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The Rogues have landed right in the middle of a gang war of megalomaniacal proportions. As Forever Evil rages on Rogues Rebellion is taken to new heights. Lost and without their leader The Rogues face their toughest challenges, and may not survive the night intact. So, how did Rogues Rebellion #3 turn out after all?
Buccellato does something very interesting with exploring the world of Forever Evil in this issue, and it more or less concerns how he decides to integrate stories such as Arkham War. It’s done in such a way that doesn’t really compliment the main series itself. Don’t expect appearances by “Bane-Man” or anything like that, Buccellato goes for a different route. He basically takes the template of the series, but goes for his own version of it. The villains of Gotham have taken over and imposed their own mob justice, with different factions here and there. It’s perhaps a fault in the armor of coherency that Forever Evil has cultivated, but a small one nonetheless.
The whole framing nature of the setting does lead to a rather spectacular set-piece and action sequence. The majority of Gotham’s villains partaking in the bounty for The Rogues develops a really tense sense of urgency. It doesn’t help matters that some of them have been separated from the rest of the group, and this is something that both the art and the writing truly shine on. It gives the individual members of the team a large blank check from which to shine on. We get two scenes inn particular that stick out and take this issue from “decent” to “great”.
The Trickster, for one, has become a front runner for fan favorite, and it is no wonder. While Johns has made a claim for the others as being the premiere writer for them, Buccellato has played a very tough game in making Axel all his own. From a rather enjoyably, but admittedly, over the top and punkish amateur to the standard comedically attuned over his head explorer. Buccellato does wonders when he sets him up as one of the few things that brings The Rogues to salvation, and proves that while he may act manic – that doesn’t mean that he is stupid. Heatwave is the focus of the second scene, which is actually constructed very well, and is both dramatic and comedic at the same time, without tripping over itself.
Still, the character that gets the movie attention and the biggest focus is still none other than Sam Scudder, the Mirror Master. There have been complaints here and there about how much the previous Mirror Master is missed, or how the pre-“New 52” version was so different. Yet, Buccellato goes down his own path, and sticks to it, giving this character a wholly new voice that works and that fits given his circumstances. He’s one of the examples of how sympathetic the Rogues can get, and how varied their motivations can be. It’s a bit on the nose and in the reader’s face but it’s full of internal consistency and pathos. As much as one cheers on Trickster’s and Heatwave’s solid character moments, Sam’s personal journey to save the love of his life is what drives everything on.
One thing that I must mention is how Scott Hepburn’s art has evolved and grown into and around the series since he came in to replace Patrick Zircher. At the very start, and in last month’s installment, he has had the tendency to be too cartoonish. It was something that distracted from the otherwise tense moments and made them hit the reader weaker than they should have. This issue changes all of that and Hepburn finally strikes a fantastic balance, where there is enough suspenseful and emotionally weighted artwork to bring the series to its full potential. There is a page where Heatwave seemingly makes the great sacrifice for his friends, and it’s just beautifully framed and conveyed.
It’s perhaps the best issues of the series so far and that’s saying something as the mini has markedly gotten better as time has gone by. Not to mention that it has continued to use the absolutely perfect new designs for the Royal Flush Gang. Both the writing and the art are firing on full cylinders, and as Forever Evil heads into its final stretch that’s what these tie-ins need to focused on. I’m excited about Buccellato’s future at DC Comics and hope that Hepburn lands somewhere great as well.