On Tuesday, DC Comics revealed a a brand new redesign for Captain Cold by “The Flash” artist and co-writer Francis Manapul on its The Source blog. Barry Allen’s arch-nemesis is scheduled to return in “The Flash” #7 at the hands of co-writers Manapul and Brian Buccellato with an updated costume and power source for the cold-hearted Rogue, marking his first extended appearance in the New 52. While readers caught a glimpse of Cold cooling his heels at Iron Heights Prison in #3, this is the first look Flash fans have had at Cold’s new costume design, and, Flash Fact: Manapul’s design pays homage to the original.
“A lot of it was very logical stuff. It was trying to stay true to the original,” Manapul said of the rogue’s revamp. “With him having internal powers, it actually made the most sense for him not to even have a coat or a hood. We really struggled with that for a while, especially since that’s such an integral part to the iconic look that he has. This was a good compromise. A lot of the design of it was very practical. The reason that he’s sleeveless is that we took the idea of ice in his veins literally. We’re going to see the physical manifestation of powers going through his arms, almost similar to the light glow you see cut into the Flash’s costume, but with this one, it’s obviously a colder [effect.] With regard to the hood, it was just something we couldn’t lose, you know? It’s such an iconic part of his outfit and I think — do you ever see kids, they wear hoodies when it’s warm out? The way I thought about it and the way we presented it is that the reason he’s wearing [those clothes] is that he’s just a normal guy with a cold gun.”
Including the iconic parka and hood was something Manapul originally struggled with, with the hood surviving the redesign process in deference to Captain Cold’s persona and past experiences. “It’s a personality thing. With the past that he has, he’s been screwed over a lot,” Manapul told CBR News. “There’s something comforting about being under a hood; it’s like a blanket that offers some protection. And his goggles, obviously it’s pretty similar to the original, but I’m assuming it was inspired by those Inuit sunglasses. I don’t know the exact name of them, but it was the case where the real thing looked a lot cooler than the made-up version, which kind of looked like 3D glasses. I just looked up something that was more tied to reality that ended up looking cooler.” As seen in the photos Manapul provided CBR News, the artist drew not only from an image of Inuit sunglasses, but also his own wardrobe.
One of the key design aspects of the New 52 Captain Cold is the lack of cold gun, something Manapul said would extend to some of the other Rogues as well. “He doesn’t need the gun anymore, but in our comic book continuity, he’s had a gun,” Manapul said. “Every rogue has had their magic wand. He’s had his cold gun, Mirror Master has had his Mirror Gun, it’s all in continuity. Regarding why he doesn’t have it, [there’s] the obvious reason that he doesn’t need it anymore. All of this stuff will be revealed within the story. The reason why the Rogues are actually broken up is directly tied to why they have their powers. In this revisionism, we’re not completely throwing out the past. The past still happened. It’s simply an evolution of their character.”
Co-writer Brian Bucellato also teased the lack of Cold’s traditional primary weapon, hinting big things in store for the Rogues. “We are spinning a tale that includes many of them. We’ve already offered a glimpse of The Trickster, and there are more on the way — but I’m not saying which ones,” said Buccellato. “Ultimately, the evolution of Captain Cold (as evidenced by the character designs) is tied to the other Rogues and is not some ‘retcon.’ There’s a reason why he doesn’t need that gun anymore — and that reason involved his pals.”
This isn’t the first time Manapul has been tasked with designing a new Captain Cold. During his first run as ongoing artist on “The Flash” with Geoff Johns, he designed a 25th century Rogue called Commander Cold, something he admitted didn’t factor into the current Cold redesign much. “It’s funny because I kind of forgot how I drew Commander Cold,” Manapul said. “I was trying to dig around for the books to make sure I didn’t draw that character. To be honest, the only time it entered my mind is when I thought, ‘Geez, I hope it doesn’t look too much like that version.’ I guess it made it easier for me in terms of figuring out how to streamline it. This version of it, to me, just feels like if the Commander Cold version wasn’t okay, this is probably where the design would have gone, just from learning a few more tricks and knowing more about the character. I think that was key in designing him. Instead of aesthetic changes, a lot of it had more to do with Leonard Snart as a character and who he is and his personality rather than just changing the clothes that he was wearing.”
Buccellato expanded on the personality of Leonard Snart in the New DCU for CBR News, noting a few key changes. “He looks different and is not the same villain he was before from a power standpoint,” Buccellato said. “However, he is still Leonard Snart and he still has a history with the Flash that is consistent with what we all remember. They’ve co-existed in the New DCU for a while and (as evidenced by Leonard’s challenge in issue #3) they’ve tussled before. So we pay homage in that we are not throwing out their relationship and we are not retelling Cold’s origin from the beginning. This is a new Cold, but a Cold that is built upon and is true to the original character. As far as his actions — you’re gonna have to read the comics. But I think it’s okay to say — there will be coldness involved.”
According to Manapul, much of the exploration of Captain Cold in the upcoming arc has to do with him adjusting to his newfound internal powers. “In a meta kind of way, at the same time readers are learning about Captain Cold, Captain Cold is learning about what it’s like to have powers,” he said. “We’ll be portraying him just like the way Geoff [Johns] did. He’s the same Leonard Snart. How would he react if he now has these super-powers? How would he react if he’s now on equal footing with the Flash? Would he be more of a jerk? Would he be more of a badass? We’ll see. I think that’s what’s really exciting about it. It’s Leonard Snart entering through this new world of super powers. What I think I’m really excited about is I’m incorporating a lot of old powers that he used to use and we haven’t seen him use in a long time.
“I remember reading a showcase book where he’s able to do ice illusions. We’ll be playing with that aspect of the powers as well, especially now that it’s all internal. I’m really excited about that,” Manapul continued. “I’m really excited about showing how he can use these ice powers in a different way that’s a lot more threatening not just to the Flash, but to the entire Central City and Keystone City.”
Much like the Flash himself, Manapul and Buccellato are constantly moving forward in terms of story and character. “The way the story works is that the second arc, we evolve the Rogues, particularly Captain Cold,” Manapul explained. “This continues in line with not standing still. Everything is progressing, everything is evolving and changing. We want to present it in a way that new readers can come along for the ride pretty seamlessly, but I want to present a story that the readers will get something more out of it instead of the same story with the same villains.”
“Barry will continue to move forward,” Buccellato said of the duo’s theme for “The Flash.” “That’s what he does. And just maybe he will be able to apply some of his natural momentum to his personal life. Does that mean he’s gonna ‘choose a side’ next arc? We’ll see — but first he has to realize there’s a battle going on.”
“With the current arc, we’ve just teased where [Captain Cold’s] at. He’s at Iron Heights and it looks like he’s probably about to escape,” Manapul said. “In terms of how it relates to Barry, I don’t want to reveal anything because there’s a big, big ending to the first arc that will kind of — everyone always says [their story] will ‘change everything for the character’ — but there’s definitely something like that happening at the end of the first arc. Captain Cold enters at this time when Barry is conflicted with himself both as Barry Allen and the Flash. To make matters worse, his arch-nemesis is now back in the picture.”
Manapul also gave some insight into the inner workings of Barry Allen that manifest themselves through his personal life. “The way Patty [Spivot] and Iris [West] work in his life, it’s pivotal in terms of his evolving character,” said Manapul. “We want to portray Barry Allen as one of us. He’s you, he’s me, he’s Brian — this regular, comic book loving dude that happens to have super powers and that happens to have blonde hair and blue eyes. We like showing these two directly opposing sides to not only who Barry Allen is as Barry Allen and the Flash, it’s also interesting to us to portray two women in his life that are completely polar opposites. Both of them are very strong characters and very strong in their ideals but they’re quite different people and they appeal to different sides of who Barry Allen is.
“As we continue to explore Barry Allen’s character, we kind of externalize that by showing you the people in his [life]. You can kind of tell where he is emotionally depending on who he’s more drawn towards,” Manapul continued. “Right now it’s quite obvious that he’s going out with Patty. It completely appeals to him as Barry Allen. As scientists, they have so much in common, they have the same job, so it definitely appeals to that. With Iris, there’s excitement and a spur-of-the-moment nature of how Iris is. I think it appeals to a character like the Flash who is moving in a million different directions at the same time. His supporting characters play a really, really important role in helping define who Barry Allen is.”
As for the Rogues and their one-time leader, Manapul is set to start making them a real threat to the scarlet speedster — starting with Cold himself. “The first arc was introducing the Flash’s world, introducing the way things work, introducing new characters, introducing who Barry is. Now that we’ve established that, we’re able to jump into these classic characters and do a really cool, classic action scene between Captain Cold and the Flash,” Manapul said of the upcoming conflict with Cold. “We want to focus on Captain Cold for the most part in this arc. The Rogues always worked together for the past few years and haven’t really been able to shine on their own and really show what makes them threatening to the Flash just by themselves.”
“The Flash” #4 is on sale December 28, 2011, and Captain Cold will appear in March’s #7.