The conclusion of Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins’ villain-centric mini-series was everything it could have been, with all the threads set up over the last two issues coming together in one explosive confrontation. Unlike “Rogue War,” which took a 90-degree turn half-way through and turned into a very different story, this delivers exactly what it promised, following through on elements that seemed to be given little attention during the previous two issues.
After the mess that was Countdown, Johns and Kolins have successfully rehabilitated the Flash’s Rogues as effective villains. They’ve also established the current status of the supporting cast from their run on The Flash and reconciled the characterization of Pied Piper across Flash, “Full Throttle,” and Countdown. (Speaking of Countdown, it’s hard not to read the line, “This is for one &@#^%# year!” as a bit of meta-commentary about that year-long series and the way it mischaracterized the Rogues.) In a sense, you could look at Rogues Revenge as Rogues: Rebirth, and in fact there is a teaser for the upcoming Flash: Rebirth built into this issue.
Clearly, DC — or, specifically, Geoff Johns — has set out on a three-step plan to get the Flash Franchise back on track:
- Reestablish the villains in Rogues’ Revenge.
- Revitalize the Flash mythos in Flash: Rebirth.
- Relaunch the ongoing Flash series.
Step one is complete. Any writer who wishes to use these characters in the next few years would do well to read this story and really understand what makes them tick.
Spoilers after the cut:
A big theme of this story is people misunderstanding others’ motivations. Everyone assumed the Rogues had killed Bart intentionally, but it was done out of desperation, and they still half-expected him to walk through it. This is echoed in the flashback in this issue to Weather Wizard killing his brother, not in cold blood to steal his technology, but in desperation. Similarly, Libra and his agents repeatedly misunderstand the Rogues: Threatening to kill Captain Cold’s father last issue, only to discover that Cold would rather kill him himself. Threatening to kill Weather Wizards’ son, whom Mardon is willing to sacrifice. And Zoom wants to convert Inertia to his way of thinking: using tragedy as a tool to “improve” heroes, but Inertia is perfectly happy to see tragedy as an end in itself.
As for Inertia — excuse me, Kid Zoom — where to start? When All-Flash #1 came out last year, and Wally West couldn’t bring himself to kill Inertia and so “did something even worse” by freezing him as a statue, many readers complained that this was a Bad Idea(tm). This mini-series has taken that and *ahem* run with it, with Inertia proving himself to be totally bat#!%$ homicidally insane from the moment he’s freed.
And then there’s the most messed-up moment of the issue, in which he deliberately kills a toddler just to end a hostage stand-off. That was the moment I knew Inertia was beyond redemption, and really beyond the point of being a usable villain. Much like Dr. Light and Identity Crisis, from that point on he’s useless. It was probably deliberate, so that anyone who had any sympathy left for Inertia (and yes, he has his fans) would still be satisfied when the Rogues finally killed him.
A few random thoughts:
I have to admit I was mildly disappointed with the Kid Zoom costume. I suppose I was expecting something more elaborate than simply the original Kid Flash costume with the reverse color scheme, even though it makes perfect sense.
Great follow-through on elements like the absolute zero cold field. The wannabe Captain Cold lost a hand, but Zoom punched straight through it.
I was surprised to see Zoom reverted to Zolomon, though it looks like he’s still a few fries short of a combination plate. It may be just as well, though: the character works best when used sparingly, and he’s shown up far more often than he should have since he was introduced (often written by writers who don’t understand his motivation). Depowering him, for now at least, removes the temptation to overuse him.