Barry Allen has been back for about two years now, resurrected from the dead after he sacrificed his life to save the multiverse in 1985. His second life has been pretty rough; he lost his mother, went back in time to rescue her only to reboot the entire DC Universe (see Flashpoint). Now, in this universe, he NEVER married Iris West, his sidekick and protege Wally is missing, and superheroes are public enemy number one.
Good going Barry.
Previously in the Flash: Central City has turned against the Flash thanks to his former friend, Darwin Elias. Rather than resume his secret identity, Flash decided to leave Barry Allen dead to concentrate on being a superhero. For the past couple of issues, he has fought members of his classic Rogues gallery: Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Gorilla Grodd. Most recently, he quelled a fight between Heatwave and Captain Cold at the “Rogues” bar. However, as the two Rogues were taken to jail, they were met by a mysterious women, transparently rising from the floor.
ROGUES AT WAR
With the (re) introduction of several Rogues in the new 52, this issue is what readers have been waiting for. The Rogues have reunited (most of them anyway) under a new leader, Glider aka Golden Glider, Captain Cold’s sister. When it comes to a rogues gallery, Flash’s is one of my favorites. His may not be as famous as Batman’s or Spiderman’s, but it is just as expansive and diverse. Even though the theme of the new 52 is new villains for new readers, it’s nice to see some classics come back in this issue.
With this array of characters there is a lot of action happening all at once. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato do a good job of controlling it all, allowing the reader time to follow everything. Every character gets attention without drawing the focus away from our hero. However, with this many villains comes a lack of characterization. The writers bank on the reader being familiar with the rogues, so they take liberties with convenient plot devices and rely too much on dialogue puns.
Like with previous Flash issues, Francis Manapul incorporates art into his title design. In this issue, the buildings in the reflection of a limousine form the letters F-L-A-S-H with the Flash racing beside it. The exhaust from the vehicle form the letters T-H-E. I like this because it reminds me of the title sequences of Will Eisner’s Spirit comics. Francis Manapul’s fantastic character redesigns give the Rogues a classic look with a 21st century twist. No more goofy, out-of-date costumes like heavy winter coats, ice skates and full body fire suits. Manapul’s Rogues are younger and edgier for a more modern audience. Colors play a key role in progressing the narrative. For example, gray tones and blurred figures portray elements of speed: the slowing and quickening of events. Overall, the art continues to be done well.
BOTTOM LINE: PICKING UP SPEED
Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been building this Rogue arc for a while and it now seems to be coming to a head. It is a great jumping point if you have not been following the Flash recently. With Barry Allen facing another horrible situation, I look forward to where the comic will go from here. 3 and a half Stars.