This week’s Flash episode began by bringing on stage the last of the great classic Flash villains and ended by introducing…oh, let’s just say the first of the also-rans —though TV has a way of bringing out the best in even the second-stringers (see also: Rainbow Raider). Spoiler shields up:
The episode title “Revenge of the Rogues” is a call-out to Flash’s band of enemies, the Rogues’ Gallery, unique in their camaraderie. Spider-Man’s arch-enemies don’t often hang out together between jobs, and when Batman’s or Superman’s various nemeses team up, it’s generally to serve a very specific scheme. In the Flash comics, however, the Rogues stuck together as often as they ventured solo against Barry. Captain Cold was the first of the Rogues, later joined by supercriminals like Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, the Pied Piper (more about him in a bit), and Heat Wave, the bald pyromaniac who debuted in 1963’s Flash #140 and closed out the era of memorable Rogues. In the comics, Captain Cold and Heat Wave were the Butch and Sundance of Central City; nice to see that same brothers-in-arms relationship here.
Maybe I’m just spoiled by the Reverse-Flash episode, but this one felt a little thin; no one’s Big, Emotional Speeches this week felt delivered so much as read aloud, and it’s so difficult to create genuine drama out of the question “Will Barry follow through on ignoring Captain Cold?” that they didn’t really even try. (Conversely, someone pulled so many muscles stretching to fill up the “acronym” F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. that I pray they’re not in traction.) On the other hand, Eddie impressed me by stepping up — I really didn’t see his moment of potential heroic sacrifice coming — and Jesse L. Martin as Joe West continues to be able to wring emotion out of any scene under any circumstance.
From the start, “Revenge of the Rogues” skated closer to camp than any episode thus far — the deathtraps, the villain monologues, the way someone tries to say “Scarlet Speedster” with a straight face — and when I say “skated,” I do so with no small amount of trepidation, as (again, spoilers for non-comics fans) the mystery villain who freed Len and Mick at the end is Lisa Snart, Len’s sister, a.k.a. the Golden Glider, a figure skater turned super-villain. You heard me, A FIGURE SKATER TURNED SUPER-VILLAIN. As I said, Captain Cold and Heat Wave bracketed the first and last of the great Rogues. Guess how far outside that margin Golden Glider fell. (Far.) Still, again, if they made Rainbow Raider work….
Flash Facts (a.k.a. Easter Eggs):
The filthy-rich Rathaways are the parents of Hartley Rathaway, a.k.a. the Pied Piper, spoken of here and glimpsed in the trailer for next week.
Jason Rusch, created by writer Dan Jolley and artist Chris Cross in 2004, was in the comics the second hero to be known as Firestorm, successor to Ronnie Raymond. I hope that actor signed a long-term contract. According to Barry, Jason attends nearby Hudson University, alma mater to several other DC characters of note: Dick “Robin/Nightwing” Grayson, Oliver “Arrow” Queen, and Superman’s teenage sweetheart, Lana Lang. Man, to have been a student in that civics class.
In addition to a landmark near-100-issue run on The Flash from 1992 to 2000, New York Times bestselling author Mark Waid has written a wider variety of well-known characters than any other American comics creator, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others. His award-winning graphic novel with artist Alex Ross, Kingdom Come, is one of the best-selling comics of all time. Currently, he writes Daredevil and S.H.I.E.L.D. for Marvel Comics and Empire and Insufferable for his own webcomics site, Thrillbent.