Tales from the Dark Multiverse Flashpoint #1 Featured Reviews 

“Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint” #1

By | December 10th, 2020
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Whether one likes it or not, “Flashpoint” had a definite impact on DC Comics in 2011. If that story had been given just a little nudge, how could it have gone horribly wrong, in a rather intriguing way? If you want a peek, look no further than “Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint” #1!

Cover by David Marquez and Alex Sinclair
Written and Illustrated by Bryan Hitch
Colored by Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper
Lettered by Rob Leigh

Spinning out of the events of a world where a single choice by the Flash affected the entire DC Universe, find out what would have happened if Barry Allen had not put things right. In a world where the Flashpoint reality was never undone, where Thomas Wayne still haunts Gotham City as the Batman, and the Amazonian and Atlantean armies still prepare for war, will the Reverse-Flash embrace this darker, deadlier world and finally eclipse Barry Allen’s legacy?

As an event, ‘Flashpoint’ was important, but also controversial, both for the same reasons. Nothing was the same anymore after it was over, for good or ill, and its use as a cruel, darker history to the DC Universe almost feels impossible to make into a “darker” version for the Dark Multiverse’s “for want of a nail” approach to the ‘Tales from the Dark Multiverse’ one-shots. As such, it stands to reason that if Bryan Hitch were able to pull off such a tale of despair, it would have to be something special. With the breadth of that recurringly-prominent, yet-temporary alternate timeline at his disposal, Hitch decides to focus in on certain elements that are most famous, drilling into their core to craft a tale about hope and how it can have an effect on a world by its complete loss.

Such a tale of hopelessness could never focus on Barry Allen himself, so Hitch does not even try to pretend that to be the case. From the cover of “Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint” #1 and on through the issue, this is very definitely the story of someone else entirely: Eobard Thawne, who takes up the role of a villain protagonist rather well. Rather than be focused on Barry Allen as the Flash, Eobard finds himself in an interesting situation that evolves over the course of the entire one-shot. He is still as petty as ever, but Hitch plays that up not just to show how evil he is, but also to emphasize how lost he truly has become, a state that includes other heroes of that world as well.

At its core, Bryan Hitch’s take on a Dark Multiverse “Flashpoint” is one of loss, and the obsessions that come out of trying to reclaim what was lost, along with the self-destruction that comes from those ideas colliding, be they for someone who gives a heroic or villainous front. In trying to “fix” what was lost or make a “perfect” situation, people lose sight of their own morals or reason for being, if they have any of which they are aware. In the face of this monomania, there is little, if any, room for hope, and even the best of intentions can be twisted into something grotesque, much like many Dark Multiverse tales from since its inception as a concept in 2017. It is a story of changing things to be better than they were before, without ever sticking around to make sure of what the ultimate consequences of those actions may end up being. That said, there is a ray of hope through the piece in its own way, giving a chance for a better tomorrow, even if it is never seen in full beyond the change itself due to the nature of the plot, and can easily be twisted again and again to be all the worse for all involved.

Focusing on this theme rather than concentrating on “changing” the events of the ‘Flashpoint’ event beyond the one-shot’s initial premise, Hitch is able to tell a wider tale that only briefly directly touches on the large-scale war across nations (though war itself is a very prominent backdrop). It is not about Barry Allen, for sure, but about others impacted by the “Flashpoint” event itself, in particular a very specific rivalry that expands into what appears to be a new take on an archnemesis arrangement for the story itself. By expanding beyond the impetus, but still keeping it in center view, Hitch takes readers down a different, but all-too-predictable route as a known animosity comes up time and again.

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Performing double duty on both the writing and the illustrations, Hitch proves that he is more than capable of drawing an engrossing tale as he wrote. As is necessary of a speedster-related story, Hitch does an excellent job with dynamic movement, using multiple overlapping shots to emulate the sheer speed of Eobard Thawne as he runs. With one particularly horrifying page, he has many different images of Thawne, from a vibrating hand through a body, to clawing out the side of a face, to a brutal punch, all around a room full of broken glass, shattered wood, and other chaos, just to show how completely outmatched the various superheroes of the Flashpoint timeline are when faced with such an experienced speedster in a world that never had even one. Some of the faces are a little odd or overly stoic, but for the most part, the artwork is very much in-tune with what Hitch wrote out, even as he changes things to be quite different from how the Flashpoint timeline originally went. Interestingly, despite being an adaptation of the ‘Flashpoint’ story, Hitch uses very little gore, with even horrible deaths being nearly bloodless to keep the attention on the emotional, rather than physical injuries.

Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Skipper do a marvelous job of making even the most horrific of images across “Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint” #1. Sinclair would know how the colors went in the “Flashpoint” miniseries itself, having been the colorist then, and he is joined by a veteran of the Dark Multiverse, with Skipper having colored the “Hawkman: Found” #1 one-shot, a match-up that is perfect for a Dark Multiverse Flashpoint itself. Brutality and dark shades work hand-in-hand with bright, almost mocking hues depending on the situation, as even the kindest of heroes is forced to face a reckoning of a world gone even more wrong than it once was.

Final Verdict: 7.0– An interesting take on “Flashpoint” speeds quickly along, providing an unusual look at an Eobard Thawne without Barry Allen in the process with the help of talent from the Dark Multiverse and “Flashpoint” both.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.