Vibe, a character introduced to the Justice League of America during the '80s, was never a fan-favorite character.
But writer Andrew Kreisberg intends to make him one.
A television writer and producer, Kreisberg is known among comic fans for his work on TV shows like Justice League, Fringe and the new Arrow series. Now he's turning his attention to an unlikely star, as he and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns revamp Vibe for the New 52 DCU.
Johns is already giving Vibe a high-profile gig as a member of his highly anticipated Justice League of America title. In February, he'll also be co-writing the new comic titled Justice League of America's Vibe with Kreisberg.
Newsarama talked with Kreisberg to find out more about the New 52 story of Vibe and the themes explored in the new ongoing series.
Newsarama: Andrew, I don't know if you saw the reactions from fans to the new series' announcement, but it was mostly, "Vibe? Really?"
Andrew Kreisberg: [Laughs.] Yes, I know. But honestly, that's the answer to the question, in a lot of ways.You know, I say that I actually owe Vibe one, because I wrote an episode of Justice League with Booster Gold, where the Justice League is off fighting a villain and Booster's off saving the world. And the Justice League never knows what Booster did, and he remains an unknown hero.
And I thought, I have to make this even worse for him. Who's the lamest superhero in the Justice League? Who could get the credit for saving the day? And the unanimous emails I got when I polled people was, "Oh, it should be Vibe." And I took that advice.
So I feel like I've somehow come to a crossroads where it's my karmic destiny to bring Vibe back in a cool way.
But seriously, when Geoff and I started talking about it, it's not that I haven't been honored to write some of the more top-tier characters like Batman or Superman. But even when we're creating Arrow, we sort of joke that we're the beneficiaries of low expectations, because a lot of the feedback we've gotten from people who watch Arrow is, "well, I didn't think I was going to like it."
And that's sort of where we're starting with Vibe, because we're taking someone a lot of people don't even know. And if they do know him, they know him as a less-than-successful hero that was created in the '80s. So for us, it's that much more exciting to, for a lot of people, give them their first experience with Vibe and then to also turn people around and say, "Wow, I never thought that guy could be cool, but you guys really made him cool."
Nrama: I think he wasn't given much of a chance because he was so linked to break dancing, and he also had such a dated costume. I assume those are both gone?
Kreisberg: Yeah, we have an amazing redesign on the costume [by Jim Lee]. It really echoes his original, but it's updated to be cool. And I can make a fairly strong prediction that there will be extremely little break dancing in my run.You know, it's funny, because he was so born out of his time. Not to disparage the people behind creating him, but I think there was this attempt to say, "Well, here's what's hot and hip in the zeitgeist, so let's create a hero to speak to that." And with that approach, that's why some of these characters don't stick.
But now, we've taken away the noise of the things that really stuck Vibe in the '80s, and that left us with a character with a lot of potential. We're doing little tweaks on him, but just like we did on Arrow, you can still see the DNA of the character in what Geoff and I are trying to accomplish.
Nrama: You've got a great artist in Pete Woods. Most readers are familiar with his work, but have you seen his approach to Vibe yet?
Kreisberg: I haven't seen pages, but I've seen a couple of covers and some other artwork, and Vibe just looks cool. Like you said, it's Pete Woods' fantastic art. But the book also has a lot of color to it, and it just feels a little bit different. It feels both epic and grand while being intimate at the same time.
So I'm really hoping it's the type of book that can attract a wide audience of people who are looking for something fresh and new in the DC Universe.
Nrama: I know Geoff has told me before that he likes to identify the very core of a character right up front, so that he always keeps that true when he begins their story, often making it central to the theme of his plots. With Vibe, what's the core of the character? And what's the theme that you're exploring with him?
Kreisberg: The theme is him growing up, because his story is all about living up to your potential. We hit on that very early on.
There are shades of Peter Parker in him, because when we meet Cisco, he's 18 years old and he's had these powers, but he hasn't known what to do with them.Part of the back-story, we'll find out in the opening episode, is that Vibe got his powers on the same day that Geoff's first issue of Justice League took place. Cisco was caught in an event horizon of a Boom Tube, and his brother Armando was killed. And Armando was the older brother, the football hero, the first son in the family who was going to go to college. Cisco got powers that day, but he doesn't know how to set forth into the use, or how to use them.
And then A.R.G.U.S. Agent Dale Gunn comes into his life and gives him a purpose and a drive. So the issues are all going to be about him finding his place in the world.
Like any teenager growing up -- whether it's going to college or getting a job or getting a girlfriend and stepping out of your comfort zone -- life is a big, scary place.
So in Vibe, whether it's Cisco experiencing relationships or joining the Justice League of America, it's all this great metaphor for facing life's challenges as you get older.
Nrama: There seems like, in that type of story, there would be a lot of room for humor, maybe even self-deprecating humor as he's facing these new challenges and trying to figure out his life. Will there be some humor in this as well? Is it more upbeat than, say, Batman or another darker Justice League character?
Kreisberg: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
His voice is going to be very much my voice and Geoff's voice. And Geoff and I both write with a lot of humor, especially a lot of gallows humor. Cisco, when he's asked to join the Justice League, he's immediately saying, "How am I going to go into battle with Superman and Batman and think that I'm going to come out of that alive?" He's almost ready to put a Star Trek red shirt on himself, because he's convinced he's the one guy on the team who won't walk away from the fight.
One of the other supporting characters in the book is Dante, who's Cisco's other older brother -- the middle brother -- who has a very skewed view of the world and adds some great humor.
So while I would not describe Vibe just as a "humorous" book, because we're also trying to make the book very well-rounded and real, everyone's life has moments of humor. And you'll see that reflected in Cisco's life as well.
Nrama: Is the fact that he's from Detroit also going to play a role in the book?
Kreisberg: I think so. I think Detroit is a great metaphor because it's a city that's seen a lot of hard times, especially of late, and it always seems to keep coming back. It has sort of an indomitable spirit.
I think the same could be said of Cisco. He's not growing up in the greatest of circumstances. And his brother was killed. But he comes back. Nothing can get him down.One of the great things Geoff said early on was, it's not enough to just bring Vibe back. We have to give him a reason to be. In the same way Hal Jordan's job is with the Green Lantern Corps and Batman's job is to protect Gotham City, what's Vibe's reason for being?
So we gave him this organic ability to sense these dimensional incursions. After Darkseid's invasion, Detroit has become this thin membrane between dimensions. So Cisco is sort of this inter-dimensional border patrolman. With that, the book suddenly has its franchise. You can understand what he's doing in any given episode. He isn't just responding to random things that are happening. It's all part of a larger plan.
Once Geoff and I had settled on that, the whole book became very clear.
Nrama: You mentioned Agent Dale Gunn and Dante, who I assume will be part of his supporting cast. Is he going to have a teen supporting cast? Or will he be interacting with the Justice League of America? Can you describe what the cast will be in Justice League of America's Vibe?
Kreisberg: He's going to have his family, with his brother. His brother isn't going to know right off the bat the extent of Cisco's powers. Once he finds out, there will be a lot of fun as Cisco is able to say, "Hey, I was on Mars fighting with the Justice League." And he'll be able to get his brother's take on things.
But for the most part, it's going to be his interaction with Dale Gunn, who's going to be his partner and his mentor -- sort of the older, crusty veteran to Cisco's younger, wide-eyed charge.
And yes, we'll see his interactions with the characters in the Justice League of America, who will be popping in and out of the book.
Nrama: So are there plans for your Vibe comic to be involved in the events that are coming up next year for the Justice League, since Geoff's orchestrating that?
Kreisberg: I can't say too much about that, but it's really interlinked with everything else that's going on in the DC Universe. Vibe is going to play a very big part in the upcoming storylines of both the Justice League and the JLA.
Nrama: Do we find the reason he adopts his name, Vibe?
Kreisberg: He's essentially assigned the name by Dale Gunn. If you're going to be a hero, you need a name. And his powers are derived from vibrational energy. That's why he becomes Vibe.And it's interesting you ask that, after you talked about the book being humorous. because Cisco is actually not going to like his name. So we're acknowledging that the name "Vibe" does have the potential to be a little cheesy. We're owning the cheese.
I think that's one of the ways in which the book feels, from a writing perspective, it feels special to me.
It's truly an honor to get to write Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and all those great people, but when you can take something that's not well thought of and make it something that people do think highly of, that's much more gratifying, I think.
The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. And we're taking a big risk. But I think the reward is going to be fantastic.
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