This month, The Flash #25 will not only end the run by writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, but it will kick off the pair's upcoming run on Detective Comics.
According to the creative team, November's issue is a "prologue" to Detective Comics, which they're taking over in 2014. The issue is set in the past — about five or six years ago — because it ties into Batman: Zero Year (along with several other DC issues this month).
The Flash #25 tells the story of Barry Allen coming to Gotham City before he had super powers. In the issue, readers will also see the mysterious first meeting between Barry and Iris West — a meeting that seems to have first kindled their feelings for each other.
But this month's issue isn't necessarily the end of the two creators' influence on the Flash. Beginning in January, Buccellato is coming back to The Flash to write a three-issue story about the origin of the Flash's "Gem Cities." The story, which is being drawn by Patrick Zircher, also ties up a few loose ends from the Buccellato/Manapul run.
Buccellato is already currently writing 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 between November's Zero Year issue and Buccellato's return in January, The Flash gets a one-issue story by Christos Gage and Neil Googe.
And the new creative team for The Flash after Buccellato's three-issue story (which should wrap up in March) hasn't been announced by DC yet.
So how does The Flash #25 tie into the pair's Detective Comics run? And how much of what the artists did on The Flash will be part of their style on Detective? In the second installment of our interview with the two creators (see Part 1 here), we turn our attention to The Flash, as Buccellato and Manapul look back at what they've done with the character and discuss what's yet-to-come.
Newsarama: You guys announced that you're leaving The Flash, but there's one issue left of your run together, and several issues that Brian is writing besides that. Let's start with this month's issue #25. Brian and I discussed the issue earlier this year, but now that we know it's the end of your run, is there anything you want to add about #25?
Francis Manapul: The Flash #25 is going to serve as a natural bridge to what we're doing on Detective. There are story elements that continue. And in a way, it almost feels like we never left The Flash at all because the story that starts in Flash #25 continues into Detective.
Brian Buccellato: It's a prologue.
Nrama: Because Barry's in Gotham City in that issue, right? And Iris West is there too? During the blackout?
Buccellato: Yes. And the story puts some things into motion for our Detective run.
Nrama: OK, then we've also already discussed the Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion tie-in. But Brian — you're solicited as the writer of the January issue. Are you still writing The Flash for awhile?
Buccellato: I'm actually doing three issues. It's a three-issue story arc. I'm doing #27, #28 and #29.
Nrama: Are you following up on something you guys didn't get to say? Or is it being approached as a kind of fill-in story until the new writer comes on board?
Buccellato: I wouldn't call it a "fill-in."
"Fill-in" sounds like something that's a throwaway.
Manapul: It's not a throwaway at all. It's like you said — it's something Brian and I wanted to have as part of our run, but we just didn't get a chance to tell. The story got put aside.
So this story will be filling in some of the gaps in the history of Central and Keystone City.
Nrama: Oh, is this the story you guys were originally going to tell about Central City and Keystone City? I remember we talked about this in an interview a couple years ago, and then you guys had to push back that story.
Manapul: Yeah, it was supposed to be issue #6 and #7. But Captain Cold got moved up, because, you know, people want Captain Cold.
Buccellato: I've got the original cover to #6 on my wall — the cover that Francis did to #6 when it was supposed to start that story we never did.
So yeah, we have a whole history for the Gem Cities, and we never got to tell it. In Rogues, for those that read the Rogues story in villain month, there was a reference to the gem cities being founded on diamond mining — in the opening scene. And this story is going to explain that.
I'm creating a villain called The Miner, who is born out of the history of the gem cities and diamond mining.
It's going to be more of a scary, horror type of villain for Flash.
Manapul: What's great about it is that there was always a real difference between Central and Keystone. Central is more like a Metropolis, as the business hub of the twin cities. And Keystone is a little bit more run down. With this story that Brian's going to tell, people will find out how that happened.
It's great because you're going to get context for why the two cities are so connected, and why The Flash protects two cities. It's not just because he's so fast, although one city's not enough for The Flash. [Laughs.]
Buccellato: There are also a couple other loose ends. We didn't leave many. But there are a couple that I'm also going to tie up so that I can leave the book and we can both be satisfied.
Manapul: I highly recommend you read these issues. These are by no means fill-ins at all.
Buccellato: And Patrick Zircher's doing the art! He's awesome!
Manapul: Yeah, I think this will serve as a nice bookend to our run.
Nrama: Brian, with all the issues you did with Francis, plus the Forever Evil tie-in mini-series and these new issues next year, you've had quite a body of work in the world of the Flash.
Buccellato: Yeah. When I'm done, I'll have over 40 issues that I worked on — obviously most of them with Francis. But that's quite a number of issues for one little corner of the universe.
Nrama: You've talked a lot, so far in this interview, about your run on The Flash. When you look back at your run, what makes you most proud? Were there any key things you were particularly happy to have accomplished?
Manapul: I think the things I'll remember the most… I'm particularly proud of "Gorilla War." There were a lot of stories coming to a head with that one. And I think we were pretty happy with how we were able to tie up story arcs that were all converging into one.
A lot of people like that natural ending. But with our run on The Flash, we kept the story going all the time. It was kind of blurred when a story ended and a new one began. And I think at the end of "Gorilla War," there was a very definitive ending for it, tying up stories that had begun with the first issue.
Brian and I would have liked to have saved the Flash entering the Speed Force until the end of our first year, but as everything started moving quickly, the story lines started moving faster than we wanted. And that's one of the reasons we're really happy that with Batman, we'll be able to let the story breathe a little bit.
I also think the collaboration of me and Brian on the book is something that I feel proud about. It's so much fun, you know? So much that we're continuing it on the next project. And it's one of those things where we'd worked together before from an art standpoint, but coming together on the writing and the art was a real accomplishment. It was one of those situations where we grew closer and we have an even better understanding of each other.
We're able to actually anticipate each other's thoughts. It's kind of scary sometimes. [Laughs.] But it's a really cool way to work.
Buccellato: It sounds like a line, but when people ask how we work together, one of the first things I say is that we don't disagree very often. And it's true. We very rarely have a disagreement. And usually, that disagreement is semantic — it's one of us not understanding what the other is saying. So I don't even know how I'd describe it beyond, "It works."
I mean, I got a tattoo of Francis' art on my arm! I can't be more grateful.
As for our Flash run… from a storytelling standpoint, our first story arc of The Flash was probably the cleanest, and in some ways the most simple. So I'm really glad that people responded to that.
My favorite issue is still the Zero issue, because we got the honor of retelling Flash's origin for a new generation. We were incredibly honored, and we tried really hard to honor the past and not make change for change's sake. And I think it should resonate in the storytelling as well as the emotional arc of the characters.
Overall, I think we did a tremendous job with the circumstances we were given. You know, the book's got to come out every month. So we didn't always achieve fully what we wanted to do, but there's not much point in looking to closely at that. I think Francis and I are going to adopt Flash's motto and move forward.
Nrama: To me, one of the great things you achieved was this blurred line between what part of the story was told through words and pictures. You really used the art to tell the story. But that probably came natural to you guys, since you were doing both.
Manapul: Yeah, I think with the Flash, Brian and I were given this great opportunity to take the reins on both story and art, and it was just a natural way to tell a story, to integrate it. For us, it wasn't even a conscious effort. That's just how it is. I don't think we sat down and said, OK, we're going to tell more of the story with art. It's just what comes out. Our process is not very difficult. A lot of our collaboration is us just talking. It's a very intuitive way for us to tell a story. We're not writing, "page one, panel one," and describing what's happening before any art happens. I have a very detailed idea, visually, of what's going to happen. So the integration of both art and story is a very natural way for us to work.
And I hope that continues with Detective. There is going to be a more conscious effort to formulate the plot ahead of time. With it being a murder mystery, we have to be a lot more long-form, you know? We have to write the end and then work backwards. So it's a little different writing process.
Buccellato: You know, I just want to compliment Francis. You know, I've had opportunities to write with other artists, and I've realized how much more difficult it is when you're dealing with artists who aren't quite as good at telling a story. I think the average reader sometimes doesn't recognize it, but there's a lot of thought that goes into how a page is laid out, and pacing, and why you choose an angle. And I don't think Francis gets the credit he deserves for that. I mean, I won't say he's the best ever but…
Manapul: Why not? [Laughs.]
Buccellato: But he has few peers when it comes to that. It makes the writing process, for us, really easy, because he knows how to translate stories into pictures. That's huge in comic books.