Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #170 by Drew Barth
One Last Job
DC’s Black Label imprint has become the hub for stories centered on heroes and villains in their later years. From Catwoman: Lonely City to Swamp Thing: Green Hell, we get to see a variety of characters and how the changing times can change who they are. Or, in many cases, show how changing times can’t change them at all. And this is no truer than in the new series, Rogues, by Joshua Williamson, Leomacs, Matheus Lopes, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou in which we get to see the Flash’s classic gallery of Rogues in a different kind of light.
Set roughly ten years after their prime, Rogues centers on Leonard Snart, better known as Captain Cold. Central City is a different place from what we’re used to as readers. It’s brighter, cleaner, safer. The Rogues of the past have been scattered to the winds and have taken up respectable jobs wherever they can find them. Without a Flash in sight and parole agents breathing down their neck, they can’t not live without their past villainy. Snart, however, can’t any longer. Seeing his current life stuck in a job that doesn’t respect him and watching his city slowly gentrify, he wants out of the cycle. Captain Cold can’t act alone. Rogues always work as a team. And his team of Golden Glider, Trickster, Bronze Tiger, Magenta, Heat Wave, and Mirror Master come together to hatch a single heist that will hopefully pull them all out of the civilian lives they’re trapped in.
The Rogues have always been one of the most interesting groups in the DC Universe. We always see how villains will come together temporarily, namely in things like the Legion of Doom, before they inevitably back-stab and betray. The Rogues were always different. They worked together, they had a code, they were genuinely friendly with one another. Villainy for them was more of a job than a compulsion. And Rogues as a series feels like an extension of that thought. The Rogues gathered here are a part of the classic line-up with a few new members, but there is a camaraderie that brings them all together under someone like Captain Cold as not one of them wants to stay in their current lives much longer. The years can go by for all of them, but their central essence will still remain the same.
Williamson, Leomacs, Lopes, and Otsmane-Elhaou have something that’s difficult to pin down in Rogues. My mind always goes back to those episodes of Justice League: Unlimited where the Flash interacts with the Rogues like an exasperated friend more than a nemesis. That difference—the hatred of the circumstance rather than the individual—is why this group is as captivating as they are. The distinction between chaotic villainy and simply wanting to do a job isn’t explored all that often in comics, but it’s the kind of exploration that can show how human a man with an absolute zero freeze ray can be.
Get excited. Get cold.