As Brian Buccellato finishes up his writing gig on Detective Comics with September's #44, he's also parting with long-time collaborator Francis Manapul. As the story takes the Jim Gordon, mechanized version of Batman toward a battle with "Jokerbot," Detective Comics also wraps up its more grounded exploration of the Gotham City Police Department, Harvey Bullock and the return of Renee Montoya.
Buccellato and Manapul kicked off their co-writing career by rebooting The Flash in 2011, with Manapul penciling interiors, Buccellato coloring them, and both crafting the plot and story together. After more than two years on The Flash, they moved to Detective Comics in early 2014.
Back in June Manapul announced that he and Buccellato were leaving the title back, and at Comic-Con International: San Diego DC announced that Manapul would be creating a new Aquaman Earth One book, as well as working with Geoff Johns on the Justice League: Gods and Men event in October.
So what's Buccellato planning next? And how is he wrapping up the current storyline in Detective Comics? Newsarama talked to writer/colorist to find out.
Newsarama: Brian, let's talk about Detective Comics. As you wind up your run on the book, it looks like what you've done is taken the idea of this robo-Batman and putting him up against something similar — at least with the cliffhanger on the last issue. Was that the idea behind it like, "OK, what kind of villain would this kind of mechanized version of Batman meet?"
Brian Buccellato: Yeah, and I think it was literally me saying, well if this is going to be a robot-type Batman there should be a robot version of other kinds of villains. Francis and I talked about it and decided a Jokerbot would be the best counter of Bat-Gordon (as I call him).
Nrama: There's a mystery surrounding Joker's Daughter's involvement at this point, but in the earliest issues, you've been utilizing a team of villains who have a Day of the Dead look about them. What's the thought behind creating them?
Buccellato: We just wanted to do something different, and thought it would be cool to have a trio of acrobats because, you know, in Gotham, there's a history with acrobats, of course. We put our own Cirque Du Soleil sort of spin on it.
So it was really just finding an interesting way to challenge the new Batman — three guys who were very acrobatic, using agility and speed to combat him.
And just aesthetically, Francis wanted it to be kind of like Day of the Dead, and give us a different visual and a different villain.
Nrama: Francis, we know, is working on Aquaman Earth One and some of "Darkseid War" in Justice League. Are you still working as an colorist with Francis, or are you both going solo, with you concentrating on writing now?
Buccellato: I'm going to be done with coloring, at least for awhile. Francis is going to do solo projects, and I think he's wanting to color it himself, especially Aquaman Earth One. He's really been wanting to do all the art duties himself.
As far as me, I've been moving toward dropping coloring and being just a writer. That's where my passion is, so I'd rather be writing. And I colored for many, many years. So you probably won't see me doing coloring for awhile.
Nrama: I remember when you guys started as co-writers on The Flash back in 2011, and you talked about how new you were to the experience, and you reflected that in the theme of those early Flash stories, as Barry was new at being a superhero. Looking back on the journey that the two of you have taken together, how would you describe your evolution as creators and how much The Flash and Detective Comics contributed to your creative growth?
Buccellato: My career writing in comic books, I owe very directly to Flash and Francis. If he wasn't offered the opportunity to write Flash from the beginning and he doesn't ask me to co-write it with him, then I don't know what path my life would have taken four and a half years ago.
I've been a writer and wanting to write for a long time. So that was the open door I needed to go down the path I've been wanting to do for the last, I don't know, 15 or 20 years I've been working on writing.
It was an enormous opportunity for me. And Francis had been a storyteller for a long time as well, but had never had the chance to flex those muscles. I think a lot of artists have the talent to write, but they aren't used to that side of comics. I mean, you look at Patrick Gleason — I mean, Robin, Son of Batman's awesome! I think many artists can do it.
And I'm thankful that Francis brought me in from the beginning and we went down the road together for the last four years.
We part not with any kind of animosity or anything, just creatively wanting to do in different directions. And I think the next time you see me coloring, it'll probably be in collaboration with Francis again.
So we're going to do our own stuff, and then probably come back and do something else down the road.
But yeah, it's been a great journey. You know, we've done a lot of interviews with you over the years! So in a lot of ways, I feel like you were on the ground for a lot of our evolution from artist and colorist to full on creators.
Nrama: Yeah, definitely. OK, I want to talk about September's Detective Comics #44 — your final issue on the book — but before we get to that, I know you've got some stuff coming up outside DC comics, and even still at DC. What else are you working on?
Buccellato: For DC, I'm still doing Injustice: Gods Among Us. We're in Year Four, that's coming to a close in the couple months. And then we'll be on Year Five of Injustice.
And then I do have another project with DC that I can't announce yet, but I think it'll be announced, hopefully, in the next two months.
And for Image, I have a creator-owned book I'm doing with Toni Infante. It's called Sons of the Devil, and it's sort of a psychological horror book. #4 comes out this month, so we're well on our way with that one.
Nrama: And Detective Comics #44, what can readers expect?
Buccellato: There are a lot of threads we've set up — sometimes you get ambitious with all the things you want to establish in the storyline, and in this case, we had four issues to finish it. But you'll see a lot of things we set up in that original eight-pager all tied up.
This is obviously a swan song for Detective Comics, so I had to make sure the story is finished. So you'll see the fight scene — you'll see the resolution of that. You'll see the resolution of Detective Yip and her betrayal of Harvey and the Gotham police force.
And you'll see a new partnership formed with Harvey and Montoya — one that hopefully the next creative group on Batman will pick up.