Saturday, February 26, 2005


Tackling these both together...

FLASH #219... One of the best arcs of Geoff Johns's run on this title (in terms of month-to-month tension) was Blitz (197-200), the storyline that produced the newest Reverse Flash. Hunter Zolomon was Wally West's friend and comrade in the crime-fighting business as Keystone's Rogue profiler, but things changed after Wally refused to use the Cosmic Treadmill to go back in time to undo the accident that paralyzed Hunter. Attempting to use the Treadmill on his own, Hunter succeeded but at a terrible price -- he ended up turning himself into the new Reverse Flash, Dr. Zoom, an insane speedster. Not a Rogue per se, Hunter still believed himself to be working in Wally's best interests and, as any teacher should, he pushed his pupil. When the two men had argued the ethics of using the Cosmic Treadmill, Hunter had accused Wally of never having been pushed far enough. Now the Reverse Flash, Hunter gave Wally that lesson -- he kidnapped the pregnant Linda and causes a miscarriage of their twins. Wally has been reacting to that ever since.

At the end of Blitz, Zolomon was captured and, for all intents and purposes, held prisoner by the Speed Force even as his body was stored in Keystone. That changed in the last issue with Cheetah springing Zoom, somehow waking him up.

This month, we find out why. The villainess wants Zoom to lend her speed, but when he can't she agrees to settle for his training -- the same way he still intends to train Wally. While the rest of the world no longer knows who The Flash is (courtesy of the Ignition arc), Zoom is no longer a proper part of this world and has not had that memory taken away. And thus sets up a far more personal threat to Wally than the upcoming Rogue War. I like Hunter Zolomon as a menace -- he's right, he's not a villian per se, but instead a ruthless instructor determined to force Wally to become the sort of hero Wally never wants to be -- just like Batman. It's a plotline that is perfect when used occasionally, letting Wally and the readers recover and get comfortable after the last encounter before popping back up out of the woodwork. Too much and it becomes overkill -- like the Joker.

Wonder Woman is a guest star in this issue, the first part of a crossover, and I can only guess that this is going to be part of the countdown to Countdown (with Wonder Woman's Rucka and Johns as two of the three brains behind the event) because, really, considering how Johns has treated Diana in all of her appearances in his books? I can't imagine this being a voluntary association. Johns (Teen Titans, JSA) has been mean to the JLA in general and Diana most of all. Unsurprisingly, Wally gets snarky with Diana while under the lasso's influence -- gee, Geoff, avatar much? -- but what did make me blink was the sudden shift to toon!Wally while working with Diana against Giganta. Wally's more of an internal monologist and not so much with the snappy patter (Joe Kelly played that up a bit during his JLA run). No biggie.

Lest they be forgotten, the Rogues are also hard at work and Johns obviously wishes that the half an issue focusing on Diana was instead spent on them, because he wrote the half-issue....

FLASH #½... Clever Rogue usage here while also continuing the set-up of the new Captain Boomerang (whose parentage is still under investigation). The new Trickster, basically a minor annoyance, is around here mostly to give Wally hints that the Rogues on both sides of the law are an especially unstable group right now. Between the restlessness of the reformed Rogues and the organizing going around over the cheerfully unreformed ones and the new Captain Boomerang and, under and around and on top of it all, the Top's revelations... Rogue War might actually be some fun. The continued presence of Hunter Zolomon, torturing Linda Park-West, however, is intriguing in entirely different ways.

Of course, I can't ever really complain about an issue featuring the only view of the Stanley Cup I'm going to get this year. (With the NHL out of service, the Rogues have had Lord Stanley's fruitbowl for the last while. Johns, a hockey fan, can never get too far on to my pooplist because of his gratuitous use of my favorite sport.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Zoom woke up before the confrontation with Cheetah. He was up in Flash 213 when he gave flowers to Ashely in the hospital, ::goes back further:: and looks like it started in 210 and 211 when Ashely visited him (we could kinda see his eyes opening/at least there was a red dot going on and off in his goggles). I've been so excited about this, waiting ever since 213 for him to make his new appearance, so this current one should be a great 2 issue arc...

Sun Feb 27, 12:59:00 PM EST  

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