By: Francis Manapul (writer & artist), Brian Buccellato (writer & colorist), and Wes Abbott (letters)
The Story: Glider is crowns herself the new leader of the Rogues as Central City is torn apart by a Rogue civil war.
The Review: While I think Marcus To is an excellent artist, I can’t overstate how happy I am to see Manapul and Buccellato back on art for this title. They really have visually defined how best to draw a Flash comic in 2012 and, next to a JH Williams III illustrated Batwoman, I feel their Flash is the best looking book of the new 52. We get fantastic action sequences, great lay-outs, naturally likable characters, and a wonderful sense of speed and motion. All of this is, of course, covered by the lush, painted colors of Buccellato. The action sequences this month are particularly enjoyable in their creativity, their tremendous awareness of space and setting, and their basic flow; once again, I feel that in the Flash‘s action scenes, you really do feel the benefit of the same guy(s) being behind both the writing and the art. I also love their take on Glider: she’s a burst of peachy pastel colours, ethereal and constantly flowing with a sense of weightlessness.
The heart of this issue are the Rogues, specifically something of a civil war that’s developed between them. I absolutely LOVED the heck out of this idea and felt that it was pulled off magnificently. There’s something innately satisfying for any fan in seeing a group of beloved characters draw a line in the sand and choose sides. Manapul and Buccellato gives us different allegiances and a city-wide conflict that is a treat to watch. Also, I’m a sucker for former villains/anti-heroes, so seeing Captain Cold and Pied Piper fighting the bad guys was a treat. I think that Manapul and Buccellato deserve particular credit for their being able to allow each individual Rogue to stand out. I think that’s what makes this so effective really: instead of Side A versus Side B, it’s Captain Cold and the Pied Piper versus Glider, Heatwave, Weather Wizard, and Mirror Master. Each Rogue stands out with their own unique roles, personalities, and, of course, their own visually impressive power. I also enjoyed what Manapul and Buccellato are doing with Trickster, who seems to be not particularly on either side, content instead to play the field and prolong the conflict. It nicely complicates things and is a nice turn for the character.
On the downside, I’m really not buying into evil Dr. Elias at this point. Manapul and Buccellato’s explanation for his sudden turn was pretty clumsy, unbelievable, and, honestly, kind of lazy. Essentially, they’re trying to spin it so that Dr. Elias was simply evil all along. In other words, instead of trying to explain a change of character, Manapul and Buccellato take the easy route of trying to simply say that there never really was a change at all. That beggars belief and is such a hard, random about-face that it’s almost disorienting. I was hoping for something more nuanced and complex than that and it doesn’t help that Elias’ reasoning is pretty familiar evil scientist stuff.
Also, while I didn’t mind it that much, Flash fans should be aware that Barry spends much of the issue running around in the background this month, not really doing much of significance. He runs about, sure, but the main event is the Rogues, front and center and, as a result, Barry really isn’t up to anything particularly interesting.
Conclusion: I really do love this current status quo for the Rogues, which is tons of fun. Bring on the Annual! And keep feeding me that Manapul artwork.
– Alex Evans