from THE FLASH #3As artist/writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul relaunch The Flash for a new audience, they aren't abandoning everything about the character that has come before.
But they are changing things.
In this second installment of our interview with the creators behind The Flash (check out the first part here), we talk to the pair about the creation of Barry Allen's new villains, the changes to Keystone and Central City, and how they're bringing back the cosmic treadmill — but not the way readers might expect.
Newsarama: We've talked a little about this story arc, and this villain, Manuel, is at the center of the story. What were your thoughts as you created this new villain for Barry's introduction in the DCnU?
Brian Buccellato: The idea is that Manuel is a reflection of Barry, if he had made other choices in his life and wasn't the guy we know he is. Manuel is the opposite, and you see how his life changes because of the choices he's made. So we're illuminating Barry through him, through this villain.
I mean, I don't like to exactly call him a villain, because he's not Darth Vader. He's not trying to control the world. He has a reason for doing what he's doing. But we wanted an antagonist for Barry who is personal. We thought that was important as we establish his character and who he is as an individual. For example, Zoom has a vendetta against Barry, so it's personal for him, but Barry doesn't really have that type of personal connection with Zoom. He really doesn't have that type of personal connection with any of the villains in the rogues’ gallery. And we felt it was important to create that kind of connection.So it's a character-based story as we establish Barry Allen through this villain, although we're keeping the pace really high. That will end in issue #5, although I think it's safe to say that Manuel won't be gone forever.
Francis Manapul: I think what's interesting is that, once you read the arc, you'll realize that Barry is a very black and white character, but this villain is not. You might even come away and think, "Wow, he wasn't really that bad."
Buccellato: I think the key to it is that we make sure you understand his motivation. Even if you don't agree with his decisions, you can understand why he made it. I think a lot of time, with villains, they're doing evil for the sake of evil. We're trying to go a little deeper with Manuel.
Nrama: I'm sure you've heard from a lot of long-time Flash fans here at the con. You're getting to essentially start over the Flash
franchise with this comic. Is there anything you can tell long-time Flash fans in particular about what plans you have coming up? Anything from the old Flash mythos that you're revamping for this new one?
Manapul: You can look forward to a lot of really fun stuff. With this new continuity, we're able to really pick and choose what we want and reintroduce things in a new, fresh way.For example, we have a cosmic treadmill, but it's not what you expect it to be. Flash fans will know what it is. But to new readers, it will just be something really cool.
Nrama: Any hints about its purpose?
Manapul: Look at what the world is like, and what's important to us right now, and what we need. We do not need a time machine.
It goes along with the theme that the Flash is moving ahead, in terms of his personal life, in being able to move forward. But you'll also realize that we're going to bring Central City and Keystone City closer to the future. Not in a physical sense. It's more about, where do cities go when they evolve? What happens when you integrate superheroes into a city?
Nrama: Will we find out more about Central and Keystone in this universe?
Manapul: Yes. In issue #6, we'll give you the origin of Keystone and Central City, how they came to be, how it started, and we'll take all the way back to the 1840's. We're really building this world around the Flash.Being able to explore that aspect of it is exciting.
Buccellato: The history gives everything context.
Nrama: What are you planning for next year?
Buccellato: We have some really big plans for The Flash into next year, but I don't think we can go into too much detail yet.
Manapul: We can tell you that after the end of this arc, we'll do a couple done-in-one issues, with each one actually representing each side of the genre of the book. Issue #6 will be a purely CSI-type detective story, and it will explore that aspect of Barry's life by delving into that genre. But then with issue #7, we'll have a purely science fiction/superhero story.
So it's almost like we're studying the character and showing you the two sides of him, as we combine those two elements.That's what makes Barry interesting. It's these two parts of him, and the two parts of this book. And there's some contrast there as well. This is what makes the Flash work as a superhero, and this is what makes him work as a detective. When you combine those two things, how awesome is that?
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans, now that we've read that first issue?
Manapul: I think people are under the impression that Issue #1 was a very straightforward, simple story. It was, but once you read the first year, you'll realize that we introduce a lot of themes in the first couple pages, but it's going to play out over time...
Manapul: It was fun to be able to drop hints about things. It was kind of like, complexity in simplicity.
Buccellato: I've noticed that some reviewers have actually keyed in on things that were very intentional and very important to us. There's a reference to Barry's mom at the end. And it's not by accident that it's his mom who does the quote. She's talking about moving forward.This book is us as creators and artists moving forward. It's Barry moving forward. It's the fans moving forward. There are themes like that, and I'm glad people are picking up on those things.
Manapul: There's a lot said with very few words. As an artist, I remember the biggest breakthrough I had was finding out what to take out from the art. It was difficult, because I grew up in an era where "more detail" was the thing to do. But you realize that once you take that stuff out, you're really exposing your art at its bare essence.
That's the same thing we did with the story. As new writers, I think people were afraid we'd overwrite. We did, but we just did it with the art.
Buccellato: Editorial actually asked us to put more information in.
Manapul: That said, you'll notice that The Flash will get wordier sometimes. But there's a reason for that. The same feeling you're experiencing as a reader is the same feeling that Barry's going through, which is being overwhelmed. So it's a conscious decision that as you progress as a reader, you'll feel overwhelmed.We're controlling the way it's read both verbally and visually, so it's allowing us to control how you feel. We're trying to manipulate it that way.
Buccellato: Hopefully successfully! I think that's what we really want to say to the fans about all this. We're just hoping that these creative ideas we're coming up with will be executed well and the fans will like it.
Manapul: Yeah, that's really what it's all about.
Buccellato: We've gotten such a positive response from people about the first issue, so we just hope that continues. It's satisfying that people get it.
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