Sterling Gates: Returning Prometheus to Glory

Gates on Faces of Evil: Prometheus

When Grant Morrison introduced DC Comics readers to the villain Prometheus, his combination of super-intelligence and fighting abilities made him one of the JLA's scariest and most dangerous foes.

As DC gears up for an appearance by Prometheus in the new Justice League series by James Robinson next year, the Faces of Evil event in January will take another look at the villain in a story by Supergirl writer Sterling Gates.

Newsarama talked to Gates to find out more about the issue and why the writer thinks Prometheus needs a little attention to make him the scary villain he once was.

Newsarama: What's the story you're telling in Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1?

Sterling Gates: The issue is the reintroduction of the villain Prometheus, who’s going to be reclaiming his title as the Justice League’s Ultimate Villain. He’s been sort of sullied, for lack of a better word, and eventually forgotten in the years since his appearances in Grant Morrison’s JLA issues, and I wanted to build him back up into the villain I know him to be. I can’t give too much away here, but something happens that causes Prometheus to wake up one day and wonder what the hell happened to him, and he sets out to reclaim his villainous mantle.

NRAMA: Now that you've gotten into the character, what do you think is great about Prometheus?

SG: When Prometheus first hit in Grant’s JLA issues, he was cool and sexy and a really interesting villain. He was, really, the anti-Batman, not unlike that old DC character the Wraith. His parents were Bonnie and Clyde-type career criminals who met a tragic end at the hands of police officers, and so Prometheus vowed to destroy the pillars of justice. So he went around the world and learned all of the things that Bruce Wayne learned. He’s a master at disguising himself, he’s studied hand-to-hand training, that kind of stuff. And he set his goals quite high. His first big target was the JLA, and he proceeded to take them down single-handedly in the span of 20 minutes! I’m betting those were probably some of the scariest 20 minutes of the JLA members' lives. Steel probably had to clean out his metal drawers after that trick with his hammer! [laughs]

But whereas Batman has hundreds of plans and strategies to defeat every hero or villain he goes up against, Prometheus has done the same thing with a slight twist. Batman plans out how to stop people from doing harm to others, and all Prometheus is concerned with is how to use the knowledge he has to hurt them the most.

NRAMA: Will this story tell his origin – or, more of his origin?

SG: We’ll be looking at his origin in this issue, yeah, and we'll be looking at what has happened to him since his defeat at the hands of Batman in the JLA: World War III story. I’m delving pretty deeply into why he went from being this powerhouse villain worthy of being on Lex Luthor's Injustice League, to being the guy that Huntress can beat up over in Birds of Prey.

NRAMA: So he's gone downhill as a threat, but you said he's rebuilding himself?

SG: The whole goal of this issue is to build him back up and make him into the villain he once was. I kind of felt like he’d become a shadow of the villain he used to be, and I want to get back in there and bring him back into the forefront. That was such a great spin for a villain, and I didn’t feel like the promise of his character has really been shown the last decade.

NRAMA: Have you always been a fan of Prometheus?

SG: Absolutely. I thought his introduction was one of the best stories Grant did in JLA. It was a short, very concise, three-issue arc that created one of the most memorable JLA villains of all time! So we’re really trying to do him right. Eventually, he’ll become one of the main villains in James Robinson’s Justice League series. One of the first villains that team faces, actually.

NRAMA: What can you tell us about the artist for the issue?

SG: The artist is named Federico Dallocchio, and he’s an incredibly gifted artist that DC found. He did a story in the DC Halloween Special starring Faust, and I thought he was brilliant. He’s got this really dark, contrasted style that reminds me of Jae Lee in some ways. Really a talented guy, and his version of Prometheus is stunning.

NRAMA: As the writer of the ongoing Supergirl title, how is it to get into a villain's head and try to figure him out? It's a little different from writing Supergirl, isn't it?

SG: Yeah, but I love writing really vile and scary villains. One of the first things I wrote for DC was the Kryb story for the Tales of the Sinestro Corps back-ups in Green Lantern. I like my villains really dark. And yeah, it's true that writing Supergirl is completely different. Writing Supergirl, you shoot for a much more upbeat and lighter tone for the book, and Prometheus is all about darkness and anger. He’s really a bitter, vicious guy, and he’s got a fun and extreme personality that’s a blast to write. Well, really, they’re both a lot of fun to write.

Supergirl #35
Supergirl #35
NRAMA: Anything you have coming up in Supergirl that you want to tell fans about?

SG: Yeah, issue #36 is the next issue, and it is insane. I asked Jamal to draw a lot of action in a really big set piece, and I think he lost a lot of sleep over it. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about it.

Then after New Krypton, issue #37 is Part One of “Who Is Superwoman?” I can’t say a lot about it for fear of spoiling --gosh, I have to say that a lot, don’t I? -- but I do encourage everyone to start a betting pool as to who she is. I’ve read some speculation on the Internet and there are a lot of great armchair detectives out there. I’m not going to say how many of their guesses may or may not be right, though.

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