February 11, 2016
Why do people like Flash villains so much? They’re arguably just as beloved as the Flashes themselves, and even many comics creators rank them as being among the best rogues galleries in comics.
There are many reasons for this, some of which simply come down to them being very memorable and entertaining characters, and in some cases even lovable (your mileage on the latter may vary, however). You might be surprised by how many dedicated fans there are of the Rogues and/or the Reverse Flashes. But there are other reasons for their popularity as well.
Firstly there are the villains’ powers or gimmicks, most of which complement or neutralize the Flashes’ speed. The Reverse Flashes obviously match the speed of their nemeses, allowing for some extraordinarily epic races and forcing the heroes to get faster or more creative with their powers. The Flash television series has shown this quite well, with Barry Allen being pushed to go ever faster to combat the superior speed of Eobard Thawne and Zoom. And many of the Rogues’ powers combat speed in some way by slowing down motion, such as Captain Cold’s cold gun and the Turtle’s kinetic black hole. Still others have devised inventive ways around the Flashes’ speed, such as Mirror Master’s near-magic mirror tech, the Top’s vertigo power, and the Pied Piper’s hypnosis. They’re all extremely well-suited to fighting the Flash, and are very good at what they do. Several of the Rogues have noted that fighting other heroes almost seems like it’s happening in slow motion because they’re so accustomed to combat with speedsters.
Another reason for the villains’ popularity is that they’re an excellent contrast for the Flashes’ heroism. The Reverse Flashes — particularly the obsessive Professor Zoom, who’s alternately been a tremendous fan of Barry Allen and at other times wanted to take his place — show us just how terrifying and awful the Flashes could be if they were bad people (or in Zoom’s case, deranged). The Reverse Flashes are a dark mirror to demonstrate the noble qualities of the heroes. This was especially hammered home when Professor Zoom murdered Barry’s mother and we saw that tragedy didn’t twist him as it did Hunter Zolomon.
In the same vein, the similarly poor upbringings of the Rogues and Wally West showcase the differences between them; Wally came from a broken home and still became a hero, while the Rogues became anti-social criminals and at least some attributed it to their dysfunctional early lives. Wally said of Double Down “Like most Rogues he blames his predicament on someone else”, and that seems to be the key difference between him and them.
And finally, a major reason for the popularity of at least some Flash villains is the ‘gentleman thief’ aspect many of them embody. Not all of them are like this, of course, but the Rogues have held that appeal since the Silver Age (at left is a letter published in Flash v1 #132, circa 1962) and it’s only become more pronounced in the modern era with the establishment of Captain Cold’s Rogue Rules. Many fans like them for their principles even if they don’t always live up to them, but the Rogues are just as human and fallible as the rest of us. The fact that they even care about rules sets them apart from many other villains, and makes them distinctive and easier to root for. Readers can genuinely care about Captain Cold and want him to succeed when he has a set of ethics and refuses to cross certain boundaries.
So there are good reasons for the enduring popularity of Flash villains amongst readers and creators, and their success is no accident. They’ve been well-crafted over the years to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Flashes, and are interesting characters in their own right. It’s been wonderful to see some of them finally appear in live action television over the past two years, and hopefully they’ll continue to be showcased and introduced to an entirely new audience in the years to come.
October 15, 2014
Hello new Flash fans and curious readers! Welcome to Flash fandom, and I hope you enjoy your stay 🙂
Part One of this piece covers the Reverse Flashes and major Rogues (the more popular ones). This part covers Gorilla Grodd, as well as some more minor villains who may appear in the television series – many of these characters were co-created by the show’s producer/writer Geoff Johns, and he’ll probably revisit them at some point. It’s already known that Girder will appear.
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October 13, 2014
Hello new Flash fans and curious readers! Welcome to Flash fandom, and I hope you enjoy your stay 🙂
Recently Speed Force did a post about the basics of the Flash book and some issue recommendations, which are great introductions for new readers. I figured this could be an addendum to those pieces.
See the short biographies after the jump.
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August 15, 2013
From Collected Editions we get the news that not all of DC Comics’ Villains Month issues will be collected in trades, “only the ones that fully tie into an ongoing series.” (Dan Didio)
This has me wondering about the three Flash villain issues.
Reverse Flash appears to be essentially part 5 of the 6-part Reverse Flash story currently running through The Flash, so it’s safe to say it’ll be included in The Flash Vol.4: Reverse.
The Rogues is billed as having a Forever Evil connection and is by the same creative team as Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion, so it seems likely to appear as a prologue in the collected edition of that series.
Grodd, however? It’s hard to say. Based on the way DC put the Captain Cold two-parter in with Mob Rule for the Move Forward collection, and tossed in the Trickster two-parter with Gorilla Warfare, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the pages of Reverse.
Incidentally, when I asked Brian Buccellato about it, he sidestepped the question (it may not be decided yet anyway), but he and Retcon Punch got into a gorilla pun war that can’t be missed.
November 19, 2012
DC recently announced that a new Reverse-Flash will debut in Flash #17, the final chapter of “Gorilla Warfare,” and will feature in the story beginning in Flash #20. Writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato wouldn’t reveal much this early, though the next story is going to focus on the question of “Who is the Reverse-Flash?”
Looking back at the interview, they don’t outright say that it won’t be Eobard Thawne or Hunter Zolomon, though that’s the way Comic Book Resources took it (and in the New 52, it makes sense to take that approach).
According to Manapul, the character “is going to be a complete re-imagining of him in the same way that we kind of tinkered with what the Speed Force is. We’re going to be explaining what the opposite side of that is.” Buccellato adds, “unlike previous Reverse-Flash iterations, we really take the ‘reverse’ part of it seriously.”
Of course, we’re comics fans, so it’s never too early to start speculating about the possibilities!
Dr. Darwin Elias. Initially an ally of the Flash, a scientist who has studied the speed force and the Flash’s powers. It turns out that he has a serious problem with ethics. He turned popular opinion against the Flash just to see what it would take, and gave the Rogues super-powers just to see what would happen. He and Barry Allen both being scientists could make for an interesting dynamic. Edit: On the downside, he’s already got potential in his current form, so folding him into an existing role takes what could be two villains and cuts them down to one.
Daniel West. Iris’ brother, recently released from jail after serving time for a job that was tharted by the Flash. He’s looking for his missing sister, who vanished during one of the Flash’s battles and is now trapped inside the speed force. It’s not hard to see motive, and if he somehow finds Iris, he could easily end up connected to the speed force in some way.
Iris West. The Flash could use some more female villains, she’s in the speed force right now, and it would be interesting to have the new Reverse Flash be someone with a romantic link to the Flash. That said, that angle has already been explored a lot with Batman, Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul; Iris doesn’t really have motivation to go villainous; and it would be a major change to a long-established character. On the other hand…
Patty Spivot. She’s mad at the Flash for “killing” Barry Allen. Unlike Iris, she’s actually dated Barry seriously in this timeline. She’s met someone (Turbine) who has been in the speed force, and could conceivably end up linked to it — in fact, in the last moments of the previous DCU timeline, she was linked to it, taking up Hot Pursuit’s outfit and speed force-powered motorcycle just before Flashpoint transformed the universe. She’s had enough page time for the audience to appreciate a switch, but not as much historical inertia as Iris.
Wally West. His fans have been clamoring for his return, and DC has been very coy: either they have no plans, or they’re saving him for something big. We don’t know what he’s up to in this timeline (if he even exists), but since Flashes have a history of dimension travel, we can imagine a pre-New 52 Wally West being trapped in this timeline, wanting to repair it, and blaming Barry for wiping his family out of existence. On the downside, DC has already gone down this road with Hal Jordan as Parallax and Superboy Prime (not that they’ve ever shied away from repetition). More importantly, perhaps, DC has been very insistent on not offering any “escape hatches” that might allow fans to think the old DCU could possibly come back, ever. Having a character explicitly from that old continuity sounds like something they’d want to stay away from. This option also didn’t fare well in the polls. 71% of Wally West fans and 64% of non-Wally fans, or 70% of the total responses, were opposed to the idea.* Update: Some additional thoughts on Wally West as a candidate.
Other possibilities: Bart Allen’s unlikely, as he’ll also be appearing in the same arc. There are other people at the crime lab, like Singh or Forrest. There’s Captain Frye or even Henry Allen. I’m fairly certain that Barry Allen’s literal evil twin, Cobalt Blue, has been long-since erased from history, but the science/magic dichotomy could still play out with another character.
My bet is either Dr. Elias or Daniel West, though I’d like to see what the book might do with Iris or Patty. What do you think?
Who do you think is going to be the new Reverse-Flash?
*The poll asked people to choose whether they were “a fan of Wally West” or “not particularly a fan of Wally West,” and whether they would be “OK with” the reveal. Of 106 votes: 67 fans opposed, 28 fans OK, 7 non-fans opposed, 4 non-fans OK.
July 16, 2012
On Friday, I live-tweeted the Justice League/Green Lantern panel at Comic-Con International. Here are those tweets, collected in one place with a few corrections.
DC panel is starting. Geoff Johns (blocked by podium), Jim Lee, James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Scott Lobdell, Brian Cunningham(?), Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato,
Justice league 0 is big Shazam issue. Will join team next year.
JLI annual is a Booster Gold story that Dan (Jurgens, I assume) wanted to tell
(Geoff Johns covered some of the same Green Lantern ground as in the DC Now panel the day before.)
Guardians’ first army was Manhunters. Second army was Green Lanterns. Now Guardians want to try again w/Third Army
GL Corps 0 is New 52 Guy Gardner origin, sets stage for next few months
GL: Kyle showing signs of accessing other rings, may become secret weapon in upcoming war. Hope+compassion come easy to him. Rage not somuch
Kyle’s story in Third Army described as kung fu movie where hero has to master multiple styles.
Flash: We all know Barry’s origin, so were filling in gaps. Who raised him, why does he focus on justice?
FM: You guys like gorillas, right? Cause you’re going to see a lot of gorillas. Grodd invades Central City
And Flash is going to need help from Rogues to fight off Grodd’s gorilla army
Earth 2 #0: there were 8 wonders in the past, not just a trinity. 4th hero has since turned evil & is a villain in present day.
Wesley Dodds to appear as Sandman in Earth 2.
Leader of World Army in Earth 2 described as Captain Nemo meets Nick Fury.
Jeff Lemire & Geoff Johns working on JL Dark as bridge between main & Dark sides of DCU. 0 issue focuses on Constantine & Zatanna
Frankenstein, Amethyst, Tim Hunter joining Justice League Dark
Earth 2: yes, we’ll see more members. Rolling out slowly. More mystical feel to this world. Arc 2 is govt vs JSA, magic vs science
Complicated GL question. GJ answer: “You’re very astute.”
Why are all the British people evil? James Robinson: “Because we ARE all evil.”
Need to reexplore Kyle’s past now that Jade & Donna have been erased.
Fcbd followup in JL/JLDark crossover
Jim Lee: adopting TV model of choosing what to publish, how to assess changes to line.
Deadpool walks up to mike at DC panel. “Are you lost, sir?”
Q about GL of Krypton’s sector at time it exploded. I could swear someone did explore this in the 70s or 80s. (Several people point out that in the pre-Crisis DCU it was Tomar-Re)
No plans to revisit Flashpoint right now.
Flash Q: Is Barry going to revisit role as Blue Lantern? A: There is no blue in Barry’s immediate future.
Flash Q: is he ever going to find Bart or Jay? A: It’ll happen at some point.
Fan from Australia asks for Justice League Australia aka JLOz
Johns: Billy Batson’s attitude is what sets Shazam apart from Superman.
Geoff Johns plans to reintroduce the Metal Men at some point.
Lobo & Red Lantern ring prob not going to get addressed. “I just wanted to see him eat it & see what happens”
Fan asks about Wally. Buccellato: “It’s not really a panel until someone asks…. He’s somewhere.”
“He’s probably hanging out w/Ted Kord.” Audience: Oooooh. “Why must you hurt me so?” “B/c they love it.”
Some other sites covering this panel: Newsarama, CBR
UPDATE: My full Comic-Con write-up is complete!