As Forever Evil builds toward its conclusion in March, DC's supernatural characters are building something of their own — a new, powerful Justice League Dark.
In the crossover "Forever Evil: Blight," writers Ray Fawkes and J.M. DeMatteis are putting together a team — in the absence of the Justice League Dark's former members, who are trapped by the Crime Syndicate in Forever Evil. For Pandora and Constantine — the lead characters in Fawkes' two ongoing series, Trinity of Sin: Pandora and Constantine — that means they'll have to work together with a wide variety of DCU characters.
For Pandora, that means a change in direction, because she's always been in the shadows in the past. Although Pandora was credited with rebooting the DCU Universe (and was in all those #1 issues in September 2011), she's been working apart from the rest of the DCU — and Fawkes has said that she may not even be aware of her role in the New 52 Universe's formation.
For Constantine, the struggle to build a new team is a representation of his realization that he cares for Zatanna more than he knew — and his desperation to rescue her by throwing together this odd mix of characters may get him in trouble.
As DC readers are finding out, Fawkes has an affinity for DC's supernatural characters. As he told Newsarama in part one of our interview, he's continuing that preference for the "dark" side of the DCU by writing a horror-themed story for the new Batman: Eternal weekly series, tentatively scheduled to begin in April.
In the second half of our interview, Newsarama talked to Fawkes to find out more about "Blight" and how it's affecting the lead characters in both Pandora and Constantine.
Newsarama: Ray, this week sees the release of Trinity of Sin: Pandora #6, and it's the next chapter in "Forever Evil: Blight." Can you describe how the story is going so far, and what the overall idea is behind the story?
Ray Fawkes: I have the pleasure to be working with J.M. DeMatteis on "Forever Evil: Blight." It's a giant, supernatural, action story, but it's about the nature of evil. And what goodness can do when presented with the face of evil.
Pandora is a character in a unique situation, to be experiencing this war and asking these questions, because she is the person blamed for evil's unleashing on the Earth.
Nrama: We just recently saw an interesting scene where Pandora seemed to travel back to the point of her opening the box, and she encountered someone trying to kill her — and it was herself. But we didn't see that mystery resolved. Are we going to see more of that soon?
Fawkes: Yes, but not quite yet. She had that vision of herself, and sort of a vision of a battle with herself, and that will play a significant role in her unfolding understand of what her role is in the world.
Nrama: When Pandora was in all those #1 issues, people assumed her role would continue to be related to the creation of the New 52 and "Trinity War." But the last time we talked, you made it clear that she's mainly a cool, lead female character, saying she may not even be aware of her role in the New 52. How do you see Pandora now that we're past all that, and "Trinity War" is over? How has she changed since we saw her in "Trinity War?"
Fawkes: As "Trinity War" was happening, she was operating in secret. As you mentioned, she was in all the #1 issues, and she has occasionally popped up here and there. But she was a mysterious figure that nobody knew anything about.
Trinity War kind of flew things open for her. All of the sudden, the heroes and the villains of the world are aware of her.
Nrama: And that's changing now?
Fawkes: Now, in Forever Evil, she's being called upon to play a role in the DCU. She can't just do what she was doing, which was moving in the background, observing, and trying to figure out how to fulfill her quest, which is to end her curse and — in her words — to destroy evil, or the purge it from the universe.
Now that she's operating in the open, and now that she's got other people interacting with her, she's learning a lot more, and learning a lot more quickly what it is that she can actually do, in terms of this battle with evil, and what's expected of her.
Of course, being a female warrior, there are a certain number of people trying to tell her that she has the wrong idea, that she should be doing things their way. But Pandora is very much her own creature.
And what she's going to be doing next, it's pretty interesting — philosophically speaking, she throws a big challenge into the face of the Justice League Dark.
Nrama: In Forever Evil: Blight, she's working with a whole new Justice League Dark.
Fawkes: Well, they're the people that John Constantine has pulled together to basically rescue the previous Justice League Dark. The former team has fallen victim to the Crime Syndicate.
Nrama: Will the Outsider continue to play a role in the story? Particularly his interaction with Pandora?
Fawkes: His influence will be felt, and he may make an appearance, but I think the Outsider is largely going to play out most of his role in Forever Evil itself. Pandora has had her contact with him, and now she's been pulled away into this Blight interaction. So whether or not she'll come face-to-face with him is certainly a possibility, but it's not going to happen in the next couple months.
Nrama: Obviously Constantine is playing a huge role in Pandora's life, as well as everyone else involved in the "Blight" crossover. Can you tell us where Constantine's head is? He's in this for Zatanna, right?
Fawkes: That is true. And actually, it's become clearer — maybe clearer than it ever was — that John's feelings for her are sincere. And he is will to risk, maybe, more than he should on her behalf.
We're rapidly hitting a point — I think we've already hit the point — but we're going to be there even moreso soon — where John is taking a lot of risks and maybe going a bit too far, on behalf of the previous Justice League Dark, but really, honestly, it's for Zatanna.
He's gambling with a lot. And it's going to take him into a very dangerous place. He has pulled together these very powerful characters, and it's likely that they will be able to work together. But to make it all happen, he's very clearly manipulating and pissing off people on a much higher level than previously, when we were talking about characters like Frankenstein and Black Orchid. They are powerful, but they aren't the Trinity of Sin, for example. Or the Swamp Thing. Now John is messing with characters on almost a cosmic order.
And you know John. It's not going to go well for him. I mean, he may get what he wants in the end, but he's going to pay for it.
Nrama: I thought it was interesting that you said "he's gambling with a lot." That's really what his character is about, isn't it? The bluffing, and the "what's in my hand at the end of the game" kind of thing.
Fawkes: Yeah, totally. He's a con man and a gambler.
And what the Crime Syndicate has done is force him to show his hand, to a certain extent.
With Zatanna before, and with the Justice League Dark, he was quite comfortable keeping things close to his chest, and maybe I care … or maybe I don't. Maybe I would risk myself for you; maybe I wouldn't. But now, he has to do it. Now, he's faced with a situation where, if he doesn't step up and make a choice, he will potentially lose her, and lose them, and we now know that's not an option for him.
Nrama: Any other projects coming up for you at DC or elsewhere that you want to tease?
Fawkes: No, I'm kind of at a stage where I can't say anything. There is something else, but I don't think I can talk about it just yet. So I'll have to refrain for now.