For more than three years, DC Comics duo Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul have been detailing the adventures of Barry Allen in the pages of “The Flash,” first drawing and coloring Geoff Johns’ relaunch of the character in 2010 before becoming the main creative team of the ongoing New 52 series. Starting this September, Buccellato will get to take a solo lap writing the Flash’s most famous team of criminal foes: the Rogues.
Redesigned and reintroduced in the main “Flash” title last year, the core group — Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Heatwave, Weather Wizard and Trickster — will be the focus of Buccellato and artist Patrick Zircher‘s six-issue “Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion” miniseries, debuting in October as a tie-in to Geoff Johns and David Finch‘s main “Forever Evil” story. Buccellato is also the writer for two September DC Villains Month one-shots — “The Flash: Grodd” and “The Flash: The Rogues” — the latter kicking off events of “Rogues Rebellion. Meanwhile, the main “Flash” title is set to finish the current Barry Allen vs. Reverse Flash storyline, before taking a trip to Barry’s non-powered past with November’s “Zero Year” tie-in. Additionally, Buccellato and Manapul co-wrote a “Reverse-Flash” one-shot, also part of Villains Month.
With the Rogues dominating both the Flash’s world and Buccellato’s, CBR caught up with the writer/colorist to talk about how “Forever Evil” will impact the main “Flash” book, his take on the villains and the future of the Rogues.
CBR News: Before “Forever Evil” starts, you’re writing a Rogues one-shot for Villains Month, plus as a Grodd one-shot. Will the Rogues tie into the “Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion” story?
Brian Buccellato: It does tie directly into “Rogues Rebellion.” The one-shot is taking the continuity where we last left the Rogues and catapulting them into “Forever Evil” and “Rogues Rebellion.” It’s a transitional issue, and also shows what the Rogues are really all about. It’s not an origin per se, because we already know their origin, but it sets up who the Rogues are and where they’re going to go in “Forever Evil.”
In “Forever Evil,” we have the Crime Syndicate and we have Lex Luthor’s group vying for power, but the Rogues have always been real blue-collar, street-level criminals. Where do they fall in between these two camps?
Well, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that they’re not on board with any of that. That’s not who they are, that’s not what they do; what do they care about world domination? They are blue collar, like you said, and they just want to live their American dream — their American dream just happens to be stealing stuff. [Laughs] So for them, this new world order, unlike probably most of the villains in the New 52 Villains Month, these guys are not really on board. They don’t want that — who wants to live in a world with no heroes and only bad guys doing what bad guys want to do?
A lot of the charm of the Rogues has always been that commitment to low-level crime, that they’re making cold guns (pre-New 52) to rob banks and such.
I know it makes them stand out among Flash villains, but I think it makes them stand out among all villains in all comics. They’re different! In a lot of ways, it’s refreshing and it’s more identifiable. They’ve been various level of despicable over the years and they’ve done mean things, they’ve had their fair share of villainy, but at their heart there’s something there we can all understand. There’s a reason why heist movies and crime movies and bank robbery movies are so popular. I think part of it is that everyone wishes they could rob a bank and get away with it, everyone wishes they could have all the riches in the world, and that’s something very primal: having stuff. Being able to get what you want and do what you want. I think the Rogues embody that.
Another part of that abiding charm, and clearly in the New 52 you and Francis Manapul changed their powers, but before that the Rogues often seemed underpowered for the hero they were taking on — you’ve got a regular guy throwing boomerangs at a speedster, etc.
So how does that play out in the New 52 and “Forever Evil” where you have villains that are still more powerful than them?
That’s a tricky thing, because in the New 52 Francis and I obviously chose to power them up and make them more formidable to Flash. I think if the Rogues were up against Green Arrow or Batman, to an extent, a regular human being, the argument that a bunch of guys with guns could be on a level playing field makes a lot more sense. But the simple fact that Flash is so powerful — really, really powerful! — it was hard to justify that the guys who had to pull the trigger could pull it fast enough to contend with the Flash. I don’t know if there’s enough wand waving in the world that can beat a guy who can run as fast as the speed of light! So that was our choice to power them up, so they’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever comes their way in “Rogues Rebellion” because of that.
Geoff Johns’ “Forever Evil” begins in September and goes on for about seven issues. How much does you series tie into that?
It’s definitely tied to what Geoff is doing; he is the lead in this storyline so we’re just telling a story that’s worked into the fabric of what he’s doing, but still stands on its own. You don’t necessarily need to read one to understand the other but they definitely enrich the experience if you read both series.
Looking at the main “Flash” series, will the events in “Forever Evil” change the status quo of the core group of Rogues moving forward?
Actually the Villains Month one-shot changes the status quo. Again, it’s a little spoilery to say, but Trickster has not been in the group since he was kicked out in the “Flash Annual” #1, but if you’ve seen the cover to “Rogues Rebellion,” he’s there. He comes back to the team, so the status quo is definitely shaken up in the one-shot, and that propels us into the miniseries.
In the miniseries are we getting to the heart of the Rogues code and seeing characters trying to bend that as the status quo both among themselves and in the world changes?
That will definitely be explored. The thing about the Rogues is that they have that code, and it’s not that many rules: they don’t kill, they’re all about the score and they are supposed to be loyal to each other. There will be moments where this will be put to the test in the one-shot and miniseries; that’s part of the fun of writing them. If you give them a code you have to give them the opportunity to make that choice, so it’s definitely something I’m trying to weave in.
How are you and Francis balancing “Rogues Rebellion” with the main “Flash” series? Will the “Forever Evil” mini impact “Flash?”
It’s split down the middle. For Villains Month solo, I’m doing the Grodd issue and the Rogues issue. Those two are sort of tied together and also directly tied into “Forever Evil,” and that has nothing to do with what’s going on in current “Flash” and the Reverse Flash one-shot, which is basically a continuation of our Reverse Flash storyline. It fulfills the requirements of villains month, being that it’s about Reverse Flash only, but it’s his origin and it definitely ties into what we’ve been doing in the regular series, which is [asking], “Who is Reverse Flash?” In issue #23 you find out his identity, and then in Villains Month you find out how he got there. Then in issue #24 in October we’ll wrap-up the Reverse Flash storyline.
You guys are also doing a “Zero Year” tie-in issue in November, so you are going from “Trinity War/Forever Evil” and Villains Month right into this new mini-event with Scott Snyder‘s “Batman” story. What made you decide to do a tie-in to “Zero Year” with “Flash?”
We were offered the opportunity to be a part of “Zero Year.” For Francis and I, we enjoy writing about Barry, Barry’s past and how he got to where he is. So it felt like a natural thing to say yes to because we’ve yet to do a story about Barry Allen before he got powers, and he gets to go to Gotham in a time when Batman is not established. We were like, “Yeah, we definitely want to do it!” As far as it being oddly juxtaposed with the other stuff going on, it is what it is. We felt the opportunity to write the “Zero Year” stuff outweighed when it was going to happen.
While you’ve worked with Geoff Johns before as an artist, how does it feel to be brought onboard a big event like this for the first time as a writer?
It’s a whole different experience, and it’s kind of amazing! Geoff is an amazing writer and has accomplished an awful lot; he might be underappreciated for his ability to get to the heart of the character in a story that is also epic and grand in scale, but yet never lose sight of what makes us love stories, and that’s the characters and what they’re going through. It’s been quite a lesson, to be honest with you. Going through this with him and watching him do his magic has helped me design the story that works with his story. It’s been completely invaluable and I can’t speak highly enough of the experience. Hopefully it will impact me in a positive way as I continue on my writing career!
“The Flash: The Rogues” is out September 18, “The Flash: Grodd” is out September 4; “Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion” begins October 16.