Monday, October 8, 2012

The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues Helps Prove That Sometimes The Dead Should Remain That Way . . .

The Good: Engaging plot that is clearly going somewhere . . .
The Bad: Almost entirely devoid of character development, Artwork is of mixed quality
The Basics: The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues is a disappointing preamble to Flashpoint that returns Barry Allen to work in a surprisingly uncompelling way.

As part of my Flash Year, it seems inevitable that I would track down and read Flashpoint. After all, the major DC Universe crossover event of two summers ago focused on the Flash and it would almost be criminal of me not to get those volumes in as part of my exploration of the Flash. I have been avoiding Flashpoint for two reasons. The first is that the advertising campaign surrounding it annoyed the hell out of me. As a seasoned reader, the idea that Flashpoint was not a dream or an Elseworld, but would fundamentally rewrite the entire DC Universe was an absolutely asinine conceit. Of course it is an Elseworld, an alternate reality, a temporal glitch. I can’t imagine there were too many readers who were stupid enough to take that bait.

The second reason that I’ve been avoiding Flashpoint was that, at first, I wanted to be sure I knew the characters well enough to appreciate their altered forms in Flashpoint. But, as my Flash Year has gone on, I’ve been unenthusiastic about Flashpoint because I knew that it follows on the heels of The Flash: Rebirth (reviewed here!), which resurrected Barry Allen as the Flash. I’ve been discovering that I like Wally West as the Flash and Barry Allen’s return was pretty ho-hum as far as I was concerned.

That said, I picked up The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues with some sense of eagerness. It was part of the Brightest Day Saga and that was an arc in the DC Universe I actually enjoyed. (Indeed, one of the only graphic novels I have actually bought the last year was associated with Brightest Day) The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues is best defined as the volume that bridges Brightest Day and Flashpoint. Unfortunately, it does little else than that.

Barry Allen returns to the Central City Police Department to discover that the Cold Case department he used to run is actually a thriving portion of the Department. However, the CCPD’s Cold Case Department is filled with jaded, disillusioned officers who are more content to clear cases than actually make sure the guilty are punished and brought to justice for their crimes. After a run-in with the Trickster, the Flash is pretty much handed the body of a man who appears to be the Mirror Master. Discovering it is just a man in the Mirror Master’s costume makes a deeper mystery that is interrupted by temporal police from the 25th Century who claim to be part of the Reverse Flash Task Force, who accuse Barry Allen of killing their friend, the Mirror Monarch.

As Digger Harkness breaks out of Iron Heights as he attempts to get back into the good graces of the Rogues, the Flash finds himself attacked on both sides. The Renegades want him to stand trial in the 25th Century for a crime he knows he did not commit and the Rogues want him (and the Renegades) dead as a matter of course. Working to exonerate an innocent man who was convicted of a crime he did not commit puts Barry Allen on a path that may make him a victim of Sam Scudder’s (the original Mirror Master) ultimate plan for revenge!

The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues is a surprisingly simple story, despite its apparent complexities. Geoff Johns introduces the Renegades, which are essentially recasts of the familiar Rogues with some souped-up technology. The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues hinges on the reader buying the conceits that Barry Allen and Iris Allen are now younger than they were at the time of the Flash’s death in Crisis On Infinite Earths (reviewed here!). Outside that conceit, The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues does not ask much of the reader.

In fact, The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues asks almost nothing of the reader. If you’ve never read anything about the Flash, The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues explains itself well enough. The book does not even try to develop anything new with Barry Allen. Instead, he is the same old, steadfast Barry Allen he always was and it is almost enough to make one wonder why they bothered to resurrect the second generation Flash instead of continuing the compelling development of the third.

There is a little bit of character depth or character exploration in The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues, but it has nothing to do with Barry Allen. Instead, Digger Harkness’s initial arc for the Brightest Day Saga is presented here. Digger, who was never a terribly interesting villain (having just read his origin story in The Flash Vs. The Rogues, reviewed here!, I can say that with some authority), is fleshed out nicely in The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues. But, just as this is largely a preamble to Flashpoint, the Digger Harkness arc is essentially inbred to the Brightest Day storyline. In other words, people who have not read the Brightest Day Saga , the Digger Harkness plot will not matter at all.

The artwork in The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues is mediocre. The colors are wonderful and vivid, but the pencils are more sketchy than I like. The panels are exceptionally varied in the amount of movement between panels and in panels and the level of detailing for the heroes and villains is good enough. Most of the artwork is good enough to make it easy to make a distinction between the Renegades and the Rogues, but not by much.

Ultimately, The Flash: The Dastardly Death Of The Rogues rises to be stiflingly average and it is largely dedicated to selling the next big event without honestly developing a compelling story of its own.

For other Brightest Day works, please check out my reviews of:
Brightest Day - Volume 1
Brightest Day - Volume 2
Brightest Day - Volume 3
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The Black Ring - Volume 1
Green Arrow: Into The Woods
Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 1
Justice League: Generation Lost - Volume 2


For other book reviews, please be sure to check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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