‘Lost in the Longbox’, Episode 24: ‘the Rogues: New Years Evil’ #1

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‘The Rogues: New Years Evil’ #1
(DC Comics, 1998)

Writer – Brian Augustyn
Penciller – Ron Wagner
Inker – Bill Reinhold
Letterer – Bob Lappan
Colorist – Noelle Giddings

Greetings from the Wasteland!

You can’t love every old book. Some just aren’t that good, no matter how much you may have loved it at the time, there are so many books that were throw offs, that didn’t work, and some that were just plain bad.

The recent Forever Evil storyline from Geoff Johns has sparked a new interest in villains. My love of the villain and his/her storyline prompted me to pick up this gem from the 90’s. The Rogues is part of an 8 one-shots called “New Years’ Evil” that focused on villains in the DCU, much like the Villains Month covers pre-forever.

The story features Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Pied Piper, and Weather Wizard. They’ve been taken to hell and brought back by the Flash, and now they want protection for their recently returned souls. They plan to steal the Sun Disk of Meshta; a holy artifact they believe will protect them.

The rub comes from Trickster, of course, who has decided to be a good guy here, and wants to foil their crime and save a boy held captive at the monastery, the “Majee”, a holy prophet born once every thousand years. (A son to Trickster’s ex.)

Trickster has set everything up so that the monks think the five villains are avatars of five elemental angels sent to protect the Majee. Then the warlords’ son calls on the dark spirit, Ahrnyu, (basically the Lizard), who inhabits the younger man’s body and attacks Trickster and the Rogues, who press Ahrnyu to the point that he transforms into Neron, the devil who took their souls in the first place.

After a weak battle by the Rogues (most of them rely on trick guns, so give ‘em a break) they awaken the spirit of Mesha in the boy, who handily beats the devil. Neron leaves after agreeing to terms with Trickster. In the last page there is a reveal that the boy, Billy, is eleven, and the relationship with his mother ended 12 years ago…I know…scandalous.

The art is typically 90’s. The Trickster has a long blond ponytail that he would look better without, and despite his super rad brown leather jacket with cuffed sleeves, he retains the yellow and black striped pants of his villain costume.

Really though, this is a letdown as far as a comic focused on the Rogues goes. It could have been so much more; it could have been Forever Evil in the 90’s. Instead it was a collection of villains playing at being the hero and grumbling about it a lot, still doing what was best for all in the end, and leaving to commit crimes once more.

There was just too much story crammed into one book. If you hadn’t followed the previous stuff, you’d never know why they’re going to this temple, nor why the Trickster is foiling their crime. The many names of the gods and prophets, in so short a story, burdened it needlessly.

I’ve never thought of The Trickster as being a headliner, either hero or villain, but my days with The Flash are few. I remember Mark Hamill playing a very Joker-esque version of him in The Flash TV series. (Still like his Animated Series Joker better.) This was an interesting idea but didn’t work as a solo book. Based on the cool covers alone, I would be interested in seeing some of the other New Years’ Evil books. There was a Darkseid solo and a Mr. Mxyzptlk book. (Mr. M is wearing the electric blues of 90’s Supes.)

So…New Year’s Evil? Not with The Rogues.

___________________________

Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter:  @comicwasteland

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