During DC's September kick-off of Forever Evil, the heroes have disappeared from the DCU in September, so the villains begin to run amok.
But what about the anti-heroes?
The DCU is filled with villains who dabble in heroism, and quite a few heroes who dabble in villainy. But perhaps the most beloved DC villain-turned-anti-hero in recent years is Black Adam — particularly under the pen of Geoff Johns.
In September, Johns is teaming with his frequent collaborator Sterling Gates to once again focus on Black Adam in Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam. The comic promises to further explore Black Adam's ties to his home country of Kahndaq, as he questions the activities of the Secret Society.
And when Black Adam questions someone's activities, sparks are bound to fly. (Or more accurately, lightning. And maybe even some limbs.)
Of course, this time around, Johns and Gates are taking on Black Adam when he has a pretty clean slate, thanks to the New 52 reboot. While the character was introduced in the Curse of Shazam! back-up stories in Justice League, his appearances were limited, leaving Gates and Johns the room to flesh out his background during September's event.
Gates and Johns are also co-writing the September one-shot Justice League #23.4: Secret Society, and Gates is going solo on Justice League of America #7.2: Killer Frost.
(Gates confirmed that he is <i>not</i> co-writing September's Aquaman tie-in book Ocean Master, although his name was on that comic's solicitation Monday. Tony Bedard will write that issue with Johns.)
The projects allow Gates to handle characters who play important roles in the Forever Evil event, which isn't surprising since he's already writing the monthly Vibe comic, which ties into the events of Justice League.
Newsarama talked to Gates about all his September issues, and in this first part of the interview, we focus on Black Adam. And as we talked to Gates, a native of Oklahoma, we found out that the villain-caused devastation he's writing about is unfortunately being echoed in some of the real-life scenes he's witnessing in his home state.
Newsarama: Sterling, you're visiting your home state of Oklahoma right now. Have you seen the effect of the tornadoes?
Sterling Gates: I actually drove through Moore and saw the tornado damage yesterday. And it's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. Oklahoma's flat, so you can normally see for miles. You can look down the path of destruction for miles. It's horrible. It's the worst it's been in years.
Nrama: Was anyone you know affected?
Gates: Yeah, one of my friends. I'm in town doing a bunch of comic stuff, and one of my friends who's a huge collector lost his house, lost his collection, everything. Everything. Like, hundreds of thousands of dollars of comics, and he's a big HeroClix guy. All that stuff's gone. Just, in the wind.
Nrama: That's terrible. We should do something to try to get people to donate.
Gates: I'm waiting for his stuff to get assessed, and then I'm going to put out a call to my HeroClix community and see what they can provide.
Nrama: Yeah, definitely. Let us know how we can help. But for this interview, we have a lot to talk about, because in September, you've got several comics. What's your take on what's happening with Villains Month?
Gates: I love it. I think it's a really great idea. I can't think of a time when it's been done before. Maybe that brief thing in 2008 where they did "Faces of Evil," but that wasn't like this. That wasn't a line-wide story designed to get into the head of all the villains, where they're running amok, completely unchallenged.
It's "villain Christmas."
From a writing perspective, it's an opportunity to really explore villainy, to explore what makes DC villains interesting and great.
While we're looking at ways that villains in the DCU are very sadistic and evil, we're also looking at ways they're sympathetic.
Geoff and I, particularly on Black Adam, we're really looking at why Black Adam does what he does, and what is his reason?
Nrama: Let's start with Black Adam. Since you're writing with Geoff, can we assume that he'll be handled in a similar way to what we've seen Geoff do before?
Gates: Yeah, for people who've read Geoff's JSA run or what Geoff did with Black Adam in 52, or what he's been doing with some of the Shazam! back-ups in Justice League, I think Black Adam fans are going to be over the moon with what we're doing in that book.
But it's also a great story, even if you don't know Black Adam. One of my friends read the script and they said, "I don't know anything about Black Adam, but based on this script, I love him. I think he's really interesting."
I think fans will be very happy, and new readers that don't know Black Adam — or maybe they only know Black Adam from Injustice: [Gods Among Us], because he's one of the main characters in that video game — I think people will really the story that Geoff and I tell.
Nrama: The solicitation for Black Adam says, "What series of events are triggered when the Secret Society attacks Kahndaq?" So I assume he's not exactly aligned with the Secret Society?
Gates: Black Adam doesn't like people declaring themselves rulers of anything, and he's very protective of his home country of Kahndaq. There's a group called the "Sons of Adam" that has popped up several times in Geoff's work on Black Adam who subscribe to the teachings and ideals of Black Adam, and to them, Black Adam is their champion, is their country's champion. And I think Black Adam really likes that, because he views himself as his country's protector.
So once the Society [of Super Villains] makes their move, and there's a global concern, I think Black Adam's going to look at that and think, "I don't really like anyone ruling over anyone."
Check back with Newsarama for the second part of our interview with Gates, when we talk about his issues focusing on Killer Frost and the Secret Society of Super Villains.