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Sunday Slugfest – Flash #212

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2004
By: Craig Johnson

“Mirror Mirror On The Wall”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Steven Cummings (p), Wayne Faucher (i)

Publisher: DC





Average Rating: 5.5/10

Jason Cornwell:
Egg Embry:
Craig Johnson:
John McGuire:
James Redington:






Jason Cornwell

I was rather looking forward to this issue when I first read about it, as the Captain Cold standalone issue stands up as my favourite issue Geoff Johns has offered up during his time on this series, and the Pied Piper and Zoom issues were also quite solid. However while I like the Mirror Master, and find his gimmick to be one of the more enjoyable elements in the Flash's Rogues Gallery, the simple fact of the matter is that the back-story that this issue offers up for the character didn't really grab and hold my attention like the previous standalone villain issues. Now perhaps it's due to the rather clumsy bit of writing in the middle of the story that has our assassin for hire being called upon to kill his own biological father, and not keying to the fact until after he's pulled the trigger, but since he could simply be using information that had already been established for the character in previous appearance it's entirely possible Geoff Johns shouldn't be blamed for this awkward bit of plotting.

However, he does deserves a slap on the wrist for at least not making it a bit more plausible. I also have to question the final pages of this issue as while it does make for a powerful moment, the one thing this revelation manages to sell is that the new Mirror Master is a bit of a pathetic creature, rather than a sinister villain, and I'm not convinced this is the best idea to leave readers with if one plans on making the character out to be a dangerous opponent for our hero. Still the moments set in the present day are pretty effective at showing the new Mirror Master is willing to employ lethal force, and I also like the idea that the character was originally recruited by the government to be one of its agents.

Steven Cummings manages to capture the unusual methods of attack that the Mirror Master uses to battle the F.B.I. agents, with the sequence where one of the agents is shattered being particularly effective, thanks to that one panel of the broken piece of the agent's body. However the credit page shot looked a bit off as the character looked a bit like a teenager playing dress-up, and this is like due to the overpowering nature of the shadow he casts. However, the visual power of the final shot of the issue is nicely delivered, and I have to say Ethan Van Sciver turns in a fantastic looking cover visual, that visually sells the Mirror Master's gimmick.




Egg Embry

In an attempt at full-disclosure, Egg Embry's best friend, Steven Cummings, penciled this issue of DC's The Flash. That happy circumstance may shade Egg's review.

This issue stands alone. In today’s market, where every story seems geared toward the inevitable trade, The Flash 212 stands alone. I was floored when I first found out about that strategy. And to top it off, the issue is good!

Now, let me say that I do not regularly collect The Flash. I bought this issue because Steven Cummings penciled it. Steven’s my artist on Kamen and my friend, so I felt obligated to give this issue a shot. Steven has cut his teeth on IDW’s Gene Pool, Top Cow’s The Darkness, and Marvel’s Elektra (ok, so he did some of these books after The Flash, but due to the wonders of scheduling, some of those works beat The Flash to the stands). Regardless, that practice has led to a truly stellar showing with this comic book!

Still, I don’t normally read The Flash and wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. However, my “I’ll-begrudgingly-read-this-for-my-friend-attitude” was wiped out by four people:

Penciler Steven Cummings (of course)
Writer Geoff Johns
Inker Wayne Faucher
And Colorist James Sinclair

That team of creators made for a fun, yet adult comic book! Everyone did a better job then the last! Steven did a great job on Geoff Johns’ script. In my opinion, Wayne Faucher did the best inks Steven has gotten on his published work to date. And James Sinclair… well, he is one of my favorite colorists, his work sings! And what he does between present-day and flashback scenes is clean work that makes the story easy to follow.

On top of that, this being a one-shot issue made picking it up and enjoying it much easier then I had hoped!

This issue does something else that is unique in comics, it’s called The Flash, yet the title character only appears on two pages! This story spotlights one of The Flash’s rogues gallery, Evan McCulloch a.k.a. The Mirror Master II (or III… who knows. He’s not the original, how’s that). This story gets into the secret origin of Evan (and ties into how he became The Mirror Master).

Evan was an unwanted birth and put up for adoption. He grew up in a Scottish orphanage (there’s like some Grant Morrison or Mark Millar joke in there… somewhere). And grew into the man he would be at a young age – A man who could kill without remorse, a man that perfected his cold, uncaring stare while looking into mirrors. Without getting into the details, Evan grows into a bad, bad, bad man that spends a little too much time working at being the bad guy. This culminates in his doing something he’ll always regret. In fact, his life centers around one moment that seals the deal, as it were, and makes him a rogue. In that instant, he is forever the villain… in his own mind and out in the world.

Anyways, I enjoyed this issue of The Flash enough to plan on thumbing through the next one to see if I want to add this to my list of monthly reads.

One last thing, check out the poker game at the close of the issue. Notice anything… deceivingly odd about the guest stars’ cards? You tell me, how many aces are in a standard deck of cards?




Craig Johnson

It's the life story of the Mirror Master. If that fills you with glee, then good luck to you.

You want more than that?

OK.

At least one of the reports from the recent SDCC has Geoff Johns saying he’d love to write a series purely based around The Rogues….this issue can almost be seen as being a trial-run for that, focusing as it does on the life story of the Mirror Master.

Your value from this book, therefore, depends entirely on whether you think The Rogues are a decent set of villains, worthy of an in-depth look, or whether you think they epitomise all that is ridiculous about juvenile superhero power fantasies and really, comics have moved on from this sort of nonsense. Chucking in a bit of abuse and some drug taking here and there, does not make the book modern.

The art gets the points, it’s solid and pretty good.




John McGuire

I am somewhat invested in the Flash.

Maybe what I should actually say is that I have all the current Flash’s comics (1-212 plus numerous specials and Annuals). So it almost no longer matters who it is that does the book anymore. I’ll suffer for a few issues if the storyline is bad, or the art is bad, or whatever. The Flash is my comic in the DC universe.

All that being said, I’m so happy that Geoff Johns is writing this book. One of my favorite things that he has done since taking the book over (many, many issues ago) is the villain spotlight issues. And this time around it’s the Mirror Master’s opportunity to have his tale told.

Most of this issue deals with the background of the current Mirror Master (actually one of the problems I do have with this issue is that we never are told exactly what it is that killed the original). We follow him through childhood… his first kill... which leads him to becoming a hitman… which leads to him getting the costume.

Without getting too specific, I have to say I like how he becomes Mirror Master, and the fact that he is shown to be more than a two-bit thug with a mirror gun. However, the one thing that keeps this book from being complete is the revelation at the end of the issue. In many ways it simply seems to come out of nowhere, and really doesn’t do much to further the character that Johns spent the entire issue building up.

On the art is Steven Cummings, and he fills in admirably on the book. Ever since Kolins left at the end of issue 200 it seems like the interiors have been either blah or simply bad. Steven draws our villain as sort of goofy (which, honestly, the Mirror Master is), but at the same time makes his actions very deadly. There is no doubt that this is one villain that you don’t want to underestimate.

Very good work indeed.




James Redington

What I thought:
I hate to do this, but Craig was right! This issue has to be one of the worst that Geoff Johns has ever done, and I think the bloke is great.

The new Mirror Master back story is given to us on a plate, and I am not hungry. I really didn’t care for this tale of the baby left on the doorstep of an Irish orphanage who grows up to be a hit man for hire, who ends up killing the father he never knew which causes the mother he never knew to kill herself, and then finds himself in America and finally becomes the New Mirror Master... who sniffs coke in the toilets of the rouge’s hideout.

Actually there is nothing wrong with the back story, just why did it have to take a whole issue to explain the above. It was slow and boring, despite the attempt by artist Steven Cummings to inject some movement in the pages. The art by Cummings was okay, I felt it needed to be stronger though, it did remind me of Stuart Immonen which is a good thing - I really liked the action in the panels there was some nice poses and angles there and the coming out of the mirror stuff was good. I thought that the colouring was also very bland and pale - I like my superhero comics to be bolder and pack more of a punch. I did however, like the cover too, it was pretty cool, seen it before, but it was still good.

Why did Geoff Johns decide to have The Mirror Master getting high at the end of the issue, is that the best thing in the world to do in a comic that could be picked up my a kid who watches the Justice League (chances are they won’t pick it up, as less and less kids are picking up comics), who in DC comics decided that would be a good final page - it could have been just as affective if he was looking in the broken mirror at his mis-shaped reflection with the final line the same “I ain’t ever leaving Wonderland”. I just don’t like drugs in comics, maybe in Vertigo or Mature titles.

Conclusion:
I haven’t got a lot to say about it, it just wasn’t up to standard. The art was ok, shows good action and movement in the panels, but the story just dragged. Here’s to next month when something might actually happen, that involves the title character.






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