Exclusive Flash #12 artThe younger, New 52 version of the Flash will get a revamped origin in September, as The Flash #0 tells what happened after Barry Allen lost his parents and gained his speedster powers. The story comes just after The Flash Annual #1, which will wrap up the first year of stories from the writer/artist team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. The oversized issue is also expected to kick off a major storyline that starts with October's issue #13, presumably involving the Flash Rogues. Over the last few months, Manapul and Buccellato have introduced the New 52 versions of familiar Flash Rogues like Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, the Weather Wizard and the Pied Piper, giving them new takes in the relaunched universe.
Coming up next are Heat Wave, whom the pair told Newsarama is a "crispy" guy who hates Captain Cold, and "Glider," who is the new version of the former Golden Glider.
Manapul and Buccellato have previously told Newsarama that the entire Rogues-related storyline wraps up in August's The Flash Annual #1, which will be followed by September's #0 issue.
Newsarama talked to the pair to find out more about Barry's new origin and why "war" is on the horizon.
Newsarama: Now that we've learned there's going to be a Flash #0, what can you tell fans about that origin story? And is it a stand-alone story, or is there something new in there that you'll be picking up for the current storyline or in the future?
Francis Manapul: Both actually. It's important to understand who Barry Allen is, but it serves as a one-issue story that can stand alone.
Brian Buccellato: It's a foundational issue. It's a contextual issue. It really gives the readers a better understanding of who Barry Allen is and why he searches for justice, and why science is important to him.Manapul: It builds a foundation for who this Barry Allen is. Nrama: Knowing how you guys push the boundaries of how art and story work together, is it safe to assume we'll see something unique in Flash #0?
Buccellato: Well, let's just say we take a very creative approach to how we told the #0 story. It's not told in a straight, linear way, where his mom dies then he grows up then he gets hit by lightning. It's told in a much more cinematic and, I think, impactful way.
Manapul: It's also a very layered storytelling. We used some techniques where there are literally, I guess, "flash-forwards" or hints on the current page about what's on the upcoming page. So it's a very interesting storytelling technique that we're working on that issue.
And a lot of that has to do with the development of his powers. It's part of the story we're telling as you see him laying there on a hospital bed.
Nrama: Will there be some answers to the mysteries that may remain about his past in the New 52?
Manapul: Definitely, between the Flash Annual and issue #0 answer a lot of questions that people have, all the way from how the Rogues got their powers, how exactly did Barry Allen grow up after he lost his parents, and how exactly did he end up being the golden boy in Central City when all he's always doing is looking at the back half of these kind of cold cases and not doing all the work that everybody else is supposed to be doing.
Buccellato: Yeah, it will fill in a lot of blanks. A lot of people don't know where Barry went after he lost his parents. There's a story there that people haven't seen yet.
Manapul: In issue #0, people are finally going to see what happened after he lost his parents, and what happened right after he got hit by lightning. The Barry Allen we've been writing since we took over the book last year has a past that hasn't been revealed, and it's an important part of why he does what he does. So we've addressed a lot of those things head-on in the #0 issue.
Nrama: We saw an origin for Barry before the New 52. Is this going to be a lot different? And if so, what is it about this Barry Allen that's so different?Flash Annual Manapul: This Barry Allen has a very different disposition than pre-New 52 Barry Allen. There's something about him that allows him to move forward and not be so stuck in the past. And what you're going to learn in issue #0 is that there are certain things that are important to him today that make him a different guy from who he was pre-New 52.
Nrama: Any example of what you mean?
Manapul: Well, we've created a lot more emotional ties to this particular timeline for Barry Allen. There's no way he could ever see himself going back in time to screw up time or to save his mom or anything like that. So we're giving him a very strong emotional anchor in this timeline to hold that line, to never go back to the past.
Nrama: In issue #8, Barry actually said out loud that you can't go back in time and mess things up, and you told Newsarama that you were giving a nod toward Flashpoint in that line. Now that you're reinforcing this "forward-moving" idea in his origin story in issue #0, is that also a nod toward Flashpoint?
Buccellato: Somewhat, at least for those readers who might understand it on a deeper level.
Manapul: But it's more from a meta-standpoint.
Nrama: By "meta," you mean that this is from you as writers, instead of the character himself referring to learning a lesson from Flashpoint?Manapul: Right. Brian and I had specific emotional goals for Barry that we needed him to go through in order to explain who he is and the things that he does, including the fact that he's forward-moving.
Also in issue #0, we'll go even further into the explanation of how he became passionate about the job he's currently doing.Flash #12 Buccellato: A lot of cool superhero origins give a context and reflect why they're heroes and why they do what they do. And we felt like Barry needed that.
I know the story of his mother was told in Flash: Rebirth, and that's a valid reason for his choice to become a hero. But we felt like we needed to go a little bit deeper.
And it's not just for us to put our own spin on it, but it's more about making this character's origin work within the context of the Barry that we're portraying in our Flash.
Like Francis said, our Barry is more forward-moving and less reflective and looking back. So we needed to show why he's that way and why we did this subtle shift in Barry's personality and motivation.
Nrama: September also feels like a turning point for the series, because it will come right after The Flash Annual #1. I know that serves as an ending for the Rogues storyline you're telling now, but will the Annual also start us into the next storyline?
Manapul: Yeah, it does set things up for what's coming in issue #13.
Buccellato: We've obviously set up the rogues over the last few issues, starting with issue #6 all the way through #12. So the Annual deals with the ramifications of the Rogues and the meta powers and all that. But it also springboards us into the next big arc, moving forward from issue #13.
In the Annual, you'll learn a lot more about how the Rogues are connected, and how all of these issues we've been doing about the Rogues tie together. You'll learn about the event that changed all of them, and how they relate to each other.
But that's not to say that it's just exposition. There's a lot of action in the Annual. But there's also a lot of character development.
Nrama: And Francis, after the break with Marcus To the last couple months, I know you're doing part of the Annual. But then you're back on art into the next storyline, after issue #0 and into #13 in October?
Manapul: Yes, I'm drawing #12 and #0. And then you'll also see me on issue #13 and on.
Nrama: We've been hearing rumors that DC is making changes to a few of the creative teams in September, beginning with new writers or artists in October. I take it you guys already have your plans in place for the next storyline, so you're sticking around on The Flash?
Buccellato: Oh yeah! In the next few issues, you'll learn more about Rogues, you'll meet Heat Wave and Glider, and then you'll get two very important issues in the Annual and Flash #0. Then we'll start the next storyline with issue #13. We have a big plan for what we're doing on the Flash, and as we've said before, it all ties back to a singular theme from the first issue. But there's more to the story we're telling.
Nrama: Last time we talked, you said the Annual leads into "quite a climactic event." So to finish up, can you give a tease for what readers will see in Flash #13 and into the rest of 2012?
Buccellato: War is coming to Central City.
- One Year Later: The Best of DC's NEW 52
- One Year Later: The Worst of DC's NEW 52
- GREEN LANTERNS Replaced in October's RISE OF THE THIRD ARMY
- THE JOKER Returns in October's “Death of the Family”