There are comic book artists who are indelibly linked to certain characters, and if such a link can be made to Scott Kolins, it leads directly to Flash’s Rogues.
In July, Kolins will return to the characters for which he's so well-known in an oversized three-issue mini-series with writer Geoff Johns called Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge.
During their run on The Flash, Kolins and Johns became known for adding depth to the character's colorful Rogues gallery, giving the speedster-hating thugs a more defined motivation and, through Kolins' pencils in particular, a grittier edge and more threatening presence. And along with redefining the existing Rogues, the creative team added a few of their own, including the fan-favorite Reverse-Flash, Zoom.
Since leaving The Flash in 2003 (with artist Howard Porter taking over for the rest of Johns' run), Kolins has worked on a variety of projects, from Thor: Blood Oath and Marvel Team-Up at Marvel Comics to recent work he did on DC's weekly series Countdown to Final Crisis.
But now Kolins is coming back to the world of the scarlet speedster in Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge. And the Flash-focused mini-series is coming out during a time when the Flash universe is playing a seemingly central role in DC's Final Crisis event. Consider:
- The lightning bolt in last month's DC Universe #0 that teased the return of long-dead speedster Barry Allen.
- The choice by the villainous Libra to form his new Society in the heart of Flash territory in Final Crisis.
- The mysterious lightning rod in preview images for the upcoming Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds that first showed up when former Flash Wally West came back to the DCU and then-Flash Bart Allen died.
While Kolins wasn't exactly ready to give away everything that's going on with these mysteries, the artist did talk to Newsarama about his return to the Flash’s Rogues, the artistic approach he's taking in these issues, and the much-anticipated story he will be telling with Johns in Rogues Revenge.
Newsarama: Now that you've started on Rogues Revenge, how does it feel to get back to these characters? Good to get your hands on them again?
Scott Kolins: Feels great! In some ways it feels like I never stopped. I have been drawing some of these Rogues at conventions in the years since my Flash time, so it's not like I had to remember who they were. But having them in this story now, feels perfect.
NRAMA: Why do you think your run with Geoff on The Flash is still so beloved by fans? What did it have that made it so special?
SK: Well, I hope it has something to do with our sincere affection for the characters and dedication to making those stories the best we could. Flash is Geoff's big dream book, so he had a lot of enthusiasm that carried us a long way, but also I think it was the right time and right group of people. Our whole team was great. And we kept it together for almost 3 years -- that was rare then and nearly unheard of now. A chunk of good stories told for that amount of time has an impact. I had been waiting many years to have a run like that on a monthly book. Careers in comics are often defined by those kinds of opportunities.
NRAMA: Do you find that, now that you're returning to these characters, your style has changed enough that you're drawing them a little differently? How has your approach to both the characters and the Flash universe changed since you left?
SK: Well, I had tried other styles in recent years, because that can help keep me sharp and keep me from getting bogged down drawing the same thing every month. That combined with my continued goal of getting better at my craft and seeing new artists and having other influences hopefully means I'm just better at drawing the Rogues now. But I am drawing them in my "Flash style," with a few more years of experience to push it forward. Geoff says they look more solid. Like he could reach into the paper and touch them. Sounds good to me.
NRAMA: What's the overall visual feel of this new Rogues comic? Are things dark for the Rogues right now and the atmosphere reflects that? Or is there some other tone you're trying to achieve artistically?
SK: Things are not good for the Rogues. I wouldn't say dark, but it's a ... a mean mood. Like any moment, they could snap!
NRAMA: Let's talk about the way you're drawing the Rogues themselves. As we pick up this series, they've been through the grinder. How is that reflected in your art and the way you depict the characters?
SK: They look horrible in the opening sequence. Beaten, bruised, torn -- just a mess. They're soaking wet as Weather Wizard has generated a massive rain storm so they can sneak into their old hideout. They've been through some bad times and our story takes them from that to what's next.
NRAMA: We've seen Pied Piper go through the ringer lately -- how are you drawing his character as he tries to put the pieces of his life back together?
SK: Piper has a mission but I'm not sure how much he is self-aware at this point. I mean, it looked like he was going absolutely bonkers while on Apokolips, not that I blame him. Seeing James Jesse die and then just being on Apokolips -- a really bizarre and evil place -- could shake any man. Piper's going to get better, I think, but it's going to take time. And he'll need help from a friend.
NRAMA: Are you getting to draw his rats?
SK: Yes, lots and lots of rats. They are fun. In some ways right now, the rats are Piper's friends. He's talking to them anyway. Spooky.
NRAMA: Are there any surprises for fans regarding these Rogues now that they've been through so much since you last touched 'em?
SK: Lots of surprises, thanks to Geoff. But it's always stuff that feels natural to the story and the characters. It's not from left field, but it's good stuff. Geoff has surprised me with some of this.
NRAMA: And Libra plays a role in this series?
SK: Yeah, Libra's cool. I like him, his look and what he's all about.
NRAMA: What's important to emphasize in the way you draw him?
SK: Geoff told me that he's very preachy. All full of fire and brimstone. He's preaching to an audience of villains in Rogues #1. That was fun. Geoff's got him talking about the first weapon used to murder and stuff like that.
NRAMA: We've seen some cover images. What's up with Inertia? Is he teaming up with Zoom? And did you design his costume?
SK: When Geoff told me what was going on between them, my eyes popped out. Just awesome stuff. Geoff first mentioned using the Kid Flash costume -- and I naturally switched the lightning bolt just like I did for Zoom years ago. As a side note, I didn't realize that hadn't been done. I assumed the lightning bolt has always been reversed like the costume was. I think that's one of those "falling into a river of gold" moments.
NRAMA: How has it been getting back to Zoom?
SK: Zoom's a real favorite. He's sooo mad. Just bitter to the Nth degree. It's fun getting into that mindset and drawing that -- though it is draining. Actually, drawing him this time will be a bit easier for me. I may do some hands-on blurring of him, like I did before, but for the most part I'm much more interested in him being blurred with the computer now. I didn't ask for it before as sometimes that can go very wrong and our deadlines were very tight back then, but we have Dave McCaig on Rogue colors now, so it's not a problem. Can't wait to see the pages where he's blurred!
NRAMA: During your run on The Flash, places like Keystone City and The Flash Museum played a key role. They were almost as important at times as the characters themselves. And now, we're seeing Libra show up in Flash territory in Final Crisis. So will we see those places quite a bit in this series? Have the changed a lot since your run?
SK: The places will matter just like they used to. It's just how Geoff and I feel. Would you do the same things or act the same way at work as you do at home? The setting matters. We worked very hard so that Flash's setting was unique and not generic. Keystone doesn't look like any other place in the DC universe -- except maybe Detroit. And that's still a Detroit on steroids. Iron Heights has a very deliberate look and feel to it. The Flash museum changed recently and ... will change again. That's OK; it's just a Flash museum. A good part of our story is about change.
NRAMA: Any other characters that it's been nice to get back to?
SK: We get a bit of Chyre and Morillo which was cool. I miss those guys. Warden Wolfe shows up in Rogues #1. He's a real hard ass. I love him. There are other members of the Flash family that will surprise you. Good stuff.
NRAMA: In preview art for the issue, there appears to be a lot of lightning. Is that Flash related? Or is that Weather Wizard's doing?
SK: Weather Wizard brings the rain, but the lightning? That's something else!
NRAMA: We saw that Barry Allen was returning to the DCU in the ending of DC Universe #0, and Geoff specifically told us that Barry's return on the last page is one of the reasons that Rogues Revenge was placed under the "Final Crisis" umbrella. Can you tell us -- are you getting to draw anything related to Barry's return? Anything you can tell us about what or who you're drawing related to that?
SK: Can't say. I might sound like an idiot kissing Geoff's butt all the time, but this is one of the reasons I love working with the guy. He loves these characters and he busts his butt coming up with really great stories to tell about them.
NRAMA: Flash fans are, understandably, concerned about Wally in all this. While we wouldn't want actual story beats, can you say whether or not Wally plays a role in this story?
SK: I was concerned too. I started asking Geoff all sorts of questions when I heard about the Flash news. I trust Geoff with all this stuff. He knows what he's doing.
NRAMA: Then as a final question, Scott, do you know what you're doing after Rogues Revenge? Can you share anything about what it might be?
SK: Nothing I can share yet, but Geoff and I are making plans! I'm very excited!Click here to discuss this story in our community, or just post your comments below. Check back later today for a Rogues Revenge preview gallery.