Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mini-Views - Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1 of 3.

Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1 of 3

Written and Illustrated by Scott Kolins Cover by Kolins and Mike Atiyeh

There's an old saying in this medium, one about great power and the responsibility that comes with it. It's an admirable enough statement, but you can't help but wonder how another person in similar circumstances might behave, someone perhaps not raised by kindly parents or with an inherent inner goodness. Might they see their newfound abilities or gifts as a responsibility? Or rather find that with great power comes great opportunity to do anything they want?

In the standard DC universe, Central City is the stomping grounds of the Flash, fastest man alive and the only person to remember the DCU as it used to be. In the Flashpoint reality, the city has actually emerged relatively unscathed. It's not underwater like Paris, or conquered by Amazons or rampaging gorillas, it still has a bevvy of superhuman criminals who attempt to put one over on the city's resident champion, who handily dispatches them and sends them off to cool their heels in Iron Heights penitentiary. The twist however, is that the champion of Central is not a scarlet speedster. He's an inventor made something more than just the average citizen. . .now he's Citizen Cold.

Cold in the DCU is a member of Flash's 'Rogues Gallery'. Leonard Snart was a professional criminal who attempted to create a weapon that could counter the Flash's super-speed. Developing the experimental handgun, Snart accidentally irradiated it (it was the '50s, just roll with it) and found the weapon could freeze the moisture in the air. Donning a parka and a pair of goggles, he became the villainous Captain Cold! Silly? Yes, but that's the Silver Age for you.

In the Flashpoint universe Snart may appear to be the protector of Central City, but his character remains the same: a crook who stumbled in to the 'protection' business and is using it entirely for his own benefit. He protects the people, but he's got no love for them. He's a man constantly looking over his shoulder, preparing for the day someone finally connects the 'heroic' Citizen Cold with the hoodlum Leonard Snart. In the meantime though, he's got a nice apartment, a sweet ride, endorsement deals, and a date with Central City's top reporter Iris West. Things are pretty sweet for our 'hero'. Of course, a member of the Rogues presumed dead is working to release his fellows from Iron Heights, he discovers his niece is now an orphan and someone is snooping around his home trying to dig up dirt on the city's hero. Can Snart keep hold of his turf, or will he lose it all?

As I mentioned in my review of The Outsider a few days back, villain books tend to be a bit of a turnoff to me, but again I found myself pleasantly surprised. Cold, while by no means a nice guy by any stretch, is an understandable villain. Yeah, he's playing the people of Central City for chumps, but he's a haunted man, convinced he's going to exposed at any minute and constantly looking over his shoulder. And now, with his niece heading for Iron Heights after murdering her abusive father in self-defense, he's a man with considerably more to lose than merely his liberty.

Scott Kolins wrote and drew this one, and I like the consistency of Cold's portrayal from his run on the Flash comic with Geoff Johns. His art style is a bit grittier than my normal preference, but it works in this issue especially, with the rough-looking Citizen Cold and his equally rough-looking Rogues Gallery looking like people you'd most definitely not want to cross. I also liked how a longstanding rivalry between DC's two frozen fiends was handled most definitively in the book's opening pages. There's some nice bits of business here that allow longtime readers to play 'spot the differences', but enough vitality within the actual story to engage a curious newcomer who might have no idea who the character is or his backstory. This is closer to what I think the Flashpoint books should be shooting for. It's quick, engaging, and it leaves you curious to see how it pans out. Consider me in for the remaining two issues. Recommended.


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