The Flash: Rogues Revolution (Volume 2) by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato – A Book Review

I love the Flash.  I’ve loved the Flash since childhood.  I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: I especially loved Mark Waid and Geoff Johns’ runs on the Flash. I loved Barry, then I loved Wally, and then I loved Barry again (and I’m anxiously awaiting Wally’s return).

The New 52 felt unnecessary when it came to the Flash.  After all, Barry Allen had only recently returned to the role and Geoff Johns went to a lot of trouble to adapt the Flash’s world to accommodate Wally, Jay, and Barry.  But, even with that said, I didn’t mind the (sort of) reboot.  Comics are a perpetual medium, and companies must freshen things up as a whole every so often.

I’m telling you all of this because I like the Flash.  I really like the Flash.  I want to like the Flash.  And while I love The New 52 Flash’s art and its dedication to interesting layouts and an unrelenting sense of forward momentum, I can’t help but feel the stories are a step behind.

For me, and this is only my opinion, this volume of The Flash feel frenetic, and that’s good when it comes to art depicting the Fastest Man Alive, but not helpful when it comes to coherence.  The plots are rushed, the characterization is spotty (Barry’s a bartender now?), and the dialogue … Well, that’s one of my main sticking points.  The dialogue is clunky.  I really hate to criticize, but all of the characters’ sounded the same to me.  I did not get a sense of a distinct personality from any of them.

Finally, granting the Rogues super powers is another step in the wrong direction.  I believe part of the Rogues’ charm was their ridiculous technology.  Next to Batman, Flash has some of the best villains out there, but unlike the Batman, they were really just crooks with some nifty gadgets.  Did anyone ever really think they stood a chance against a man who can move in the blink of an eye?  Johns did a wonderful job of conveying this irony during his first run on the title.  I understand the intent may be to make them more of a challenge to the Flash, but giving them super powers isn’t the way to achieve it.  I would instead have perhaps amped up their equipment, given it a more modern touch somehow, or, perhaps, rounded out their characterization.  Again, between Waid and Johns, it would be hard to add more depth to them, but simply giving them powers seems too easy and, ultimately, boring.

Now, I admit that I could be wrong.  Perhaps there is a master plan in the works here, maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit.  Perhaps Manapul and Buccellato are playing the long game, and what seems haphazard and disjointed will ultimately be a complex, interwoven tale that satisfies.  As of right now, though, I’m hesitant to believe this is the case.

Will I keep buying The Flash?  Probably, because I love the character, the art is some of the best in the industry, and, from what I hear, creative changes are looming.  I’ve followed this character since the early 80s and I see no reason to stop now, even if the actual storytelling isn’t my cup of tea at the moment.

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