This article contains spoilers for The Flash up to issue #75.
Ever since DC kicked off their Rebirth initiative in 2016, The Flash has been one of the best superhero comics on the market. Writer Joshua Williamson and an assortment of brilliant artists have steered Barry Allen’s adventures for the last three years, mixing “traditional” Flash villains with new creations, introducing new and wild elements to the very nature of Barry’s powers and his relationship to the Speed Force, and exploring his origin in more detail than ever before. And from the sound of it, that’s only the beginning.
We caught up with Joshua Williamson at San Diego Comic-Con, where he revealed some of the secrets of the recently concluded Flash: Year One story, and told us what’s next for Barry Allen, his friends, and (perhaps most importantly) his foes in the book’s future. There might even be a Crisis on the way…
Den of Geek: So what’s been the feedback on Flash: Year One?
Joshua Williamson: Oh, it’s been great. It’s been really awesome. A lot of positivity about it. I mean, I was never worried about stuff, but when you’re trying something different, you get out there and it’s interesting because when you say, “I’m going to do a Flash: Year One” everyone kind of in their head, even with the TV show or the comics, like “I know what that is. I know what that is.” And we were doing something different because we were doing something that was Flash: Year One mixed with Dark Knight Returns.
In the original Showcase #4, which is the first appearance of Barry Allen, there’s two stories in there. There’s one story about how he got his powers and he goes up against the Turtle, the first villain he ever fought. But then there’s a backup story about him traveling to the future for the first time. I knew there were some people who were hardcore Flash fans that were going to be like, “I see what you’re doing.” And it was interesting. I was at a panel once and somebody came up and I was keeping the future stuff super secret. It wasn’t ever on the covers. We weren’t going to talk about it. And then somebody went up there and said “You know, in Showcase #4 he travels to the future for the first time,” and I was like, “Shush. Stop talking. Shush.”
But the feedback has been really great. I think once people saw that it was going to be a little different than they expected, I think it caught their attention. They could see that it really is a love letter to the Flash mythology, to Barry Allen and the history of the Flash. If somebody is coming in and they want to know about the Flash from the TV show or the movie and they’ve never read anything, we’ve been able to create something that is easily accessible for them. It starts at the beginning and you can dive right in with that character.
The feedback’s been really good. It’s been really awesome. And I think a lot of it has to do with how import the art is. I think this is the best work of Howard Porter’s life. I think he’s the best Flash artist of all time and the stuff he’s doing is just amazing.
So let’s talk spoilers about the end of The Flash #75…
There’s all kinds of teasers in there. You know that part where we cut back to the present day stuff drawn by Scott Kolins and there’s that one page where it’s Barry running and talking about positivity, but also talking about how he recognizes that there is a lot of challenges ahead of him, but he’s not afraid of running to them. And then we present all these little teases, all these things that are coming. And yeah, I’m really excited about all that stuff. There’s all kinds of little stuff in there that is, if you’re paying attention, you can see all the clues of what’s coming in the book.
Let’s talk about those six panels in Flash #75. How far into the future of your run do those six panels take us?
I would say to the end. I think there’s a couple of little things that will happen throughout, but really there was enough in there. I was trying to say I have a lot more stories to tell. I have a lot more things I want to do with this character. There’s been things we set up in the first arc that haven’t paid off yet. Little things we’ve been seeding throughout. But really that was me showing you there is a lot of stuff coming.
I have an idea of where I want to be at in the story when I get to the end. I know what I want the closing pages, the last pages, to be when I eventually get there. I don’t have an issue number. Because really it’s always … we shouldn’t think about the numbers. It’s about the story. And it’s very much about what is best for the story. And so I know the story, I know the beats, I know the things I want to build to get there and I tease pretty much all of it. There’s a couple of things, but pretty much all of it is in that page.
Is this a situation like Tom King had with Batman who had always said he had roughly 100 Batman issues to tell his story? We’re at Flash #75…
Yeah, I’ve written up to #82. I’m pretty far out and I know what’s happening for a while in the book. So it depends. It has a lot of factors, but it always comes down to do I have the stories to tell. And I think if I ever hit a moment where I’m like, “I’m out. I’m out of stories.” That’s the time to leave. So we’ll see. And DC really responds well to that. They respond well when you come and say, “I have a story to tell.”
Within that story, we know that at some point in the middle of all that there’s going to be a Crisis.
Okay. But we’re a year after, when we were here last year, we were talking about the last page of “Flash War.” Which said the magic word.
Yeah. It did. Hey man, listen, I play the long game.
I’m all about the long con. So you just got to see. It’ll all add up eventually. That villain in particular, he’s also in that issue. There’s a tease of him with Godspeed in #75. We’re slowly getting there. I am really building this gigantic story. I just don’t like to talk about it like that as much. But yeah, there’s a lot of fun stuff coming.
So I guess we should just start then for what we know is coming next, which is “Death of the Speed Force.”
That starts in The Flash #76. It’s immediately after, and that is a big part of my plan for the next year. I think what will happen is you’ll see it kind of breaks up, because it’s going to be a roller coaster ride of a story. The beginning part, you’re going to think it’s one thing and then it kind of quickly turns into something else. It’s very tied into Year of the Villain.
Barry is dealing with the idea of the Speed Force dying and he has to make a decision. Does he save the new Speed Force users or does he save the Speed Force? He’s Barry so of course he’s going to save the new Speed Force users, but there’s a problem and there’s conflicts there. How do you save these people as you feel you’re losing your powers? It’s like do I go save my powers then save them? There’s all kinds of other things brewing that are coming at the same time and one of the biggest problems is the Rogues. Now Captain Cold has help from Lex Luthor with the Year of the Villain stuff. So you have the subplot of Captain Cold and the Rogues running through “Death of the Speed Force.”
“Death of the Speed Force” is a six part arc, but it’s really the beginning of a major story that’s going to carry over the next year. This is the first chapter of it. And the ramifications of that story will impact not only Barry but a lot of other speedsters. And once we get to the end of that then you know you’ve got the Rogues. So there’s a lot coming.
“Death of the Speed Force” is something I wanted to do for a while and I’m really excited about it. I mean Rafael Sandoval is doing most of the issues and he’s doing amazing work. We actually just sent the first issue to press and it looks awesome. It’s really exciting. We’ve actually been able to hide the fact that a major character is returning in that arc and hasn’t been seen in The Flash book in, I don’t know, maybe 10 plus years. He’s in that arc and he’s not on any of the covers. He’s not on any of the solicits. Somehow we were able to hide it so when people read this arc there’s going to be some surprises in there. You’re going to see some stuff that I think people will be surprised by.
Is he one of the speedsters that we see in that one panel in Flash #75?
I’ll tell you a little thing if you didn’t notice it, but in #75 you have all those Speedsters, right in the forefront. If you look close there are three silhouettes in the box. You see him? That was on purpose. That’s part of the story. I was curious if people are going to notice that it they’re going to be like, “Oh man, this is really awesome. Who are these three silhouettes?”
It’s interesting that you’ve chosen Captain Cold as your focal point of Year of the Villain. I feel like it’s been a while since Snart has been kind of a traditional villain in the DC Universe.
One of my goals from the outset when I got the job was to bring the Rogues back to being villains. Because for a long time they were anti-heroes and I don’t see them as that. They’re the Rogues. All they care about are themselves and each other. I’ve been building this story for a while of this dynamic of them recognizing that they need each other and that they’re better together.
We’ve been building to this and I feel like this is going to be the biggest Rogues story that anyone has ever done. When we eventually get to that story, the big Captain Cold and the Rogues story that will be after “Death of the Speed Force,” I feel like that’s the biggest Rogues thing that anyone has ever done. It gets pretty crazy. It won’t be my last year on the Rogues, but it’ll probably be the last big Rogues story that I get to do. There’s other things that I’m going to do with some of them, but for the most part that’ll be like the really big Rogues story and it’ll be part of the “Year of the Villain” stuff that we’ve been building to.
For so long, Thawne and any Reverse-Flash, has really taken over as just the ultimate Flash villain. But I feel like there’s almost more to be said with Snart in some ways.
There is a lot to say with Snart. There’s a lot of things about his character I found very interesting because if you want to get deep into Snart, it’s the idea that Snart is a family man, right? Just a different version of it. And Barry is a family man, right? Different version of it. And if you look at how Barry looks up to his parents and to the values that his mom and dad had and he wants to be like them. He looks up to the advice they gave him. Whereas in Leonard looks up to his father and is like, “My father is a loser and I never want to be him.” So it’s this interesting contrast.
But they both had the same end game without the same end result. They both became very concerned about family, they have just different versions of it. I like playing with that contrast with both of them. They’re both family men, but just have very different ideas of it.
There might be some Captain Cold fans out there that are like, “He’s the number one villain! ” I almost feel like it’s different. There’s something about him that kind of puts him to the side. He’s still a major villain but he’s not Thawne. Thawne is definitely the main one. Eobard is easily the arch-nemesis.
Are we any closer to seeing Jay Garrick?
I knew you were going to ask me! It’s in that spread.
I know, but that’s not what I’m talking about!
I have a plan. You know Scott and James are going to be using him in Justice League. There’s more stuff that’s coming up and I have a plan. So my answer to you is: soon. I can’t say exactly when, but soon.
We’ll have more from Josh Williamson on The Flash, Batman/Superman, and the rest of the DC Universe soon!
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