Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are the masterminds behind the current run of The Flash, with both of them writing and Manapul drawing the art. And they’ve been having a blast, exploring everything from the workaday life of crooks to giant ape fights.
Issue #20 sees the arrival of Reverse Flash, and Buccellato and Manapul took a few moments to talk about their direction with the book. NOTE: This has a minor spoiler for Flash #18.
Gamma Squad: You guys have a fairly tight creative relationship in that you co-write and Manapul handles the art chores (with a few exceptions, of course). How do you decide who writes what?
Buccellato: There is no division of labor really. We talk the story out, just us coming up with the specific. And then based on our schedule, whoever has more time will do the typing.
Manapul: Brian and I have probably talked more to each other than in our past relationships in the last few years. We talk a lot (laughs). That’s how almost every story begins. A lot of times, he’ll work on some cue cards, I write on my whiteboard, and we more or less plan out the story that way. Even that script, we pass back and forth. It’s almost like we’re sculpting the same clay, and passing that back and forth.
I mean, it’s not like Ghost or anything… (laughs)
Buccellato: Yeah, that’s something neither one of us want a part of. There’s definitely a lot of collaboration, but we take our turns at the podium when we’re spinning that clay pot around.
Gamma Squad: The Flash slinging beers in a villain bar is a hilarious idea. How’d you come to it?
Buccellato: The original idea just came from an image that Manapul wanted to draw of Captain Cold and Barry in a bar.
Manapul: I had this image in my head. I just thought one of the greater villain/hero moments is when they’re talking to each other without realizing their foe is right in front of them. We wanted Leonard Snart to have a heart-to-heart with Barry. They have quite a few things in common in terms of their responsibilities. When the opportunity arose and Barry had no job, we went for it.
Gamma Squad: What are the challenges in writing a guy who can do anything in the blink of an eye?
Buccellato: Believe me, we have that problem all the time! (Laughs) He’s super-powerful, second only to Superman in his power set in my opinion, so challenging him becomes this huge task. Oftentimes we look to villains and situations that prey on his weaknesses, or you challenge him emotionally. He’ll win every footrace and beat everyone to the punch. You’ve got to find more interesting and creative ways to challenge him as a hero.
Manapul: Exactly. Pushing him to his emotional edge is ones of the best ways to slow him down. Even if it’s just a fraction of a second, when certain things are at stake, that’s really the only opportunity the villain has.
Buccellato: Specifically, one thing we did when we introduced the Rogues, Captain Cold now has the ability to freeze the air around him and slow him down. We can do things like that, build these disadvantages that make these villains more challenging.
Gamma Squad: Reverse Flash is a character that’s been toyed with a lot over the Flash’s history. What made you decide to return to the character?
Buccellato: Did we decide, Francis?
Manapul: (laughs) It was suggested to us that we use the character, and we ran with it.
Buccellato: What we didn’t want to do is tell the same story that had just been told, with Flashpoint. When it was suggested we think of a take on Reverse Flash, we wanted to go in a way that hadn’t already been seen. Our Reverse Flash has a different power-set, identity and motivation.
Gamma Squad: The book is finishing up a “crossover” of sorts with Dial H. How’d that come together and what made you decide Barry needed to lose his powers?
Buccellato: It just sort of happened organically. It was suggested we do a crossover with Dial H. The one thing we didn’t want to do was bog ourselves down into an overlapping story, since Manapul was taking two issues off. I decided to do a story that was self contained. I figured the most interesting aspect of the story would be if he dialed up the Flash’s powers.
And you don’t want to take those away while he’s sleeping, it’s got to be at the worst possible time. (laughs)
The Flash #20 arrives May 22nd.