Review by: JDC

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Avg Rating: 4.8
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Written by GEOFF JOHNS

Size: 208 pages
Price: 19.99
I said in my last review, for The Return of Bruce Wayne, that Batman is the poster boy for the “grim and gritty” superhero archetype. If that’s true, then the Flash is undoubtedly the best representative for the opposite, which, despite many protests, is just as plentiful in comics.

The Dastardly Death of the Rogues is an excellent example of just how much fun both the Flash and his series can be, without sacrificing gravitas. I usually dislike using the term “Silver Age-y” to describe stories like this (because they should not be seen as something long past) but this is like a Silver Age story for the modern day. An outlandish time-travel murder mystery wrapped around some not-too-heavy drama and lovable character moments.

And Francis Manapul’s art isn’t so much a bonus as it is an enhancement, giving every page an added “wow” factor with his sharp designs, killer layouts and beautiful colours by Brian Buccellato. That two-page spread with the helicopter? I’d proudly hang that on my wall. In fact, the entire helicopter rescue sequence might just be my favourite portrayal of action in all of comics. Even the final explosion is magnificent.

Manapul’s fluidity and sense of motion (important in a Flash story) is perfect. Never once did anything feel awkward or badly paced, but rather natural and swift. It doesn’t hurt that the art is too beautiful to look away from either.

As for Scott Kolins, who illustrated the Rogue Profile and Secret Files issues; it was great to see him back on the Flash in his familiar style. It was like he had been frozen in time since his last issue. The different colouring on the Captain Boomerang profile (presumably by Buccallato) gave him something of a more modern feel, but his talented layouts and facial expressions still shone through.

I suppose I should talk about Geoff Johns; I mean, he only wrote the thing. In the aforementioned Rogue Profile, Johns has finally done for Captain Boomerang what he originally did for all the other Rogues — made him into a deep, nuanced and interesting character, without making him anything less than a villain in our eyes. I personally never thought it possible, but now I want more from Digger Harkness (even if Johns writes an Australian accent almost as bad as a Scottish one), and more of these Rogue Profiles too.

As for the main story, it feels like Johns is back in his comfort zone. Not that his other work has been anything less than spectacular, but having him writing the Flash just seems right. Although he gives Barry more of a calm, level-headed personality than Wally, Johns’ handle on him is just as tight, showing us a man who is a professional in both his civilian and superhero identities. Iris, with her caffeine addiction and “cute” texts, feels a little one-note, but her relationship with Barry is very real and very heartwarming.

I would have liked to have seen more made of Barry’s first reunion with the Rogues, especially Captain Cold, and I don’t think I love the Renegades quite as much as other readers, but the ever-moving forward plot was engrossing at every step, including some surprise Johnsian twists (how does he get us every time!?), and still left us with little moments to enjoy in between. Aside from the difference behind the mask, this felt like the good old days. And, like those bygone tales, we are left with a few irresistible breadcrumbs of things to come.

It’s been a long time since a Flash-fan could say this, but I cannot wait for what’s next.

Story: 4 - Very Good
Art: 5 - Excellent

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