This is it.... The supercharged Flash versus King Cold in final battle, with all of Central City at stake!
Heatwave and Weather Wizard have switched to the Flash and his allies' side, but will they be enough to make a difference?!
“Rogues’ Reign” comes to an all-out action conclusion this issue courtesy writer Josh Williamson and artist Rafa Sandoval. And while perhaps the ending was inevitable, the how of getting there – and its implications moving forward in this title – are not. Since the end of the previous arc, the Flash’s connection to the Speed Force has been supercharged, leading to an uncontrollable surge in speed each time he tries to use his powers. This has lead to him (and is allies, Kid Flash and Avery) being unable to use their powers just when they it the most, i.e. when the Rogues have been powered up by Lex Luthor’s Year of the Villain offer and have conquered Central City.
Most into the new world has been Captain (King) Cold, who is at last not getting bounced around by the Flash every other month. He has power, he has respectability, and he isn’t about to part ways with them without a fight. All of which brings us to this issue, in which Cold’s desperation reaches its peak and results in an all-out brawl with the Flash. But Flash is still having to hold back, which puts him at a severe disadvantage.
Until he doesn’t have to hold back, which is where this issue makes a major swerve and into unexpected territory. Without spoiling too much, the Flash goes somewhere he hasn’t gone before, and it isn’t without major ramifications. It isn’t completely within his control, either, but being the hero that he is, Flash feels culpable.
Josh Williamson has made a habit throughout his run on this title of pulling the rug out from under readers’ feet and resetting the table completely afterward for each successive arc. Sometimes it’s worked and other times less so. This issue’s cliffhanger feels like it meets somewhere between the two, a temporary encumbrance that will result in a status quo change for an issue or two and nothing more. It’s not cheap, exactly, because it does come about organically from this story, but it’s a state of change that obviously won’t last.
Rafa Sandoval kills it on the art this issue, though. He’s always a strong draftsman, and his Flash, while muscular, is never too bulky. Where he really excels this issue, though, is selling King Cold’s desperation to hold onto his new place in the world. He honestly doesn’t see how far gone he is, and sees betrayal on all sides – even from his sister Golden Glider, whose compassion and care for her brother is plain for all to see. Sandoval does an excellent job of conveying the emotional stakes for everyone concerned, while still delivering one heckuva wallop of a superhero brawl. Who cares that Cold’s giant ice-boxing gloves are completely ridiculous? They look great!
At the end of the day, “Rogues’ Reign” as been chock full of great, comic booky nonsense like that that’s been fun from start to finish. Flash may not be DC’s most consistent book, but when its writer is on-point, it’s a blast to read.
"Rogues' Reign" comes to its knockout finish, as the heroes prevail, reality and sanity are restored, but with an inevitable price. It's comic book madness perhaps not at its finest, but it's still undeniably fun.
The Flash #86: Ice Fists of Fury!
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 7.5/107.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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