The new Flash comic has already redefined the hero's much-beloved cast of rogues. But now co-creators Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are turning their sights toward Reverse Flash.The past incarnations of Reverse Flash have served a the Flash's arch-nemesis, and this character will also evolve that way for the New 52.
But this time around, it's a brand new character inside the costume, created from scratch by Buccellato and Manapul with a new costume, new powers and a new motivation.
And no — despite all the internet guesses in that direction — the writers confirmed that the new Reverse Flash is not Wally West.
But they did offer a lot of clues to Newsarama readers about what we'll see in the Reverse Flash storyline, which begins with The Flash #20:
- There's a reason the Reverse Flash costume looks the way it does, and it has to do with an actual event from when the character got his powers. (And for a clue about why it looks like muscles, pay attention to the way Manapul describes it below.)
- This new Reverse Flash has a whole new set of powers, different from past incarnations of the character.
- Reverse Flash is killing people associated with the Speed Force, and there's "a reason" he's after them.
- As a result, he is after the "Speed Force Team" that debuted in the past couple issues, and that means he's also after Iris West — and Flash's alter ego, Barry Allen.
- Kid Flash is also in danger (or at least Manapul insinuated that he could be). That character and Barry meet for the first time in the New 52 in The Flash #21.
- Iris and Barry, because they're both in the sights of Reverse Flash, will be thrown together in this storyline. So although Barry is currently living with Patty, there will be a love triangle formed.
- As the Flash investigates who the Reverse Flash is, readers will also discover his identity.
- The Reverse Flash doesn't start off as someone who's against the Flash, but it's through this story arc that he is linked to Flash.For more hints about the Reverse Flash storyline, see below, as we talk to Manapul and Buccellato about how the villains introduction serves as a "bookend" to their first story arc, "Moving Forward."
Newsarama: Brian and Francis, the villains you've been utilizing in The Flash have harkened back to their pre-New 52 versions, but with a whole new twist. Is that the case with the Reverse Flash as well?
Francis Manapul: Not at all. Not at all. He's a brand new character. Not only are we going to be seeing a new character under the mask, but we're also going to see a whole new set of powers that are going to challenge Barry in very different ways.
Nrama: The debut of the character, when we first saw him in issue #17, implies that the Reverse Flash already knows the Flash. What's his relationship like with the Flash?
Brian Buccellato: His relationship with the Flash is completely different than previous Reverse Flashes. He's not created as a counterpoint to Flash, but his growth as Reverse Flash comes from his dealings with Flash.
So he doesn't start off as a guy who's against Flash, but it's through the story arc that he is linked to Flash.
Nrama: So the Reverse Flash that we saw in issue #17, where it said "one month later"... is that where your story picks up, when he's already the Reverse Flash? And then what... we'll flash back to see his creation?Buccellato: This [takes place] after [the debut in issue #17].
Manapul: We wanted to hit the ground running, so we're going to start off with the Reverse Flash already as Reverse Flash.
Much like Barry's investigating who is murdering all these people that are affected by the Speed Force, during that, he'll be uncovering the identity of who exactly is Reverse Flash? So he'll be discovering it at the same time we'll be discovering it.
Nrama: When we met the Reverse Flash, he said, "He always says Move Forward." And "Move Forward" is the title of the first arc of your story. How do the two relate?
Manapul: We don't want to give anything away, but our first arc was very much about a character that has moved forward emotionally and physically. And this upcoming arc will literally be putting that in reverse by the time it's over.
I feel like that's already saying a lot.
Buccellato: Yeah, it is.
Manapul: It is. I mean, it's just thematically... it's a nice bookend.
I'm not saying we're off the book after.
I'm just saying it's a nice little endcap to our first year, I guess.Buccellato: I think, we have Barry learning a lot of lessons. He's been so focused on looking forward that I think, you know, he needs to find some kind of harmony. You can't forget the past even though you're looking forward.
Nrama: You've said before that these themes you're exploring kind of "echo" what the two of you are experiencing. For example, during the first arc, it was about Barry being new at this, just like you guys were new at this. Are you still echoing your own experiences?
Manapul: Oh, absolutely.
Nrama: How would you describe both the Reverse Flash's theme as compared to your own?
Manapul: [Laughs.] This particular arc is actually even a lot more personal than the other ones. And I think I'll.... should I leave it at that? It's definitely inspired by certain things that have happened, in terms of the theme of the story. None of this stuff actually happened.
In the past, we've dealt with him coming home, and now we're really focusing on his relationships.
How does it affect Patty, now that she knows that Barry Allen is Flash. How does it affect her personal life? How does it affect her work life?
It's going to be really interesting to get a chance to focus on that, now that Iris is back as well.
Nrama: A love triangle?
Manapul: Yeah, there's going to be a lot more of a love triangle going on.
Nrama: And Iris' life is in danger because she's part of the Speed Force "team," right?Manapul: Yes.
Manapul: As is Barry Allen's.
Nrama: Ah, of course. Because they were both among the people "affected" by the Speed Force.
Buccellato: They're definitely in the sights of Reverse Flash. And Reverse Flash has a reason for it.
Nrama: So the fact that they're both targets is going to throw Iris and Barry together. How would you describe their relationship right now?
Buccellato: There's chemistry and attraction there. In the past, she compromised their future by trying to service her brother. She made a bad judgment call. But early on, she had feelings for him.
Manapul: And all those feelings are still there.
Nrama: In issue #21, you guys are getting to write Kid Flash. Can you tell us anything about that meeting?
Buccellato: It's going to be interesting. It's a very action-packed meeting. Think about Flash and Kid Flash meeting for the first time. They're probably not going to be standing still for very long. So there will definitely be some running involved.
Nrama: But this isn't a permanent co-star?
Manapul: Right now, Kid Flash is in Scott [Lobdell]'s Teen Titans book. And we're just kind of riffing on what he set up.
Nrama: How do they meet?Manapul: I'm not sure I want to say too much about that. Let's just say the Flash may, or may not, save Kid Flash from the Reverse Flash. Or he might think he's in danger and try to send him a warning. I don't know.
Nrama: Ah... because Reverse Flash is targeting people affected by the Speed Force, Kid Flash could be in danger. Maybe.
Manapul: I guess you'll find out when the issue comes out.
Nrama: What's the story behind the design of Reverse Flash's costume? It looks like muscles, or at least lines where his muscles are. I know you don't usually draw something without a story reason.
Manapul: We wanted the costume to look really scary. And without spoiling anything, the way the costume looks is derived from an actual event of when he got his powers.
The way he gets his powers is a lot more brutal than the way Barry got his powers.
And in the same way that Barry's costume comes on... well, let's just say it works a little differently.
Nrama: Ah, I think I understand. But at the risk of getting too close to spoilers, let's just say the costume's design is all part of the story, right?
Buccellato: Yeah, it's definitely not arbitrary.
Nrama: Then to finish up, what would you like people to know about what's coming up for the next few issues?
Manapul: Brian and I really feel that issue #20 — not to make a silly pun — I feel like we're starting to really hit our stride writing the book.
And I really feel that this arc is going to be our strongest one yet, moving forward. So hopefully people stick with the book, and new people come on board, because it's going to be a great launching point for new readers. It's exciting.
Buccellato: I like how you worked in the words "move forward."
Manapul: That was actually unconscious. But it works.