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If you know enough about comics, you know that there is a seemingly endless amount of really goofy origins. Even some of the greatest characters have origins that are not great. I mean, Jay Garrick gained his speed from inhaling hard water fumes after knocking over a beaker when he was smoking a cigarette.
If you have a favorite dumb origin, I want you to think about it right now. I want you to remember it and smile to yourself. Now, get ready for a new favorite dumb origin, the origin of Roscoe Dillon, better know to the world as the Top.
When Roscoe was a kid he was obsessed with tops (that should give you a clue as to how old this character is - no kid has liked tops since the '70s). So enamored with displays of rotational inertia that when he grew up and decided to become a criminal, Roscoe chose to be one of those criminals with a gimmick. Roscoe Dillon taught himself how to spin fast enough to deflect bullets. How many failed attempts he had at this is anyone’s guess, but I imagine the man was covered in bullet sized scars by the time he made his debut as the Top.
While robbing an armored car with his specially made tops, Roscoe found himself face to face with Flash. We can only guess that Flash was having a bad day because he somehow got beat by a dude who spins around. Top got away and Flash ran off embarrassed by his failure.
Beating Flash gave Roscoe a big ego. How big of an ego? Roscoe went on TV and made it clear that if he wasn’t named ruler of Earth, he would destroy half the planet. Embarrassed or not, Flash wasn’t about to let that happen, so he took his speedster duties seriously and beat Top, chasing the baddie all the way to Africa to get the job done.
The Top joined up with the Rogues, though he turned out to be better at the criminal stuff than the rest of them. While the rest of the gang were coming up with wacky ideas, Top did a series of easy crimes and built himself a space station to keep all his stolen goods. Say what you will about Roscoe Dillon’s horrible supervillain identity, you have to admit the guy was smart. Mirror Master wasn’t a fan of Top having his own space station, so he destroyed it. Mirror Master was a real dick like that.
It was through the Rogues that Roscoe met the love of his life, Lisa Snart. The sister of Captain Cold, Lisa was an accomplished ice skater, and with Roscoe’s help she became the greatest skater ever. While their relationship started off purely as coach and skater, it soon blossomed into a love affair as great as the love between Barry Allen and Iris West.
Remember how Roscoe built that space station? Are you wondering how he got so smart? Well, the answer lies in spinning - it turned out that the faster Roscoe spun, the smarter he got. Not only that, but his spinning gave him psionic powers. Sadly, as soon as Roscoe discovered these new powers, he learned that they came with a price - by charging up his braincells, Roscoe made himself a true threat to Flash, but Flash’s speed vibrations caused Roscoe’s brain to go into overdrive. A few days after he used his new powers to fight Flash, Roscoe Dillon died from an overheated brain. Dumb origin, dumb death.
If you thought death could stop the Top, think again! For years, Roscoe’s spirit roamed Central City, hoping to find a way back to the land of the living. When Barry Allen’s parents were in a severe car accident, Roscoe had his chance - Henry Allen died, and Roscoe jumped into his body, bringing it back to life. Roscoe tried to take over Flash’s body, but failed, letting the spirit of Henry Allen get back into his own body. Roscoe went back to being a ghost.
A second car accident gave the ghost of Roscoe Dillon another chance to return. This time, he ended up in the body of Thomas O’Neill, a United States senator. Hiding out in O’Neill’s body, Roscoe decided to run for president but his lack of political know-how took him out of the running. Still, O’Neill was a very popular senator, and he ended up getting nominated for vice president. Not bad for a dead member of the Rogues, huh?
Roscoe hooked his wagon to a hell of a star when his running mate won the election, but before he could be sworn in, Flash (now Wally West) figured out what was going on. Poor President-Elect Cartwright declined to take the office and Roscoe, still in O’Neill’s body, was shipped off to Iron Heights.
Not long after he put Top away for good, Wally learned Barry Allen’s dark secret. After he was pulled from Henry Allen’s body, Top possessed another person and started to track down everyone who Barry loved. To stop him, Barry brought Top to Zatanna, a magician, and had her brainwash the villain to become a hero. For a very short period, it seemed to work, and Top became a helpful ally to Flash, but the memories of his previous life bubbled up and drove the spirit of Roscoe Dillon insane.
Before he went mad, Roscoe used his own powers to brainwash the Rogues, making them retire from their lives of crime. For some of the Rogues, like Pied Piper, the Top’s brainwashing stuck, but some of the others returned to their criminal ways. When Top escaped from Iron Heights, he set out to return all the Rogues to their original evil ways. What Roscoe didn’t take into consideration was how the Rogues would feel when they learned that he had messed with their minds. Without hesitating, Captain Cold killed Roscoe.
After Flashpoint, Roscoe Dillon showed up in the New 52 universe as an acolyte of Zoom, but he didn’t take on the name Top. The whole Top concept was too dumb for New 52, so you know it was pretty dumb.
Personally, I’ve never been that big a fan of the Top. Of all the Rogues, he’s my least favorite not only because he looks real goofy and his power is on the lame side, but because he was overpowered. Each Rogue has one thing they do except for Roscoe who had his spinning power, his top gadgets, and psionic powers. Add in the whole brainwashing storyline and I really don’t like the character or the way he was used.