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The Rogues have had a tough night, and it looks to be getting even worse before the sun finally comes out again, in Brian Buccellato’s Rogues Rebellion #5. Barreling down toward a conclusion at breakneck speed, the end of Forever Evil is in plain sight. Yet, its coming is something bitter sweet.
Rogues Rebellion #5 marks the climax of the miniseries that follows the Rogues’ travels across the war-torn DCU landscape in the wake of the Crime Syndicate’s invasion. It’s been a wild ride and this issue is no doubt the best one to have come out so far. Buccellato hits the readers at full blast with quality interactions, development, and interconnectivity. Finally does this mini quell the call and answer the questions that some have been asking. Things coalesce greatly this month. So much in one issue and we haven’t even gotten to describing the nit and gritty of the situation yet – that being the real magic of this mini.
Once again the one thing that must be mentioned off the bat has to be the continued development of Sam Scudder, the Mirror Master, under Buccellato’s steadied and guided hands. He’s become not just a well-developed villain, but now a well-developed character in his own right. This issue packs some powerful pages and panels that really showcase how far he’s grown and, really, how far the Rogues have gone in the last couple of months. Scudder’s quest to save his lost, the comatose Glider, leads to an emotionally wrought confrontation with Weather Wizard that is filled with subtext and actual forward motion. This is the darkest moment, the belly of the beast, the “all is lost” scene, and it is sold lock, stock, and barrel.
What helps is Scott Hepburn’s excellent art, which I simply cannot praise enough anymore. I was apprehensive about his art, maybe it was too cartoony, maybe it was too off-model, but in the last two issues he has taken the Rogues to new heights and completely remade them into his own. I cannot imagine anyone having done this mini at this point. There are some incredibly beautiful pages in this issue. Hepburn has proven capable on not only fluid kinetic action, but also stoic, imposing, dynamic single page splashes. One of the best things that Hepburn brings to the table is his rendition of the crime enacting duo of Johnny Quick and Atomica. This is perhaps the best that they’ve been captured outside of Ivan Reis in the Justice League, and Hepburn packs them with an extremely large punch.
Branching off from that, this issue gives a conclusive reference to the question that has been gnawing at many (including myself) – would the Crime Syndicate recognize the villains as heroes they had faced on their own Earth? Buccellato has surely been playing from Johns’ playbook and specifically takes a note from Justice League #26, which shows the Cop version of the Rogues. It leads to a fantastically done scene that is both unsettling as it is humorous and it is the start of a trend that I hope to see continued. There can be a lot of pathos ridden final battles in the main event series if this underlying issue is brought to the forefront much like Buccellato played it. Suffice it to say that Buccellato’s writing style plays hand into hand with Johnny Quick and Atomica’s characterization. Full of zest, energy, and madcap psychotics.
The issue also brings a lot of plot threads to a close, creating a sense of finality as we head right into the closing sixth part of the story next month. We see an ingenious resolution of the fight with the Royal Flush Gang (who become periphery to the Johnny Quick threat) and also a return to some older plot threads, such as the startling and warmly done return of the Pied Piper and the Central City police force. Not to give too much away (as this is an issue that really must be experienced to fullest extent) but the final issue is going to be a blow out of monstrous proportions as the Rogues face off against an army of foes. So, should be fun then right?