Since writer/artists Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul relaunched The Flash two years ago, the comic has been re-introducing beloved characters, concepts and villains from the world of the "Fastest Man Alive."
Now the pair are strengthening the connections between the Flash universe and the greater DCU, showing a previously untold story of Barry visiting Gotham City in The Flash: Zero Year, and exploring The Flash's rogues gallery reacts to the attempt at world domination by the Crime Syndicate of America in Forever Evil.
First, the Flash creative team will be tying their current Reverse-Flash storyline into Villains Month in September, with The Flash #23.2: Reverse-Flash, co-written by Manapul and Buccellato with pencils by Manapul. And September will also see Buccellato's solo stint as a writer on two other tie-in comics: The Flash #23.1: Grodd (with art by Chris Batista) and The Flash #23.3: The Rogues (with art by Patrick Zircher).
Then in October, Buccellato will write Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion, a six-issue mini-series with art by Patrick Zircher. The comic will show how the story of Forever Evil affects Flash's Rogues, including Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Heatwave, Weather Wizard, the Trickster, Glider and Turbine.
In November, the series will tie into Batman: Zero Year, as a one-issue story explores an unknown part of Barry Allen's history, when he visited Gotham City and ran into a young Iris West. (To clarify, Barry didn't run into her -- the story takes place before he got his powers.)
Newsarama got the chance to briefly talk to Buccellato about what's coming up in the main Flash series, the Zero Year tie-in, and the Rogues books.
Newsarama: Brian, right now, The Flash is knee-deep in a fight with the Reverse-Flash. But we'll find out who this new version of the villain is next week, right?
Brian Buccellato: Yes, in issue #23, we'll reveal who the Reverse-Flash is, and that issue will end with a cliffhanger. Then in Villain's Month, one of the three Flash-related villain books will have the origin of the Reverse-Flash. And that ties directly into the story arc, but it answers a lot of questions and gives context. And then #24, which is the last issue of the storyline, comes out in October. And that will complete the picture.
Nrama: OK, then getting back to the Reverse-Flash, I'm pretty sure I know who it is from the clues we've gotten so far. But I'll hold my guess until we see the official reveal next week. You've kind of eliminated certain characters by showing them with the villain.
Buccellato: Yeah, there really is only one person left that it could be. And we'll answer questions about him in the Villains Month issue. It directly ties into the Flash arc. So Francis and I are co- writing that together.
Nrama: Is it similar to what you've done with other Rogues in The Flash, in that it's a new take that incorporates some of what's been done before with the Reverse-Flash?
Buccellato: With Reverse-Flash, Francis and I felt like it was a huge challenge to come up with a take that didn't seem repetitive. Flashpoint and the cartoon now, Flashpoint Paradox, both catapulted us into the New 52, so it felt like it was tough to move forward with Hunter Zolomon, or with Eobard Thawne. Where do you go with those guys in this universe?
So we felt that, if we were going to do a Reverse-Flash, we needed to do a Reverse-Flash for the New 52. We tried to capture the idea of the Reverse-Flash, but for the specifics, we had to go in a completely different direction. It just didn't make sense for us to tread on that other ground.
Nrama: Then in November, you've got a Zero Year tie-in. What's the story in that issue? It takes place before he's The Flash?
Buccellato: Before he gets powers. This is a completely no-powered Barry issue.
It takes place right after he's graduated, and an event draws him to Gotham City. And I'm not sure how much more I want to say than that.
Nrama: There are going to be a lot of DC characters running around Gotham during these blackouts of Zero Year. Does Barry run into Bruce Wayne, or other DC characters?
Buccellato: Well, I guess I can reveal one of the other characters. Our Zero Year issue is an important chapter in the history of Barry and Iris. And it ends with an important moment that took place in the past.
Nrama: Ah, so maybe this explains why Iris acts the way she does. She seems very interested in Barry.
Buccellato: Yeah, throughout our run, she's been there in the periphery. And in the current story arc, Iris has really come to the forefront, and readers are learning where she's coming from. And you can tell now, from her side at least, she's got feelings for Barry.
We all know in previous continuity, she had a family with Barry, but she doesn't have that right now.
The Zero Year issue will sort of explain why Iris feels the way she does. She goes to Gotham as a young reporter, and the two of them get involved in this adventure in Gotham City.
Nrama: As you mentioned before, you've also got two other Villains Month books that feature Grodd and the Rogues. But those don't tie into the main Flash title?
Buccellato: They're tied together, and they lead into Forever Evil and the Rogues Rebellion mini-series, but they're not tied into the current storyline with the Reverse-Flash.
Nrama: So what does Grodd do when he finds out the Crime Syndicate and the Secret Society of Super Villains are taking over the world? I assume he reacts completely different from the other Flash rogues?
Buccellato: Yeah, Grodd and the Rogues are completely different villains. Grodd has a messiah complex. He thinks he should run the world, and that he's destined to lead. And so what he wants is everything.
He has a slightly different perspective coming out of Forever Evil and Villain's Month. But he's still Grodd. He wants it all. He's power hungry. So that doesn't change.
But the landscape shifts after Forever Evil, and because of that, he has an opportunity to exact some revenge and take control, and move forward with his grand plan.
Nrama: What about the Rogues. Don't they want world domination?
Buccellato: The Rogues don't want to run the world. They don't want that. They have no evil machinations. They just want to clock in and do their job, which happens to be stealing stuff and robbing and getting money. That's what they do. And then they want to clock out and have a beer and play pool and enjoy themselves. They're working class villains. And they really don't want the world handed to them on a platter.