This Annual has something for everyone, including: What the New52 Rogues looked like before they went meta, the how/why/who of their turning meta, why they hate Captain Cold, and much more…including a visit to Mirror World!
The issue is divided into chapters, with a different art team on each. Francis Manapul provided the breakdowns for each chapter, teaming with Brian Buccellato on both the writing for the issue and the artwork for the cover. The issue is hard to review without following that chapter-by-chapter format, but I do promise to keep this to only minor spoilers as it is truly a must-read issue. Here we go:
***MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD***
Chapter 1 provides a brief look at Barry’s past, through a childhood visit with his dad to the Bonneville Salt Flats. In doing so, we an almost Fortress of Solitude-like quality to his return as an adult, as this is now a place where Barry comes to run and to clear his head. The return visit is also a flashback, leading into some of the early events of issue #12. Marcus To handles the pencils and inks in this chapter, and his take on the Flash is really growing on me. This small chapter has some of the better artwork in the issue.
Chapter 2 brings Scott Kolins in (yay!) to show us how the Rogues looked in the New52 before they went meta. I really liked his take on Heat Wave, and…okay, I liked all his takes on the Rogues. This chapter does a great job in explaining the basics of the Rogues - from the rules they live by to Cold’s frustration in being beaten time and again by the Flash. And, it explains why he would be willing to do…anything…to even the odds. He meets a benefactor who has the means to help them (if you’ve read issue #12 you can guess who that is), which leads us to…
Chapter 3 tells the story of the Rogues’ transformation from Lisa’s point of view. This is a beautiful chapter drawn by Diogenes Neves and inked by Oclair Albert - this chapter was simply stunning in its visual appeal, and almost heartbreaking in the way it tells this part of the story. This answers all our questions about how the Rogues became meta, and why Lisa and the other Rogues hold such a grudge toward Len as a result.
Chapter 4 brings Patty Spivot together with a memory-impaired Turbine. This is brief…but it provides a twist to Patty’s understanding of Barry’s situation that should play out big time in future issues. Marcio Takara handles the pencils and inks credibly well in this very brief chapter.
Chapter 5 provides the real wind-up to this issue, bringing us back to the battle with the Rogues that started up in issue #12. Wes Craig provides the pencils and inks in a chapter that takes the fight into (and out of) Mirror World. This New52 Mirror World certainly evens the playing field for the Rogues, who are no longer simply pushovers for the Flash. The battle leads up to a twist at the end that may be predictable for those who know about the upcoming story arc, but it is still a rather satisfying battle to read.
The story is excellent throughout the issue, as one would expect by this time from Manapul and Booch. The artwork for each chapter was good, though having so many different styles made the overall issue just a bit uneven. That’s a minor complaint for me though…especially since I got a chance to see Scott Kolins’ take on the New52 pre-meta Rogues. Overall, this was an excellent annual, and a can’t-miss read for any Flash fans out there.