SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Flash #54, by Joshua Williamson, Christian Duce, Luis Guerrero and Steve Wands, on sale now.
Often times, in the world of superhero comic books, a hero is only as interesting as the villains they face. This is especially true for such characters as Batman and Spider-Man, but no conversation about heroes and villains would be complete without mentioning The Flash and the Rogues.
Coining the name during the Silver Age of comics, the Rogues typically consist of Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Weather Wizard, Captain Boomerang, the Pied Piper, the Top and the Trickster. Of course, like most any faction, that roster has gone through a number of changes over the years, and in The Flash #54, we witness the return of one of the staples of the Rogues, who hasn’t been seen in over a decade.
The bulk of the issue focuses on The Flash and Commander Cold attempting to subdue a Strength-Force-imbued Trickster. However, with The Flash affected by the Strength Force as well, it leads to heavy collateral damage all throughout Iron Heights, including the rest of the Rogues escaping from their cells.
Ever the scientist, Flash determines that by using the Strength Force to control the gravity around him, he can create an outlet for it and reduce his enhanced muscle mass. Using this knowledge, he engages Trickster physically, and as a result, the Strength Force begins to vacate both their bodies. Unfortunately, a rapidly weakening Trickster is the only thing holding up a wing of Iron Heights to prevent it from crushing the rest of the Rogues, and while Flash is able to save them, he’s too late to stop Trickster from being buried in rubble.
Or so it seems…
After learning that The Flash was unable to find Trickster’s body, we’re taken to a derelict building where we find Axel Walker, who’s just as confused about how he got there as we are. As we quickly learn, though, the man who (somehow) saved him is none other than the original Trickster, James Jesse. What's more, he's flanked by a mysterious partner in a red costume and domino mask who doesn't appear to be a character previously associated with the Trickster in the comics.
First introduced in 1960’s The Flash #113, by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, James Jesse was a prevalent thorn in the side of The Flash and a founding member of the Rogues. It wasn’t until 2002 that Axel Walker was introduced, and after stealing all of Jesse’s gadgets, he dubbed himself the new Trickster. However, in 2007, when Jesse was shot to death by Deadshot, Axel became the sole Trickster of the DC Universe – a designation that carried over into the New 52 in 2011.
Of course, with death in comics being something of a revolving door, the original Trickster’s return isn’t unwarranted. Nevertheless, one can’t help but wonder just how intricately his return will be expanded upon, or if it will simply be chalked up to a byproduct of the ongoing Rebirth plot thread.
That still leaves the question of who Jesse's new partner is. In the 1980s, he had a brief partnership with an actress named Sharon Scott, but as far as actual sidekicks go, the most likely option is that the character of Prank from the 1990s Flash TV show (and one appearance in the current CW series) is being brought into DC Comics continuity. However, we'll have to wait and see if that's truly the case, or if Williams, Duce and company are introducing an entirely new character.