Review of DC Black Label’s Rogues #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Drawn by Leomacs
Colored by Matheus Lopes
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
One last heist. That’s all it will take. One last heist for the DC Universe’s greatest Rogues, crooks far past their prime. One final time for them to reunite and bring meaning back to their lives. With Joshua Williamson and Leomacs’ new DC Black Label series Rogues, the creative team sets up an interesting take on familiar characters with not much to lose on a quest to relive their glory days one last time.
In Rogues, after years of being stripped of his “Captain Cold” tools and moniker, Leonard Snart can no longer handle the mundane life he was forced into. The years of being a super crook with his fellow Rogues has long passed as his skin sagged and his hair thinned. Now he’s getting the band together to pull one last job in a perfect heist set up.
It’s no secret that I enjoy a darker take on things, and this is that, but through the perspective of “what if you can’t do the only thing you think you’re good at?” Snart and his rogues are some of the best crooks out there in the DC Universe. It is abundantly clear how much Williamson loves these characters and yet he’s putting them through the ringer. It’s so interesting to see a crook going on the straight and narrow. Seeing how the world treats a former super villain makes you think about people’s willingness to forgive, forget, and let other people grow into something better. There is one scene where Snart’s bosses are discussing him in a way that devalues him as a person. They’re talking about a person who has frozen the Flash multiple times. It’s interesting aspect to explore and seeing its effects are actually sad.
Seeing the other Rogue’s go on with their lives for the most part is so well executed in the first issue. There is a baseline of who everyone became when they were forced to no longer do the thing that took up most of their lives. Figuring out who you become when a part of your identity is taken is never easy. Some Rogue’s came out on top and others… well others get by. Watching as Snart tries to put his crew back together is a fantastic way to show each other their dynamics with him as a character, especially his own sister. It’s a great set up that can be built upon in the remaining issues to come.
The first few pages take place in the past when the Rogues and other villains still hung out in a bar. Matheus Lopes’ coloring of Leomacs’ art in these invoke the feelings of a well-executed flashback. Compared to the rest of the issue, it’s much more vibrant with a mixture of purple and pink that kept my eyes glued long after I was reading. Leomacs’ art fits well thematically with the themes of the book. There are certain scenes where the grit and grime nearly fall off the page in Snart’s day to day life, as well as the other former Rogues. The character design is fitting and reminiscent of who these Rogue’s are, but more importantly who they’ve become. The book has an almost pulpy type feel to its style, which works very well. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering helps guide the story with fantastic sound effect lettering that brings heist film vibes to the story. One of the former Rogues, Magenta, is struggling with their power which is driven further by the use of distinct letter, speech box design, and recoloring that was a highlight in the issue. The entire creative team is in full sync on the aesthetics of this very different take on the Rogues in their final outing.
You’ve heard it before, “one last time is all it takes,” which is the dream of every team leader. Rogues demonstrates how things can change after you lose what you are and how far you’re willing to go to try to reclaim those feelings. The book doesn’t need any past knowledge other than these people were crooks and not supervillains. But time changes things. The Rogues are going to show you that one last time.