There’s no rest for the wicked, but what about the nicest guy in the DC Universe? After facing off against the Rogues in the first arc of “The Flash,” co-writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato unleashed Gorilla Grodd on the Fastest Man Alive for the current storyline, “Gorilla Warfare.”
So where do you go from there? You shift into reverse, of course. Next up for Barry Allen is a high-speed showdown with classic Flash foe Reverse-Flash, who makes his New 52 debut in February’s “The Flash” #17.
Manapul, who also provides interior art and covers for the top-selling series, and Buccellato spoke exclusively with CBR about the return of the scarlet speedster’s arch-nemesis, sharing their first thoughts on re-imaging the supervillain and revealing that this Reverse-Flash does not have the same identity as previous iterations: Edward Clariss, Eobard Thawne (Professor Zoom) or Hunter Zolomon (Zoom).
And while he makes his first appearance in “The Flash” #17, the full-blown arc featuring Reverse-Flash does not begin until May in #20 as Manapul is taking a two-month sabbatical from the series, beginning with #18.
Manapul and Buccellato also disclosed one other important Flash Fact about the Reverse-Flash arc: For the first-time in the New 52, Bart Allen (Kid Flash from “Teen Titans”) will be featured alongside Barry.
CBR News: You launched “The Flash” with the Rogues as the main antagonists, and right now you have Barry Allen facing off against Gorilla Grodd. Next up for the Fastest Man Alive is Reverse-Flash. Was this a natural progression, or was Reverse Flash a supervillain you were hungry to explore?
Brian Buccellato: It was more of a natural place to go. I don’t know if we were hungry, but we wanted to do him and he was the next guy on the list.
Francis Manapul: Like Brian said, it happened naturally. It wasn’t really in the plans, actually, in the beginning. We specifically had in mind not to pull him in for quite some time, but where the story was heading and where the characters were heading, it made a lot of sense.
Are we talking about Thawne or Hunter Zolomon? Or maybe the original Reverse-Flash, Dr. Clariss?
Buccellato: That’s the whole thing: It’s going to be a little bit of a mystery. Exactly who is Reverse-Flash?
Manapul: The next story arc after “Gorilla Warfare” is going to focus more on Barry Allen and his detective skills, finding out who Reverse-Flash is. We’re going to be sending Barry on a mission to try and figure out who this guy is.
Buccellato: There are going to be lots of opportunities to guess who Reverse-Flash is. There are definitely a number of potential people out there who could conceivably turn out to be Reverse-Flash. We’re trying to set it up in a way that people won’t be guessing the answer by Monday morning.
Has this possibly-new Reverse-Flash had his secret origin and power-set re-imagined? And what makes him a great foil for Barry?
Manapul: To be perfectly honest, this Reverse-Flash is going to be a complete re-imagining of him in the same way that we kind of tinkered with what the Speed Force is. We’re going to be explaining what the opposite side of that is. He’s the Yin to [Barry’s] Yang.
Buccellato: What we can say is, unlike previous Reverse-Flash iterations, we really take the ‘reverse’ part of it seriously. How about that?
When we meet up with Reverse-Flash in #17, is he already established within the New 52 or do we see his rise as a supervillain unfold during the story?
Buccellato: That’s going to unfold in the story. I know you’ve been told that there will be an appearance of Reverse-Flash in “The Flash” #17, but we’re not going to find out who and how for quite some time after that.
Manapul: We probably won’t reveal who it is until the early twenties in “The Flash.” That next story arc, which is about “Who is Reverse-Flash?” will involve current characters that we’ve already established, as well as pulling in the first meeting of Flash and Kid Flash.
Buccellato: There will also be a two-issue gap between “The Flash” #17 and the arc featuring Reverse-Flash, which begins in #20.
Manapul: Basically, after “Gorilla Warfare,” Brian will be doing the full-writing for those two issues. I’m not co-writing or doing layouts. I am taking a break.
Buccellato: He’s taking a short break and then concentrating on #20. He’s not going to Bahamas.
Manapul: Maybe — I might.
Buccellato: [Laughs] Maybe, but not for two months.
Manapul: That’s why the Reverse-Flash arc doesn’t pick up in #18. We’ll be picking back up with #20.
As we discussed previously, there have been three characters that have fought The Flash while assuming the Reverse-Flash persona. While the identity of the re-imagined supervillain remains a mystery, what can you tell us about his look and feel?
Manapul: To be perfectly honest, we didn’t know this interview or this announcement was happening so fast, so I can tell you — no designs have been done yet. [Laughs]
Buccellato: But we can safely say that will not be yellow.
Manapul: That’s right. He’s definitely not going to be yellow. I thought what was really cool about the current Flash costume is that it is very vibrant and full of light. And what we’re trying to do is the complete opposite of that. The opposite of red is not yellow. It will also be a lot darker. It will probably be a lot closer to what you would imagine a Reverse-Flash would be rather than just a yellow version of Barry Allen.
Buccellato: I think the old Reverse-Flash still kind of looked like he was in the Flash family, and I think it owed a little bit too much to the Flash look and less like the opposite or the dark side of The Flash. We’re definitely going to go in that direction.
When I think of Barry Allen, I consider him one of the true gentlemen in the DCU. And the Rogues, while at times vicious and malicious, they are pretty likable guys. The same goes with Grodd: He fights like an untamed beast, but he’s also a scientific genius blessed with psionic abilities, so he can be reasoned with. Reverse-Flash is just mean. I don’t like him and I can’t root for him. Ever. He’s the Reverse-Flash, but he’s also the anti-Barry. Will his personality remain consistent with previous iterations?
Manapul: You pretty much nailed it; the person behind the mask is going to be a really angry individual. Obviously, a lot of that will come from the character’s upbringing and the path that he’s gone through, in a similar way that the Speed Force chose Barry Allen to be the Chosen One. More or less, the reverse side or the dark side of that force chose that character for that very reason. He’s the exact opposite of Barry Allen.
Buccellato: We’ve stated what Flash’s mission is and why he runs. Reverse-Flash is going to flip that on its ear. For astute people that have been following our book, they can already get an idea of what Reverse-Flash’s mission is going to be.
Manapul: Thematically, the first arc was about being overwhelmed, so we chose a character that could be in multiple places at once. The “Gorilla Warfare” story is about coming home. But when you come home, everything is a little different. In the wake of “Gorilla Warfare,” things are going to settle down, but as soon as Reverse-Flash comes in, not to use a tried and true pun, but he will be reversing everything, from Barry’s life, to the city, to his very purpose.
It’s going to be a really interesting take on the character. We really enjoy taking some of these things and putting them in a metaphoric and sometimes literal way. It’s fun to do something like that.
“The Flash” #17 races into stores in February.