Tom Peyer is back writing at DC for the Convergence event, and he's bringing another long, lost hero with him — Ryan Choi.
The character, introduced in 2006 as the newest character to wear The Atom mantle, was later killed off — a death that caused some controversy among fans because he was one of only a few high-profile Asian superheroes at DC. Murdered by Deathstroke during the 2010 event Brightest Day, Ryan Choi was expected to be revived for the 2011 New 52 relaunch, but hasn't shown up as the Atom in the current DCU yet.
Now Ryan will be showing up with the original Atom, Ray Palmer, in Convergence: The Atom, the two-issue story by Peyer and artist Steve Yeowell. The story is a tie-in to the weekly Convergence title that will run through April and May, replacing a majority of DC's comics line.
Peyer was once an editor at DC Comics/Vertigo, working on Sandman, Shade, the Changing Man, Hellblazer and more. He later became a prolific writer for DC and Marvel, and has recently written issues of Batman '66 and Superior Foes of Spider-Man as well as stories for Bongo's The Simpsons comics.
Newsarama talked to Peyer to find out more about the revival of Ryan Choi, why Ray Palmer might be considered crazy by his peers, and what Deathstroke thinks about his vendetta against him for murdering his friend.
Newsarama: Tom, when you look at the whole premise behind Convergence, why do you think comic readers, writers and other folks are so gung-ho about (and particularly creative when imagining) "alternate" versions of characters?
Tom Peyer: For most of us, it was always that way. There were multiple Flashes and Green Lanterns, a Justice League and a Justice Society. It’s a huge part of super-hero fiction, like flying and secret identities. Maybe it’s the best part. Imagination is the soul of comics. When you think you’ve finished creating a character, why stop? Start again, or let someone else.
Nrama: Does the fact that it's an alternate world version of a character give you some freedom as you write Ray Palmer? Or was his role in this event pretty well defined?
Peyer: I was given only one outright request, which I was happy to comply with because it’s something I’d have wanted to do anyway. It involved bringing a character back from the dead. The identity of this character is so top secret, so surprising, that all I’m allowed to tell you about him is his name.
It’s Ryan Choi, the All-New Atom.
As for Ray, I got to enjoy a nice reunion with him. When I was a kid, I read him from his first appearance on. He would have been the first leading character I ever got in on from the ground floor. Anyway, many years later, he starred in the first comics I wrote. So we have a sentimental attachment.
Nrama: What's the premise of the story as we revisit the Atom?
Peyer: Like many other heroes, he’s been stuck in this sealed-off city for a year. No one knows why, or what’s beyond the seal.
Atom’s lost his usual powers, but he’s mysteriously gained others. And he keeps bickering with a voice in his head. Everyone's convinced he’s developed some psychiatric disability; he thinks so, too. But he keeps patrolling the streets. He never stops trying.
Nrama: The solicitation for the first issue indicates we’ll be seeing Deathstroke? Anything you can tell us about the character? What’s he like as you’re writing him?
Peyer: Speaking for myself and Ray, as the story opens, Deathstroke is a guy we’re mad at. And we feel like we’ll always be mad at him, because he murdered Ryan Choi.
Nrama: How do these two characters play off each other?
Peyer: To Ray, Deathstroke is the white whale. He’ll get this guy if it kills him. To Deathstroke, Ray is far beneath him. A pest who’s so far gone he talks to the voices in his head.
Nrama: OK, so you've got Deathstroke, Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi. Did you get to pick any other characters that would be showing up in your story?
Peyer: My editor Marie Javins and I picked another character out together.
Nrama: Any hint on who?
Peyer: He breathes water and he’s not Aquaman.
Nrama: OK, let the guessing begin. Let's switch gears a big — what do you think of the whole idea behind Convergence?
Peyer: I like it a lot. I know that many people prefer to stick with one air-tight universe, and that’s fine. It’s more convincing for them. But my philosophy has always been, let a thousand flowers bloom. Good ideas come from everywhere, so why cut ourselves off from anywhere?
Nrama: OK, and as long as I have your attention… when are you going to write an Hourman comic again? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. It’s my favorite comic of all time. (Pun intended)
Peyer: I remember you saying you liked it, Vaneta, but I didn't know it was your all-time favorite . Thank you. That's really flattering.
Nrama: I'm going to publish that question, just to get DC to consider it. Like you said, why cut ourselves off from anywhere? But to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about coming back to DC to write Convergence: The Atom?
Peyer: It’s great to see you all again.