It's a cold day in Hell... because Captain Cold (ne King Cold now) and the Rogues have - thanks to Lex Luthor's enhanced technology and some as-yet-unrevealed mystery plotting - have taken over Central City!
But... what's happened to the Scarlet Speedster?
Other heroes try to step in to fill the void, but are met with bitter defeat!
But King Cold has a secret he's keeping from the other Rogues... the Flash isn't as dead as the world thinks!
What's become of our hero? How did the Rogues come to conquer Central City? Can they be defeated? How on earth will life ever return to even a semblance of normal again after this?!
Flash #82 hits the ground running in medias res and doesn’t let up until the final page. Readers are brought in cold to a world where the Rogues have taken over Central City, and are only given vague whiffs as to why and how this happened. Honestly, it probably could have gone down without making a knee-jerk “Year of the Villain” tie-in, but when editorial says make omelets, break some eggs, you know? No reason not to lean into it for your own ends, and writer Josh Williamson has leaned into the curve with skill, gumption, and nerves of steel.
Although the Rogues’ takeover of an entire city feels distinctly comic-booky (guys, you do have to keep the trains running on time, you know), it’s still a heck of a lot of fun. Central City has been divvied up among them, each with their own fiefdoms that they rule with iron fists. The police and all other civil servants have been neutralized, and people are living in fear. (Pro tip: do NOT get caught stealing from Cold.) As for the heroes, those who remain have been reduced to run-and-gun guerilla tactics and are badly outmatched. It’s almost like “Age of Apocalypse,” but without the casual mass genocide.
And while fans are finally treated to a long-awaited showdown between the time-lost Commander Cold and his modern, dastardly counterpart (which takes something of an outsized, unintentionally hilarious turn at one point), there’s never a doubt as to who’s in charge. This isn’t Earth-3 or something like that. It’s here. It’s now. But there are hints that things aren’t quite as stable as they seem – Golden Glider has gone missing, there’s internecine sniping amongst the Rogues, and of course Cold’s big secret – which are broadly telegraphing how things will probably play out. But it’s still fun, particularly given Williamson’s move to bring readers in at the second act of the story, opting to go into the hows and whys of the Rogues’ takeover next issue. As both a reader and reviewer, I find myself in a position I haven’t been in for awhile with Flash: I can’t wait to see what next issue brings.
The art’s not half-bad either! Penciller Rafa Sandoval, inker Jordi Tarragona, and colorist Arif Prianto make their welcome return after ceding the artistic reins to Scott Kolins midway through the last storyarc, causing a huge tonal shift that hampered the second half of the story. I hope this trio sticks around for the entire story this time, because they’re a fantastic bunch and bring a ton of talent to the table.
Flash #82 throws readers for a loop by drop-kicking them straight into a world gone mad! It's fun in the sun (and the bitter cold) for a book that seems flies right under the "can't miss" radar and is "just" content to put out some solid storytelling. If you maybe dropped off of Williamson's run at some point - and it's not like he didn't give ample reason from about issues 51-69, when the book was a meandering mess - now is the time to get back onboard. Big things are happening all around the DCU and as usual, the Flash is at the center of it!
The Flash #82: It’s Good To Be King
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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