In DC Comics’ “The Flash” #20, Barry Allen’s deadliest enemy returns with a creepy and new look. The Flash’s darker mirror image, Reverse-Flash, has come back to put a damper on things, leaving dead bodies in his wake. With tons of bad history between them, will Barry be able to keep his girlfriend hidden from Reverse-Flash’s view?
MTV Geek chatted with creators Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul about the return of Reverse-Flash, the significance of the “Move Forward” story arc, and Kid Flash’s upcoming appearance.
MTV Geek: Tell me about creating the Reverse-Flash from scratch – with new powers and motivation.
Francis Manapul: For better or worse, Reverse-Flash has been an important part of The Flash’s life. He also played a huge part in “Flashpoint,” which lead us to where we are today. We want to respect history, but we don’t want to be beholden to it. So we thought it would be best to start from the beginning and introduce a new version, with new motivations. It just felt right to give him a new power set, based on the events of his origin.
Brian Buccellato: Yeah, like most everything we do, his origin and power set came from lots of conversations about where to take Barry/Flash. There have been some really epic Reverse-Flash stories and we didn’t want to rehash them; so we elected to go in a different direction.
Geek: Tell me what interests you about Reverse-Flash, who can either be seen as a criminal mastermind or a psychopath.
FM: This new Reverse-Flash is less of a mastermind and more of a misguided individual. His wants, needs, and how he goes about it sends him on a downward spiral to villainy, but not by intention. We all want something in life, but what we do to get it is dictated by our own morals.
BB: I’m most interested by the psychology behind Reverse-Flash’s actions. He is willing to commit murder to achieve his goals. So there is some kind of psychotic break from society that enables him to operate without remorse. But, like most people with twisted morality, he doesn’t see himself as a villain. Exploring the reasons why is ultimately what intrigues me about him.
Geek: How is Reverse-Flash going to challenge Barry, both emotionally and physically, in this story arc?
FM: Reverse-Flash will have a new power set that will counter Flash’s forward motion. This won’t just pose a physical threat, but also an emotional one. Barry has made strides to get over his past, and the events of this storyline could send him reeling back.
BB: Just when he thought he was out…
Geek: Tell me about the meaning behind the title, “Move Forward.”
FM: The Flash is a character about speed and forward motion. But he’s also a man haunted by his past, and just like all of us, he has to learn how to move forward. The initial storyline of “Move Forward,” the first New 52 Flash arc, explored the synchronicity of his physical motion along with his inner journey. But, all of this is about to be turned on its head with the arrival of Reverse-Flash.
BB: Exactly! It’s tough enough to forge ahead in life without allowing yourself to be weighed down by past failures and trauma… it’s even worse when someone is pulling you back.
Geek: Tell me about designing Reverse-Flash’s new costume.
FM: We wanted him to look scary. That was our number one goal. The Flash represents the light and Reverse-Flash the dark.
BB: Also, the look and functionality are derived from his origin…which we will reveal as the story unfolds.
Geek: Tell me about the upcoming love triangle between Barry, Iris, and Patty.
FM: Barry and Patty have moved in together, and are learning to maneuver a relationship in which one of the partners also happens to be a superhero. How much normalcy in life do you have to give up to make it work? With the two women in his life, Barry will have to figure out who is right on paper, and who feels right for him. Which route do you go?
BB: Iris isn’t out to “steal” Patty’s boyfriend or anything, but it’s fairly obvious that she feels a connection to Barry. The question we are going to explore is whether that connection is an emotional one, or a product of the Speed Force.
Geek: Tell me about collaborating with each other as writers, then as writer/artist.
FM: The creative satisfaction we get from telling and illustrating our own stories is indescribable. It’s a challenge every day, but the amount of things we learn from each other, and sense of ownership over the book is creatively fulfilling. Brian is one of my best friends, and being able to talk to him every day about this world that we get to create is to simply put it, a lot of fun!
BB: Creatively, not only do Francis and I complement each other with our own specific strengths, but we have a similar sensibility with what we like. We rarely argue or disagree on story points, and have a really organic method of working. I wouldn’t change anything about or collaboration. Working with close friends is really all you can hope for in life. Doing that while having the honor of ushering “The Flash” into the New 52…beyond words.
Geek: What can you tease about Barry meeting Kid Flash for the first time in “The Flash” #21?
FM: There’s gonna be a lot of running. Questions about Kid Flash’s past will begin to surface.
BB: Yeah, lots of running.
Geek: What should readers expect from upcoming issues?
FM: We’re primarily focusing on Barry, and his relationships complicated by the Reverse-Flash. So, a lot of tension and high drama.
BB: Expect that Barry is going to have is world turned upside down, and that he’s still going to have to find a way to move forward. Reverse-Flash has an agenda that isn’t just life-threatening to folks touched by the Speed Force. His ultimate goal is a threat to something much, much more.
Geek: What projects are you working on now?
FM: Writing and drawing “The Flash” is quite a handful.
BB: He’s being modest…it’s way more than a handful. I don’t think Francis, or anyone else, could co-write, pencil, ink, and ink wash more than one book a month…not without speed force powers, or the ability to stop time. Coloring is not nearly as difficult or labor intensive, so I am able to work in other writing gigs. Right now, I’m writing “The Black Bat” for Dynamite, and I just turned in the script for the second “Flash Annual” (guess-starring Green Lantern). I’ve also go a few other DC things I’m working on…but I can’t talk about them yet.
“The Flash” #20 is out in stores now.