bleakness of this alternate Earth, because the story relishes in Reverse-Flash's feelings about his new predicament the colors feel lifeless and the result is a contrast with Thawne's exuberance that just doesn't work.
The colors aside, Tales From the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1 is a solid entry in this series of specials. Hitch and his art team had the unenviable task of making a 'dark version' of a story that was about a dark timeline and have made that work.
This is an exciting story that shows off the powers of a speedster without inhibition and but doesn't get stuck showing off that power. The narrative finds a thematic angle that it successfully mines to make an impact on the reader.
The Reverse-Flash is one of The Flash's greatest villains of all time. Check out where he ranks in Newsarama's full countdown.