WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Flash #82, by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Arif Prianto and Steve Wands, on sale now.
The antagonists of the DC Universe have been steadily upgraded and upping their game for the past several months as part of DC's Year of the Villain, with a resurrected Lex Luthor boosting his fellow DC foes' abilities to further the Legion of Doom's fiendish agenda. The members of Flash's extensive rogues gallery are among the villains upgraded by Apex Lex, with Captain Cold secretly plotting to overthrow Luthor at the earliest opportunity -- a plot which he used to recruit the Scarlet Speedster's greatest enemies. However, before Cold could enact his plan, the villains set their sights on Central City, with devastating results.
The Flash #82 opens with a time jump since the cliffhanger ending of the previous issue, which saw Barry Allen and Wallace West encounter the upgraded Rogues. Both speedster superheroes were weakened by Hunter Zolomon recklessly running into the Speed Force to restore the barriers between the hidden Forces throughout the DCU. It's immediately apparent that Barry and Wallace were unable to stop their classic foes in their current state, with the city now divided into sections ruled by the various villains while the Legion of Doom symbol lights the cityscape.
Just as the early days of the Batman crossover event No Man's Land saw Gotham City divided into distinct sections, each villain-controlled section of Central City reflects its murderous overseer, with Cold's area trapped in an eternal winter wonderland. However, despite uniting to finally take over the city, it's clear there is tension among the Rogues and aggression against Leonard Snart for failing to make good on his promise to target Luthor and become the preeminent villainous force within the DCU and Legion.
Still, even without his fellow Rogues, Cold is far from alone, fielding his own private army to hunt down insurgents throughout his domain. When his men discover graffiti of the iconic Flash logo scrawled on one of the walls, Cold himself enters the hunt, confronting Wallace and Citizen Cold, his time-displaced heroic counterpart from the far-future. With his enhanced power set, Snart is able to freeze and kill Citizen Cold easily, while Wallace barely escapes with his life.
It's in the issue's final moments that the fate of Barry Allen is revealed. The maximum-security prison Iron Heights, where the Rogues are regularly confined following their defeats, has fallen into complete disrepair, and yet, the facility still holds a new population of prisoners. The Force users whose powers went into disarray after Hunter Zolomon restored the barriers between them are now imprisoned within its walls, including Fuerza, Steadfast, Trickster and Barry himself, his costume now in tatters as he watches in horror while Snart taunts him with Citizen Cold's newly decapitated head.
Of all the familiar DCU locations affected by DC's Year of the Villain, the most catastrophically impacted by the upgraded antagonists to date is Central City. Evil has conquered the Flash's hometown and reshaped it in their sinister image. With Barry Allen and the other Force heroes overpowered and jailed, salvation won't come from the Scarlet Speedster anytime soon. Fortunately, Wallace and Iris West remain free, carrying out a secret mission to overthrow the Rogues' control over the city, albeit at the expense of Citizen Cold's life. In the meantime, Central City has been brought to its lowest point during the DC Rebirth era, ruled by its colorful cast of villains with an iron fist.