As follow ups to specific storylines and universes go, the Flashpoint universe doesn't exactly seem like one that would require revisitation, but that's exactly what makes Flashpoint Beyond #1 interesting. Somehow, the Flashpoint world is restored with its Batman, Thomas Wayne, stuck in the doomed reality holding questions as to why and, perhaps more importantly, who is behind it all. It's that search for answers that is central to the story and while it's an interesting way to return and reexamine some of the threads the original Flashpoint didn't quite clean up, this issue gets a little lost in its own head with suboptimal pacing, a reliance on internal monologue, and a puzzling twist at the end that suggests that, like Flashpoint, this is a story that will have more questions than answers.
The issue, written by Geoff Johns, Jeremy Adams, and Tim Sheridan, gives readers most of its story from the thoughts of Thomas Wayne. Through an extensive inner monologue, we receive a rundown of his miserable life, a very condensed version of Flashpoint, and some additional events, namely that he attempted to transform this world's Barry Allen into The Flash to change things and, thus, restore a "better" world only for it to fail because Barry Allen was killed and Aquaman is behind it. It's from there that readers see Thomas, despite being as cold and murderous as ever, somehow also desperate to get to the bottom of things so he can fix it. That self-imposed mission leads him into the conflict between Aquaman and Wonder Woman before somehow turning the whole story on its self to get to a more sobering truth: whoever is really in play here (i.e. the Clockwork Killer) seems to know exactly what Thomas' plans are and uses the whole scenario to trick him. All of this before we end up in the "real" world and find that our Batman is up to something that may end up being connected to it all.
When taken on the whole, it's compelling. The writers do put together enough little bits and breadcrumbs to make the reader wonder what exactly is going on and where things are heading. The characterization of Thomas Wayne is particularly well-done as you get a real sense of not just his coldness, but his desperation as well. This is a man who is deeply angry, but deeply angry with a purpose to the point of not caring about anything other than fixing the reality that serves him best. It's an honesty in the approach to the character that is really well done. It's unfortunately just very bogged down in being too much in that character's head. There is a great deal of tell rather than show to this issue. That's not to say that the art in the issue—mostly handled by Xermanico but also including Mikel Janin as well—is lacking in any way. Quite the opposite, the art here tells as chilling a story as the words on the page. It's just that the words aren't as necessary. The result then is a visual narrative and a textual narrative that collide with one another when they should be working together, particularly once we get to the "real" world twist and the suggestion that something our Batman is doing is influencing the Flashpoint world.
Overall, Flashpoint Beyond #1 is interesting. While it's not necessarily a story that needed revisiting or its mysteries deepened, there's a solid hook to pull the reader in and the questions the issue raises are intriguing in their own right. Storywise, it's engaging enough, though the over-reliance on somewhat bloated inner monologues make the issue feel more like an extended recap and a good bit of needless filler before getting to the good part. It isn't bad, but it's also not as great as it could be especially considering the quality of the art is already top notch.
Published by DC Comics
On May 3, 2022
Written by Geoff Johns, Jeremy Adams, and Tim Sheridan
Art by Xermanico and Mikel Janin
Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Mitch Gerads