Today’s Super Comic — The Flash #182 (2002)

flash_v-2_182Let’s continue the super-villain streak, shall we?

One of writer Geoff Johns’s big contributions during his tenure on The Flash was taking the time to flesh out each of the Rogues. Previously, most of Flash’s recurring enemies had been little more than recognizable nonentities. Their gimmicks would pose interesting obstacles for a speedster to overcome, but that was about it.

Johns devoted the occasional issue to one Rogue at a time, and #182 starred Captain Cold, who has since become rather prominent in DC’s television universe. The issue nicely balances expositional backstory with a modern-day plot that has personal stakes for the character. It’s also a Flash-free plot.

While we learn about Lenny Snart’s miserable childhood, in which the only two people he truly cared for were his grandfather and little sister, we watch the present-day Captain Cold on a revenge mission. There had been a cheap Captain Cold knockoff running around in earlier issues, another nonentity named Chillblaine. But Cold’s revenge isn’t about the guy copying his gimmick. No—this guy killed his sister, so Snart must avenge her.

Cold’s focus on a loved one humanizes him, and by the end of the issue, we view him as something more than Flash’s parka-wearing Mr. Freeze copycat.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciler: Scott Kolins

Inker: Dan Panosian

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in The Flash by Geoff Johns Book 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comics — The Flash #201-206 (2003-04)

flash-201Nothing wrong with a change of pace once in a while, and that’s exactly what this Flash storyline is.

This Flash (Wally West) hadn’t kept his identity a secret since he took over his uncle’s mantle, but following tragic events in the previous storyline, a powerful being magically erased everyone’s knowledge of the Flash’s true name…including Wally’s. This sets the stage for a story of rediscovery (it’s almost Flash meets Hook, but far less upbeat).

The tone is darker than that of most Flash stories, and so is the color palette. Though the Flash is typically one of DC’s sunnier superheroes, Wally now works the overnight shift as a mechanic for the Keystone Police, thereby minimizing his exposure to daylight. Meanwhile, a new villain starts killing cops and framing Captain Cold for the murders. Alberto Dose’s art, particularly at the beginning, is pretty bleak and might make readers think they grabbed a Vertigo book by mistake.

Definitely not a typical Flash story—and I would never want this to be—but it works because it provides a sharp contrast to our usual expectations of a Flash story. And when that bright red streak starts cutting through the darkness, we remember why we love the character.

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Alberto Dose

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Flash: Ignition (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up