The Flash's Rogues' Gallery

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The Flash vol. 1 #174 © 1967 DC Comics. COVER ART BY CARMINE INFANTINO AND MURPHY ANDERSON.

The Flash's Rogues' Gallery

(pop culture)
The Flash's Rogues' Gallery first unionized in 1965's John Broome–penned, Carmine Infantino– penciled The Flash vol. 1 #155 (while 1962's issue #130 cover-spotlighted five Flash foes, it was a Mirror Master story featuring villain cameos). Six costumed enemies of the Silver Age (1956–1969) Scarlet Speedster (aka Flash II)— Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master, Pied Piper, and the Top—steer the Flash into a gauntlet, their gathering secretly coordinated by a seventh villain not depicted on #155's cover but described in a blurb as “mightier and more dangerous than the other six combined” (Gorilla Grodd). The Flash's assembled foes, despite their petty differences, discover they have much in common: their obvious hatred of (and previous defeats by) the Flash, and a flamboyant fashion sense. “They all even went to the same tailor for their super-villain costumes, a character called Paul Gambi, named after Paul Gambicini, a major fan writer of the day,” remarked Flash editor Julius Schwartz in The Flash Archives vol. 1 (1996). Unlike Spider-Man's Sinister Six, the disharmonious team that first tried to drub the wallcrawler in 1964, Flash's foes mostly enjoyed each other's company, for the next twenty years occasionally meeting like a criminal coffee klatch in stories so popular they made “Rogues' Gallery” a proper noun. After the Rogues' first adventure, the brilliant Grodd rarely lowered himself to fraternize with these humans, but other villains, from 1960s criminals like the Trickster to 1980s newcomers like the Rainbow Raider, sometimes joined up to make life difficult for the Fastest Man Alive. Even the tailor Gambi continued to thread his way through occasional appearances, including a bizarre team-up between the Flash and a popular comedian in DC Comics' The Adventures of Jerry Lewis #112 (1969). The Rogues' Gallery ran out of steam when the Flash died in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (1985). Many reformed, but five Rogues risked eternal damnation for the promise of increased power in the crossover Underworld Unleashed (1995), shambling soullessly before regaining their humanity in 1997 courtesy of their enemy's successor, Flash III (formerly sidekick Kid Flash). Some of the Rogues “repaid” the speedster by briefly regrouping, but a 2001 one-shot, The Flash: Iron Heights, jumpstarted a “next generation” of the Rogues' Gallery. Written by Geoff Johns, Iron Heights—named after Keystone City's (home of Flash III) penitentiary for malevolent metahumans—featured criminal strategist Blacksmith bringing together some former Rogues, the Teen Titans menace Magenta, and newer villains including the metallic brute Girder and the lurid psycho Murmur. During his five-year Flash run (2000–2005), Johns explored the personalities of the Rogues through individual stories detailing their roots, their psychoses, and their modus operandi. Captain Cold stepped into the forefront as the organizer of a new Rogues' Gallery, uniting some old teammates and many of their successors, such as the son of Captain Boomerang and the new Trickster. “[Captain Cold] tells the newer Rogues that you don't go out and spill blood just for the sake of it, you only kill somebody when you absolutely have to,” observed Johns in a September 2005 Wizard magazine interview. Providing the organizational structure that the original Rogues' Gallery lacked— without its camaraderie—Cold has led the criminals into chilling new territory, including a large and lethal assemblage of supervillains in the six-part “Rogue War” Flash storyline (2005). The 2005 “Flash and Substance” episode of the Cartoon Network's Justice League Unlimited (2004–present) teamed Captain Cold, the Trickster, and Captain Boomerang in a joint attack against their speedy foe.