THIS WEEK: The DC Round-Up team convenes for a roundtable discussion of GCPD: The Blue Wall #1, Flashpoint Beyond #6, and Rogues #4.

Note: the discussion below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.

GCPD: The Blue Wall #1

Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Stefano Raffaele
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Cover Artist: Reiko Murakami

Joe Grunenwald: After far too long, we’re back with another DC Round-Up Roundtable! It’s good to be back here with all of you, even Cori. It was a pretty full week from DC, but let’s start with the big debut for the week, the John Ridley-written GCPD: The Blue Wall. What did you all think of DC’s latest look at Gotham’s police department?

Cori McCreery: I thought it was a very powerful issue that is working hard to avoid falling into the copaganda hole that so many books like this would, Truly it felt like a worthy successor to Gotham Central to me, both in themes and execution.

Zack Quaintance: I agree. I really liked this comic all around for a few different reasons, but aside from everything Cori mentioned, one thing that really struck me was the artwork by Stefano Raffaele with colors by Brad Anderson. It was so good, blending the style Michael Lark used on Gotham Central with shades of David Mazzucchelli, which is just about the highest compliment I can give to a Gotham City comic.

Cori: I agree the art was just pulpy enough to fit the tone of the book perfectly.

Joe: Yes, I’m a huge fan of Gotham Central so the bar for any GCPD book is very high for me, and this book reached it and then some. I couldn’t agree with you more on the artwork, Zack. Raffaele and Anderson’s work is wonderfully grounded, which fits perfectly for a book that doesn’t even have a hint of a costumed superhero in it. Their Gotham feels lived in and real, and definitely of apiece with Lark or Kano. What did you think of Ridley’s three new additions to the GCPD?

Zack: I think the choice to use entirely new officers — both new to the audience as well as new to the force — was crucial here. It essentially creates a blank canvas to explore the nuanced issues this book bravely delves into.

Cori: I thought the new additions were great pieces to add to a roster of Gotham cops like Gordon, Bullock, Montoya and Allen. There are so many really fleshed out officers, but their stories have been told ad nauseam, it’s nice to see new blood.

Joe: I particularly appreciate how each of them is being used to examine a different aspect of policing, from racism within the department to how the justice system views those who’ve served prison sentences. There’s a lot of heavy stuff at play here but it never feels heavy-handed or preachy. It’s so smartly executed.

Zack: It really is. There’s so much consideration given to each character as well as to the decisions that they make. The end result is a comic that feels both immersive and believable.

Cori: And of course, how this book is approaching the ever present threat that is police shootings. With Ridley at the helm I expected him to tackle the topic, but I didn’t expect him to go so hard in the first issue.

Joe: I think Ridley’s being extremely clever in the way he’s talking about police shootings. It would’ve been obvious to have rookie Officer Park shoot someone and look at the fallout from that, but to flip that and instead have Park instead be praised for not shooting someone is really fascinating.

Cori: And to have her admit to herself that it’s not that she didn’t pull the trigger because she knew it was wrong to, but because she froze in the moment.

Zack: It’s all really layered, nuanced, and smart, and the book makes one very big decision to take it seriously that is maybe a little surprising, with Batman not so much as being mentioned in this comic.

Joe: There’s a side-eye reference to some superheroing from Renee Montoya, but otherwise I didn’t even notice that Batman was entirely absent while I was reading the book. It doesn’t need superheroes to be a compelling story.

Cori: A teensy tiny bit of Two-Face too,

Zack: And I’m sure there will eventually be more of all of it, but the usual Gotham bombast was pretty subtle and understated in this first issue. I think it was a good choice to sort of make clear what the thematic interests here are.

Cori: I also very much appreciated the content warning on the first page. It was a very well done CW.

Joe: Agreed. I noted there was one of those in Gotham City: Year One #1 as well. It’s a smart way of being able to explore more overtly sensitive topics outside of a Black Label book. I was skeptical of this one when it was announced, but Ridley, Raffaele, and co. knocked the first issue out of the park as far as I’m concerned. This is a BUY for me.

Zack: It’s a BUY for me too, with this being one of the smartest Big 2 comics I’ve read all year.

Cori: Absolutely a BUY from me too.

Final Verdict: BUY.

Flashpoint Beyond #6

Writers: Geoff JohnsTim Sheridan, & Jeremy Adams
Artists: XermánicoMikel Janín, and Gary Frank
Colorists: Romulo Fajardo Jr.Jordie Bellaire, and Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Mitch Gerads

Joe: From a strong debut to a series conclusion, let’s talk about Flashpoint Beyond #6. Where did you fall on the wrap-up of Batman Thomas Wayne’s latest story?

Cori: I have one word for this book. WHY?

Joe: I was going to ask you ‘Which part’ because there are a lot of things that could apply to.

Cori: All of it? All six issues?

Zack: ‘Why’ is a good word for it. It literally opened with its main character yelling about how none of this matters, which is a tough place to start from. And I think it went on to end with this reality now confined to a snow globe? Genuinely curious if I misunderstood that snow globe bit.

Joe: You did not. It’s baffling. Doctor Manhattan put the Flashpoint timeline into a snow globe, and Janey Slater (you know, Doctor Manhattan’s ex)’s watch was stabilizing the timeline there. I am honestly stunned I was able to recall those details because they’re dashed off so quickly or left up to inference.

Cori: I just don’t understand who asked for this? Who other than Geoff Johns was clamoring for more Flashpoint and more Doomsday Clock?

Zack: I did come away thinking Doctor Manhattan was responsible for the snow globe status, as I understood it. But yeah, the thing with Flashpoint to me is it was inherently designed to be sort of a one-off continuity. It doesn’t matter what happens during a revisit, it’s going to feel a little counter to the whole idea.

Joe: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a comics publisher in possession of valuable intellectual property must be in want of exploiting that IP for all it’s worth.

Cori: It was literally meant as a placeholder while they got the New 52 ready!

Zack: One thing I think we all have to admit though is that this is a book that happened and is now over.

Joe: It’s not, though! It sets up multiple new storylines for the forthcoming New Golden Age. Nothing ever ends.

Cori: Sadly.

Joe: Let’s set all of that aside for a second, though. Was this series entertaining?

Cori: No. I did not enjoy a single issue of it.

Zack: I mean, it wasn’t my sort of thing. There’s some good art in here, and Johns with his collaborators remains able to make you feel giant uppercuts and other big moments through the page. But it’s not a series I’d recommend to any but the most die-hard Flashpoint fans, and even then, there’d be qualifiers.

Cori: There are die-hard Flashpoint fans?

Zack: One thing I’ve learned by being involved with comics is that there are die-hard fans of basically anything.

Joe: I agree. I thought it was a slog, and a needlessly confusing one. If it had just been the Flashpoint timeline story and stood on its own that way I think it would’ve had a chance of being pretty decent, but the framing with Batman and the Time Hunters just added a layer of ‘huh’ to the whole thing, and this concluding chapter was a hard read.

Cori: Wait there was a single moment in the series I enjoyed: when the kid Time Hunter pulled off his coonskin cap and it turned out to be a living feral raccoon that he threw at Batman.

Joe: That, and Batman’s reaction to it, was by far the best moment of the series. And maybe the best moment of any DC comic in 2022.

Zack: I wish the raccoon would have said, “This ends now!”

Joe: Gild that lily! I think mileage will absolutely vary on this issue and this series as a whole. If you want to be on the ground floor of fourteen (!) new characters being added to the DCU at once, you should probably pick this up. If you like at least a little bit of coherence in your comics, though, I’d say SKIP Flashpoint Beyond.

Cori: This one’s a hard SKIP from me for the whole series.

Zack: I’m also a SKIP on this one. I think it’s trying to refresh reader memories about a few things before those other series we mentioned above launch next month, but without having read those, I’m not sure anything in here is terribly vital to them.

Final Verdict: SKIP.

Rogues #4

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Leomacs, with Luca FinelliAdriano TurtuliciDaniele Miano, & Federico Tardino
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Artist: Sam Wolfe Connelly

Joe: In other conclusions, our last topic of discussion this week is Rogues #4 from Joshua Williamson, Leomacs, and company. I think we were all pretty positive about this Black Label series when it launched, but how do we feel now that it’s over?

Cori: I think this one stuck the landing. A truly enjoyable series about truly despicable people.

Zack: Ha, yes, well-put, Cori. I really enjoyed this series start to finish, and I think leaning into the unsavory nature of the rogues was a strong choice that the book played out well in this finale. It’s essentially a villain comic that eschews any sort of redemption arc for a reap what you sow narrative, but doesn’t ever feel dour because it’s so bonkers. I mean, they’re going out as they lived, for sure, but also robbing gold from a giant city of gorillas.

Cori: GRODD LOSES A HAND BEFORE HE GETS KILLED. It’s just freaking brilliant.

Joe: When I think of a caper story I typically think of an Ocean’s 11-type thing where the protagonists are one step ahead of whoever they’re ripping off and able to adjust for any any hiccups they might encounter. Rogues is the total opposite of that, and it’s wonderful. And yes, there are giant talking gorillas throughout, which is a nice bonus.

Zack: Great point, Joe. There were so many moments in this specific issue where you thought, okay, here it is, the moment where the heisters are one step ahead…and it just kept getting worse for them.

Cori: Anything that could go wrong did, and it was cathartic to see that happen for once.

Zack: Part of that catharsis was that for many of the characters, the book gave you the sense that they wouldn’t even really mind going out this way. For Snart in particular, I felt like, okay well this is really a contingency he was prepared for if not outright courting.

Cori: It really felt like it was exactly what he wanted to happen.

Joe: It absolutely was, or he wouldn’t have destroyed the mirror gun. It was all over from then on. I did end up feeling bad for Golden Glider and Bronze Tiger, though. Of all of the remaining Rogues they’re the ones who seemed to still have some sort of a moral compass.

Cori: Agreed Joe, they did deserve a happy ending, but the fact that he stole it from them is what made Snart’s ending even more delicious.

Zack: That mirror gun moment was a big one, and I loved the way the team depicted it on all levels. But yeah, the whole book would have felt different if those two got their happy ending.

Cori: I really did like the page where we saw them all in their prime along side their endings.

Joe: That was a great page. I know this is a Black Label series, but I would be fine with Rogues being the definitive ending for these characters.

Zack: I think it has the potential to be one of those out-of-continuity stories that ends up being accepted as canon. I know we’re all fans of these characters, and we seem totally okay with that.

Cori: Yeah, I’d also be fine with that.

Joe: It sounds like we’re all in agreement that this one is a BUY. I look forward to having a hardcover collection of this series on my shelf some day.

Zack: Same! I had that thought as I finished this one. Kudos to all involved! This is a BUY from me.

Cori: Yeah a definite BUY from me as well.

Final Verdict: BUY.

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