Review by KC Carlson
I should have known that I’d like the “spokes” of Final Crisis better than the core book itself.
Requiem is the belated memorial to the Martian Manhunter, who was so brutally done away with in a couple of panels of Final Crisis #1. Writer Peter Tomasi and artists Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, and Rodney Ramos do an admirable job of filling in the details that weren’t presented previously. It shows us, among other things, that at least J’onn put up a fight before being mercilessly slaughtered by Libra and his crew. Had this book been shipped the same week as FC #1, there would have been less of a to-do raging across the internets about the inadequacies of that book, but then again DC would have had to actually plan ahead for that eventuality. As it is, this book seems more like a “Whoops! We better explain this better!” make-up story, something that shouldn’t be laid at the feet of the creative team, yet they rise to the occasion anyway.
The heart and soul of Requiem is the realization of the massive effect that J’onn J’onzz had on the DCU, and of how tragic is his loss. Unfortunately, what is presented here wasn’t always present in the Martian’s other appearances in other DC titles, where lesser writers couldn’t get past the Superman-like qualities of his powers or presented him as a bundle of inconsistent weaknesses and neuroses. Outside of the late, lamented John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake series and this one-shot, most of the character development of J’onn in the past decade or so took place in the Justice League animated series and Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier. Requiem does much to rectify that shortcoming and presents J’onn’s legacy in great style and warmth.
Rogues’ Revenge #1 (of 3), on the other hand, is a total superhero romp with nary a superhero in sight. It’s the story of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery (what’s left of them) and all the crap that they went through in the last year or so, from the killing of Bart “Flash” Allen to the horrors of Salvation Run and Countdown. Because of the Flash’s death, they are on the run from the heroes of the DCU, but because they chose not to stand with Libra and his plan (currently unfolding as a part of Final Crisis), they may be in even greater — and more immediate — danger. Plus, never the most psychologically stable bunch anyway, a few of the Rogues are dangerously close to completely unraveling after what they’ve been through.
Writer Geoff John’s acclaimed run on The Flash was largely based on “reclaiming” the Rogues — both in creating strong new characters, but re-making the old ones, with never-before-seen origins and motivations. Artist Scott Kolins joined him for the majority of the run, creating a dynamic “no solid black” art style which revolutionized the title. They’re both back for Rogues’ Revenge, picking up where they left off and setting up all the pieces for what may be the ultimate Rogues story. And they’re just the guys to do it!
Johns has done a masterful job of recapping all of the various (mis-)deeds of the Rogues in the last few years and has us cheering for the least likely protagonists in comics with Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, and Pied Piper, as well as checking in with the new Trickster, Inertia, and Zoom. And if Iris Allen is here, “you know who” can’t be far behind. What will the Rogues do when they encounter the return of their longtime adversary, Barry “Flash” Allen? And who wants to miss that? Not me!