Flash (vol.2) #½ (2004)
“Rogue Wars, Prologue: Tricksters”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Justiniano
Inkers – Walden Wong & John Livesay
Colorist – James Sinclair
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Michael Siglain
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
I’d forgotten about the Wizard “one-half” issues. Was doing some organizing in the library today… which is a Sisyphean task at best, when I came across this bugger. I recall a lot of folks being annoyed by these… especially this one. Ya see, it acts as a prologue to the much-hyped and long-awaited Rogue Wars story arc. Not only did you have to buy a copy of Wizard Magazine to get this… you had to mail away for it! Six-to-eight weeks later (if you were lucky), you’d finally have your hands on your book. I’m tellin’ ya, this was a crusher for completionists like me. Hell, I would send away for “one-half” issues on series’ I wasn’t interested in… just in case I one day became interested!
So crazy to think of, considering where the industry is now… just about anything you might wanna read is readily available online. Don’t need to leave home or even lick a stamp. Funny to think this wasn’t all that long ago too!
We open as the new Trickster is fleeing from the police. He covers his tracks by dropping a few smoke bombs, and after using his x-ray specs to check out a buxom apartment dweller, he is nyoinked by the fasted man in the world, Wally West… the Flash.
The pair tussle for a bit, with the Trickster trying to use his bag o’ novelties against the Flash, including a super-charged joy buzzer… which is actually pretty effective. Of note, this Trickster claims that the “reformed Rogues” are far worse than he is.
It’s no matter though, Wally has had just about enough of the Trickster’s crap… and so, he grabs him in a headlock and bee-lines it to an Iron Heights cell. Unfortunately, this cell happens to have a mirror. A boomerang comes flying out the mirror and cuts Wally’s hand. Amid the confusion, the Trickster escapes through the Mirror Master’s reflective portal.
Flash stands there alone… surprised that he didn’t catch the boomerang. He knows something’s up… it came at him too fast. He is approached by Warden Wolfe, who he chews out for allowing mirrors to remain in the cells… and, ya know, the man’s got a point. Wolfe blames the presence of a mirror on “the liberals”.
We rejoin the Trickster with the Rogues, Captains Cold and Boomerang along with the Weather Wizard. Captain Cold is polishing the Stanley Cup, which is pretty neat. The Captain Boomerang here is Digger’s son, Own… and the Trickster has arrived with news about the whereabouts of Digger’s body.
We shift to Chicago and meet with the Reformed Rogues… Heatwave, Magenta, Pied Piper and their leader… the old Trickster, James Jesse. It is pretty much said outright that they either have possession of… or have at the very least have done something with Digger Harkness’ body.
Jesse gets a call to inform him he has a visitor…and it is the Flash. James Jesse, when he’s not in costume, works for the F.B.I.. Wally is interested in seeing whether or not he has any info on the new Trickster. We learn his name is Axel Walker, and he took the Tricky-mantle when he found a bunch of Jesse’s old gimmicks. Wally’s not entirely sure he can trust Jesse…
We wrap up with Linda Park-West as she is getting ready to roll on a hot story about Goldface’s expanding of a union. Suddenly there is a burst of light… and then, Zoom. He informs Linda that he “still knows”. This is likely a reference to Wally’s secret ID having been public until a mind-wipe dealie around issue #200.
They’re not kidding calling this a “one-half” issue… story only runs for a dozen pages!
But, I digress…
It’s been a long time since I reread the Johns run on Flash, so I can’t say with any certainty that that is “required reading”. I mean, to a completionist nut like me it’s “required owning”, but for normal comics fans, I’m not sure how essential this issue is to the narrative. That is to say, everything that happens here could be (and might be) condensed into a single page of exposition in Part One of Rogue War in Flash #220.
The new Trickster always kind of annoyed me, though, I’m sure that’s kind of the point. Something I have sort of mixed emotions on is Johns’ treatment of the Rogues during his run. He humanized them… really fleshed them out, especially Captain Cold. It made it kind of hard to root against them… they were far too likable. Enter: Nu-Trickster, he ain’t likable at all.
I was sort of expecting this to be a more new-reader friendly issue… and it’s not. That’s both a good and bad thing, I suppose. I know I appreciated it not being a “Flash 101” type of thing back when it first came out… though now, a dozen years removed, I could’ve used a bit of a refresher course. Even a single page “here’s where we’re at” would have been nice.
I can’t imagine I was satisfied with this back in late ’04 or early ’05 when I got it. Imagine spending upwards of eight weeks to get a twelve page story… then again, I was also reading plenty of late-shipping short-delivering Marvel back then too… ba’dum-tish.
Anyhoo, certainly not something I would recommend reading in a vacuum, however, if you’re in for the long-Rogue War-haul, it’s harmless… and you’ll likely get something out of it. It is part of the Rogue War trade paperback collection (which is pretty spendy on Amazon right now), so if you snag that, you’ll get this. The only thing you’ll be missing is the Wizard Certificate of Authenticity.