Flash #222 Review

Reviewer: John Babos

Story Title: Rogue War: Chapter 3

Written by: Geoff Johns

Art by: Howard Porter

Pages 1-14 Inked by: Livesay

Colored by: James Sinclair

Lettered by: Pat Brosseay

Assistant Editor: Rachel Gluckstern

Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Publisher: DC Comics

DC’s Solicitation

Part 3 of the 6-part “Rogue War,” guest-starring Jay Garrick and Kid Flash! Much to the Flash’s horror, a new ally arrives to help turn the tide of war. But an unexpected friend emerges, and the Rogues are in for the fight of their lives!

The Review

What Makes A Hero Interesting?

This arc and this issue is all Rogues, all the time. Its been said that a super-hero, hell any protagonist in any medium – detective novels, sci-fi, movies, comics, you name it – is defined by their opposite number. Where would Luke Skywalker be without Darth Vader? Dark Angel “Max” without Project: Manticore? Spider-Man without the Green Goblin? Superman without Lex Luthor?

A strong and complex antagonist makes the hero more interesting. That is definitely true of DC’s Flash. Who not only has one strong antagonist, but a gaggle of them.

Captain Cold

Captain Boomerang

Trickster

Gorilla Grodd

Weather Wizard

Zoom – the Reverse-Flash

Top

These vintage villains and newer ones – some as second generation’ers taking on the nom de guerre’s of Captain Boomerang, Trickster, and others – make DC’s blue collar hero speedster far more interesting.

Years Of Hard Work Pay Off….. NOW!!

Since writer Geoff Johns took the reins of the Flash about five years ago his number one priority was to make Wally West and his alter ego relevant again. How’d he do it? He made Flash villains more complex, dangerous, and unpredictable. He put the “vile” back in “villain”.

Johns’ five year run – pun intended – has led up to this. The Rogue War. Were Flash’s vile villains battle among themselves over who can have Flash’s head on a spit first.

Prior to John’s tenure on the Flash, previous writers had reformed many of the character’s Silver Age stalwart villains or made them more cartoonish than sinister. Johns changed that. It has been a methodical five year build, but Flash’s Rogues Gallery is alive, well, and as vile as ever in 2005. THAT may spell trouble for our titular hero, but that makes for storytelling gold.

The Top Is Back…. With A Vengeance

Part 3 of Rogue War has a very sinister Top – Roscoe Dillon – gunning for the Flash and his Rogue allies. Flowing from the events of DC’s monster successful – and controversial – Identity Crisis, where it was revealed that the Justice League of America had in its heyday erased the minds or at least de-fanged many DC’ villains to protect themselves and their families. DC’s current Flash, Wally West, discovered that his mentor the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, participated in this which also impacted Flash’s Rogues – a group that had made its name foiling Barry then Wally.

Wally decided to give back the sanity and the fangs to one of Barry’s top Rogues – pun intended again – Roscoe Dillon, the Top. Doing so has unraveled the world of the Flash. In this issue the Top goes on a one-man rampage to bring back to the dark side – hey, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith is out, so sue me – his “reformed” Rogue one-time allies like Heatwave and the Pied Piper.

The Top quest to bring together the old Rogues – the re-reformed one as well the ones that were already bad-to-the bone – with the new, creepy Johns’ created ones like Murmur, puts him at odds with Captain Cold. Lenny Snart, Cold, has been the black heart of the Rogues Gallery for years and brains of the Rogues for years. Even his very faint nobility streak does temper his fury when the Top comes to town.

The Captain Cold vs. Top battle in the issue – this is a Rogues War after all – is a must-see.

The Flash also emotionally dealing with the Top’s return to form – that Wally had a hand in – and what that means for his one-time reformed Rogue friends is another fine example of John’s storytelling prowess.

Who Is Really Behind the Rogue War?

Another nod to Identity Crisis involves the artificially-alive corpse of Digger Harkness, the first Captain Boomerang, and his reveal – sorta – of the parentage of his “son” the current Captain Boomerang sets up another mystery and another story for tomorrow.

We also seem to learn that DC’s current Checkmate Black King – as revealed in DC Countdown and in the Omac Project – may be behind some of the government machinations that led to Harkness’ creepy state as well the Rogue War itself!

Howard Porter’s art continues to dazzle. He breathes life into Johns’ story that really conveys the subtle emotion and larger than life grandeur that is Rogue War – a five years in the making extravaganza.

THIS arc has far surpassed expectations and the hype. It tops – pun intended yet again – many of DC’s “event” books so far this year.

You want a DC event that is solid on both story and art? Well then the Rogue War is just for you!

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