After reshaping the DC Multiverse’s continuity in 2011, the alternate reality DC universe of Flashpoint is explored in the continuation miniseries Flashpoint Beyond. While the 2011 Flashpoint crossover event by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert had Barry Allen work with Thomas Wayne (the Batman of this divergent timeline) to restore history, Flashpoint Beyond features a version of the story where Barry is killed during the electrical storm to regain his connection to the Speed Force. Desperate to find a way to undo the Flashpoint reality to create a world where his son Bruce is alive and well, Thomas begins investigating the changes to the timeline, stumbling across the gruesome murder of Barry’s nemesis, the Reverse-Flash.
Spoilers ahead for August 2's Flashpoint Beyond #4.
As Flashpoint Beyond nears its grand finale, the Clockwork Killer, the brutal serial killer nicknamed for their propensity to leave clockwork gears sewn into their victims, stands revealed. And for Thomas, the true culprit – his wife Martha Wayne, driven to become the crazed Joker of this timeline after witnessing her son Bruce’s murder years ago – is one that strikes close to home. Here’s how the Flashpoint timeline was created, how it has since fractured into yet another divergent timeline from the DCU, and how Thomas and Martha Wayne rest at the center of its twisted heart.
The World of Flashpoint
Flashpoint was created when Barry learned the Reverse-Flash murdered his mother Nora when Barry was just a child and framing his father Henry, depriving Barry of a happy upbringing with his parents. Desperate to undo this tragedy, Barry prevented this from taking place, with the unintended consequence of creating the Flashpoint timeline, where many of the DCU’s greatest heroes never rose to accept their destiny, including Barry becoming the Flash. Awakening in this new reality, Barry sought out Batman for help in restoring the timeline, only to be shocked when the Dark Knight of this twisted world was revealed to be Thomas Wayne.
One of the major alterations in this timeline saw Bruce murdered in Crime Alley as a boy, with Thomas becoming the lethal vigilante Batman to punish criminals in Gotham City. Driven mad by horrifically losing her son, Martha became the Joker and scarred her face as she became Gotham’s most notorious supervillain, eventually murdering this reality’s Jim Gordon and targeting Harvey Dent’s family.
After learning about the existence of the main DCU from Barry, including a grown-up Bruce becoming that world’s Batman, Thomas vows to restore this reality. After helping Barry regain his superpowers by replicating the freak accident in an electrical storm while doused with chemicals, Thomas faces Martha one last time in the Batcave. Briefing Martha on what he learned from Barry, a distraught Martha falls to her death when she discovers that her son is destined to become Batman, the very figure she has maniacally opposed since becoming a supervillain.
Thomas and Barry confront the Reverse-Flash in London, in the midst of a devastating war between the Amazons and Atlanteans for the fate of the planet. Thomas is seemingly mortally wounded during this bloody showdown, using the last of his strength to kill the Reverse-Flash before encouraging Barry to help back in time and prevent the Flashpoint timeline from superseding the main DCU for good.
The Flashpoint paradox
In Flashpoint Beyond, Thomas survives the harrowing showdown between the Amazons and Atlanteans while the Flash dies from injuries sustained attempting to regain his powers, leaving this nightmarish timeline intact. As Thomas scours his world for other time traveler’s that could potentially help him restore the timeline without the Flash’s help, only to find a grisly trail of murder victims, with each corpse having clockwork parts sewn into them. The Clockwork Killer’s latest victim is the Reverse-Flash, who is discovered murdered in a dingy room matching the killer’s grim modus operandi.
As the Flashpoint Batman continues his investigation, he learns of the existence of Hypertime, a multiversal concept created by Mark Waid and Grant Morrison in the 1999 miniseries The Kingdom. This theory posits that the DCU serves as a central timeline, with divergent timelines depicting different realities branching from it. One important figure overseeing Hypertime, Rip Hunter, has since gone missing, whisked away by the villainous Pariah as Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths unfolds in the main DCU.
To make matters even worse, Thomas deduces that unless he finds a way to stop the Clockwork Killer and restore history, he will lose his chance forever as the Amazon-Atlantean War threatens to engulf the entire planet and the changes to the timeline begin to solidify.
The Clockwork Killer Revealed
As the Flashpoint Batman continues to recover clockwork parts from the Clockwork Killer’s victims, he realizes that he recognizes the gears and cogs implanted into the cadavers. The clockwork components match the broken grandfather clock kept in Wayne Manor, with the time perpetually frozen to the time of the Wayne family tragedy in Crime Alley all those years ago. With the clock as a wedding present to Thomas and Martha, the Dark Knight deduces that the Clockwork Killer is actually Martha, who is on the loose again and just as lethally unhinged as ever.
It is currently unclear if Martha survived her fall in the Batcave or if Barry’s death caused alterations in the Flashpoint timeline that facilitated this iteration of the Joker’s return. Given Martha targeting time travelers, it appears that she is at least aware of the existence of alternate timelines, killing anyone who could restore a reality where her son takes on the mantle of Batman suggesting that a version of her showdown with Thomas occurred. Upping the ante, Martha is in league with the Flashpoint timeline’s Two-Face, ready for rematch with her husband with the odds now stacked in favor, two-to-one.
At once a sequel to the original Flashpoint crossover event and Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock, with its acknowledgment of the MetaVerse and Watchmen Universe, Flashpoint Beyond is quietly one of the more ambitious stories currently being published by DC. It now falls on the Flashpoint Batman to save the trajectory of DC history, this time without the help of the Flash. And with Martha Wayne revealed as the murderous mastermind of this conflict, a gruelingly personal confrontation is sure to unfold as the miniseries enters its final act.
Flashpoint Beyond is written by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan, and Jeremy Adams, illustrated by Xermanico and Mikel Janin, colored by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. and Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Rob Leigh. Flashpoint Beyond #4 is on sale now, with issue #5 on sale Sept. 6.
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