Sunday, July 28, 2013

Animal Man #12

"Rotworld: Prologue Part One"

Script Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder
Art Steve Pugh
Colors Lovern Kindzierski
Letters Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor Kate Stewart
Editor Joey Cavalieri

The cover is by Steve Pugh with Yanick Paquette and colored by Nathan Fairbairn. It's a typical cover you'd expect to see on a trade paperback or a poster, but it doesn't really do anything for me. And that might mostly be because I'm not a fan of Pugh's art. While it works perfectly for this story, I personally find it a bit off-putting. The kid taking pictures of the monsters with his phone was pretty funny, though.

The Rotworld story arc is a very long crossover between Animal Man and Swamp Thing. The Flash only makes a couple of cameos in a few Animal Man issues, but he's not really there, putting this story arc under my Passive Appearances category. Barry Allen himself does not show up in the flesh to do anything, but we see a couple of images of him and alternate (zombie) versions of the Flash. So what I'm basically saying is that I don't need to worry about when these stories happened chronologically. I do have to give a fair warning that I am not a fan of Animal Man. I guess he used to be kind of a goofy character, but then got revamped into this horror genre. I don't like to read horror comics — I prefer lighter, funner stories. Hopefully I'll be able to put aside my bias and see this story for what it is.

So our story begins in Louisiana with the Baker family. The dad, Buddy, is the Animal Man, who has the power to mimic the abilities of nearby animals. His son, Cliff, is sick, so he, his wife, Ellen, and his daughter, Maxine, venture into the swamp to seek help from the Swamp Thing himself.

They find Swamp Thing at a dark pool/portal that is surrounded by dead animals. Swamp Thing doesn't see why he should help them, so they tell their story and explain everything. Apparently the entire world is governed by three main forces: the Red, all animal life; the Green, all plant life; and the Rot, death and decay. Swamp Thing is the avatar of the Green, and while Buddy can tap into the Red, his daughter is the avatar. The avatar of the Rot is a man named Arcane, and he apparently is growing out of control and seeking to take over the world of the living, threatening the balance of all life.

Animal Man and his family had previously battled the Rot, and Cliff became infected in the fight. Therefore, Animal Man approached Swamp Thing to ask for his help, not just to heal his son, but to take the fight to the Rot to stop it once and for all. Maxine then sees visions of the future in the black pool. She is shown an apocalyptic world where the Rot has taken over and killed all the heroes, including the Flash.

Swamp Thing agrees to help them, and he and Animal Man leap into the pool. But something goes wrong. Cliff has no become full-on possessed by the Rot, and grotesque zombie animals emerge from the pool to attack Buddy's family.

The Good:

Perfect prologue. I didn't know anything about Animal Man before this issue, and it explained everything perfectly. Yes, there was a lot of exposition, but it held my interest. Maybe those who had read the previous 11 issues of Animal Man would've been bored, but it works for those like me, who are coming in for the start of a big crossover event. After reading this issue, I now feel completely caught up to speed on who this hero is and what this big conflict is going to entail. If I felt so inclined, I could keep on reading the whole Rotworld story right from here and not miss a beat.

Haunting image of Flash. Very rarely will I enjoy a one-panel cameo of the Flash, but this one really worked for me. Out of all the dead heroes they could have shown in the vision, they only chose the Flash, and I think that was entirely intentional. The Flash is the symbol of hope in the Justice League, and the most unthinkable one to die. Superman has Kryptonite, Batman's just a man, and all the others seem to have logical weaknesses that could conceivably take them down. But the Flash? It would have to be something incredibly powerful to beat him. And once he dies, that really spells doom and gloom for the state of the world. One of my favorite Justice League cartoons was an alternate timeline where the Flash was killed by Lex Luthor, setting up a chain of events that turned the League into the Justice Lords. Yes, the Flash is that important.

The Bad:

Unsettling art. This art is not by any means bad art. It is very well done and is absolutely perfect for this horror story. I, however, cannot stand it. I don't like particularly graphic and grotesque images. I understand that's the point here, but I don't need to see people's spines getting ripped out of there bodies. Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder know how to write a good comic book, and they've put together a great horror story that really did scare me a bit. But I guess this comic is just a bit too scary for me. If you're interested in horror and the supernatural, and you can stomach violent, grotesque images, then I would highly recommend this story for you. I don't fall under that category, but I have to acknowledge a good comic book when I see one, and this is an excellent comic.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Animal Man #13

Friday, July 26, 2013

Superman #17

"Fury at World's End"

Scott Lobdell Writer
Kenneth Rocafort Artist
Blond Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
Darren Shan and Anthony Marques Assistant Editors
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

This is an appealing Rocafort cover and it shows an exciting scene: Superman and his allies battling the large and mysterious Oracle in space. Except that doesn't happen in this story. Only Superman meets the Oracle, and Dr. Veritas only makes a one-panel, completely meaningless cameo in this issue. Plus, this Oracle is much, much smaller than the Oracle shown inside. I know they had to do this cover months ahead of time, and I realize that the story is never set in stone and constantly  evolving, I just wish they would've adjusted this cover to better match the finished story. They've done it before, especially in this H'el on Earth storyline.

Our story starts with Superman flying through space after receiving a mighty punch from H'el in Supergirl #17. The Man of Steel suddenly collides with (or is caught by) something very large and mysterious.

Superman tries to comunicate with the Oracle, but is only given a series of confusing images related to the destruction of Krypton. Superman asks if this means H'el will succeed, but the Oracle merely fades away. Superman then flies back to Earth, passing the Justice League headquarters, where Batman, Flash and Cyborg assure him they'll take care of the natural disasters while he battles H'el.

Supergirl has now joined Wonder Woman in the fight against H'el, and they give Superboy enough time to tear down the Star Chamber. But it turns out that H'el wanted him to do this, since the chamber's only purpose was to fuel his ship, which is now ready to take him back in time. Superman then shows up and starts punching H'el so hard that even Batman (who's up in the Watchtower) can feel the blows in the back of his teeth.

More temporal portals (or "time shards" as Superboy calls them) start to appear, and Superboy tries to use his powers to close them. Supergirl, meanwhile, finds the shard of Kryptonite and conceals it. H'el eventually gets Superman off him and prepares to enter his ship. Supergirl then approaches him, apologizes, and asks to go with him. H'el forgives her, and when she gets close enough, she thrusts the Kryptonite into his chest.

H'el then falls backward through a temporal portal and disappears. Because he was keeping all the portals open psionically, everything goes back to normal once he's gone. Superman then rushes the poisoned Supergirl to his medical center in the Fortress of Solitude, while the Oracle continues to observe from afar. The Oracle is tempted to express joy, but it knows that Superman's actions today will exact an unspeakable toll on the omniverse itself.

Epilogue. Some twelve years before the destruction of Krypton, a young Jor-El wanders off from a school field trip and finds H'el in a cave, with the Kryptonite still in his chest.

The Good:

The art. As always, Kenneth Rocafort's art is incredibly enjoyable, and really makes the issue. I love his version of all these characters, and his unique page layouts work perfectly with this sci-fi story. He also did a great job showing character's emotions. It looked like H'el was going to weep tears of joy when Supergirl said she wanted to come with him. All in all, this was a great comic book to look at.

Supergirl's redemption. This whole storyline was mostly about her. She was tricked and mislead right from the beginning. H'el turned her teenage girl emotions against her, and she became a powerful antagonist. But she gradually developed some doubts, and bit by bit, she finally realized that what H'el was doing was wrong. It wasn't a sudden reversal of attitude, but a slow, realistic change — there was even some doubt about what she would do at the end of Supergirl #17. And then she received a very satisfying conclusion to her story arc by putting her own life on the line to stop H'el. Very nice.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. Supergirl #17 only had one panel for the Flash, but I let that one pass because he was saving the entire city of Tokyo in it. But here, the Flash's only panel just showed his head complaining about all the natural disasters. Perhaps he was perturbed by Cyborg inexplicably joining Batman in the Watchtower, leaving him to protect the planet by himself. If Rocafort could have changed that one panel to show Flash running and saving somebody, then I wouldn't have penalized this issue.

Superman's too powerful punches. I was happy when Superman started laying into H'el — it was more than deserved — but I didn't like how Scott Lobdell described the impact of his punches. He said they could be felt by Dr. Veritas near the center of the Earth, and in the farthest edges of our atmosphere, where Batman says he felt the punches in the back of his teeth. That is too much for me. If somebody in a satellite can feel something happening on Earth, then that force would have to destroy Earth, right? Or at least cause permanent, irreparable damage. I also hated the dialogue in the Watchtower scene. After complaining about his rattling teeth, Batman asks Cyborg what's happening, to which Cyborg replies: "I doubt you'd believe it if I told you!" What? Batman wouldn't believe that Superman was punching H'el real hard? If anything, Batman should have known what was going on before Cyborg told him.

Unsatisfying conclusion. This issue was advertised as the epic conclusion of a major crossover. As such, it should have at least answered a few of our questions. I know we'll see H'el and the Oracle again, but couldn't we have at least got some definitive proof of who he is. He claimed to be a Kryptonian and a student of Jor-El's, but serious doubt was cast on his story. And what was with the backwards S on his chest, which disappeared and reappeared quite randomly through the storyline? And please, please, what is the Oracle? He was teased and alluded to for so long, then he finally shows up only to give Superman a couple of vague, uninformative images, and then he reappears at the end only to reassure us that this "happy" ending is actually setting things up to be even more worse down the road. According to the mysterious Oracle, Superman's actions here are going to threaten not just the planet or the universe, but the omniverse. Why can't we ever have a happy ending? Everything in DC these days just points to something worse and more awful in the future.

All in all, H'el on Earth was a pretty fun crossover. From what I read, only one issue felt unnecessary, which was unfortunately the most expensive one. I was happy that the Superman family was able to come together for a big story, and I was happy the Flash could be involved for a little bit. Even though his role quickly became periphery, I enjoyed having an excuse to keep reading this story through the end. Sadly, the weakest thing about the H'el on Earth was its conclusion. There was no sense of resolution to it — just an end to the fighting. Superman #17 by itself is not a bad issue, but when it's billed as the conclusion to a major story arc, I expect it to be a little more conclusive — like The Flash #17.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: I'll take a quick detour into the Passive Appearance list, and show you the Zombie Flash in the horrific Rotworld future of Animal Man #12.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Supergirl #17

"Girl vs. Goddess"

Mike Johnson Writer
Mahmud Asrar Artist
Dave McCaig Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
Wil Moss Editor
Matt Idelson Group Editor

The cover is by Asrar and McCaig. It's fun to come from Supergirl's point of view, and the action is exciting and indicative of the inside story, but I have to admit — I've seen a lot of better-drawn Wonder Womans. She really just did not look very good here. Too skinny in some places, too bulgy in others. And what was with the green background? I never got the impression that the Fortress of Solitude and the Star Chamber were green. I do, however, know that this was not the solicited cover, so they probably had to throw this together more quickly than they would have liked.

Above the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic Circle, teenager Kara Zor-El really just wants to go home. But Superboy is on his way to dismantle the Star Chamber, and Wonder Woman is standing in Supergirl's way. Kara normally wouldn't want to get into a fight, but she's already fought the Flash and Superboy, and has vowed to do whatever it takes to save Krypton.

As Supergirl and Wonder Woman engage in battle, the Oracle has arrived at Earth, and like Galactus, is watching over the destruction caused by the Star Chamber. Time is out of flux, causing some instances to repeat themselves, as observed by Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen in the Daily Planet in Metropolis. From the Justice League Watchtower, Batman is overseeing rescue efforts carried out by the Flash and Cyborg. Batman tells Flash that Tokyo will be underwater in seven minutes, but the fastest man alive only needs 30 seconds to save the large city.

When then get a lot of fight scenes. They are pretty good, but the Flash isn't there, so I'll be brief. Superman fights H'el, but H'el eventually punches the Man of Steel out into space. Supergirl and Wonder Woman have a very fun and satisfying fight. Although Supergirl may be stronger and faster, Wonder Woman is smarter and more experienced. She eventually manages to get her lasso of truth around Supergirl, which forces her to confront the lies she's been telling herself. Kara is still not completely convinced, so she breaks off the fight to confront H'el. He doesn't give her satisfying answers, and ultimately gives her an ultimatum: Earth or Krypton.

The Good:

Supergirl vs. Wonder Woman. This is a fight that needs to happen every now and then, and I felt it was given proper justice in this issue. I especially liked how they explained that despite Supergirl's superior power skills, Wonder Woman has the edge thanks to a lifetime of combat training and experience. And I loved the unique use of the lasso of truth. I remember the old Justice League cartoons shied away from that aspect, probably because the writers weren't sure what to do with it. But as we see here and in Flashpoint, the ability to make someone speak (or see) the truth is a very handy skill.

The Bad:

Well, we only got one panel of the Flash, but I really enjoyed it. This is what I wanted in Superboy #17. Show me the rescue efforts, don't just tell me about them. So while I don't recommend this book to Flash fans because of this one panel, I do recommend that all comic book fans check out this issue. If not just for the big girl fight, then for the exciting penultimate chapter of H'el on Earth.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next: Superman #17 — The epic conclusion of H'el on Earth

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Superboy #17

"Lost Cause!"

Tom DeFalco • Writer
R.B. Silva • Penciller
Rob Lean • Inker
Richard and Tanya Horie • Colorists
Travis Lanham • Letterer
Chris Conroy • Editor

The cover is by R.B. Silva with Java Tartaglia, and there is something off about it, which I think has to do with the coloring. For whatever reason, it looks like Superboy is about 100 feet in front of the Herald. If they're supposed to be fighting, then why does the Herald look so far away? Plus, these two really don't fight in the story. They have a somewhat contentious confrontation, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it a fight. Also, I didn't really like Superboy's face here. He kinda looks constipated. All in all, an extremely disappointing cover for Superboy's final chapter in the H'el on Earth storyline.

Our story begins at a NASA research facility at John F. Kennedy Space Center, where scientists are observing the effects of H'el activating his Star Chamber. Solar flares are extending millions of miles beyond their usual diameters and global temperatures are rising, playing havoc with weather patterns. One scientist even says they're facing a catastrophe of biblical proportions. They know something is going on at the North Pole, but they're not exactly sure what.

Just outside the Fortress of Solitude, Superman tells the others they need to find a way to destroy the Star Chamber, but Flash then calls them from the satellite headquarters of the Justice League, the Watchtower. Although he's been removed from the battle with H'el, Flash has taken an active role in monitoring the widespread destruction being caused on Earth, and he requests Batman and Cyborg to join him in protecting what remains of the planet they have.

Batman actually agrees with Flash, and he and Cyborg leave Superman, Superboy and Wonder Woman to take down H'el and Supergirl. Supergirl, meanwhile, is happy to see the shard of Kryptonite is doing its job of directing the sun's energy into the Star Chamber's fuel cells, but she's worried about what effect this will have on the sun. H'el again assures her that everything will be alright, and he leaves her to take care of one final task.

H'el teleports in front of our heroes and says he can't leave Earth knowing the clone — the abomination of Superboy died wearing the family armor of the house of El. He takes the armor off him and sends the boy flying away. He then puts the armor back on Superman to grant him one last dignity before his death. Wonder Woman tries to help, but Superman sends her to protect Superboy.

Superboy is severely weakened after losing the armor, but he gathers the strength to fly toward the Star Chamber. On his way, he meets the Herald, who tells him that if he survives, he could come to shape the destinies of world without number. The Herald then leaves and has a "conversation" with the Oracle, and he mentions five anomalies on the world that could disrupt the delicate cosmic balance. An editor's note reminds us that he originally blew his horn in Superman #1. So I picked it up for fun, and the main story revolves around Superman fighting a fire monster, but there is one random page that shows the Herald blowing his horn in the Himalayas. An editor's note from there sends us to Stormwatch, but in hindsight, that was probably an overly-ambitious error. I haven't read everything, but it seems like the Herald and Oracle have played no part in the story in Stormwatch.

We cut back to Superboy, who is having to dodge a lot of mini-black holes that have begun to appear as the Star Chamber opens up the time stream. Supergirl then shows up to stop him, and she openly speaks of how she hates him for being a clone. An editor's note sends us to Superboy #0, in which we learn the villain Harvest has somehow learned of a Kryptonian legend of servant clones rising up in rebellion against their makers. Harvest implanted images of this in Superboy's subconscious to give him deep-seeded feelings of animosity toward heroes and Superman in particular. The clone uprising supposedly occurred hundreds of years before Kara was born, so it is likely that she grew up hearing scary stories of the evil clones. She know believes that Superboy is trying to stop her because like the clones before him, he hates Krypton.

Supergirl then proceeds to beat the living snot out of Superboy, and he tells her that H'el is destroying the solar system. Supergirl refuses to believe him, but she does begin to doubt a little bit. However, it seems these conflicting feelings only make her angrier, and she probably would have killed Superboy had Wonder Woman not showed up just then. This provides Superboy the opportunity to gather himself together and make one last courageous run at the Star Chamber.

The Good:

The story. Tom DeFalco and R.B. Silva have a great weakness for telling instead of showing, and this issue had that problem, too. Instead of giving us scientists telling us about the Earth's problems, they could have shown us that. We also had a whole page of Superboy lying on the ground with a lot of different captions telling us how beat up he was and how hard it was for him to stand. I think they could've done a couple of small panels of him rising to his feet, falling, then getting back up and trying again. However, despite this problem, the story was still very exciting. We're building up toward the final climax, and it was great. Supergirl beat the crap out of Superboy, which was logical and probably deserved, and seeds were sown for a great Supergirl-Wonder Woman fight and the climatic H'el-Superman fight. This issue accomplished its main goal of making me want to immediately read the next issue.

Editor's notes. This issue sent me back to pick up two more issues, which actually weren't that bad. Superman #1 didn't add anything to the story, but Superboy #0 did explain a lot of Kryptonian culture and help us to see where Kara was coming from. Comics are more accessible than ever today thanks to Comixology, and more editors should be taking advantage of this by referring to more past and current issues. There always is the risk they'll refer to a non-applicable issue, like Stormwatch, but I prefer erring on the side of more references rather than less. I like to be reminded that all these characters inhabit the same universe and that something that happened a year and a half ago could have implications on what's happening today.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. I was happy to see him start to do something again instead of just appearing in flashbacks, but I wish we could have seen a little bit of him actually saving some people on the planet Earth. This goes back to the whole show vs. tell thing. Having someone sit at a computer screen is an efficient way to tell the story, but a more engaging way would have been to have him communicating with the Justice League while he's redirecting a tidal wave or something like that.

Unnecessary tricks and vagueness. My biggest problem of this issue was having Superman and Superboy return to their main costumes. H'el did give an OK explanation for why he did this, but I couldn't help feeling that the creators simply wanted the characters to end this crossover in their proper outfits. But I don't think they needed to do that at all. I love Superman's T-shirt and jeans look, and I really don't care for Superboy's black-and-red Tron suit. I also never felt one ounce of concern for Superboy's safety once the armor was removed. The other unnecessary plot point was the meeting with the Herald. He spoke so vaguely that he essentially said absolutely nothing, eating up pages that could have shown the destruction of Earth. I know the goal here was to pique our curiosity and keep coming back next month to hopefully learn these mysterious secrets, but I think they went a little overboard with the Herald and Oracle here. Just save them for the final chapter of the story and build the tension through other areas.

The art. In this issue, Silva decided to try to emulate Kenneth Rocafort's style of nontraditional page layouts and sharp, angular panels surrounded by small colored boxes. It didn't work here. Only Rocafort can do what Rocafort does, and even then, he sometimes fails. That style requires an architect-level of precision that Silva simply lacks. I sympathize with the desire to makes all the books in this story look similar, especially for the collected trade, but if you can't pull something off, then don't do it. I was also incredibly disappointed with the Oracle here. In Superman, the Oracle looked intimidating and impressive. Here, he was downright laughable. It looked like he was made of ice and the three orbs on his chest did not resemble the mini-galaxies he had in past issues.

On a whole, this comic book had a lot of potential. The basic story was incredible and exciting — all the elements were there — just the execution was lacking. A few simple changes would have made this a standout comic. But it ends up just below average.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Supergirl #17

Friday, July 19, 2013

Superman #16

"A Fistful of Sticks!"

Scott Lobdell Writer
Kenneth Rocafort Artist
Sunny Gho and Blond Colorists
Rob Leigh Letterer
Darren Shan Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

I really like this cover by Rocafort and Gho. Yes, it only has three characters, but they all look great and the cover doesn't feel crowded at all. I'm also happy that they're depicting an action scene that actually happens in the book, and they didn't rely on using Batman.

The story begins with H'el and Supergirl making their final preparations on the Star Chamber. While they work, H'el tells her of how he was Krypton's first astronaut in centuries and was a student and friend of Jor-El's.

H'el said that thousands of people came out to see him embark on his mission to save their doomed planet. Kara, though, has no memories of such a public event. H'el theorizes that she sustained some memory loss on her trip to Earth, then they share a romantic (if slightly creepy) kiss as they prepare to return to Krypton. Their moment is ruined by the arrival of the Justice League, and Supergirl still can't figure out why they want to stop them. H'el briefly recounts the League's efforts (mainly for the readers who hadn't read everything).

The Flash is still on the Watchtower after H'el teleported him there, so I'm going to be pretty brief with the rest of the action. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg and Superboy continue to fight their way past a bunch of alien monsters and get closer and closer to H'el. H'el eventually decides he's had enough, and he teleports the whole Fortress of Solitude away from the heroes and activates the Star Chamber.

A massive green blast of light erupts from the Chamber, and it is seen by Dr. Veritas, Lex Luthor, and the big red-orange alien, the Herald. The Herald (at least that's what I'm calling him) blows his horn for the second time in the history of this planet to summon his master. He prays the world will survive the experience of the Oracle among them. In the far reaches of space, the Oracle awakens and unintentionally destroys an innocent ship that happened to be investigating it. The Oracle then prepares to fulfill its sacred trust of bearing witness to the end of a world.

The Good:

The art. I just love how Rocafort draws all these characters. Superboy looks like a boy; Superman looks like a man; Wonder Woman is beautiful and powerful; and this is probably my favorite look for Cyborg — he's a collection of machines and equipment stacked on top of itself. Even the minor characters like the dinosaur aliens at the end looked great. And Rocafort's unique page-layout and panel design is still fun and fresh for me. Whenever I hear people complain that all the art in DC comics is the same and generic, I wonder if they've given Rocafort's work a good look (as well as Francis Manapul's and Brian Buccellato's).

The story. Everything is coming together nicely for the finale. I liked how we got an extended origin story for H'el, but then that story immediately fell under a lot of doubt. And while Supergirl is still steadfastly following H'el, she is beginning to develop a few doubts of her own. The Oracle is extremely vague, yet still intriguing, and this issue builds a lot of anticipation for the final chapter.

The Bad:

No Flash. Again, just a quick one-panel flashback for him. I know he had that great fight with Supergirl, and I loved it, but I just wish Flash could have been doing a little bit more in this H'el on Earth story.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Superboy #17

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Superboy Annual #1

"Lost Horizons!"

Tom DeFalco Writer
• Pages 1-5, 18-26: Yvel Guichet Pencils, Jonas Trindade Inks, Java Tartaglia Colors
• Pages 6-7, 27, 37, 38: Iban Coello Pencils, Rob Lean Inks, Richards and Tanya Horie Colors
• Pages 8-17: Tom Derenick Artist and David Curiel Colors
• Pages 28-36: Julius Gopez Artist and Nathan Eyring Color
Travis Lanham Letterer
Chris Conroy Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The cover is by Yvel Guichet, Jonas Trindade and Java Tartaglia. I don't think it's a very good cover. It more or less shows action that happens in this issue, and Superman looks pretty good, but Superboy just looks off. He doesn't look like he's in any real danger, just mildly annoyed. Of course, I imagine they had to quickly draw this cover, as the solicited cover and story were completely different.

This issue represents everything that is wrong with DC's Annual books. I liked that this issue was included with the H'el on Earth storyline, but that was a late decision. Ideally, DC should have planned that out six months in advance. The result was a story that kind of barely fits into H'el on Earth, but doesn't really progress anything because it couldn't. But the biggest problem with this Annual is DC's insistence that Annuals should be extra long so they can charge more for them. But this extra page count necessitated a lot of extra artists, some with widely different styles, resulting in a non-cohesive comic book well below the industry standards. So, to sum up, DC gave us a rather unnecessary story with poor quality art and demanded that we pay more for it because it included extra pages that we didn't want and the story didn't need. Tactics like this are driving readers away. But then DC sees declining sales numbers and tries more big "events" that pretty much do this — bad stories with bad art and too high a price tag — and the downward spiral continues. So having said all that, I hope you'll understand why I'm rather terse with this review.

The story picks right up where Superboy #16 ended. Superman had been blasted by a machine that sends its victims through an endless loop of pocket dimensions, and Superboy decided to dive in to save him. They first arrive in a dimension where everything looks like it was painted by Salvador Dali, and Superman isn't too happy to see Superboy there, who admittedly has no plan to rescue him.

Superboy then recaps what's been happening in the past few issues for those who missed it. We see H'el psionically dissecting Superboy, then Superman saving him and giving him his armor, then the two of them teaming up with the Justice League to take down H'el.

Superman and Superboy then get transported to a couple of different worlds and have to fight a bunch of different monsters, all the while getting in some quality bonding time. To make a long story short, they eventually figure out that they're staying on one planet the whole time that is simply changing its environment. Superboy figures out how to communicate with the planet through his telekinetic powers, and finds the planet is being manipulated by a couple of evil people named Blastor and Lasara, who are somehow trapped on this planet and need Superboy's powers to free them.

They fight for a bit, and ultimately Superboy tricks them by helping the planet teleport the two bad guys to an uninhabited galaxy at the far edge of the universe. Superboy then gets the planet to send him and Superman back to the Fortress of Solitude, where they find out they've only been gone for 2 minutes and 13 seconds, even though it felt like hours. However, those extra two minutes were all H'el and Supergirl needed to complete the Star Chamber.

The Good:

Superman/Superboy dynamic. I genuinely enjoyed the interactions between these two. Superman got sick of Superboy acting so snarky and sarcastic, and Superboy constantly felt like Superman was lecturing him. They eventually learned to appreciate each other and figured out how to work well together. It was really nice to see this, I just wish it could have happened in a better story.

The Bad:

No Flash. He only shows up in one flashback panel, and his costume is all wrong. Look at it again — his lightning bolt is going in the wrong direction! Come on people! That's a simple fix!

Uninspiring story. You could have completely eliminated this issue and the H'el on Earth story would have been completely fine without it. Just change the ending of Superboy #16 so Superman doesn't get zapped to another dimension and everything else could happen the exact same way. Instead, we went through a very long and boring adventure story with lackluster villains. Even their names were lazy: Blastor, who used concussive blasts, and Lasara, who used a laser lash. And then there was the visually dull climax of Superboy saving the day by concentrating so hard he got a bloody nose. Wow! I've never seen that before! Seriously, why is it that every single psychic comic book character gets a bloody nose when they really strain themselves? Is that the only visual effect anybody can think of with mental powers?

Inconsistent art. Had this book been done by just one or two different art teams, I probably would've been OK with it. But we got four different teams with four completely different styles, which made the reading experience quite jarring. You shouldn't turn the page and feel like the printer made a mistake by putting in pages from a different book. My favorite artist in this issue was Tom Derenick, but everybody else left me flat.

I imagine this must have been a rather frustrating book to work on. It sure was frustrating and disappointing to read. It makes me want to scream at DC: "Stop doing stuff like this! You're losing readers because of awful strategies like this!" But as long as they think it works, they'll keep doing it.

Final score: 3 out of 10

Next time: Superman #16

Monday, July 15, 2013

Supergirl #16

"Fast & Faster"

Mike Johnson Writer
Mahmud Asrar Artist
Dave McCaig Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
Wil Moss Editor

The cover is by Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig. It's an exciting enough image and it shows you exactly what's going on inside, but something just feels off. I think it's the mouths. Asrar is not a bad artist by any means, but I don't much care for his style. I can't help thinking that there are a couple of artists out there who could draw the exact same image in the exact same poses, and I'd enjoy it a lot more. I guess it's just a personal taste thing.

The story begins at some point in the past when H'el first crash-landed his spaceship in the Himalayas. He collapses on the snow and we see a bloody, backward Superman "S" on his chest. He's discovered by the big red-orange alien, who prepares to tell his master of H'el's arrival.

Now, in the Fortress of Solitude at the Arctic Circle, while Superman leads the Justice League in an attack on H'el in another part of the Fortress, the Flash breaks in to rescue Supergirl. He's finally vibrated through the Kryptonian wall, and doesn't feel like vibrating through anything else ever again. But just as soon as he can pick himself back up, he's attacked by Supergirl.

Supergirl doesn't necessarily want to fight the Flash, but she feels this is the only way to save her home planet. Flash quickly slides out of her grip and dodges a few blasts of her heat vision to tell her that Superman has given him two instructions: get Kara out of the Fortress and don't let her beat him to a pulp. Flash then knocks Supergirl down with a min-vortex and tries to tell her that H'el is using her, but Superman knows the truth. Like any good teenager, Kara demands to know how Superman could possibly know the truth, and she begins to attack Flash at super speed. She initially has a hard time keeping up with him, but then she realizes that Flash is avoiding hitting her — something she isn't above doing. Supergirl grabs the Flash's earpieces and tries to slam his head through her knee, but he vibrated at the last second to avoid a major injury.

Seeing they're past the point of talking, Flash grabs Supergirl and tries to vibrate her through the Fortress wall, but they instead end up in Superman's zoo, which happens to be filled with very large and dangerous creatures. They start running away and looking for a way out, but Flash gets caught by a couple of big bat-owl things. Supergirl saves him and they find their way back to the Fortress, only for Flash to be attacked by Krypto. Kara is excited to see the dog has survived, and starts to play with it, giving the Flash the chance to sneak into Superman's armory to find "the land resort."

Flash returns with a weapon designed to scramble Kryptonian biology. He knocks Supergirl down with a blast from it and explains that this weapon is powered by kinetic energy, making it the perfect weapon for him. Suddenly, the weapon is taken apart psychically by H'el, who then teleports the Scarlet Speedster to the Watchtower. He tells Supergirl the Star Chamber is almost finished and with her around, he'll never be alone again.

On the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy, an innocent ship stumbles upon the impossible, the Oracle — a massively monstrous and mysterious being.

The Good:

Flash vs. Supergirl. DC comics have been around for more than 75 years, and during that time, we've seen just about everything it feels like. One common idea is pitting hero against hero. As much as we like to see them team up, we really like to see them fight each other. There've been tons of hero-on-hero fights, but this issue gave me one I've never seen or thought of before. Flash has never really had a reason to fight Supergirl, but now that he has, I'm really glad it happened. The two heroes were evenly matched, and the fight itself was quite enjoyable. I'm also happy that both of them were able to save face after this. Most of the time, these hero fights end up twisting or changing a character's motivations, but no such act occurred here. Flash still acted like Flash, and Supergirl proved she still is a hero deep down, but caught in a dire situation. She's also a teenage girl, and certainly acted like one here.

The Bad:

I wasn't a big fan of the art, but it wasn't bad or off-putting by any means. So I really don't have any complaints about this issue, which is actually the Flash's biggest guest appearance since Captain Atom #3. Sadly, his role in the H'el on Earth story is basically over now. He'll make quick guest appearances throughout the end of the story, but he won't do anything significant, which is a shame.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Superboy Annual #1

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Superboy #16


Tom DeFalco • Writer
Ron Frenz • Thumbnails
Iban Coello and Amilcar Pinna • Pencilers
Rob Lean and Amilcar Pinna • Inkers
Richard and Tanya Horie • Colorists
Travis Lanham • Letterer
Chris Conroy • Editor

So many people involved in this comic book — what a mess (did we really need a separate person to do the thumbnails?). I imagine this is indicative of the mess Superboy was in at this time. The title was pretty much at the mercy of crossover events that originated in other titles like Teen Titans, Ravagers, Legion, and now Superman. Superboy had a habit of changing a lot after its solicits and generally had trouble establishing its own stories. Of course, I've learned most of this second-hand, as I haven't read very many Superboy issues.

The cover is by R.B. Silva with Rob Lean and Java Tartaglia. It's OK. I just get a little tired of the Bat-worship. I know Batman sells books, but he wasn't the only hero teaming up with Superboy here. This cover implies Batman and Superboy will team up and have their own unique adventure inside, but that doesn't really happen. It could have, but it didn't.

The story begins with Superboy, Wonder Woman and Batman fighting their way past a horde of Kryptonian worker-drones to get to the Fortress of Solitude. H'el has erected a force-field around the Fortress, so Superboy tries to use his tactile telekinesis to tear it down. We then get a quick flashback of one hour ago.

After meeting up with the Justice League at Lex Luthor's prison, Superman decided to take them to Dr. Veritas' lab, which is close to the center of the Earth. Superman hopes this remote location will prevent H'el from spying on them while they formulate a plan. Superman says he has a shard of Kryptonite in the Fortress that might be able to bring H'el down.

Within the Fortress, H'el and Supergirl begin converting his spaceship into a Star Chamber to take them back to Krypton. H'el furthers his manipulation of Supergirl by using his psychic powers to show her images of Krypton just before and during its destruction.

Outside, Superboy is able to dismantle the force-field, and Flash starts to vibrate through the Fortress' wall to find Supergirl. Flash soon finds out, however, that this wall is extremely difficult to vibrate through. While it appears solid, it's actually a composite of millions of crystal-like objects and Flash has to carefully align his vibratory frequency with every single crystal, making thousands of adjustments with each step.

Meanwhile, Superman and Cyborg arrive inside the Fortress via boom tube, but H'el manipulated their teleportation and put them right in front of the deadliest threats in the Fortress — killer-droids from Epsilon-18.

Wonder Woman kicks in the front door and stays behind to fend off the worker-drones while Batman and Superboy race toward the trophy room. However, they soon find that H'el has already taken the Kryptonite. They then run into Superman and Cyborg, who are evading a machine that teleports people into a never-ending series of pocket dimensions. Superman pushes Superboy out of the way of one of the beams, and he gets teleported away. Superboy then purposefully gets teleported himself to try to save Superman.

In the Himalayas, at a temporary research facility with an unknown purpose and unknown operators, a couple of scientists stumble across a big red alien that says, "After months of silence ... the Oracle heeds my summons — and a world dies!"

The Good:

Assault on the Fortress. There was a lot of fun stuff going on here: tons of different robots and natural defenses of the Fortress, combined with the manipulations of H'el. It was a smart idea to split up the team so we could see as much of the Fortress as possible, along with different ways to enter it. They also did a good job of explaining why none of those entry ways were easily accessible. I also liked seeing H'el play with the emotional sensibilities of the teenage Supergirl. It makes him really creepy and shows just how evil he is.

The Bad:

Action/art disconnect. While the story itself was exciting and intriguing, the art didn't get the job done. Of course, a big part of that has to do with the story itself. For example, Flash having difficulty vibrating through an alien wall is an interesting idea, but it looked dreadfully boring on the page. An extremely talented artist would find a way to give us a closeup of the microscopic crystals messing up the Flash' vibrations, but none of the artists on this issue could attempt that. Another big problem with this issue boils down to the root of Superboy himself. He is a psychically-based superhero, which means the majority of his big moments involve him concentrating really hard and occasionally bleeding from his nose. It's interesting to think about him summoning all his will to take down a force-field, but it sure is boring to look at. If this issue didn't have all the robots, it would have been a pretty bad comic book. Instead, it pulled out to be just average.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time: Supergirl #16

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Superman #15

"Because I'm a Scorpion"

Scott Lobdell • Writer
Kenneth Rocafort • Artist
Sunny Gho • Colorist
Rob Leigh • Letterer
Darren Shan • Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza • Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The cover is by Rocafort and Gho, and I absolutely love it. All though I do have to point out that Superman was technically not wearing that armor in this issue, it still is a striking image that perfectly conveys the attitude of Lex Luthor. Even though he's in chains, he's still in complete control of the situation. This cover also hides something of a spoiler inside —the scar on Luthor's face. But once you know it's there, you'll see it. The black-and-white version is also great — it really shows off Rocaforts precise and detailed pencil work.

So yeah, I'm finally back to the chronological adventures of the Flash. While he was battling Grodd and the gorilla invasion, the Justice League was battling the invasion of Atlantis. Now that that's over, Superman has called in the League to help with a little problem of his own, and this time, the Flash is free to help. Now, Superman #15 is not the best jumping-on point for the H'el on Earth storyline, but luckily this issue immediately gave us an editor's note referring to a couple of previous issues. Nine times out of ten, I'll heed the counsel of the editor and go buy those issues, which is exactly what I did here. Since the Flash didn't appear in either one of these, I won't give them full-fledged reviews, but I will provide a brief recap, since it'll help with the story going forward.

The first recommended issue was Superman #14. In there, Supergirl introduces Superman to H'el, who claims to be an astronaut from Krypton, who left that planet before Kal-El, but arrived on Earth 27 years later. H'el also claims he can bring Krypton back, and while Supergirl believes him, Superman does not. They get into a fight, and H'el causes Superboy to appear right in front of him. Since he's a clone, H'el views him as an abomination and almost kills him. He also plays some tricks on Supergirl to turn her against Superman.

In Superboy #15, Superman takes the dying boy to the Fortress of Solitude and he enlists the help of Cyborg and Dr. Veritas (I have no idea who she is, but apparently she's a scientist-ally of Superman's, much like Dr. Elias was for the Flash, was being the key word). Cyborg and Veritas discover that Superboy's genetic makeup comprises human DNA, Kryptonian DNA, and a third, unidentified strand. Apparently H'el started to rip Superboy apart on a cellular level, so Superman gives him his armor, which acts like a cast for his DNA. H'el then teleports into the Fortress and uses his telekinetic powers to show Superman and Superboy out.

And so that brings us to Superman #15. We start with Lex Luthor building a scale model of the Fortress of Solitude. He's then alerted to a couple of approaching visitors, who are, of course, Superman and Superboy.

Superman has decided he needs to visit Luthor, who is currently in a super-secret, heavily guarded prison built just for him (Superman tricked Luthor into designing it himself). Superman and Superboy have to fight past a lot of armed guards and even more booby traps inside before they finally get to Luthor. Superman is surprised that Luthor has somehow been able to keep track of everything that's been happening, and Luthor says he's been watching H'el watch Superman for some time now.

Superman asks Luthor if H'el's time travel plan could work and at what potential cost. Luthor explains that since H'el is in the Fortress, he now has access to technology that could make his plan work, but he would require vast amounts of energy, which he could only acquire by causing the solar system to collapse on itself. The two heroes then leave the villain, and Superboy offers to call in the Teen Titans to help. Superman's not too keen on the idea of unsupervised super-powered teenagers, so he calls in his friends instead.

Batman and Cyborg are surprised to find such a large prison neither one of them knew about, and Superboy is surprised to see a "Man Flash." "What? Who would ever call himself 'Man Flash'?" "Well, I know this kid ..." All joking aside, this is the first time Superman has ever called in the Justice League, so they know this has to be something pretty big. Superman explains the situation perfectly: "We're going up against a foe of incredible power. H'el has barricaded himself into my Fortress of Solitude — and is very likely about half an hour away from destroying Earth's entire solar system. Any questions?"

The Good:

The art. Kenneth Rocafort suddenly became one of my favorite artists with this issue. He's no Francis Manapul, but his unique style is a refreshing change of pace from the usual Jim Lee style we see everywhere. Rocafort's use of the hundreds of little sharp, angular boxes is also very different. I've never seen that before, but it's kind of fun to see a different approach to comic book art and presentation. Maybe I would eventually grow tired of that technique, but for now, I'm quite fine with it.

The story. This is the beginning of an epic crossover event — the first in the Superman family in the New 52. And what really makes it great is the inclusion of the Justice League. If something's really going to be a big deal, then the biggest and the best characters need to be involved. But even pushing all that aside, this is a great issue by itself. I loved the implied history with Luthor and his massive, intricate prison. I didn't go into all the traps in it, but they were all pretty fun. Most of all, though, I loved the interaction between Superman and Superboy. You never forgot that Superboy was a teenager who was way in over his head. At one point he even hid behind Superman's cape. Rocafort's art also helped by making Superboy actually look younger than Superman. He wasn't just shorter, but he was skinnier and less developed. A little attention to detail goes a long way.

The Bad:

Well, we only got two panels of the Flash here, but I loved the "Man Flash" line so much I'll let it pass. This was a very good comic book, and while some things may have been confusing, there were plenty of editor's notes telling you where you could find more information. So yes, this is a comic book I would recommend picking up, even if you only cared about the Flash.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Next time: Superboy #16

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rogues Gallery

This is my 50th post on this blog, so I've decided to celebrate with a brief glimpse of 25 villains the Flash has met so far. For the sake of variety and convenience, I've put the baddies in alphabetical order.


We don't know much about Amazo, except that he is a giant robot created by Professor Ivo, who worked with Cyborg's dad at STAR Labs. Professor Ivo was carried away by parademons during the Darkseid invasion, and it remains unclear if and how he returned. The Justice League defeated Amazo largely off screen, and Green Arrow provided the valiant contribution of shooting an arrow in his butt. The Justice League took the robot back to STAR Labs, where it was decommissioned.


It seems like most of the pre-52 continuity holds up with Bane, as he mentions having previously broken Batman's back. In his first New 52 appearance, Bane developed a new and improved venom with the help of Scarecrow and Poison Ivy. He used several high-profile test subjects to battle Batman, including Two-Face, Clayface and Deathstroke. Batman called in Flash to help him on the case, but Flash spent most of the time running around the globe to get the toxin out of his bloodstream. When he finally sorted that out, he arrived just in time to help Batman defeat Bane by giving him an antidote to the new venom and then pushing him off a cliff.

Captain Cold

Leonard Snart was the founder and original leader of the Rogues — a group of super villains with a code of conduct. Tired with constantly losing to the Flash, Cold traded in his freeze guns for actual superpowers, courtesy of Dr. Darwin Elias. The transformation resulted in an explosion that put Cold's sister, Lisa, in a coma. Cold then was somehow caught and taken to Iron Heights Prison, but probably not by the Flash, who didn't discover Cold's new powers until later. Cold escaped Iron Heights during the blackout from the Mob Rule storyline, but soon found out the blackout made it impossible for doctors to operate on Lisa's brain tumor. Believing Flash caused the blackout, Captain Cold took his revenge out on the speedster, and during the fight, a vortex to the Speed Force opened that sucked up Iris, three others, and presumably Barry Allen. Flash defeated Cold and helped saved Lisa, but she blamed Len for accident that gave them powers.

Captain Cold later escaped from Iron Heights again, probably thanks to David Graves, who was releasing and interrogating Justice League villains. Cold then went to a bar to drown his sorrows, when Heatwave showed up, blaming him for his gruesome and painful transformation. Luckily, Barry Allen happened to be working at that bar, and was able to turn into the Flash and defeat the two Rogues. On their way to Iron Heights, Lisa, now Glider, saved Heatwave, but left her brother to die in the crashing police van. Cold was saved/captured by the Pied Piper, then saved by Trickster. He then teamed up with Flash to take down the Rogues, but he quickly double-crossed him and tried to reclaim his position as leader of the Rogues. But then the gorillas invaded Central City, so Cold and the Rogues had to fight them off. Once that was all said and done, Cold retreated back to Mirror World with the Rogues, who harshly reminded him that he is no longer their leader.


Barbara Minerva was one of Wonder Woman's first friends, but she was always a criminal in disguise. She worked in ARGUS's secret Black Room of enchanted artifacts when she stole a ceremonial dagger that possessed her with the goddess of the hunt — the Cheetah. The Justice League helped Wonder Woman track down her former friend, and she bit Superman, briefly turning him into a cheetah-man. She also got a couple of good hits in on the Flash, even slicing up his calf clean to the bone. But she was eventually captured and taken to Belle Reve Prison, which is exactly where she wanted to end up.

Daniel West

He's not really a super villain — at least not yet — but he was the getaway driver in a bank robbery that was one of the Flash's first adventures. Daniel tried to escape while being taken into jail, but Barry happened to be right there visiting his dad, and was able to stop him. Daniel received 5 to 10 years for his crime, and he tried to get his sister Iris to work with Barry to help reduce his sentence. But Barry felt Iris was using him, so he broke off their relationship. Daniel was released 5 years later for good behavior, but found himself in the middle of the gorilla invasion. Luckily, he was saved by the Rogues. His ultimate role in the Flash story has yet to be revealed.


The ruler of Apokolips launched an invasion on Earth apparently to search for his daughter. Seven of Earth's mightiest heroes teamed up for the first time to defeat him and send him back to his own planet. Those heroes, including the Flash, decided to form the Justice League to battle other massive threats to Earth. Darkseid is still out there, and has sworn to return one day.

Dr. Darwin Elias

Darwin Elias is a scientist with often perplexing motives. He gave the Rogues superpowers "just to see what happens," but also helped the Flash learn to think at super speed and tried to help the Mob Rule clones keep from dying. He failed with this last endeavor, and inadvertently caused a citywide blackout. He pulled the Gem Cities out of the blackout, though, by creating a machine that could collect the Flash's excess Speed Force energy into battery cells. Elias then took full credit for the battery cells and started to host anti-Flash rallies. He built a big monorail for the city, but was attacked by Glider at the ceremony. He did survive, but probably believes it was the Flash who attacked him and has now vowed revenge. Although Gorilla Grodd drained most of the battery cells, Elias does have a small secret stash of Speed Force energy to himself.

David Graves

David Graves was an accomplished author who specialized in the paranormal and mythical. He happened to be in Metropolis with his family when Darkseid attacked, and they were saved by the Justice League. He wrote an instant best-seller about the team, but he and his family became terminally ill after breathing in ashes from Darkseid's omega beams. After his children and wife died, Graves journeyed to a mystical temple to make a deal with fallen gods. He came into contact with spiritual parasites that disguised themselves as his family and gave him superpowers. He set out to turn the public against the Justice League, and then release the spirits to reunite the world with their lost loved ones. He also tried to kill Steven Trevor, believing Wonder Woman hadn't experienced enough pain. The League ultimately defeated him after they learned the truth about the "spirits" and they sent Graves to Belle Reve Prison, where Amanda Waller tasked him with writing a book on how to defeat the Justice League.

Folded Man

Not much is known about him beside his name and 2-dimensional appearance. He was apparently caught by the Flash before and was in Iron Heights when the blackout happened. He, Girder and Tar Pit tried to take Iris West hostage before making their escape, but they were quickly defeated by Flash.

General Silverback

Grodd's right-hand man ... er, ape, shared his king's violent dreams of world domination. He killed some disloyal elders, rescued Grodd after the temple collapsed on him and helped lead the invasion of Central City. Although it wasn't explicitly stated, I like to believe he was the gorilla Patty Spivot shot and killed to save Darryl Frye.


As with Folded Man, we don't know much about Girder — just that he was an enemy of the Flash and most likely remains in Iron Heights.


Lisa Snart is the sister of Captain Cold and the girlfriend of the Mirror Master. Although she wasn't a Rogue at the time, she was present when Elias' genome recoder exploded, giving the criminals all superpowers. She gained the ability to send an astral projection out of her crippled body and interact with the physical world for a few seconds at a time. She united the Rogues through their shared hatred of Captain Cold, and she became their new leader. She attempted to murder Elias and stole his monorail, but then soon had to deal with the gorilla invasion. She helped save a bunch of people and took some of the gorillas' machines into the Mirror World. She is now plotting her next move with her new toys.

Gorilla Grodd

Grodd became king of Gorilla City after killing his father and eating his brain. But then the Flash showed up and threatened his belief of being the Speed Force's chosen one. Grodd tried to kill Flash, but accidentally caused an ancient temple to collapse on himself. General Silverback rescued him, and Grodd killed all who opposed him. He rallied together an army and launched a full-scale invasion of Central City. Grodd quickly found Elias' battery cells and drank the Speed Force energy to acquire super speed. He almost killed the Flash, but began to lose his newly acquired powers and had to return to Elias' lab. The Flash then met him there and took him to the Speed Force. With the assistance of a rampaging wooly mammoth, Flash trapped Grodd in the Speed Force while he saved Iris West and three others. Although Flash believes he's the only one with a key to the Speed Force, Grodd remains a constant threat to return.


Mick Rory was a member of the Rogues who decided to turn in his fire gun for superpowers. But the transformation left him badly burned and gave him a perpetual fire in his chest. Cursed with a bad temper, Heatwave has a bad habit of burning down buildings. He eventually found Captain Cold in a bar and tried to take his revenge on him, but the Flash quickly put a stop to it. Heatwave was then saved by Glider and helped her steal the monorail and fight the gorillas. He was last seen in the Mirror World, plotting the Rogues' next move.

Martian Manhunter

No, he's really not a villain, but he did once get into a fight with the Justice League and apparently defeated them all single-handed. We don't know exactly what caused this fight, but it is likely the League will be seeing him again soon.

Mirror Master

Sam Scudder was a member of the Rogues with a mirror gun that allowed him to transport things and people to the Mirror World. When he tried to gain superpowers, he became permanently trapped in the Mirror World. He teamed up with his girlfriend, Glider, to steal the monorail and battle the invading gorillas. He used his powers to entice Turbine to join the team, and he is currently looking to Glider to plan their next move.

Mob Rule

Manuel Lago was Barry Allen's best friend in college. When Manuel's dad was killed by the terrorist group Basilisk, he joined the CIA and began hunting them down. At one point, he lost his hand, but the CIA gave him an experimental treatment that gave him the ability to regenerate lost body parts. He was then captured by Basilisk, and while torturing him, they discovered his regenerative powers, so they began to repeatedly hack off his limbs and pile them in a room. Eventually, clones of Manuel formed from his discarded limbs and they helped him escape. For a while, Manuel and his clones waged war against Basilisk, but then the clones began to die suddenly. Manuel then abandoned the clones, but they tracked him down to use him and Elias' genome recoder to fix their premature death problem. Elias' machine actually killed all the clones, though, and caused a massive blackout. Manuel then ran away to an unknown location and began creating more clones for an unknown purpose.

Pied Piper

Hartley Rathaway was once a member of the Rogues with his flutes that can control rats and pigeons. But at some point, he decided to leave them and pursue a life of good. He became conductor of the Central City Symphony and started going out with Barry's boss, Director David Singh. Against David's wishes, he became the Pied Piper again in the Flash' absence and tried to help him fight the Rogues, but was quickly taken down by Weather Wizard. It remains to be seen whether Hartley will continue acting as the Pied Piper or if David will allow their relationship to go public.


So far, nothing is known about this villain. He was first seen after the Gorilla Warfare story, and he apparently wants to kill the Flash and take out others who've been touched by the Speed Force. We'll just have to wait and see who or what this bad guy is.


Dr. Samuel Street was an abusive husband, who was an Army biological warfare specialist. He was delivering the "spore" virus to ARGUS, when he ran into a mysterious intruder and was exposed to the virus, which turned him into a monster that could create miniature versions of himself. He tried to take back his ex-wife, but the Justice League stopped him off panel. It is unclear whether they cured him of his condition or if we'll see him again.

Tar Pit

Not much is known about this man apparently made of lava, but he somehow earned a spot in Iron Heights, where he presumably remains to this day.


Axel Walker was once a member of the Rogues, but was kicked off the team for ignoring orders and botching robberies. He also insulted Lisa Snart, which didn't help his relationship with Captain Cold or Mirror Master. He left the Rogues before they acquired their superpowers, so he continues to rely on his bag of tricks and gadgets. Axel eventually found acceptance with the Outlanders, and they corroborated with Mob Rule for a little bit. He later saved Captain Cold from the Pied Piper, hoping to earn some favors down the road. When Grodd invaded Central City, Axel sought to offer his services to the gorilla, but got his arm ripped off by the enormous ape. Trickster was then involved in another adventure that I haven't reviewed yet, so I won't spoil anything here.


Rosco Hynes was a World War II-era fighter pilot who accidentally got sucked into the Speed Force. He spent decades alone there, learning its mysteries and acquiring powers. He watched Barry Allen's life unfold and learned all his secrets. Occasionally, portals would open up in the Speed Force, and Turbine would try to spin through them to return to his home, but he always ended up pulling other objects and people in, disrupting the flow of space and time. This caused several objects to show up in random places at random moments in history. It also led to Iris, Marissa, Gomez and Albert being sucked into the Speed Force. Flash went there to save them, but instead found Turbine, who wanted to force Flash to help him return home. Flash wouldn't consider traveling back in time, so he pulled Turbine out to the present day. During the gorilla invasion, Turbine saved Patty and Darryl, and took Patty to find Solovar, the founder of gorilla city who had journeyed to the future to help the Flash. Turbine then helped Darryl fight the gorillas and rescue the human hostages, but Turbine soon found himself in Mirror World, where the Rogues began recruiting him to join their team.

Weapons Master

Not much is known about this villain, but he was released from Iron Heights by David Graves, who was gathering information on the Justice League. Green Lantern and Flash captured Weapons Master, but their fight caused a bit of damage. They tried to interrogate him, but this time Flash wanted to try being the bad cop. It failed miserably, so Wonder Woman came in and used her lasso of truth. Weapons Master is presumably safely back in Iron Heights.

Weather Wizard

Marco Mardon was born into one of South America's most powerful mob families, but he decided to make his fortune in the states as a member of the Rogues. He acquired superpowers with the others, but they became linked to his emotions, sending him into a deep depression when he uses them too much. When Marco's brother was killed, he returned to family business in Guatemala. Patty Spivot went down their to investigate the murder, but was captured by Marco's sister-in-law. This brought the Flash down there, and when Marco learned his sister-in-law had killed his brother, he decided to kill her and himself with a bolt of lightning. He survived, however, and was recruited by Glider to rejoin the Rogues. He returned to Central City to help steal the monorail and fight the gorillas. He's now with the rest of the Rogues in the Mirror World, planning their next big job.

So yeah, that's basically everybody the Flash has fought so far. It's been a fun 50 posts on this blog, and hopefully I'll have another 50 out before too long.

Next time: I'll finally begin the epic Superman crossover H'el on Earth!