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Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge #1

All through the Final Crisis, it's going to be hard to avoid a lot of references to lightning striking twice. It's been leaked and touted as the return of Barry Allen; rumors have run rampant, in fact, that that's who will take over the literal book title of The Flash.

But Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins are trying to rebottle that lightning, returning to characters that really lifted their careers to the level they're at now. In an interview done at the beginning of Fanboy Planet's history, Johns said what he really wanted to do was a Captain Cold series, and with Rogues' Revenge, he finally gets that chance.

Of course, things have gotten extremely dangerous for the Flash's Rogues. Most of the surviving villains that faced Barry Allen are on the run, having been manipulated into killing Barry's grandson Bart. At the time, Bart had the full mantle of Flash, but in hindsight, everyone's being honest and calling him Kid Flash. No matter the name, Captain Cold has the rule right - you don't kill a Flash.

Unless you're a DC Editor, but that's another story.

So they're tattered and torn, these Rogues, and Kolins' art reflects that. Inking himself, the work seems rougher and grittier than the last time around, though some of that also has to be Dave McCaig's coloring. These are dark times, and Kolins rises to the occasion.

In these dark times, Johns almost seems to be commenting on a situation he himself helped bring about, lamenting the loss of something simpler. The new generation of Rogues have no real sense of honor, something Johns addressed just before he left The Flash a few years ago.

Now, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard and Mirror Master aren't quite going to reclaim their territory as seek a twisted redemption. Revenge might be the word for it, but time and time again, Johns has proven that he's too clever a writer for it to be that simple.

Throughout the book, Johns alludes to that bigger event in Final Crisis. Is Iris Allen hearing the ghost of her husband? It's a good question, and a sign that this mini-series isn't just about the Rogues; it addresses the entire Flash legacy. (I'll admit, however, that this little sequence is Kolins' weakest - devoting an entire splash page to Iris looking out into the rain, and somehow what was meant to look emotionally complex looks just vague and a bit silly.)

One other Rogue has to be thrown into the mix, the one that Mark Waid rehabilitated and who might have saved the universe at the end of Countdown -- at least, some readers think that might have been what was happening. The Pied Piper, rededicated after having his powers amped and having lost the original Trickster, makes a brief appearance as an almost Batman-like figure. Again, for good or evil, only time will tell.

And this book is worth the time. It heads in a direction that was surprising, and will remind you that not all of the new generation of Rogues are just disturbing. Johns put a couple of twists in his previous Flash run that pay off nicely here.

Normally I bemoan all the tie-ins and get annoyed that I have to buy a bunch of other books to understand a big company event. But Rogues' Revenge makes me eat my words.

Derek McCaw


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