Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reboot Failure: The Flash: Rogues Revolution Undermines The New 52 Flash!

The Good: Moments of story, One or two character moments for the villains
The Bad: Glosses over huge moments of characterization, Rushed plot, Erratic artwork/coloring
The Basics: The Flash: Rogues Revolution is a mediocre continuation of Barry Allen’s rebooted story of the Flash as the hero returns to the twin cities where he tries to stop the Rogues . . . with the unlikely help of Captain Cold!

While my Flash Year is long over, I found that the year of studying the character left me very interested in the super hero. I might be one of the rare fans of Wally West as the Flash as opposed to the traditional Barry Allen version of the Flash. As a result, I was not hugely impressed by The Flash: Rebirth (reviewed here!) and the big Flash-related crossover, Flashpoint (reviewed here!). With Barry Allen as the sole Flash, DC Comics’s “New 52” strategy rebooted the character. Following on the heels of Move Along (reviewed here!) was The Flash: Rogues Revolution. Unfortunately, The Flash: Rogues Revolution does not continue the story of The Flash in a compelling way to make one want to continue to revisit his corner of the new DC Universe.

The Flash: Rogues Revolution features almost no character development for Barry Allen and it focuses much more on the various villains in the Flash corner of the DC Universe. Almost as much as Batman, The Flash has an entire gallery of recurring villains who pop up to torment the hero and during the best-written phases of The Flash, the villains were incredibly well-written and deep. Sadly, The Flash: Rogues Revolution lacks that depth and it also has gaps in the storytelling that makes the book have a poor flow and an erratic quality to it that makes it impossible to recommend. The book also begins somewhat in the middle of a serialized story with only context clues for part of how the story got where it is, which makes it harder to get into for new fans.

Trapped in Gorilla City at the hands of the merciless Grodd, the Flash is essentially powerless and confused. While some of the intelligent simians believe that Barry Allen is their savior, Grodd wants to eat the brain of the Flash in order to gain his power and knowledge. When Allen is rescued by some of Grodd’s pacifistic political adversaries, he returns to Central City and Keystone City. There, The Flash discovers that in the years he was gone, an anti-Flash and anti-super hero sentiment has overrun the twin cities. Also, an industrialist has gained credit and notoriety for making the cities completely energy independent . . . using batteries that the Flash super-charged.

Given that the world thinks that Barry Allen is dead and Patty Spivot has mourned and moved on, Barry lays low as an anonymous bartender in the slums. There, he encounters Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) who is on the outs with the Rogues. When Heatwave breaks into the bar and tries to kill Cold, it becomes clear to Barry that there has been a fracture within the Rogues. Working together, the Flash and Captain Cold try to stop a crime spree which further seeks to discredit the Flash and destroy his reputation in the twin cities. But just as Barry comes to trust Cold to help him stop the Trickster, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, Heatwave, and an ethereal version of Snart’s sister, his ally turns on him and leaves him (and the twin cities) at the mercy of an even worse enemy!

The Flash: Rogues Revolution does the heavy lifting of explaining how the Rogues were altered for the New 52 vision of the DC Universe. As it turns out, the idea is a good one: tired of being constantly disarmed by the Flash, the Rogues banded together to try to give themselves super powers. The idea is a neat one, as is the clever idea that the attempt to incorporate their gadgets as super powers had horrible side effects. Those side effects include Heatwave getting horribly burned and unable to control the fire within him when his emotions get the better of him and Leonard Snart’s sister becoming a disembodied entity who has minimal influence in our universe.

The idea of the mechanized conceits becoming biologically incorporated into the villains is an interesting idea, though it seems somewhat goofy (it’s the super-hero universe equivalent of creating a device that would allow anyone who had a blender to develop the super power of blending); at least it is derived by a clever means. The villains recognize the power of the Flash and have a reasonable way to minimize their vulnerability to him. The execution of their plan leaves people like Mirror Master with terrible consequences, though his being trapped in a mirror universe is erratically executed. The brief time the Flash spends trapped there in The Flash: Rogues Revolution implies that it is a much more permeable membrane than in prior storylines (and it is left unclear why others can move in and out of the Mirror Master’s pocket universe, but McCullough remains trapped there).

Just as the story has gaps and does exceptionally little to further the character of Barry Allen, The Flash: Rogues Revolution has erratic artwork. While the penciling is less blockish than in some of the recent prior graphic novels of The Flash, the coloring is far less vibrant and realistic than it could be. That gives The Flash: Rogues Revolution an unfortunately flat look and feel to it. The result is a book that lacks a sense of being visually stunning just as the story leaves the reader unimpressed.

Ultimately, The Flash: Rogues Revolution is what it is and it feels like it: it is a middle act in a storyline that is surprisingly underwhelming.

For other “New 52” graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection
Batgirl: Knightfall Descends
Green Lantern: Sinestro
Green Lantern: Revenge Of The Black Hand
Green Lantern: The End
Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome
Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War
Justice League: Origins
Red Lanterns: Blood And Rage
Wonder Woman: Blood
Wonder Woman: Guts
Wonder Woman: War


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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