Set before the events of “Forever Evil” #1 and “The Flash #23.1: Grodd,” Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Heatwave, Mirror Master and Glider come front and center in “The Flash #23.3: The Rogues” by writer Brian Buccellato and artist Patrick Zircher. This issue doesn’t spend too much time on the characters’ origins, but instead chooses to illustrate the group dynamic of the dysfunctional team of ne’er-do-wells.
Making their way as crooks on the mean streets of the Gem Cities — Keystone and Central — the Rogues are the best any of them have. Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) is deeply rooted into the band of miscreants that his sister, Lisa (a.k.a. Glider) is the leader of. With scenes set in the abandoned diamond mines, the Keystone Saloon, Central Care Hospital and Iron Heights Supermax prison, there is no doubt this comic is grounded in harsh reality. Zircher’s art is a stupendous match for the gruff and gritty Rogues and the settings they traverse, giving Buccellato’s story texture. While the Rogues have various personality and appearance traits, Glider is perhaps the most stunning of the set. Zircher and colorist Nick Filardi combine to make her ethereal, ghostly and luminous.
Brian Buccellato’s story does a very good job of humanizing the Rogues. It doesn’t wallow in their origins, but it does touch on the “how” of the Rogues acquiring their powers and the bond that has solidified among them. While it originally seemed as though those changes to the Rogues powers were made for change sake, this issue makes it quite clear that the vehicle for each Rogue’s powers doesn’t matter nearly as much as the personality each Rogue carries and how those various demeanors blend together. Buccellato crafts a fine dynamic among this crew, giving each of them a specific role to serve.
“The Flash” #23.3 is a remarkably enjoyable comic in the deluge of Villains Month titles. While the connection to “Forever Evil” is equivalent to the red skies in “Crisis of Infinite Earths” tie-ins, the Rogues are perched for a larger role and more development to come soon from Buccellato and Zircher. The group’s moral fiber is stitched before the eyes of readers in this issue and sets up plenty of stories for the months to come, regardless of the presence of a certain Scarlet Speedster. Buccellato (with and without writing partner Francis Manapul) has done a fine job crafting a community of characters in the Gem Cities. I look forward to further growth from this collection of rapscallions.