We’re continuing our look at August’s annual issues – brought to us by DC comics – with THE FLASH ANNUAL #1. Keep in mind this also concludes the Rogues storyline started in the regular series. If you want to know how that battle ended, it’s in here.
The last several issues raised a plethora of questions. How did the Rogues get their super powers? What’s Doctor Elias’ agenda (ie why’s he being a dick)? What’s up with Golden Glider, and what precisely are her powers supposed to be? And what ever happened to Turbine? Also, was there ever a Top in this continuity?
THE FLASH ANNUAL #1 answers pretty much all of these. Except the last part with the Top. I still don’t know if he’s written out of continuity or they just have no intention of bringing him up.
This issue presents things in a chapter format, comprised of about five or so parts done under a different artist, although Francis Manapul did the breakdowns for all chapters. Some of this we can skip talking about, like the Flash’s reminiscing about his father and salt flats. What we really need to take from this is how the Rogues (or at least some of them) got their powers.
Remember that genome re-coder from the first issue? The one Mob Rule tried to get their hands on? Of course you don’t, that was a year ago now. But apparently Doctor Elias got the Rogues to agree to stick their various signature weapons into it. One catastrophic science explosion later, and the villains now have superpowers related to their weapons. Because that’s science, right? Honestly I hardly care, because as I’ve probably mentioned in the past, this is how a retcon/dynamic shift should be done. Captain Cold, Heatwave, Weather Wizard, and Mirror Master all have innate powers now (though that doesn’t stop the latter two carrying extras of their old gear, presumably for insurance and sentimentality).
And none of it has been for their overall benefit.
Captain Cold can’t get a regular drink anymore due to his chilly nature (because they freeze in his hands); Heatwave is horribly burned over a majority of his body; Weather Wizard’s mood lies enslaved to the meteorological patterns. Mirror Master might have it worst, simply by virtue of being forever trapped in the mirror realm; though this does amusingly mirror his counterpart’s fate in the Flashpoint universe, though at least here people don’t instantly die if they enter there. All of this adds to drama, and gives the characters renewed motivations for being villains.
As for Lisa Snart, Captain Cold’s sister and the aforementioned Golden Glider, we now know what exactly she is. She’s an astral projection; basically a spooky ghost whose body languishes somewhere, paralyzed. This was also a result of the same scien-splosion that gave the Rogues their powers. It being Leonard’s idea, it’s no wonder GG hates him to a murderous degree. Or a “leave-him-to-die” degree.
As for Turbine – the guy made to fill the Top’s place as resident spinning guy (with added racial equality of evil!) – just winds up in the present after that whole stuck in the speed force thing. He’s got amnesia, sort of, and despite being displayed on the cover he doesn’t do much or engage in the epic battle.
Oh by the way, the battle was pretty sweet. I think that about covers that.
Not to spoil things, the issue ends with an even bigger – yet familiar – threat plopping down on Central City, to be dealt with after the requisite zero issue of course. Taken together, I liked this one. My only complaint is that, unless you knew the story would get finished in the annual, you might just have missed things just going on the regular releases. Issue twelve did at least say the story continues in the annual, but what if you decided to collect this series down the line and didn’t know to pick up the annual? It’d mean buying up the issues (online probably now), only to find out once you’ve read up to this point that you’re missing a rather important part of the story that isn’t in the regular sequence.
My incredible nitpicking aside, if you have any interest in The Flash…well you should already be reading this series. In fact it helps in understanding the events depicted here to have read the previous issues. But it does do a decent job establishing the series anew, especially the relationship between the Flash and his Rogues, and how the latter group works (or doesn’t) as a unit. If you like the Rogues, this is a must-read. And while this new series alters aspects of the pre-Flashpoint franchise, it’s at least not actively hostile to everything that came before it like some series I could mention.
Speaking of series consistent with past continuity, next time we look at one of the few untouched holdovers from the old days, and it’s next steps into the New 52. It’s GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1, and the prologue to the long-awaited Rise of the Third Army!
Do you like villain groups that stick to simple goals? What do you think of the Rogues’ upgrades? When do you find such changes compelling, and when do you find them irritating? Do you miss Wally West? Please leave a comment below.