Patrick: Because I spend a fair amount of my time writing about superhero comics, I end up having a lot of conversations about reboots and continuity and “fixing” timelines. You’ll notice that we tend not to dwell on those sorts of things in the actual content of these pieces — we always try to focus on the 20 pages in front of us, and not the uncountable pages that came before — but I’m of the opinion that retcons don’t actually work. If DC were to wipe out the New 52 with the Anti-Monitor next week and launch the old DCU the week following, writers, artists, press and fans would all have the last 3 years of storytelling informing their views on the characters. It’s just like how Aquaman may not have a mini-trident for a hand right now, but that will always be part of who the character “is,” even if it’s not part of who the character “is right now.” But we’re all fascinated with those universe changing mechanics, which is how The Flash 31 upstages itself with a history-altering Future Flash, when the more important character work is happening right now. Continue reading
Spencer: Villains aren’t exactly known for their teamwork. Sure, they team up all the time, but it rarely lasts and never ends well; egos get wounded, agendas clash, and varying levels of morality get in the way. Just look at the Crime Syndicate over in Forever Evil proper; they’ve been keeping secrets and plotting against each other from the moment they reached our Earth, likely even longer. The only group of villains who have stuck it out for the long haul are the Rogues of Central City. What makes them different? Brian Buccellato and Scott Hepburn’s Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 6 implies that it may just be because the Rogues understand the way the world works better than most villains.
Patrick: Let’s talk a little bit about the need for, and the necessity of, spectacle in superhero comics. At first blush, it seems absolutely crucial, right? If our characters aren’t using their powers and punching each other in the face and teleporting and zapping each other with lightning, then like, what’s the point of making them superheroes in the first place? There’s something about the non-stop, out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire pacing of Rogues’ Rebellion that feels like superhero comics stripped down past the concepts of good and evil and great responsibility all that stuff. It’s pure adrenaline-powered action, with only a modicum of scheming to slow things down. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that these are Flash’s baddies — and that we even get some time with Johnny Quick — as the plot ramps up to a fever pitch heading to the conclusion. Continue reading
Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 4, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Mikyzptlk: While Batman and Spider-Man’s rogues are most likely considered to be the deadliest of them all, I’ve long found The Rogues to be the most interesting of the various superhero rogues galleries. As far as I know, they are the only villainous group who follow a code of honor. They are all about the take, and they go out of their way to refrain from hurting anyone unless they absolutely have to. Their code of honor is why this very miniseries exists. In a world run by villains, The Rogues don’t really look so bad, and they are now suffering for that fact. The intent behind this series seems to be to explore what makes The Rogues so different from all of the other villains of the world. In issue 4, Brian Buccellato continues his examination of The Rogues in a serviceable, if not entirely mind-blowing fashion. Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer John Crowley are discussing Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion 1, originally released October 16th, 2013.
Drew: We’re reminded over and over again that it isn’t the powers that make superheroes heroes. Anytime a newly powered teenager or well-meaning techno-geek runs into the established heroes, they’re given a speech about the great responsibility that comes with their powers. But what about the other side of the coin? What makes a supervillain a villain? The Rogues have always been a little less villainous than, say, Batman’s baddies, but their thievery has always put them on the wrong side of the law. The Crime Syndicate’s arrival has shifted the moral landscape significantly, placing the rogues firmly on the side of angels, as Rogues Rebillion 1 finds them protecting the Gem Cities — much like Flash would if he were there. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing The Flash 23.3: Rogues, originally released September 18th, 2013. This issue is part of DC’s Villain Month. Click here for our coverage of Villain Month.
Patrick: I wouldn’t say that Captain Cold is an alcoholic, but he does drink. Occasionally, he drinks to escape, but he also drinks to celebrate. It’s a dimension of who he his, but it doesn’t define him, which is so rare in comics. If someone’s a drinker, that’s probably some horrible vice that pigeonholes them into being abusive, inattentive or otherwise absent. Hell, Taylor and I just posted a piece of Casey Jones’ alcoholic father in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday. Beer is a consistent factor in this issue, it sees Cold through despair, it helps him unwind, and it’s even a sign of hospitality. Cold’s boozing habits are nuanced and resist simple definition, just like the man himself. Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer Pivitor are discussing the Flash 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Drew: “Move forward” are the words the Flash lives by — both the man and the title. We’ve seen both accept rather profound changes, from the newfound abilities of the Rogues to his own death, rolling with the punches where most superheroes (and their series) might work to return things to their status quo. At the same time, writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are ever committed to their own continuity, recalling and building upon details first mentioned months earlier. The fact that those elements don’t come into play until long after they are introduced gives the series a propulsive sense of forward motion, allowing it to build incrementally. Thus, issue 17 can resolve plot elements first established in issue 6, as the Rogues, Gorillas, and the victims lost in the Speed Force finally get their due. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing the Flash 16, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Patrick: We expect our heroes to bravely sacrifice themselves for the greater good. If we’re blessed with complex characters, we can even expect this of our anti-heroes. But what about our ancillary characters? With the smoke-screen of a superheroic battle for the fate of city, real-world sacrifices tend to go unnoticed. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato deliver plenty of that bombastic hero action, but bury under it the sad, frustrated story of Iris West. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing the Flash 15, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: Whenever a writer keeps up several narrative threads at one time, one of us will say that he or she is “spinning a lot of plates.” It’s an odd metaphor. I mean — “juggling” works just as well to express the same thing and it’s a much more common activity. My friend Pete Pfarr had a KLUTZ book that taught him how to juggle, but there sure as shit wasn’t any KLUTZ book to teach him plate spinning. So what makes that turn-of-phrase so useful in describing the storytelling in The Flash 15? Possibly because we get the sense that the stories continue (the plates continue to spin) even when we’re not watching them. But I think the real reason we use the metaphor — and the only reason we’d want to see someone spinning plates (because: boring, amirite?) — is because we can’t wait to see what happens when too many plates are spinning and they all come crashing down. Boldly, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato give us just that. Continue reading
Drew: I’ve always seen postmodernism as inevitable. As someone who likes art, consuming art about art just makes sense to me. It’s quite easy to take commentary too far — forcing the art to far up its own ass to really be relatable — and while I have a special place in my heart for stories that do that, it’s much more satisfying when they can support a compelling narrative, as well. Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul nail that type of just-right meta-text time and time again, as Barry grapples with his relationship to his own identity, history, and even time itself. Their pacing and narrative style have remained fluid enough to accommodate all of these ideas, tying them back to Barry’s own experience of the world. Issue 14 continues the recent trend of expanding the scope beyond Barry’s subjectivity, revealing a rewarding complexity to the world he lives in. Continue reading