pre-New 52: I Finally Read FLASHPOINT: PROJECT SUPERMAN (and Some Others)

17 Oct

by Mike Hansen

Okay, so why the heck am I bothering writing about some comics that came out 2-4 months ago? Because A) They’re really good, and B) You can probably still find them in comics shops. I’ll do my best to make this worth your while, because the 3-issue Flashpoint: Project Superman is well worth reading!

Flashpoint Project Superman 1 cover

There is absolutely nothing phallic about this cover.

So before the New 52, there was this big DC event called Flashpoint. I didn’t care for the first issue of the main miniseries, so I didn’t bother reading the rest. All we need to know is that this is a reimagining of the big players in the DC Universe. It’s a pretty convoluted, “Elseworlds”-style alternate timeline, but whatever: the typical DC bogged-down event continuity barely touches Project Superman, and that makes it that much stronger as a standalone story.

Most of the story is an extended flashback, taking place over a 30-year period in which the U.S. military performs crazy science experiments on human test subjects to make them into patriotic supermen. The main character isn’t even the Flashpoint version of Superman; it’s his predecessor, referred to as Subject Zero. He becomes increasingly powerful, then increasingly frustrated with his isolation from – and lack of – humanity. By the time “Kal” shows up from Krypton, Subject Zero is planning his escape – and things get decidedly crazy (and gory) from there.

The main reason I originally bought this series was for Gene Ha‘s always-stunning artwork. Ha’s finely detailed work is a welcome antidote to the unnecessarily scratchy art styles used by too many superhero artists, and his facial expressions and body language convey just the right moments for the story’s broken and scarred characters. The story by Scott Snyder and Lowell Francis sets the characters at a somewhat removed and detached point, much like how the main superhumans are viewed by their imprisoners.

Flashpoint Project Superman 2 cover

For just pennies a day, you can help feed a starving alien.

Flashpoint: Project Superman is a small story, focusing on just a handful of characters within a much bigger (and unimportant) storyline, but it works on its own just fine. It reminds me of Alan Moore‘s climactic moments of Miracleman, with the main super-characters battling over one’s selfish cruelty and the other’s selfishness, and of Warren Ellis’s Supergod, in which too-powerful superhumans are depicted as weapons of mass destruction gone out of control. Project Superman doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights, but it succeeds in finding a new and interesting take on Superman that’s actually published by DC Comics. I don’t know what other Flashpoint miniseries it will be teamed with for the upcoming $18 collection of 9-10 comics, but it’s worth the $9.00 on its own (and I don’t say that often; I’m a cheap bastard).

P.S. I did read a couple of other Flashpoint miniseries: Batman: Knight of Vengeance was pretty solid, showing Bruce Wayne’s parents in a very different light. Eduardo Risso‘s artwork, clearly influenced by Frank Miller’s style (if not his layouts or storytelling), gets a workout doing an older Batman very much like the grim one seen in Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Brian Azzarello’s story starts out slow, but builds quickly to what becomes the Flashpoint Batman’s ultimate battle. Azzarello makes the most of what few pages he has to detail the key dramatic moments in this Batman’s final adventure (other than the boring team-up in the main Flashpoint miniseries).

Flashpoint Project Superman 3 cover

What exactly is Lois going to do with that gun?

But Flashpoint: Secret Seven didn’t do much for me. I’m a big fan of writer Peter Milligan‘s 6-year run on Shade the Changing Man, but this new take on Shade and friends gave me too many characters and questions and not enough answers. George Perez’s artwork on most of issue #1 is fantastic; unfortunately, he had to drop out of the series (I presume to stay on top of his work on Superman and Green Arrow for the New 52, both of which he’s leaving soon as well) – I hope he isn’t having more health problems. Hopefully, Milligan’s work on the new Justice League Dark (also featuring Shade) is better; I’ll find out in the next few hours…

One Response to “pre-New 52: I Finally Read FLASHPOINT: PROJECT SUPERMAN (and Some Others)”


  1. DC New 52: I Read a Bunch More #1s (and a Few Others) « All Day Comics - October 18, 2011

    […] pre-New 52: I Finally Read FLASHPOINT: PROJECT SUPERMAN (and Some Others) ( […]

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