Writers: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Pencillers: Marcus To, Scott Kolins, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takara, and Wes Craig
Inkers: Oclair Albert, Wes Craig, Scott Kolins, Marcio Takara, and Marcus To
Colourists: Hi-Fi, Michael Atiyeh, and Ian Herring
Letterers: Wes Abbott, Pat Brosseau, Carlos Mangual and Dezi Sienty
Previously, in The Flash: The Rogues are back! Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Heatwave, Trickster, Glider, and Mirror Master are roaming the streets of Central City once again, and that can only spell bad news for the Flash. All is not as it seems however, as some of the Rogues turn on Cold and continue on under the leadership of Glider, his sister. Together, the new Rogues steal the new Central City monorail and put Dr. Darwin Elias in grave danger by inserting a piece of shrapnel into his heart.
All is not lost, with the Flash getting backup in the form of the Pied Piper, a reformed Rogue himself. Now, the stage is set for an all-out brawl between the Flash, the Piper, Cold and the rest of the Rogues across all of Central City!
I tend to write my review introductions before I read an issue, so my previously written section here makes this issue out to be a giant free-for-all fight scene, and whilst there’s some of that, most of this issue is a bit on the quieter side. Split into five distinct chapters, each drawn by a different artist (though with panel breakdowns by Manapul), this extra-sized annual looks back at the history of the Rogues, and how they came to be where they are now, acting almost as a Zero issue for the supervillain team.
Manapul and Buccellato’s long-term plotting technique shows up quite a bit during this issue, as we see how Dr. Elias factors into everything that has gone before as the mastermind behind the Rogues’ new powers. Elias is an intriguing foil for the Flash and his foes, given that he isn’t inherently evil, merely extremely analytical, and this keeps him away from the typical moustache-twirling, evil cackling type of villain. And it’s interesting to see how much damage he’s done to the Flash (if through the Rogues) without having any superpowers of his own.
Whilst we’re talking about plotting backwards, there’s also a little plotting forwards too, as we take a little time out from the Rogues to check in with Turbine, who hasn’t been seen since issue 8. Tying up this little loose end is nicely done, and with Turbine in the real world now, rather than the Speed Force, it frees up another villain for the two writers to use if they feel the need. But, given the amount of villains in this issue already, I think it’s safe to say he’ll stay in the background for now.
There’s almost a distinct lack of Flash in this annual, which, given the focus on the storyline for the Rogues over the last few issues, seems consistent. In previous Flash runs, the Rogues have been big characters in their own right, and whilst sidelining your main character is probably not a great idea, it’s worked for now and doesn’t seem to be hindering the storyline progression. After all, most of this storyline has been about the new Rogues and their relationships with each other, and there are plenty of story seeds planted here that will likely bloom into trouble for the Flash later on, not least of which, the arrival of another villain at the end of the issue, and the revelation that Turbine presents for Patty Spivot.
There are a lot of artists on this issue, and none of them are poor in the slightest. Each of them brings their own style to the book, and each chapter is given to one artist so that they can draw one scene before handing over to another, which means that the shifts aren’t unexpected or jarring. The only problem is the fact that no single artist really sticks around long enough to make much of an impression; each chapter is less than 10 pages long, and this isn’t really enough time to get a firm grasp on the artists, despite their talents. As a sidenote, I was pleased to see Scott Kolins returning to the world of the Flash, especially since he drew one of the flashback chapters, harkening back to his earlier runs working with Geoff Johns.
The Flash Annual is a chunky book that is well worth the price of admission, with lots of information being imparted, and the usual mixture of plot progression, setting up for the future, and even some tying up of business from the past. The cavalcade of artists aren’t bad, but the issue probably could have done without one or two of them, so that there was more time to appreciate each of them instead.
GO Rating: 4/5