[SPOILERS for Wonder Woman #21 follow.]
On the final page of this week's Wonder Woman #21, that "probable" promise not only came true, but the comic's entire cast has been thrust onto New Genesis. The development opens the door for writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang to further explore the mythology of the New Gods within the pages of Wonder Woman, breathing new life into the concepts of legendary comic creator Jack Kirby.
Azzarello is revamping the New Gods while linking them to the old gods who are central to Wonder Woman's pantheon. Since Wonder Woman was rebooted in September 2011, Azzarello and his creative team have reinterpreted Wonder Woman's cast of gods to be more brutal and even creepy, much to the delight of the title's readers.
Now comes a new interpretation of New Gods and New Genesis. It's a lot of "new," so we reached out to Azzarello to pick his brain about what we can expect from the development in Wonder Woman.
Newsarama: Brian, last August, when Orion first showed up at the end of Wonder Woman, you mentioned that you might use Highfather, although you were hesitant to say you'd be writing any New Gods besides Orion. But this final page indicates that you're jumping right into a story of the New Gods.
Brian Azzarello: Yeah. We're going to establish New Genesis. And it's the New 52, so it's going to be a different take on New Genesis.
This is something that we had planned from the get-go, as far as bringing Orion and the New Gods into the Wonder Woman story. This is part of the original proposal.
Nrama: New Genesis looks very high tech. Is that true?
Azzarello: Absolutely. Yes. It's high tech. It's the highest tech in the DCU.
Nrama: This redesign of Highfather was done by Cliff?
Azzarello: Yes, with some input from Jim [Lee].
Nrama: What were the ideas behind the way he looks? Because he's younger looking and more... well, high tech.
Azzarello: Yeah, he's younger. I'd say he's virile — more virile, anyway.
We're not going for the space Moses approach that people are familiar with.
Nrama: Yeah, he doesn't have the shepherd's hook.
Nrama: But he's still holding something.
Azzarello: It's actually something that he had before. Cliff's referencing something from, I think, some of the Kirby issues, if I'm not mistaken. Cliff could tell you all about where all this came from.
But we did want to make him more virile. He's not a kindly old man.
Nrama: No, and I'm sure that will give insight into Orion's personality. Will this round out Orion's background? Will we understand his mission and even the way he acts?
Azzarello: Yes. Absolutely. You're going to get some insight into Orion in the next issue. Big insights into why he is the way he is.
I mean, you know, our approach to this is always to make him a three-dimensional character, unlike his portrayal, maybe, in the past, and certainly unlike other characters in the DCU. Just like Wonder Woman. When I'm coming to these characters, it's like, I've got to find a way to make them unique.
You know, I think a lot of these superheroes, they're just costumes. They're essentially the same people. That's not something we're interested in doing at all.
Nrama: Yet this issue also implies that Orion is feeling protective of the baby. Is that because of the time he's spent with Wonder Woman and her group?
Azzarello: Well, I guess so. Some of the good stuff is rubbing off on him, yeah.
Nrama: Wonder Woman's having an influence on him.
Azzarello: Well, she seems to have an influence on everybody.
Nrama: What appealed to you about writing these characters, looking at them through a new lens?
Azzarello: Because I was dealing with the old gods.
Nrama: So we'll see more about the mythology of the old gods being connected to the "New Gods?"
Azzarello: You'll see some. I don't want to get too expository with it. If it works in the story, you're going to see it. If it doesn't work, it's not going to be there.
We're definitely not filling in all the holes. There will be plenty of room for other writers to bring stuff into different DC books, if it works.
Nrama: Well, you know, we have seen, just briefly, a cameo by Highfather in Superman #18. You're aware of that, right?
Azzarello: I'm aware of it, yeah.
Nrama: But these are two separate stories?
Azzarello: They stand by themselves.
Nrama: Are they going to be on New Genesis for awhile?
Azzarello: It's just a quick trip.
Nrama: Will we meet other characters on New Genesis?
Nrama: Well, you've got some people in the background on this page.
Azzarello: Yeah, you'll see some people in the background.
Nrama: Last time we talked about the New Gods, after issue #11, you talked about how Orion's appearance set up your next year for Wonder Woman. Does this issue, with the appearance of Highfather and New Genesis speak to what's coming for the next year?
Azzarello: It will be part of what we're exploring. We're not going to delve into it so deeply that it becomes the "Orion and the New Gods" story, because that is not our intention at all. This is Wonder Woman. Orion and Highfather and the New Gods are part of the supporting cast.
Nrama: But knowing you, it's not driven by what's coming up in the greater DCU. It doesn't tie into big plans for the New Gods elsewhere?
Azzarello: No, no. If we have a good idea, they'll tie it in somehow.
Nrama: But you're just telling your story.
Nrama: What does Wonder Woman think of the New Gods? She's probably not really phased by anything at this point, is she?
Azzarello: No, she's not. And she's also got other things on her mind right now.
Nrama: Let's switch gears really quickly here, because in September, you're writing the "Villains Month" issue, Wonder Woman #23.2: First Born. Obviously, we've already met First Born and we know his current motivation. What's the premise of that one issue?
Azzarello: It's filling in his backstory. It's his origin, essentially.
Nrama: OK, then to finish up, is there something you want people to know about this new approach to the New Gods? What are you hoping to do by going into New Genesis, changing the way Highfather looks and revamping the New Gods?
Azzarello: Hopefully, we're coming at New Genesis the same way that Jack Kirby did, which was... I mean, it was sort of outlandish, and just these giant ideas, and just really taking advantage of the budget that we have in comics. Just telling stories that are, "wow, it's huge!"