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Sunday, February 26, 2012 

The misuse of the Flash's Rogues continues

USA Today wrote about Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's rendition of the Flash -mainly the Rogues - and it's really no different from what Geoff Johns started a decade ago, which was making them darker and grimier:
"The way we set it up with the New 52, rather than a reimagination if them, it's an evolution of them," says artist Francis Manapul, who co-writes the book with Brian Buccellato.
No. If they're making them darker and less humorous, then it's devolving, corrupting them, and making them far less appealing.
The creative team is not forgetting the Rogues' history before them, however. The past of Captain Cold is intact, Manapul says — he did use a freeze gun at one point, but there is a reason why he and his posse now have powers.
And that reason is simply that, when it comes to the older Rogues, they can't think of much else to do except give them built-in powers just to "prove" they can make them entertaining. Instead of replacing them with newer supervillains who've got built-in powers, this is the desperate step they're taking.
As far as personality goes, Cold is the same hard-nosed villain he always has been, "the everyman we can all relate to except it's more the thoughts we have when we've been continually pushed around and put at the bottom of the barrel," Manapul says. "He's going from a man who used to get beat down not only by the Flash but constantly feeling the pressure of getting beat down by 'the Man.'

"He's definitely a lot more dangerous than he was before," the artist adds, "but he still has the same ideologies that he had before — he still operates with a sense of honor he did before, but there's something different this time. There's something more personal at stake that's causing him to act a little bit out of the norm."
What's that mean, that he's had a legitimate job recently, even though they turned him into more of a fugitive again in recent years? And why do I doubt Cold will be that honorable now? I certainly do know that it was shameful how Geoff Johns implied the new Mirror Master was willing to stoop to sexual harassment, as happened in issue 201 back in 2003.
But the designs of the Rogues will be tweaked so that form follows function. Cold used to wear a hooded coat, which made sense — "He was a normal dude with a freeze gun, so he would get cold," Manapul says, laughing.

With him being a metahuman, though, a jacket seemed like a weird choice, but Cold's still rocking a hoodie because it's integral to his character.

"He's this guy who's been put down a lot, he never seems to do well with women, his score always seems to go down badly," Manapul explains. "There's a certain comfort to putting a hood on — like when you see kids put it on, there's a certain anonymity or a protective blanket. It says a lot about his personality with the way his clothing functions with his new powers."
Well gee, if he wasn't a big smash with women, it's probably because not many want to date a criminal. Certainly not one who could be increasingly dangerous.
And in some cases, such as with Gorilla Grodd, Manapul and Buccellato are changing everything about a Rogue. Part of the world-building they've been doing includes creating their vision of Gorilla City, with new ceremonies and an entire culture.

"When you see them, you're going to see a fully realized world in the way their society functions," Manapul says. "From the outside looking in, it's absolutely horrific but to them it seems like the only way to live."
I'm sure I won't want to know just how flavorless their culture's become, nor what ceremonies they're going to hold. As for Grodd, Johns already set the tone for a very disturbingly vicious, almost flesh-eating depiction when he was writer, in issues #192-194.
They're also looking at bringing in new Rogues and adding newer dimensions than before — there were no female Rogues in the past, for instance, Buccellato says — but still staying true to what makes a Rogue a Rogue.
Uh oh, I do believe I've found a definite mistake here. There was one female adversary: the Golden Glider, back in the Bronze Age. In later years, Christina Alexandrova would make another one. Very poor research and reference on their part.
Plus, there's also a love triangle brewing among Barry Allen, his girlfriend and fellow police scientist Patty Spivac, and reporter Iris West. Pre-New 52, Iris was married to Barry, but Buccellato says there's a dramatic turn coming in issue 7 and who'll eventually be at his side is currently up in the air. "We don't know who the last woman standing is going to be."
And if that's supposed to be a signal that a female protagonist is going to die, or at the very least be degraded, that's not something I'm interested in seeing either. We've had far too much of that in the past 2 decades.

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