We recently had the honor of interviewing Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, the acclaimed creative team behind “The Flash”, as they prepare to move from “Flash” to “Detective Comics”. We get their thoughts on the move, along with the themes they will be taking with their run on the World’s Greatest Detective.
As for why this is on TWO sites? I regularly contribute reviews of “Flash” related titles to SpeedForce, the premiere Flash fan site on the internet. And, I regularly review other DC and Indie titles at TMStash, the place for Comics, Movies, TV, Gaming, Tech News and more. This transition from “Flash” to “Detective Comics” cuts across both sites…and that means it only makes sense to publish the full review on both sites! Now, let’s get to the Q&A!
Q: In other interviews, you’ve noted how much you both have wanted to work on Batman stories for some time. Looking back to when you were kids reading comics, what Batman creators and stories had the most influence on you?
F: Batman’s had an amazing array of creators, it’s quite intimidating. As a kid I loved the Batman animated series, it was perfect. Simple enough for a child to understand but had a subtle complexity that showed such mastery of their craft from it’s creators. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini really tapped into something special. I particularly loved the episode focusing on Mr. Freeze. Now I’m not gonna surprise anyone by saying that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight, Year One with David Mazzucchelli, and Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke were real eye openers.
B: It’s almost cliche to say it, but there are TOO MANY amazing Batman stories out there. if I had to go with one comic story, it would be YEAR ONE. I was also a big fan of Batman and the Outsiders.
Q: While working on The Flash, you re-established Barry as a New 52 hero, revitalizing everything from the costume to the Speed Force itself, setting up a new status quo for his private life, and re-imagining the Rogues. What are the parts of your work on the Flash that make you the most proud? Anything you would like to have done differently?
F: I’m quite proud of what Brian and I have done, and the overall mantra of the book “Move Forward” was something that we were both personally dealing with. In a way the book became a personal reminder to ourselves of what we needed to do in our lives. This book became more than just a job, it became our life. It was also a great learning experience for both of us, so while it would be easier to pick it apart and tell you what we could have done differently I’d rather not. We poured too much of our heart and soul into it, and that would be counter intuitive to the point of the stories.
B.You can always go back and say that you wish we had more TIME to explore subplots and character moments, but at the end of the day we are involved in monthly publishing and have to make the best choices we can within the constraints of the deadlines and editorial input. Besides, this is a creative medium and there’s a poignant saying that goes something like this… Art is never finished, it’s only abandoned. 🙂
Q: Is there an overall theme planned for your work on Detective, similar to the “moving forward” theme that carried through your work on The Flash?
F: Family. That was a word that kept coming up as we were plotting out our story. Batman was born after he lost his parents, so family plays a crucial role in the very make up of his story.
B: Isolation is another word that came up a lot. I think those two elements are absolutely tied together and will be at the core of our stories.
Q: At the end of Flashpoint, really the beginning of the New 52, Barry delivers Thomas Wayne’s letter from the Flashpoint universe to the New 52 Bruce. Now, just as you are ready to take on Detective we see an early visit from Barry to Gotham. Will there be any additional meetings between Batman and Barry or with other DC heroes in Detective?
F: Beyond Flash 25, not in the near future. We want to focus on Bruce for a while, but that’s not to say Barry won’t ever come for a visit.
B: Absolutely, If there is an organic opportunity within the stories we are telling, we certainly wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Barry meet with Bruce.
Q: The two cities for Barry and Bruce are dramatically different (though maybe not as much after the events of Forever Evil). The Gem Cities were for a time powered off the Speed Force itself and seems to be a more positive and hopeful place, while Gotham City seems to be fueled by corruption and evil around every corner. How does that impact the type of stories you plan to tell?
F: The impact it has is quite dramatic. You have to treat Gotham like a living, breathing, entity. The very nature of Gotham affects you, and the trajectory of many peoples lives are changed because of it’s dark nature. You could almost say the great villain in Gotham, is Gotham itself.
B: I think the cities reflect the heroes. Flash is as earnest, hopeful, and optimistic as the home he protects… whereas Gotham is a living reflection of the violent nightmare scenario that spawned Batman. In many ways, Central City continues to move forward with Flash, while Gotham is anchored to it’s past in the same way that Batman is haunted by the death of his parents.
Q: You’ve noted plans to bring in some new characters to the Bat-mythos – are there any hints you can give us on any of the upcoming new visitors to Gotham?
F: We’re expanding his supporting cast by introducing the widow and daughter of one of Falcone’s old rivals. We get a look at the aftermath, resulting from bad decisions made. The widow and Bruce will have a lot in common, and we’re gonna use that to further explore the importance of family unity.
The intent with any new characters we create is to reflect areas of Bruce/Batman’s lives that are important to the overall themes we are exploring.
Q: What classic villains are you most looking forward to working into a Detective Comics story?
F: I’d rather keep this a surprise. But it sure would be nice to get a hold of the Joker and Clayface.
B. I’d add CATWOMAN to that wish list.
Q: Do you have any special plans for the iconic visual aspects of Batman’s world, like the look of Gotham, the Batcave or any of his “toys”?
F: I’m really looking forward to telling a hard boiled detective story, which will allow us to explore a darker side to my art. The Flash had to be portrayed in a lighter manner in order to show his fluidity, and to coincide with the generally optimistic feel of the book. Batman’s world lives in the shadows cast by the skyscrapers that tower Gotham. I’ll be taking my cues from that.
B: We will certainly be using less reds, yellows and probably not much in the way of speed lines and glowing lightning. 🙂
Q: How much of Bruce’s personal life should we expect in Detective?
F: We’ll be keeping it balanced. Our first story will be something that drags both sides of the character into action.
B: We hope to be able to bridge the gap a little bit, in order to create conflict in both worlds. Living a dual life has a downside… especially when the the lines between the two are blurred.
Q: What is the most important thing you want your fans to know about your upcoming work on Detective?
F: I think it’s easy for readers to pigeonhole creators towards one particular type of book. I’d just like the readers to have an open mind. There were other projects that were offered to me that would have been perceived as “better suited” for us, but I wanted something that would stretch me creatively and show the versatility we have as storytellers.
B: We wouldn’t be undertaking this creative endeavor if we didn’t think we had the goods to make it something we will be proud of. I think that we’ve proven during our Flash run, that we take our jobs seriously and are thoughtful in our choices and respectful of the legacies of these iconic characters. That won’t change with Detective. We know it’s an honor to be the caretakers for these heroes and we are thankful for the opportunity to carve out our own corner of the Bat Universe.
Wrapping Up: Thanks to Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato for taking the time to answer our questions, and to DC Comics for their help in making this happen. If you are a fan of The Flash, please be sure to keep checking SpeedForce for the latest news and reviews. And, if you are a fan of Manapul & Buccellato (like me), please be sure to keep checking TMStash for the latest on other DC, Marvel and Indie comics news and reviews as well. Thanks to the Admins at both SpeedForce and TMStash for sharing this interview!