A long-time fan of the DC Universe, writer Joshua Williamson is finally getting the chance to make his mark on one of DC Comics' marquee characters as the new ongoing writer of "The Flash." Launching June 8 with "The Flash: Rebirth" #1, part of the publisher's line-wide Rebirth reset, Williamson and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico are looking to make life difficult for Barry Allen from the get-go with an opening arc that features a dozen new speedsters coming to Central City, the result of a Speed Force storm.
Williamson told CBR News some of the new speedsters want to help Barry, some of them want to hurt him -- and some of them just want everything to go back to normal. But things are rarely normal for long in Central City, and assuming Barry can handle the threat of a new speedster by the name of Godspeed he'll have to content with classic Flash villains like the Rogues and Gorilla Grodd as the writer uses "every little piece of the mythology" as part of his run. Williamson also shared details about his new Vertigo series, "Frostbite" with artist Jason Shawn Alexander and explained how his new DC-exclusive deal will affect his creator-owned series "Nailbiter" and "Birthright" at Image Comics.
CBR News: The solicitation for "The Flash: Rebirth" #1 reads "Spinning directly out of the epic events of 'DC Universe: Rebirth' #1, the Fastest Man Alive finds himself at the center of a DC Universe at a crossroads." The Silver Age, "Crisis on Infinite Earths," "Final Crisis," "Flashpoint" -- what is it about Barry Allen that always lands him smack dab in "the center of a DC Universe at a crossroads?"
Joshua Williamson: I feel like the Speed Force is one of the many constants within the DC Universe and I think that grounds Flash to these big events. And because Barry has the ability to be in so many places at once, it's easy to tie him to everything. He has an ability to travel through time and different alternate realities but he also has so much heart, which gives him a really great perspective on a lot of things.
And my opinion is, and I know not everyone agrees with me, that [Barry] enjoys being a superhero more than anybody in the DCU. He genuinely enjoys it. And that level of enjoyment puts him right in the middle of everything.
That's "The Flash: Rebirth." Let's shift slightly to talk about the new ongoing series. Your first "The Flash" arc is called 'Lightning Strikes Twice' and a new speedster is set to make his or her debut. I don't want to set off Wally West's fan-base but are we talking about Wally here? Or is it Bart? Or is it truly a new speedster?
We're creating a lot of new speedsters. And one of the main new speedsters that we are going to introduce is a character named, Godspeed. He is one of the main antagonists. It's hard because I don't want to call him a bad guy. I mean, he is a bad guy but it's more like he has a complicated relationship with Barry. He's definitely an antagonist for Barry.
In the first arc, a Speed Force storm comes down and hits Central City and a dozen new speedsters pop up. And they're running around town and The Flash is trying to rein them in. Some of these new speedsters want to become criminals. Some of them just want to lead normal lives. Some of them don't like having powers. Some of them are afraid of having powers and want their powers taken away. Some of them want to be trained as superheroes. And one of them becomes a killer -- and that's Godspeed.
Our focus is on creating these new characters and how Barry interacts and reacts to them. It's Barry that has to deal with all of these new speedsters.
Will any classic villains play a role in this initial arc? I love the Rogues and Gorilla Grodd is maybe my favorite villain of all-time. It sounds like The Flash is going to get some new threats, but what about his pre-existing rogues gallery?
I love Gorilla Grodd. And I love the Rogues. I look forward to using them. They're not in this first arc so much. I do have plans for the Rogues moving forward; I have some things that I want to do with them. And if get to write a Gorilla Grodd story, you have no idea how happy I would be. I am really looking forward to using all of the characters as much as I can.
I do have a big wish list, a big to-do list of things that I want to do with "The Flash." If I have my way, I will be using every little piece of the mythology. My thoughts on The Flash go deep and Gorilla Grodd is right there, man. Again, I would love to use Gorilla Grodd. Originally, when I first developing my ideas for "The Flash," maybe even before I started talking to DC about it and it was just me in my office with my notebook, Gorilla Grodd was kinda tied into the first couple of issues but so much has changed since then. As I started thinking more and more about the story, I realized that when I use Gorilla Grodd, I want him to shine. I don't want him as a cameo or a one-note thing. I want to do a really cool Gorilla Grodd story.
2016 is the 60th anniversary of Barry Allen becoming The Flash. Admittedly, he's not Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman, but where do you think he ranks among the all-time great superheroes?
Oh, yeah. Of course. Maybe I'm naïve because I love him so much but I definitely think that he is one of the most iconic superheroes. Ever since I started writing it, everywhere I go -- everywhere I go -- I see Flash T-shirts. I was at the airport, flying to Mark Waid's comic book store for Free Comic Book Day and I saw Flash T-shirts everywhere so it's not just the comic book stores. I was at the grocery store last night and saw a guy in a Flash T-shirt. He's one of those characters that deserves to be in the main lineup. And "The Flash" TV show has helped with that too. It's really leveled him up.
Last month DC announced that you had signed an exclusive contract. Why was this the right time for you professionally to join DC exclusively?
Since I was a little kid, I've loved DC Comics. I love these characters and when I started talking with them about "The Flash" where there was this moment when I was in the writers' room with Geoff [Johns] and my editors Brian Cunningham and Amedeo Turturro talking about story and I just realized that's where I belonged. That's where I wanted to be. I wanted to be working with this mythology and with these characters and with these people. I love talking with Geoff [Johns] about these characters. He's so passionate. I felt like it was time and it's where I was meant to be. And I'm really excited about it. It's a dream come true for me. I appreciate how lucky I am to be a part of this, the rebirth of the DC Universe. I am very aware of how much of a big deal this is. And I wanted to invest in it like DC Comics invested me. It's amazing. And it's not only fun talking to Geoff and telling these stories but I also feel that I am growing as a creator.
Nothing has been announced but this exclusive deal likely means that you will be writing more than one series for DC Comics. Any hints of who else you will be writing in the future?
Yeah, conversations have started. There are some things that I want to do and some things that they want me to do. We've been talking back and forth but really because of the double shipping, "The Flash" is the priority for me right now. And that's the book that I really want to write. There are other things that I want to do but it's too early to talk about it. And other things I plan to do but it's just too early. And really, "The Flash" is such a big responsibility. I just want to focus on it and make sure lives up to qualifications. I love this character and I love this book. Not only does Barry have a rich story but there has been so many creators who I have really enjoyed on "The Flash" the last 50 years and I want to make sure that I meet that standard that they set.
While I am guessing this isn't a Captain Cold-Killer Frost team-up, which would be awesome, what can you share about your new Vertigo series, "Frostbite?"
[Laughs] "Frostbite" is about a woman who is a trafficker, not just of people but of items, in this world where the snow-pocalypse happened but now we've past that and humanity has survived. Humanity overcame this disaster and now they live in this world, this snowy landscape. It's like a mix between "Mad Max" in the snow and "Blade Runner." This woman's named Keaton and her job is to transport things across the ice. And she gets a job that is way more than she expected.
While this is happening, there is a disease called 'frostbite' that is spreading and it turns people into ice slowly from the inside. And she has to deal with that too.
[Artist] Jason Shawn Alexander is doing amazing work on the book. It's just like "The Flash." I'm really excited to be working with Carmine [Di Giandomenico]. I am very lucky right now in terms of my career and whom I am working with. I am working with a lot of great artists and inkers and colorists.
Nothing changes. "Nailbiter" and "Birthright" will keep coming out.
"The Flash: Rebirth" #1 by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico arrives June 8 from DC Comics.