Say hey to Daniel WestIn The Flash #0, readers not only got a hint about the presence of the "West family" in the series (although still short a Wally), but the issue also added a few new elements to Barry Allen's history.
The issue came just as the series heads toward its first "event"-type story arc since it was launched last year by co-writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Announced on Newsarama earlier this year and titled "Gorilla Warfare," the event features The Flash teaming up with his Rogues to save Central City from Gorilla Grodd.
With The Flash #0, the co-writers once again used their art and visual structure to help tell the written story. By highlighting how quickly The Flash can think — his "Speed Mind" — the #0 issue looked back upon an origin for the character that had a few changes from his pre-New 52 incarnation.
It's all part of the ongoing effort by this creative team to combine art and words to tell the story, since they both write and draw it. Because Manapul does the pencils, inks and watercolors, while Buccellato does the coloring, their co-writing has become an integrated process where art and "script" blend, forcing the audience to read the art instead of just relying on captions and dialogue. "We're able to really utilize every aspect of the art to tell the story," Manapul once told Newsarama of the process.
In the first installment of our two-part interview with The Flash co-creators, we asked Buccellato and Manapul about Flash #0 and their approach to "Gorilla Warfare."
Newsarama: Francis and Brian, DC called out the fact that Daniel West appeared in The Flash #0. Why was his appearance significant, and why was he specifically called a member of the "West family?"
Francis Manapul: Well, you only need two people to make a family. He's Iris' brother. I think we'll stop at that.
Brian Buccellato: Obviously, we get asked questions about the West family from time to time, and unfortunately, we always have the same answer. Daniel West and Iris are siblings. And that's the West family that's in the New 52 currently.
Nrama: Currently. But it seems to open the door for more West family members, doesn't it?
Manapul: I guess that's open to interpretation.
Nrama: OK, we'll leave it at that. But I know you guys are all about themes. How does Daniel West play into the themes of the story?
Manapul: With Daniel West, as you see in issue #0, he was arrested all those years ago, and now we've seen him resurface in Central City after he's finishing up his sentence. And he's trying to create a home for himself and trying to go back to his own life. And that's part of the running theme in the story. Coming home.
Buccellato: The theme of coming home has been part of all the things that happened in the first year.Nrama: You had said there was also a theme of The Flash being overwhelmed by all these new powers during the first year. Is he beyond that stage yet, or getting there? And is this theme of coming home a bigger part of the second year, thematically?
Buccellato: Obviously, he's been overwhelmed and a lot has happened to him over the first 12 issues, but it's leading somewhere and a realization is on the horizon for him. Things that we seeded very early on, of him constantly being overwhelmed, will pay off. And he will learn a lesson.
We want our characters to undergo change to some degree and learn lessons. So the lessons of being overwhelmed and coming home all culminate at the end of the "Gorilla Warfare" arc.
Manapul: "Gorilla Warfare" is really all about coming home. I think we've spent the latter part of our first year being away from Central City. The Rogues were slowly coming home. So in "Gorilla Warfare," the journey the Rogues have to take is something they have to do together, and for Barry Allen, he's here to try to set things in order. In this case, he goes home and there are a lot of gorillas knocking at his door.From another standpoint, we're having so much fun almost relating our journey into the series. It's going from being overwhelmed and learning to now, coming home.
Nrama: Let's talk about issue #0, because it introduced a couple new ideas to Barry's origin.
Buccellato: Yeah, one of the changes was Captain Frye, who adopted Barry, and that's a change. In previous continuity, he didn't have any hand in raising Barry.
Manapul: It puts a little more context to why he is the "golden boy" in the lab.
Buccellato: It also explains Barry's connections to the police force itself, and why forensics and solving crimes is part of his life.
Manapul: His goal, after he's adopted by Captain Frye, is to become a CSI detective. He's unable to let go of the past, with his mom's death, and it's only when he becomes The Flash that he's able to let go of the death of his mom, and just be The Flash, because that's who he was supposed to be.
Buccellato: It was only by getting over the death of his mother and holding onto the innocence of his father was he able to become The Flash. So he's not haunted, like so many other superheroes who have lost parents. He's moved past that. And that was the whole point of the #0 issue.
Manapul: I think him becoming a detective was because he was haunted by his past. But him becoming The Flash was because he was moving forward.But Captain Frye is definitely something people should notice from the #0 issue. There are going to be some big developments on that front.
Buccellato: Keep your eye on Captain Frye.
Nrama: Issue #0 was structured very differently as it told the story of Barry's origin. What's the concept behind these flashbacks Barry had on each page?
Manapul: What we saw was his brain going into speed flashbacks. On every page that's currently happening as you're reading it, we had panels that were showing you, basically, what was happening in the next few pages. But that was definitely the birth of the Speed Mind.Nrama: Yeah, this "Speed Mind" idea is used to describe what we'll see in issue #15. It says he's "using the Speed Mind to glimpse the future." Can you tell us what that means?
Manapul: I'm actually really excited about that. It was born from this idea of Barry Allen being able to think about his future and plan every single aspect of what would result from multiple different actions.
So what's going to be happening in that issue is we're going to see this Speed Mind working on overdrive. We've seen that he's able to think 10 minutes ahead. But what's it going to be like when he thinks an hour ahead, a day ahead, three days ahead?
Buccellato: It's not just being able to see what happens next, but being able to extrapolate a whole series of consequences based on action. So he's going to think out long range in an effort to solve a very big problem in "Gorilla Warfare."Manapul: It's like what you saw in issue #0, but this time he's thinking ahead instead of backwards.
Buccellato: But they're not futures that are necessarily going to happen. It's not predestination. It's his mind figuring out what will happen if he does a, b or c.
Manapul: It's all based on his calculations. None of it is necessarily going to happen.
Nrama: So getting back to the #0 issue, the structure of it is linked to the plot, basically, as he is using this Speed Mind for flashbacks? That was a choice you made for the structure of the story?
Buccellato: Yeah, the structure we used for that issue wasn't arbitrary. I think sometimes people dismiss the way we tell a story without realizing it's intentional. We're not just telling the story out of order because we like Pulp Fiction.
Nrama: What's the style of the "Gorilla Warfare" story that starts in issue #13? You've been doing shorter stories lately, as you've introduced the Rogues almost one-by-one. Is this a longer story arc?
Manapul: Yeah, it's the return back to a longer story arc, because in the latter part of the first year, we started doing shorter stories. So it's a little closer to our first arc, and I think the scale of this story is a lot bigger than the other one.This is our "event" book. All the stories that we have [been building in The Flash so far] are culminating to this story. And there are going to be a lot of events that change things drastically for Barry Allen moving forward. There are going to be some new developments in this story arc that push things even further as we get closer to the end of year two.
Buccellato: This arc is a bit of a melding of the two different halves of the first year. It's longer. It's a five-issue story arc, much like the "Mob Rule" arc. But a lot of the elements of the second year are all playing out in the "Gorilla Warfare" arc. So I feel like it's almost like we've tried two different styles, and now we're doing a mash-up.
Manapul: We definitely promise a resolution of some of the dangling subplots that we have going. We'll see Iris again. We'll see Daniel West, of course. And we're going to go in further into what Elias has been up to.
Buccellato: You'll see some other rogues as well. It's not just the five that we saw in the Annual.
Check back with Newsarama for part two of our discussion with Buccellato and Manapul as we discuss the changes to the Rogues of the New 52, and what readers can expect from The Flash in 2013.FACEBOOK and TWITTER!