Monday, September 24, 2012

Primer On The Rogues Gallery: The Flash Vs. The Rogues Is Not One Story, It Is A Compilation!

The Good: Decent character introductions
The Bad: Exceptionally repetitive, No development for Barry Allen, Mediocre (at best) artwork.
The Basics: A must for those looking to understand the full history of the Flash, The Flash Vs. The Rogues is otherwise a pretty shaky read.

“They” (and I) frequently say that the measure of a hero is based, in part, on the quality of his adversaries. In other words, the more audacious and incredible the villains are, the more impressive the hero is for overcoming them. For the Flash, that might seem to be a tough sell, at least if one is using The Flash Vs. The Rogues as a guide. More often than not, the origin stories of each of the original Rogues – most of the Rogues were revamped with new people taking up the mantles of the old villains during the era of Wally West as the Flash – are repetitive and silly as they are largely bank robbers who have a simple gimmick that brings them to the attention of the Flash and he thwarts them.

Sadly, far and away the way Barry Allen thwarts each and every one of the Rogues is by running around them very fast, creating a mini-cyclone that knocks them each off balance and allows him to get the villain to police headquarters before Barry arrives late for a date with Iris West, his perpetual fiancé in this volume.

To be clear, The Flash Vs. The Rogues is not one story. Instead, this is a collection of nine stories originally presented from Showcase Comics and the first volume of Flash comics back when they were apparently thirteen pages long. Each chapter in The Flash Vs. The Rogues introduces a different villain to Barry Allen (the Flash) and exhibits how he thwarted each of those villainous Rogues in his first encounters with them.

That’s it. There is no deeper story, no actual character development. Instead, The Flash Vs. The Roguesis a collection of vignettes, simple origin stories and most of them are simple. The volume culminates in a story that reunites six of the Rogues and Gorilla Grodd to try to thwart Barry Allen. The Flash Vs. The Rogues provides the origin stories of Leonard Snart as Captain Cold (the only original Rogue to persist into the modern incarnations of The Flash), Mirror Master, Gorilla Grodd (who is a recurring adversary of all of the Flashes, but not ever really a “rogue”), the Pied Piper, Weather Wizard, Trickster, Captain Boomerang, The Top, and Heat Wave. Almost all of them have gadgets – the Weather Wizard’s wand, Trickster’s levitation shoes, the Top’s atomic grenade, etc. – and a gimmick, but virtually all of them are thwarted in the same way. Seriously, the big technique back in the 1960s when most of these stories were written was having the Flash run around the villains very fast to knock them off their game!

The narrative voice in The Flash Vs. The Rogues is very melodramatic. Apparently in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s, readers needed everything explained to them in every single issue. So conceits like Barry Allen’s costume expanding as it comes out of his ring and the principle that guides that transformation is explained in each and every chapter of the book. Moreover, it does seem like each story ends with him meeting Iris for a date.

The artwork in The Flash Vs. The Rogues is unremarkable, though to be fair on that front, the colors were simple in the original comic books from which these are compiled. Also, Barry Allen is very consistently rendered in The Flash Vs. The Rogues. He’s a square-jawed blonde guy who frequently wears a hat.

Given that most of the villains are re-introduced in the era of Wally West, The Flash Vs. The Rogues reads more like a novelty. It is an intriguing history for Flash enthusiasts, but nothing more.

For other Flash graphic novels, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Born To Run
The Return Of Barry Allen
Terminal Velocity
Dead Heat
Race Against Time
Emergency Stop
The Human Race
Blood Will Run
The Secret Of Barry Allen
Full Throttle
Lightning In A Bottle
Flash: Rebirth
The Life Story Of The Flash


For other graphic novel reviews, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |


  1. The repetitious 'explain everything' in each issue can be explained by Gardener Fox's belief that 'Every issue can be someone's first.'

    Any interest in THE NEW TEEN TITANS with its coverage of Wally West and his Kid Flash issues?

  2. Be that as it may; it holds up poorly when the comic books are made into trade paperback anthologies or graphic novels. Thanks for reading!

    I have started reviewing the Teen Titans!