Wednesday, 4 May 2011

‘The Flash: Rogue War’ – Johns, Porter, Livesay (DC Comics)

Ever since my wife started taking Hope to the library, on a regular basis, I’ve started coming home and finding more comic books waiting on the table for me. I certainly can’t complain about this, thanks Sue! :o)
For someone who still doesn’t really know where to start with all the comic books available out there (although I do have a better idea of what I’m after these days...) a lot of the trouble is removed by your wife going out and picking stuff for you. Having said that though, the chances of picking up a duff read shoot up dramatically if you follow this method and that’s what happened here... ‘Rogue War’ looks like the business when you look at the cover. When I got into it though it was very much a case of ‘what the...’

It’s ‘Rogue War’ on the streets of Keystone City with a macabre theft causing a division amongst the ranks of a group of super villains (the aforementioned ‘Rogues’) which threatens to spill onto the streets and cause total chaos. Only the Flash stands any chance of stopping them and he has to get to the bottom of what’s going on before he can take sides, if there’s a side to be taken.
Things are about to get a whole lot worse though with another super villain making a play for power and the arrival of a former friend of the Flash with dark plans of his own. Then the arrival of a man long dead changes everything...

I guess it was the last sentence there that had me doubting this book; why can’t comic book characters (and I’m thinking superheroes here) just stay dead? Why can’t writers channel the creative energy they put into bringing a character back into pushing things forward and giving us new characters that we can get to know? I can appreciate certain heroes are brand names in their own right but superheroes have returned from the dead far too many times now for it to be original and the whole device just seems well... stale.

And that was before I’d even opened the book.

To be fair though, things did look promising to begin with pages devoted to fleshing out certain characters amongst the Rogues, a move that couldn’t help but leave you sympathetic to these people once you had the full picture. I’m thinking ‘Heat Wave’ and ‘Mirror Master’ here, the approach taken had me looking out for these two guys over the rest of the story and things were all the better for it.

I also liked the idea of a division between the older and younger members of a team of super villains. There’s an intriguing mystery to be solved and no shortage of ‘full on super villain combat’ when things come to a head. You’ll get a lot more out of it if you’ve read previous issues of ‘The Flash’ but things here were clear enough to work for me. I wasn’t sure about some of the artwork from Porter and Livesay though, both in the fight sequences and across the book as a whole. A job is done but characters tend to look awkward and posed rather than displaying a sense of fluidity and movement that would make their respective powers look even cooler. Oh well...

I wasn’t doing too badly following things but it all got really confusing when ‘Zoom’ turned up and took the Flash on some madcap ride into the past/future/I’m really not too sure for reasons that weren’t made particularly clear. Again, you’ll get a lot more out of this book if you’ve read previous issues but neither the artwork nor the writing made things clear for me and it was all a rush of colour that didn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a nice ride but I wouldn’t mind knowing why I was making the trip...

And then it all gets solved by the return of... you’ve probably already guessed if you’re a fan. I don’t know the back story (which would probably make all the difference) but things just felt rushed and, again, strangely pointless; rather like this sequence was shoehorned in to make sure that things ended well.

‘Rogue War’ is very much a tale of two halves and newcomers to ‘The Flash’ might be best advised to stop reading after the first half. The second half might improve on a second reading but just felt like a confusing mess to this reader...

Six out of Ten

No comments: