By Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Davide Gianfelice, Neil Googe, Ivan Plascencia & Chris Sotomayor
Issue #17 marks the conclusion to the “Rogues Reloaded” storyline, which is also the first appearance of the Rogues in the post-DC Rebirth continuity. It is no easy task to develop, let alone execute, another story surrounding the code-bound antagonist team. The Flash (Barry Allen) has encountered them time and time again and has always found a way to come out on top, but Joshua Williamson found an angle that worked very well in this arc: “the last heist” plot device.
Just as the Rogues were finally going to leave Central City behind, they were compelled to take down Flash – old habits die hard. Flash was able to take them all down, as usual, except for Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold. Using tech from the super-science terrorist group Black Hole, Cold was able to enhance his cold gun and tap into new, yet familiar energy that puts Barry in a dire situation. If their numerous encounters have taught readers anything, it’s never count the Rogues out. Flash must dig deep to physically and ideologically confront Central City’s most well-known career criminals…
Williamson really was able to make the story engaging; not only because of the Rogues’ surprising plan and their reason doing it, but also due, in part, to how he writes the dialogue and captions. Joshua has a lyrical nature to his work on this title. He clearly knows the titular character intimately and knows his history, but, where some would show off with lengthy word bubbles and captions to convey that, he keeps it short and succinct. Yet, if one pays enough attention, the references and mythology are present. It’s just a charming, fun comic and lately there aren’t that many that have that much needed levity and charm, while still maintaining the necessary stakes and drama.
This issue and arc, as a whole, specifically bring up so much of the history between the Rogues and the Flash. Williamson even incorporates Central City as a central character as it has always been affected by the encounters or conflicts of these opposing two sides. As Captain Cold and Barry debate each other’s motives amidst their chilling combat, Joshua is able to really delve into who these characters are and what drives them. It’s refreshing for old fans, but it also works on another level for those new to Flash. He even opens each issue with a little efficient recap or introduction because any comic could be someone’s first. What this issue does so well is that reestablishes the Rogues in this new or old (depending on how you look at it) continuity and propels their story in new, exciting directions. That’s a sure sign of a strong narrative.
Considering there are three artists at work in this one book, the transitions between them were relatively seamless, which is no easy task. Having so many on art duties can really hurt the flow and readability of a comic, but the credit should go to Ivan Plascencia and Chris Sotomayor for having consistent coloring that made the changeovers go smoothly. Carmine Di Giandomenico does have a very unique art style that is hard to imitate though – a double-edged sword in this case. He continues to deliver frenetic pages that, combined with Ivan Plascencia and Chris Sotomayor’s work, are just too stunning to look away from. His covers are always a welcome sight to behold on the comic racks. The blurring motion used to depict the speed of Barry’s actions is so wonderfully kinetic and unrefined that it really differentiates itself from how other artists have presented Flash’s speed. It comes together satisfyingly when the colorist(s) imbue their color talents to those pencils and inks. It’s a true blue collaboration that works extremely well in this title’s favor.
This was a strong and fitting conclusion with solid deliveries from all the creatives involved. The Flash continues to be one of the flagship titles in DC Rebirth, especially considering Barry will help Batman solve the mystery behind the Comedian’s button that was set up in DC Rebirth #1. Readers who love the Flash and/or DC comics or just want a totally entertaining comic: this series is for you. Don’t start with this issue since it is the ending to a storyline, but catch up from the beginning or start with issue #13. Before you even realize it, you’ll fall in love with the Flash with the current stories being told.