Sunday, March 16, 2014

Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #2


Brian Buccellato Writer
Scott Hepburn Artist
Nick Filardi Colorist
Taylor Esposito Letterer
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor
Harvey Richards Associate Editor
Wil Moss Editor

The cover is by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. It is better than the first Rogues Rebellion cover, as it actually depicts some action. Plus it shows a fight that does happen inside the issue, even though the fight with Parasite doesn't last that long. The absence of Captain Cold is explained, but the absence of Weather Wizard is unfortunate. All in all, I'm not a particularly big fan of this cover. As always, I wish the cover artist was the same as the inside artist — although I don't think I would have enjoyed a Scott Hepburn cover much more. Shalvey's style is fine, I guess, and I really think my biggest problem here is the New 52 design of Parasite. My first introduction to the character was through Superman: The Animated Series, and I thought he was just fine not being a big, disgusting blob.

Quick disclosure before I begin the recap: In order to keep this blog focused and to prevent it from growing out of control like the Parasite, I have given myself very strict rules to only cover issues the Flash actually appears in. Rogues Rebellion presented a unique temptation. It is written by Brian Buccellato, focuses on the Flash's main villains, and has a storyline that stems directly from the pages of The Flash. So I made somewhat of an exception for these first two issues by counting the statue of the Flash as a passive appearance. But that's as far as I'll bend on my rule. So don't expect me to review the other Rogues Rebellion issues. Sorry. There's just not enough Flash for me.

Anyway, this issue begins in Central City, the former home of the Flash. The Justice League has disappeared, the Crime Syndicate has taken over, and Grodd has all but destroyed the Gem Cities.

The Rogues have just defeated a handful of Firestorm's villains, but now Deathstorm and Power Ring have shown up, ordering the Rogues to finish Grodd's work. But the Rogues are not killers — plus their former leader, Lisa Snart, remains in the hospital — so they refuse.

Power Ring quickly panics, and is the first to strike. They fight for a bit, but the Rogues are no match for Deathstorm, who alters Captain Cold's DNA to remove his powers. Mirror Master tries to evacuate the team through the Mirror World, but Power Ring blasts the glass they were using, which caused them to randomly pop up in Metropolis with Captain Cold separated from the group.

The Rogues are then attacked by a two-bit villain called Archer. He shots an arrow through Trickster's pinky toe, but Trickster gets the last laugh by knocking him out with his rocket fist. The Parasite then arrives, and tells them the Crime Syndicate has placed a large bounty on the Rogues. They try to fight him for a while, and Weather Wizard blasts him with some lightning, but that only makes him stronger. So Mirror Master again tries to evacuate the team, but Power Ring's blast has somehow disrupted his powers, so the Rogues soon find themselves randomly appearing in Gotham City, specifically in Poison Ivy's lair.

The Good:

Lovable Rogues. These guys definitely deserve more attention, and I am very happy this miniseries got the green light. It's also really fun to see the Rogues interact with the rest of the DC universe outside of the Flash world. Flash gets to hang with the Justice League all the time, but until now, the New 52 Rogues have been relatively isolated. Although this issue only gave us one fight with a proper, established villain — Parasite — it did end with the promise of fights with Poison Ivy and all the other wonderful villains of Gotham City.

The Bad:

The art. I'm sorry. I tried to give Scott Hepburn a chance. I really did. And I will be quick to point out that his work in this issue was improved from Rogues Rebellion #1. But I am simply not a fan of his style. It doesn't work for me, and it lessens my reading experience in what should have been a great comic otherwise. Plus, I think Hepburn is rather sloppy. When Trickster got shot by the arrow, it went right through the middle of his foot with a big blot of blood squirting out. I got excited to see someone sustain such a serious injury, but then Trickster quickly said he just hit his pinky toe. But that wasn't what Hepburn drew. And on the same page, Hepburn drew Trickster's left fist flying out to hit Archer, when its the Trickster's right arm that got ripped off by Grodd and replaced with a robotic prosthetic. This really makes me miss the perfect harmony between the text and the art from Francis Manapul's run on The Flash.

Editorial interference. I recently saw someone say that Dan DiDio is responsible for all arbitrary changes in DC and Geoff Johns is responsible for bringing back old ideas. I don't know how accurate that statement is, but it got me thinking. Johns definitely has written many stories that "return" to an older concept. He brought back Hal Jordan and Barry Allen, and now it seems he has his sights set on Captain Cold. But not the New 52 Cold with superpowers; Johns — who has said Captain Cold is a favorite of his — apparently wants the classic Cold back without any powers and a trusty cold gun at his side. Whether this was his doing or not doesn't really matter to me. The main issue here is that Buccellato was required to service his story to meet the demands of Forever Evil. That's the double-edged sword of major crossovers. You get to take part in a big, fun event, but you also have to sacrifice some creative freedom to do it. Ironically, from what I've heard from Manapul and Buccellato, giving the Rogues powers was an editorial edict. So now DC has suddenly reversed course on this. I kind of liked the stories with Cold struggling to adapt to his powers, and I'm not sure how taking them away is an improvement or a hindrance.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: Forever Evil #3

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