There are a number of reasons why I dislike Geoff Johns’ treatment of the Golden Glider (Lisa Snart), and it’s primarily because he makes her weak. Originally, she was an angry, vengeful character — a woman so angry about her boyfriend’s untimely death that she sought revenge on the Flash for purportedly killing him. It was her sole reason for becoming a villain, as she’d had no criminal record prior to the Top’s death and originally wasn’t interested in theft. For example, in Flash v1 #250 she vowed “No more skating for me…not until Roscoe’s death is avenged! And that means — get the Flash where it hurts the most!”
All her early appearances depicted her as viciously obsessed with making the Flash suffer just as she had, to the point of being defiantly willing to kill herself to fulfill this revenge. When the Flash bluffed about killing her to save his family from her scheme in Flash v1 #257, she declared “Then I’ll die — gladly! Without my beloved Roscoe, I have only one thing to live for anyway — vengeance! And with that accomplished, I’ll perish in peace — knowing you will be mourning as I have mourned — three times over!” There were in fact quite a few instances of her declaring hate for the Flash and her intent to get revenge. She was a strong and forceful person, if not a particularly pleasant one.
But Johns has negated most of that by adding to and altering her history. In addition to giving her the victimized origin of an abusive childhood, he has changed her motivation for becoming a villain. In one of his retcons, she now became the Golden Glider because she followed her big brother and wanted to be just like him. In Flash v2 #182, Captain Cold asks his sister why she quit professional skating to become a villain, and she answers: “Why did I give it up? I wanted to be like my brother. With my brother.” And when Cold argues with his abusive father about Lisa in Rogues’ Revenge #2, his father declares “Lisa’d still be alive if you hadn’t chased her off.” Cold replies “I didn’t chase her off. She ran away.” To which his father says “After her big brother. And what did you do? You let her follow you.”
Meanwhile, her original motivation of anger and revenge has become secondary. In Flash v2 #182, Cold describes it thusly: “Another of my fellow Rogues, the Top, had been killed in a battle with the Flash. The Top was dating my sister at the time. I guess Lisa was looking for revenge.” Since she’d stated quite explicitly in the original stories that she was looking for revenge, saying “I guess” is rather downplaying it. And this is the only time in Johns’ work that her seeking vengeance is ever mentioned.
Johns changed her motivation from anger and revenge to a little sister hero-worshipping her brother and trying to escape an abusive father, and it’s not difficult to see how this weakens her and makes her look like a victim. To make matters worse, now that she’s dead she no longer has new appearances to strengthen her character, and only appears in flashbacks as the dead sister Cold feels sad about. In fact, Johns has publicly stated that he wants her to stay dead because it makes her brother more interesting, which actively disparages her to prop up another character. The strange thing is that Glider wasn’t even particularly close to her brother during the Bronze Age; the siblings were often overtly hostile to each other, sometimes physically fought, and rarely interacted otherwise. Johns has completely altered the past dynamic between the Snarts for the purposes of his own stories, which certainly changes the nature of the previous issues.
Originally, Golden Glider was fiercely vindictive and tough, planning and pulling off her own schemes to make the Flash suffer. She was the first — and for decades, the only — female Rogue. But Geoff Johns has reduced her to a tagalong little sister, a victim of her father, and someone to appear sad and frightened in flashbacks. Not only did he change her entire motivation, he considerably weakened her character as a result. And it’s very unfortunate that this fate has befallen one of the few female Rogues.