The Flash: Rogue War.
Now, keep in mind, a few years back, I used to be almost entirely indifferent to the Flash. All I knew about him was what I saw on Justice League. I honestly didn't think much about him there either. I thought he was lame, I thought his rogues were even lamer. So when my friend urged me to pick up the Flash, I was skeptical. He started me on "Rogue War," the 8th volume of Flash trades written by Geoff Johns.
... This one story turned me from Flash indifferent to Flash fanatic, literally overnight.
The first thing was I was floored by was the Rogues. The trade opens with the origins of Mirror Master and Heat Wave. I was stunned at how sadistic Mirror Master's origin was, and how mentally unnerving Heat Wave's was. The Rogues had this much depth to them? We later on see a story told from Captain Cold's perspective, and how he's the one who has to keep them all in line, whether it be beating the hell out of Mirror Master to kick a drug habit to giving a drunk Weather Wizard a shoulder to cry on, it's truly something to see how the Rogues stick together. Then you see the outlandish Rogues who don't follow Cold's rules, and how deep the rift is between these two gangs. Then comes the Reverse-Flashes, who... Jesus Christ. Zoom is quite possibly one of my most favorite villains ever. He really does not think he's doing anything wrong. Hell, all he wants is to make Flash a better hero. He truly sees Flash as one of his closest friends, and everything he does, he does for the sole purpose of making Flash just a little stronger, to turn him into a man who will do absolutely anything so he won't let down a person in need like he let down Zoom. It's so twisted, and their final confrontation at the end of the story is nothing short of jaw-dropping incredibility.
Then there's the man, the Flash himself. I see him here as many things. A family man. A man depressed that he was robbed at his chance at being a father, and ridden with guilt over the loss of his unborn children, his inability to save Zoom from before, and his concern for Trickster and Pied Piper, even when they stop being his friends and want to beat the hell out of him. That's just on the inside... on the outside, it showed me what a badass power super speed is. How he manipulates friction, vibrating molecules, even that cosmic treadmill is badass.
Before this, the only thing of Geoff Johns I'd read was Teen Titans (which admittedly I only picked up because I was getting into the show) but this turned me into a Geoff Johns fanatic. As far as I'm concerned? He's probably the greatest Flash writer in history. I don't think anyone will ever top those 8 trades run of his.
The various artists all did great jobs. Scott Kolins and Howard Porter are the main ones, and both of them do a great job of giving the Flash such motion, or making the Rogues look even more dastardly than usual, and can draw great effects, like Mirror Master's distorted reflections or Cold's crazy sheets of ice. They give the fights such power, and it's truly commendable.
Looking back on it, Rogue War really isn't an ideal place to start getting into the Flash. It references heavily and spoils major events from the previous 7 volumes, and I honestly felt it really hurt my reading experience when, months later, I bought those first 7 trades. I read them, and while not disappointed, I still felt not completely fulfilled because I'd had so much of this spoiled for me in Rogue War.
In conclusion, Rogue War changed my life. It opened my eyes to the Flash. It showed me all the potential he had. And it made me crave so much more of him. I wanted more Flash. More Rogues. More everything.
I recommend it highly, but I first recommend you find the earlier trades and read those first. If you're feeling ballsy, you can just jump in to Rogue War feet first like I did, and do some supplemental reading on a wiki or something. But whatever you choose, just don't miss this story.
Run on, Flash.