James Robinson's Earth 2 has been surprising readers by not only building a whole new world of concepts, but making new versions of Golden Age characters that divert pretty drastically from their former incarnations.The comic, which Robinson launched in May with artist Nicola Scott, is telling the story of heroes first emerging on the alternate Earth after the death of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It focuses on young versions of Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and The Flash — but the people wearing those costumes are not the same as the more familiar heroes who wear those names on the main DCU Earth.
As issue #7 came out this week with guest artist Yldiray Cinar, Newsarama talked to Robinson about the issue (warning! spoilers!), as well as what's coming up next year for the series. He also brought along a variant cover for Earth 2 #8 from Nicola Scott, as well as some more interior art from Cinar from the issue.
Newsarama: James, I was struck as I read this week's issue how much political maneuvering and espionage is going on in the title. Is that part of what you want to do with this world, as you build it out in more ways than just the superhero community?
James Robinson: Well yeah, absolutely. I mean, you remember when I did Starman, there were lots of B-plots and background characters and stuff like that. And I'm just trying to bring that to this book.
My run on Justice League that I did just before this was a bit more, you know, "superheroes punching each other." And I think it was not the kind of comic I do well. So this is really me trying to marry the big, epic superhero stuff with smaller, more human stuff. And one of those things will be the battle of wits between Amar Khan and Sloan, with these various elements of the World Army.
But then at the same time, after issue #8, which is the next issue with Steppenwolf and Fury, we begin a four-part of "Tower of Fate" arc. And that will introduce Dr. Fate to the Earth-2 and show magic and all that fantastic stuff again.
So I'm trying to kind of do a balance. That's my goal. And hopefully, you enjoyed issue #7 and how that had a slightly different feel, as I tried to integrate it into the big picture of Earth-2 and the superheroes.Nrama: Definitely. Although you have a lot of different characters playing a part in the comic, the first arc really focused on Alan Scott. This earth's "wonders," as the heroes are called, seem to be influenced by him. And yet, it felt like he was almost perfect until we saw him refuse to be a team player. Would you call that hubris? Is that part of the journey you'll be taking with this character, this belief that he can do everything on his own?
Robinson: Well, that's absolutely right. The thing you're going to find out is that he actually needs Hawkgirl and the other heroes around him. But he has to find that out.
And I've read a couple of reviews where people were like, "That's terrible that he doesn't want to form a team at the end of issue #6!" But my feeling about that was, well, if they form a team, then it's just like every other book. And it just becomes this thing that, I've kind of seen it before.
So I thought the idea of showing this journey of Alan Scott's where he really discovers his vulnerability as he also discovers his superpowers' invulnerability to be an interesting journey for the character.
And it will, as you say, color the — I guess no pun intended — color the other heroes and also the book as a whole as we sort of journey into bigger plotlines.
Nrama: We got a glimpse in this issue of who Hawkgirl is, with her full name being Kendra Munoz-Saunders, a treasure hunter. Will we delve more into her history soon?Robinson: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Her history and her origin and how it ties in with the World Army, how it ties in with the Atom — and Dr. Fate, for that matter — are all things that we'll be exploring in the future.
If you notice, one of the things that I'm doing at the moment is, when there are first person captions, they're only ever Jay Garrick or Alan Scott. And that's deliberate so that Hawkgirl does remain a mystery. And her motivations and how she acts and why she does thing remain a mystery, which I'm enjoying. I have the luxury of revealing her origin over time and explaining who she is and why she got those wings.Nrama: They're very different wings, and it was obvious she's not thrilled with them.
Robinson: Yeah, they're not clip-on wings like in the past. They're part of her body and she can't get rid of them. So she sees that as kind of a curse as well as a blessing.
So that's the stuff that we'll be dealing with in the future, absolutely, yes.
Nrama: It sounds like the "detective" of this group is Kendra as well. So not only are you injecting some diversity with her heritage, but you've also got a female as the detective on the team, which is a new twist on what we expect.
Robinson: Yeah! And you'll see that Alan Scott realizes that he needs those talents himself. So that's definitely an aspect of her that we'll be seeing more in the future.
Nrama: I know there was a tease in an upcoming solicitations where we were told that we'll find out more about the "dark secret behind the last Amazon of Earth-2." Is that also related to the exploration of magic that you've got coming up? Or is it more related to The Flash? Where does that entwine with what we're learning now about Earth-2?
Robinson: Well, I'm a bit wary of revealing too much about that, actually. It's stuff that you will learn a little bit more about in the near future, but then it will build and build as the story goes on. We're careful in those solicitations not to reveal too much, and I don't want to say much more.
But I can say that it's definitely something that you'll learn more about in future issues, and the first hints to the whole "last Amazon" thing will begin in issue #8. The whole aspect of the last Amazon and the heritage of Amazon Island — the first element of that will be in issue #8.
Nrama: The third part of this group of "wonders" is The Flash, although he was off doing something "personal" in this issue. You and I have talked in detail about him before. But there are also some other revamped concepts and characters that you've introduced as part of the World Army, including the Atom and the Sandmen. Is your goal to not only revamp them for modern audiences, but also to tweak them enough to keep them mysterious for people who are already familiar with these characters in their former incarnation?
Robinson: Oh yeah. If they were just modern versions of the old characters, it doesn't feel like something fresh to me. So with this title, I'm hoping to tweak them so that I retain that little piece of what they were, but change them enough to be fresh.Nrama: And with The Atom, you seem to have mixed a few different concepts associated with the character.
Robinson: Yeah, I'm sort of proud of that, to be honest with you. I really like how The Atom has come together as a character. I like the stuff he's dealing with internally, which you're going to learn about down the line, but also the fact that, with the old Golden Age characters, you could have Alan Scott and then you could have Jade, his daughter, as a new generation. And with The Atom, that was very much the case where you had The Atom and then you had Damage and then you Atom Smasher. And in this world, where they're all young, you don't need three versions of that character. So my goal with this thing was to combine what made those characters interesting and put them into one character.
With The Atom, I feel like I — or rather we, with Nicola and the editors at DC have done a good job of combining the essence of Al Pratt, the Damage character and also Atom Smasher into one version of The Atom.
So that's my goal with all of these reinterpretations. When they reappear, you'll see that they have elements of all the prior versions of those characters, and hopefully in a way that's fresh and exciting.
Nrama: You mentioned that issue #8 would start bringing in elements of the mystery of the last Amazon and Amazon Island. What else will we see in that issue?
Robinson: Issue #8 is another stand-alone issue like #7, with Yildiray Cinar on art. They're two issues that are cutaways from the main, big story arcs. And it's a way of adding to the tapestry of Earth-2 in a way that's still part of the overall story, so it's not just a fill-in story. But it allows Nicola to stay ahead, so she stays on the book consistently, and does all the arc.
As you saw this week, issue #7 dealt with the World Army and the aftermath of Alan Scott and Hawkgirl, and the death of his lover. But it sets up Amar Khan and Sloan's ongoing battle of strategies that we're going to see unfolding in the future.
Issue #8 is all about Steppenwolf, and Steppenwolf realizing there's one country in Earth-2 that he needs to be in for political reasons that make sense for him in terms of the big storyline. It's a solo story between Steppenwolf and Fury. So it will show them, it will introduce Fury for the first time, and it will reveal aspects of the past and who Fury is. It's an interesting world, with a science fiction feel, but in the midst of it you have this eloquent alien barbarian and Fury, his sort of his aide de camp, just tearing through it and being savage and violent.
So issue #8 has a very different feel, but it's an interesting feel compared to the intrirgue of issue #7. So I definitely urge people to check out issue #8 as well, and see the first pieces of the mystery of the last Amazon and also Steppenwolf as one of the big villains of Earth-2. Nicola did an amazing job on designing Fury. She didn't draw this issue, but you see on the alternate cover how she interpreted Fury.
Nrama: Then to finish up, can you tease a little of what's coming up in this next story arc in issue #9 and into 2013? A little more action related to Earth-2's supernatural world?
Robinson: The next arc will show the man who will become Dr. Fate, it will establish whey he doesn't want to be Dr. Fate, and why it terrifies him actually.
We'll also integrate Wotan into the DC Universe. He's one of Dr. Fate's archenemies, and we'll keep elements of what he was like in the past while making him fresh and interesting. But it will also focus a little bit on Jay Garrick and aspects of who he is as he finds his way as a hero, and we'll meet his mother, who's a fun character to write. And we'll also see a World Army officer who will be a huge aspect of the future of Earth-2, although his involvement at this time will be small.
So there's all that coming up in the future with lots of big magic and craziness, with a big plot that directly involves Green Lantern and the mystery of a train explosion.