After The Flash title loses its regular creative team this month, the character will lose his footing as well, when a new villain forces him to fight in mid-air in December's one-shot story, "Flash Out of Water."
The Flash #26 will feature a standalone story by Christos Gage and Neil Googe that pits The Flash against a new character called Spitfire, who forces him to use his powers in the air. The issue comes a month after the conclusion of the two-year run by co-writers/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.
A screenwriter as well as comics scribe, Gage is best known for his work with Marvel, WildStorm and as current writer of the digital-first series Justice League Beyond. Newsarama talked to him to find out more about his standalone Flash story.
Newsarama: Christos, outside all the recent work you've been doing in the Beyond Universe — and for DC digital — this represents one of the first times in awhile that you've worked on DC Universe characters, doesn't it? I know you're pretty busy with all the work you're doing elsewhere, but how did you end up getting this gig?
Christos Gage: Yes, that’s true…I’ve done a fair amount of work for DC as a company, in the WildStorm and DC Digital realms, as well as the Area 10 10 OGN for Vertigo with Chris Samnee. But my proper DCU work has just been the Deadshot mini and a couple of Legends of the Dark Knight stories some years ago.
For this project, I was approached by editor Wil Moss, who liked the Batman LOTDK story I did for DC digital earlier this year – which, serendipitously, was inspired by the classic story in Flash #300. He asked if I’d be interested in doing a single-issue Flash story.
Nrama: I know you have a lot of projects in the works elsewhere, so what attracted you to the chance to do a one-shot story for DC?
Gage: Really, it was that I love Barry Allen as a character. He’s the Flash I grew up with, and I missed him during the 20 years or so when he was gone, and I couldn’t resist the chance to write him. Also, Wil challenged me to come up with a cool, high-concept done-in-one story, and I enjoy a creative challenge like that.
Nrama: So it sounds like you've been a Flash fan for awhile?
Gage: Yes! As a kid I discovered Silver Age Flash reprints in the digests DC was putting out in the late '70s/early '80s, and I loved the high concept Julie Schwartz/John Broome stories and the awesome Carmine Infantino art.
At the time I lived in an area where DC didn’t have good distribution, so I couldn’t follow the current comics…and very soon after I found my first comic shop, Flash was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths! I did read and enjoy the adventures of Wally West, but missed Barry Allen.
Nrama: What do you think is most appealing about Barry Allen as The Flash?
Gage: I think the character’s appeal lies in the notion that hard work and persistence can win out – both as a super hero, and in terms of his forensic work. The funny thing is, in the “grim ‘n’ gritty” late 80s and 90s that seemed a bit of an old-fashioned notion, but now, with advances in science and shows like CSI, it’s back. Or, really, we’ve realized that qualities like Barry’s are timeless.
Nrama: The solicitation mentions the Flash "loses" someone close to him. Can you describe the event that lies at the center of the story, what it means to this character — and why it drives the story?
Gage: It’s not really an existing character… it’s more that Barry Allen is called to investigate a death and realizes the victim is someone who inspired him in his career, a mentor and teacher. So there’s a personal element in solving this case.
It was important to add that personal motivation…really wanting to get justice for the victim. It’s not just another case for Barry.
Nrama: You've revealed that you're using a character named Spitfire as the villain. What can you tell us about the character and the threat she represents to The Flash?
Gage: She’s kind of a reimagining of an obscure Golden Age villain called the Sky Pirate, but only very loosely. She’s an aviatrix who is motivated by the thrill of pulling off impossible feats as much as getting rich. And she’s a conscience-less sociopath. So she’s fun to write. The threat she represents is, well, she operates in the sky…and there’s not a lot to run on in the sky!
Nrama: There's not! So was that the idea behind creating this villain? To have some fun with a unique challenge to the Flash's powers?
Gage: It was the “fish out of water” aspect of the story I liked – in fact, the title is “Flash Out Of Water.” You take the hero and put him in a place – the sky – where his greatest advantage, his running speed, would seem to be taken away. That’s the fun part for me – setting up that premise, then figuring out how the hero tackles the challenge.
Nrama: How it been working with the artist on this issue?
Gage: Neil Googe is great. He and I worked together on Wildcats some years ago, and I’m thrilled to reunite on this story. I can tell he’s jazzed about doing it too…he pointed out a couple of areas in the script where my science/logistics were stretching credulity a bit and suggested awesome fixes. I love that sort of collaboration. I can’t wait to see the pages!
Nrama: Will we see you working on more DC Universe stories in the future?
Gage: No current plans. I’ve got a pretty full plate with Justice League Unlimited, Buffy, Bloodshot & H.A.R.D.Corps, occasional Superior Spider-Man stuff, and the Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game. But I’m not ruling it out, either. It would be hard to say no to something like Kamandi. But no plans at the moment.
Nrama: The New 52 needs a Kamandi story. Maybe we can get fans to lobby for it. But to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the Flash issue?
Gage: For me, it was a love letter to the classic Flash stories…the ones where the cover would give you a fantastic high concept you had to know more about, and the interior gave you a fast-paced, clever, entertaining done-in-one story. But it’s not a Silver Age pastiche; it applies modern storytelling sensibilities to that approach. I definitely tried to push myself to think cinematically, with cool visuals. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!