The Good: Decent characters, Some wonderful art
The Bad: Some very sloppy or sketch-like artwork, Story makes very little overall sense
The Basics: The Rogues go on the run after killing Bart Allen, because apparently they are the only ones who don’t know how speedsters never stay dead, in Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge.
At the outset of my review of Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge, I think that it is germane to note that I like the Rogues, the villainous grouping of adversaries that face off against Barry Allen, Wally West, and Bart Allen when those three assume the mantle of their generation’s version of the Flash. My yearlong study of the Flash last year put me in touch with the idea that the Rogues were very cool and surprisingly compelling villains that the mainstream of pop culture has never quite latched onto. And while the Rogues may be strong enough to carry a book or two, Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is not one they successfully carry.
An ancillary volume to the larger DC Universe event that was Final Crisis (reviewed here!), Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge focuses on the villains of the Flash corner of the DC Universe as they face the advance of the villain Libra and the Darkseid-initiated final crisis across the DC Multiverse. Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is a very direct sequel to The Flash: Fastest Man Alive – Full Throttle (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss this volume without spoiling the end of that book. Thus, for those who want to enjoy the richness of the story of Bart Allen as the Flash, this is the point in the review where you must stop reading. Unfortunately, even with such a spoiler alert, Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is more hype and nonsense than it is compelling and clear, especially for the villainous characters involved.
So forewarned . . .
Following the murder of Bart Allen, the Rogues leg by Captain Cold are on the run. Having broken the unspoken rule that they cannot kill the Speedsters, Leonard Snart decides he is tired of running and he and his crew are going to get revenge on the person who goaded them into bringing about Bart Allen’s demise: Inertia. Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, the new Trickster, and Heat Wave decide to hunt down the surviving, villainous, Speedster.
Unfortunately for both the heroes and villains in the DC Universe, Inertia has fallen in with . . . Professor Zoom. Declaring himself Kid Zoom, the villainous clone throws off his new mentor and the rules, paving the way for the Rogues to actually do everyone a service by putting the boy down.
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is predicated on a simple and somewhat underwhelming principle: that the Rogues have a rule whereby they cannot actually kill any of the Speedsters. This ridiculous logic relegates the Rogues – many of whom have compelling backstories like having abusive parents and childhood sexual traumas – to being mere annoyances to the various Flash lines. The idea that the goal of the Rogues is never to actually kill one of the Speedsters rings as utterly hollow and that they spend so much time moralizing and running away based on the idea that they will be pursued and hunted for doing what a good villain ought to do anyway seems utterly absurd.
In a similar vein, those who know Captain Cold’s backstory – and the hardcover of Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge generously reprints the origin story of Leonard Snart as well as one of the other Rogues – coming into the book will be utterly unsurprised by Snart’s reaction when his father is menaced by Inertia. Obviously Snart’s abusive father is not the one for Libra’s forces to leverage against Snart and the Libra subplot only weakens that villain and makes it seem like Lex Luthor has joined forces with someone utterly and tragically below him in intelligence. It’s pretty basic homework for a criminal syndicate to learn about your potential members prior to trying to recruit them!
Inertia makes for an interesting villain, though Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge quickly turns into an obvious tale on the dangers of hubris. My perennial favorite, Zoom, returns as an always interesting villain, but he is underused in this book. The artwork alternates between sharp and compelling images with a great sense of movement and sketchy panels that make Cold look like a literally square-jawed comic strip villain. The dramatic differences in quality, sometimes panel to panel, is distracting as well as disappointing.
But the real issue with Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge is the story. Usually, Geoff Johns has a strong focus and a compelling viewpoint when it comes to the villains, but in this volume, it feels like he phoned it in. The title to the book pretty much says it all: this is a straightforward revenge story where the Rogues try to avoid Libra’s criminal syndicate while exacting their revenge upon Inertia, who put them in the mess that should not have been an unforeseeable mess. Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge feels like what it is: a somewhat pointless, distant tie-in to an event that could not really focus on the Rogues, so feels compelled to explain why. This book is only for the die-hard fans of The Flash.
For other books where the Rogues have their day, please check out my reviews of:
The Flash Vs. The Rogues
The Flash: Rogues
The Flash: Rogue War
Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Volume 2
For other book reviews, check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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