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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge

Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils and inks: Scott Kolins
Colours: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Nick J Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
The Rogues have been on the run for a year.  Longtime enemies of anyone wearing the Flash mantle, they were tricked into killing the latest Flash by another villain, Inertia.  In so doing, they broke the unspoken and fundamental rule - never kill a Flash - and so brought the wrath of all other speedsters down on them.

Now back to mete our revenge to Inertia, a much bigger Crisis is coming...

Libra is forming a secret society of supervillains to wipe out the the heroes in the upcoming war, he's demanding that all those on the side of the devil must join.  Just to show he's serious, he's already murdered one of the top heroes in the DC Universe, and now only a handful of villains are opposing him, including the Rogues.  Libra won't take refusal lightly, but the Rogues have never been one to join with other groups, and anyway they've got their own agenda and aims.

This is a crime comic, told from the point of view of the criminals.  Read it and take a trip to the seedier side of the DCU, where morals and honour abound, but not in the way you're used to.

The Rogues: clockwise from top we have Weather Wizard, Heat Wave, Captain Cold, Mirror Master and the Trickster.

What's good about it?
The Rogues are a long standing fan favourite and this collection illustrates why.  Given that it's about a  group of men who call themselves Captain Cold, Heatwave, Weather Wizard etc it's much more grown up and mature book than you would expect.  Yes they have silly names and silly costumes, but these facts belies their inner strength and resolve that most characters, especially villains, simply do not have (or aren't given).

Unlike other villains, the Rogues know about teamwork.  Although they do often operate individually, they are also a team, bound together by their mutual enemy, the Flash.  In Captain Cold they have a leader and a focus.  They have honour, of a sort.  They aren't nice and pleasant men.  When you look closely, their powers and abilities are damn scary.  Tornado in your guts, anyone? They have spent years perfecting their skills and are now a force to be reckoned with.

This book explores their motivations, their psychologies, and for some, their weaknesses, as they set about taking revenge on Inertia for wronging them a year ago.  It will convince you to, if not love, at least be drawn these unique and intriguing characters.

There are pretty much no heroes in this book and no redemption.  Instead you've got a tale of revenge, murder, war and impending doom. 

What's bad about it?
The opening pages are not particularly strong.  The art and the setup does a fine job, but the narration is not that good.  Part of this is the choice of words in each text box, part of it is the way the letterer has chosen to highlight key words within these boxes.  The underlining and use of bold to provide emphasis is not that affective, and if I'm honest, a bit grating, see below.
The book was originally issued as a mini series comprising of three comics.  Because of this it's quite short and there is a definite need to create a tight story within the limited space.  Unfortunately, the book doesn't really get going until about twelve pages in.  After this, it becomes more tightly written and the elements of the story come together neatly and effectively.  It's just a pity the opening is not better.

What's the art like?
It's a bit of an oddity.  Pencilled and inked by Scott Kolins, it oftentimes looks like a scratchy, scrabbly mess.  But look longer and harder, and the reader starts to appreciate Kolin's unique style and feel that he brings to the book.  It's not particularly subtle, but it is dramatic.

His lines are jagged - nothing seems calm or easy.  There's a lot of heaviness to the art, it's very angular angles and the colours, while bright, are muted and not the primary colours they could be.  This is complemented by the thick shading.  You get the idea that Kolins and the colourist (McCaig), were trying to take these silly silver age creations and injecting a bit of realism into them.  OK, so you can't fully remove them from their costumes and gimmicks, but by intelligent planning, layout and a decent design style you can give them more layers, humanity and depth.  Of course, this also mirrors the themes and treatment of the characters within the plot.

Other Information
ISBN: 1848563175
Price: £10.99, but at the time of writing Amazon is currently selling it at £7.69, which is a bargain.

So, who's this for?  Anyone interested in the Flash and his collection of enemies would do well to pick up this book.  Anyone who has read Final Crisis, or wishes to read Final Crisis would also find this book a useful companion. Will this review convince non superhero fans to read this book?  I don't know, maybe it is only for those who are interested in the genre.

One of the prominent characters within the book is a gay man and there are a few scenes with an Asian woman.  Neither their sexuality or ethnicity is relevant to the story, but I mention their inclusion in case anyone is seeking books with a more diverse cast of characters.

For further reading, may we recommend:

To discover more about the day evil won, read Final Crisis (an explanation of the Crisis can be found here) and Final Crisis: Revelations (reviewed here), Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds and Final Crisis Companion.
To discover more about Barry Allen, the first Flash, read Flash: Rebirth.
To read about Wally West, the second Flash, and other speedsters read Flash: Terminal Velocity.
For a prequel to this book, telling how the Rogues murdered a Flash, read Flash: The Fastest Man Alive volume 1: Lightening in a Bottle and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive volume 2: Full Throttle.


  1. I actually really liked this book.
    If DC wanted so much to launch a second villains team book (Titans) due to Secret Six' success and fan following, I would rather have an on-going Rogues done in the same style as the above.

    And I particularly loved the art, so might be put off due to all the lines and whatnot (and it not looking like your usual mainstream superhero comic *cough*checktheX-men*cough*) but I loved it. Kinda reminds me of modern European comics. (<-probably the reason I like it)

  2. I agree! An ongoing Rogues comic would be ace.