The Late Rainbow Raiders

Sometimes, a new character or team just clicks.

Sometimes…they don’t.

This was the case with the Rainbow Raiders.

During his 2000-2005 run on The Flash, Geoff Johns killed off the Rainbow Raider, a Bronze-Age Rogue who could shoot colored energy beams and could drain or add color to people and objects, changing them based on the characteristics of that color. Red would enrage someone, yellow would make them afraid, etc. He was killed by Blacksmith in the prologue to “Crossfire” (Flash #183, 2002), presumably with the thought that he had less potential alive than as an example of how tough the new villain was.

Ironically, a few years later, Geoff Johns would introduce the concept of the emotional spectrum to the Green Lantern mythos, on which he built Blackest Night and Brightest Day. The Rainbow Raider’s powers would have fit right in.

Comics publishers never like to leave a name unused, and a few years later, Johns introduced the Rainbow Raiders in the pages of The Flash. They didn’t do much other than introduce themselves at Captain Boomerang’s funeral (Flash #217, 2005).

As far as I know, the villains have only been used once since then, just one month after their initial appearance: in JLA: Syndicate Rules (Kurt Busiek), Johnny Quick and Power Ring of the Crime Syndicate are impersonating the Flash and Green Lantern while they stumble upon an attack in progress by the Raiders. They have to fight or else blow their cover, but they don’t have the heroes’ restraint with using their powers, and make brutally short work of the Raiders.

That was pretty much it, and even I forgot about them until last week, when they showed up on a list of characters killed during Blackest Night.

“Wait? What?”

Lia was kind enough to point me to relevant posts on The Rogues Kick Ass from a couple of months ago (page 1and page 2). It turns out a two-page sequence in Untold Tales of Blackest Night revealed their ultimate fate: On discovering that the dead are rising, they decide to be on the winning side…so they kill themselves. They don’t even rise as Black Lanterns, though, because no heroes actually care about them enough for the rings to re-animate them.

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9 thoughts on “The Late Rainbow Raiders

  1. Imitorar

    As far as I’m concerned, they were worth much more dead than they were alive, because I found their death hilarious.

    Reply
  2. Lia

    It was definitely a darkly funny scene, and I won’t miss them.

    I’m certain I saw a couple of Johns interviews in which he expressed regret for killing Roy Bivolo; maybe it was because he could have later fit him in with the emotional spectrum concept. Regardless, I had a hopeful theory for years that it wasn’t really Roy who was killed by Blacksmith (but rather an impostor — the guy didn’t look, dress, or act anything like Roy), but Blackest Night dashed my hopes by having a classic Raider Black Lantern.

    Reply
    1. Ken O

      I never saw anything where he said he regretted it. The one I remember was him saying he couldn’t think of a way to make him cool so he offed him.

      A was really hoping Roy would show up during all the color spectrum stuff too.

      Reply
      1. Lia

        I’m certain I saw at least one interview in which he regretted it. Unfortunately this is all I could find:

        AVC: You did a lot, particularly with the Flash Rogues, by putting a new spin on old characters. Are there any old characters you think are incapable of being revived for the modern age?

        GJ: As soon as I mention a name, someone will do a great job with it next month. I think it’s like, whoever gravitates to certain characters… If they’re really into that character and they have passion for it, you’re going to get a great character no matter who it is. I think any character has potential. There are certain characters I don’t have a huge affinity for… Like Rainbow Raider, I never really understood. But that doesn’t mean someone can’t make him interesting.

        http://www.avclub.com/articles/geoff-johns,13945/

        Not regret here per se, but he does seem to acknowledge he might have made a mistake because someone else could have used him.

        Reply

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