Review by Ian Keogh
Central City has been plagued by the arrival of new, and plain incompetent supervillains because the Rogues who generally call the place home have disappeared since banding together and helping Flash against the bigger threat of Gorilla Grodd. In Speed of Darkness Flash began to wonder where they were, and that continues as Rogues Reloaded opens, as he jails their second rate replacements again. Joshua Williamson takes an interesting approach with this, as Flash tours ordinary people whose lives have been affected by the Rogues, reinforcing that these are dangerous villains without any great concern about their victims.
That’s underlined in a well plotted scenario where the Rogues have power and motivation, with the only problem being some just making up the numbers. A benchmark for the quality of a Flash writer is their handling of Mirror Master, who’s a tricky villain to write effectively as his use of mirrors can be too gimmicky. Williamson, though, hits the right note, providing something new, effective and believable. The title story ends with the shifting of some ground, and as Williamson’s writing The Flash for the long term we’ll see where that leads.
One prominent Rogue was absent in the opener, and that’s because Captain Boomerang plys his trade with the Suicide Squad these days. Not that he has any choice in the matter. He turns up in the second story, which is also very readble, and contains the explanation for why Wally West is so fixated on learning the Flash’s civilian identity. It’s been a clumsy subplot, but Williamson’s explanation retroactively supplies some credibility, and he supplies interesting events around that.
After the artistic merry-go-round of Speed of Darkness, there’s greater consistency with the return of Carmine Di Giandomenico for most of the main story. He’s very stylised, but the basics are there, and he’s a strong storyteller, as is Jesus Merino, artist for most of the second story. When Davide Gianfelice and Neil Googe contribute a few pages in each in what’s presumably a deadline crunch, they’re not too intrusive, and this time Gianfelice doesn’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
Googe also draws an entertaining final chapter in which we follow Iris West on her journalistic enquiries. It ties into earlier stories, sets up an interesting problem and shows, if needed, how bright, tenacious and adaptable Iris is. There’s also a brief prelude to the Batman and Flash crossover The Button, which takes place before following volume Running Scared.
This is a significant improvement on both previous Rebirth volumes, suggesting that Williamson’s getting a handle on his cast and their potential. It’s combined in hardcover with the following volume as The Flash: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2.