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Retro Speed Reading! – The Dastardly Death of the Rogues
September 19, 2013Posted by on
I love the title to this story. Sure, it is a bit misleading (only one “Rogue” dies, and he isn’t really a Rogue), but it has such an awesome retro vibe to it.
This was the first collection from the The Flash series beginning in 2010. It picks up after the events of The Flash: Rebirth and puts Barry Allen/The Flash into a very much straight-forward tale that involves mystery, action, and a whole lot of fun. Written by Geoff Johns, this collection is also the first time Francis Manapul (as main artist) and Brian Buccellato (as colorist) worked on the character. It was their artwork that pulled me into this character and ultimately led me to picking up Rebirth, so I could get caught up.
Luckily, you do not really need to read Rebirth to understand this tale. We get some good re-introductions to all of our main characters including Barry, Iris, the Rouges, and his co-workers at Central City Police. This serves as a good jumping on point (which shouldn’t be a surprise considering it starts with issue #1) which makes me wonder if, besides some set-up for the then-upcoming Flashpoint, Rebirth was even needed.
Enough of me ragging on Rebirth. Let’s move forward.
In The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, a member of a future police unit modeled after the Rouges is found dead and Barry is discovered to be the main culprit. This of course seems like total nonsense, but as we learn, it apparently hadn’t happened yet. The rest of the Renegades, as they are called, attempt to arrest Barry before he commits the crime. Barry races to discover who set him up while the Rogues are not too keen on seeing doppelgangers of themselves on the right side of the law.
As a new fan at the time, I liked this story. I found it to be engaging, and I was constantly wanting to know what was going to happen next. I also liked how the tone was kept fairly light even when dealing with some serious matters. It struck me then as it does now that this is the right feel you wanted from a character like the Flash. I also appreciated the huge block-wide melee in the middle of the story. Sure, it stops it a bit dead, but it was a lot of fun to read (Manapul’s art helps a lot in this matter).
The only major issue I have with this initial story is the forced addition of Captain Boomerang’s discovery of his new powers due to his role in the then-crossover Brightest Day. While there is nothing inherently wrong about it, it is just that it feels so completely out of place with the story at large. Johns tries to make it as natural as he can, but it doesn’t quite work.
After the conclusion of Dastardly Deaths (which continues to set up Flashpoint), we are treated to a one-off issue spotlighting Boomerang. It is fine; talks about his origin. Nothing special. The big reveal has a lot to do with Boomerang letting the Reverse Flash out of confinement.
The final story in the collection comes from a one-off Flash special. Barry is still having trouble adapting to being alive again, so he consults Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. It is a nice, slice-of-life segment, but its placement in the book is incredibly odd. Chronologically, it should take place before Dastardly Death, but was featured last here. Just struck me as strange.
Scott Kolins steps in to do art on these two stories. I really blow hot and cold on his work. Sometimes it’s great. Other times, not as much. And, it never seems consistent from issue to issue. It is either scratchy-looking or sorta-photo-realistic. I don’t know. His stuff just doesn’t work for me.
I would highly recommend The Dastardly Death of the Rogues. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it didn’t have to be. It is a lot of fun with good art and a solid, entertaining story. What more can you ask for from a comic book?