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One amazing Batman story, three misses
on 5 May 2012
What if Joe Chill had killed Bruce Wayne and spared his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne? Would there still be a Batman of Gotham? And what might that look like?
This is the premise that the 100 Bullets team Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso take and run with for a much too short three issue run in this Flashpoint series. Flashpoint is a series where Barry Allen, the Flash, has travelled into a parallel dimension where the world he knows is slightly askew here. Here, Thomas Wayne is the Batman, and all of the familiar characters in the Batman world are completely changed. I won't spoil it for you because this is a genius storyline and the reveal of who the Joker is, is so mind-bendingly cool and brilliant that you should discover it yourself. Suffice it to say, if the entire book had been like this it would be undoubtedly a five star must read. Unfortunately Azzarello and Risso's Batman run is ends and what follows are three fair to poor stories, two of which have nothing to do with Batman whatsoever.
With no Bruce Wayne Batman and a different Joker, Dick Grayson grows up in the circus with this parents. But in this Flashpoint universe Wonder Woman and the Amazonians are at war with Aquaman and the Atlanteans who have flooded most of Europe while the Amazonians terrorise the rest of the continent. Grayson and his circus get caught up and their fellow acrobat, Dead Man, fight for survival in this desperate new world.
The third story is about somebody called Deathstroke who I've never heard of nor know anything about. He's some kind of Pirate captain looking for his kidnapped daughter. Aquaman makes an appearance but generally this entire story is a total snoozefest for me. Didn't know what was going on, didn't care.
Same could be said for the fourth and final story which is about the Secret Seven. Besides Zatanna (who looks even more like a prostitute than normal in this bizarrely realised new costume) I didn't know who anyone was so it was hard to follow along. Lots of Grant Morrison-esque weirdness though if you like that, though Peter Milligan scripted it.
Aside from the second story where Dick Grayson is one of the main characters, only half of this book has anything to do with Batman and Batman is only in the first story, so it's kind of a con to call this a Batman book. If you like Deathstroke and Secret Seven maybe you'll get more out of this but for me the book was all about the first, superb story, and then fell off completely after that.