The world of Flashpoint has returned, which really isn’t a good thing for our world. Flashpoint Beyond is a limited series that follows “Flashpoint Batman,” otherwise known as his universe’s Thomas Wayne. Thomas knows the timeline isn’t right—he’s fixed it before, after all—and he wants to restore it so he could save his son’s reality. However, little things like Kryptonian invasions and Amazon incursions, to say nothing about a serial murderer known as the Clockwork Killer, keep on getting in his way. And then there’s the whole issue of hypertime breaking down.
We’re now five chapters into this highly anticipated follow-up and have no idea how it’s going to wrap up. Flashpoint Batman seems pretty unhinged, his world has only gotten worse since the first Flashpoint (as hard as that is to believe) and Earth-Prime’s Batman seems like he might be behind it all…and may be in over his head. With so much at stake, we thought it was well past time to check in with series co-writers Jeremy Adams and Tim Sheridan, who helped us break down the high-stakes book’s recent events, while sharing a few teases about where things might be heading.
You’re introducing Robin the Boy Terror. Tell me everything you can about that.
Jeremy Adams: Dexter comes from a very traumatic past.
Tim Sheridan: I think everybody saw where we were pointing when we introduced Dexter. It was something that we started talking about pretty early on. Ultimately, what this story is about is the future. When we think about Flashpoint, we think about changing the past and fixing the present. And I think when we started talking about how this story was really about changing the future, it made us think about the next generation. There’s a built-in mechanism for that with Batman and the wayward young lads and gals who have taken on that Robin mantle.
JA: What’s so cool for me is the fact that in this version, Alfred is the Penguin. Thomas Wayne was like, “Just keep the kid occupied.” The kid was like, “I want to shoot a gun.” What are we training him to do?
TS: Once you open up the idea of what the process of becoming a Robin for Thomas looks like in the Flashpoint universe, it just opens up so many possibilities. It was a really fun thing to bring to the table. He was like, “Oh, I want to know about explosives. I want to know about firing a gun.” He’s got reasons.
Right, he did just witness the death of his father.
JA: I love that in Dexter as a character too. He’s a weird kid that keeps his cards close to his chest in a way, so he’s not talking a lot. He’s just kind of doing the thing. But I think all the readers understand that there is some level of intelligence there and that we’re not exactly sure what he’s doing.
TS: He serves the purpose, as far as Thomas is concerned, of standing in for young Bruce. We kind of gave you hints of it. The way he looks at Dexter, he sees his late son. Obviously, it’s that tragedy that made Thomas Wayne become Batman, but in another version of the timeline, if he had become Batman anyway, and if young Bruce had lived, you could imagine that young Bruce might have ended up becoming Robin. Dexter is an interesting focal point for many of the themes and ideas that we’re playing around with.
The two of you have had the unique opportunity to play around in the Flashpoint timeline and build new dynamics within it.
JA: Oh my gosh, that’s been so much fun. There was so much done originally in the Flashpoint universe, where they had the miniseries and then all the tie-ins. It was incredible, so it was like, “What other corners do we not know about and how can we expand upon them, and how can we pick up the threads of the Atlanteans and the Amazons? How can we know what’s happening to the Superman of this age?”
We see that in issue three. It’s like, oh, he’s got this Fortress of Solitude, but it’s not the same at all. Like we twist it on its head, and that to me is always the joy when you’re dealing with an alternate timeline.
TS: I think the thing that surprised us right away was how much is still unexplored in the Flashpoint universe. If people buy this book and like this book, I would hope that they would ask for more stories set in this part of the world, in this part of the multiverse, or in this part of hypertime. There’s so much, it’s practically endless what you can explore.
JA: We’re seeing the pressure of Thomas Wayne saying nothing matters, but this world still exists and by having all this stuff happening around him, it makes it harder to say that. You know, nothing matters, except the Kryptonians might invade in five days. Nothing matters except Wonder Woman is going to go on a tear.
TS: It’s an important distinction to point out that it’s not that he’s saying nothing matters. He’s saying none of THIS matters. And he’s got a point based on his experience.
He thinks it’s all going to be erased. This Kryptonian invasion is never happening as far as he’s concerned.
TS: I love that conceit. That is something we clicked in early. Thomas Wade is already guns blazing, action first, maybe talk later. To take the reins off of him and turn him loose in this way, that’s just been a lot of fun.
We also have a dual narrative, with the story also featuring Bruce Wayne and our prime timeline. What is it like to balance all of that?
JA: I think what’s really interesting, without spoiling anything, is Bruce is there in the present time. That immediately tells you as a reader, wait a second, what is this Flashpoint timeline? That’s the mystery that we’re going to explain by the final issue. It’s important to see that they’re both going on a journey of some sort. It really has to do with fractured families and what you’re willing to do for family in a way.
TS: We’ve talked a little bit about what makes something a Flashpoint story. Jeremy and I have been very lucky to get to sit in a room with Geoff Johns, and to get a real front seat crash course in what makes it a Flashpoint story. Flashpoint at its core was an exploration of grief, and that’s what ultimately this Flashpoint Beyond story is as well. We’re seeing it from Thomas’s perspective, but now we’re also getting to see it from Bruce’s perspective, which is something we didn’t really get in the same way before. Both of these guys are connected by tragedy, and obviously blood, but how they approach their grief and how they move beyond it is in many ways very different. And in a couple of ways, very much the same. And that’s going to play out over the rest of the series.
Recently, Thomas Wayne has had some difficult confrontations with his son. How have those changed him and how he approaches things?
JA: We talked about it in issue #0. Thomas Wayne recognizes that his son is a better man than he is in a way. It also raises the stakes—”I know that this guy exists and has saved the world many times, and so, therefore, I will do anything to make sure he exists because not only is he my son, but he’s a great hero.” I think that’s important.
TS: There is a strange thing that we don’t think about when we think about Batman and that is that it takes a whole hell of a lot of hope for Bruce Wayne, or for Thomas Wayne, to put on the costume and do what they do, to think that they can make a difference. They are actually incredibly hopeful men. And I think there’s something to the idea that no matter what they have gone through together, they’re still father and son across timelines. And they can still learn from each other, and they can still respect each other.
Can you describe the working relationship and collaborative process the two of you have?
JA: I hate him. (laughs)
TS: Yeah, we don’t get along. JA and I have known each other for… How many years now? We started working together…
JA: …with Justice League Action.
TS: Yeah, we both came into DC at the same time, when they were looking for folks who had some television experience. We worked under the same editors at DC, so we’ve kind of been on parallel tracks for a long time.
JA: We’re good collaborators. It was one of those things where we had come up with an initial idea, and they reached out to Geoff because we were playing with the Flashpoint timeline.
You meet people that have kind of revolutionized DC. I’ve read so much of his stuff, and you just don’t know what you’re going to get. And we met this guy that’s unbelievably nice and warm and collaborative. We go to his office, and he has a big whiteboard and we just start throwing ideas on the wall. Tim and I are fairly new to the comic book world, so getting to sit there next to this guy who’s not new to the comic book world, and…
TS: …Who has pretty much defined so much of it for a while.
JA: He has a certain way of doing things too. It is a huge learning experience, but we’re in television. We’re in those sorts of collaborative environments all the time, where it’s all about pitching and saying no.
TS: And then the pages started coming back. What Xermanico is doing, the pages have just been incredible and enlightening.
JA: When those first pages started coming back, I was like, oh my goodness, it’s so cinematic. He’s so careful, and he’s asked so many questions. He’s super collaborative, too, which I wasn’t expecting.
TS: Anyway, we’ve had a great time.
Flashpoint Beyond #4 by Geoff Johns, Tim Sheridan, Jeremy Adams, Xermanico and Mikel Janin is now available in print and as a digital comic book.