Although Marc Guggenheim is busy creating adventures for superheroes on TV, the smartest man on Earth resides in his newest comic book series, The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum.
The hero of the story, Jonas Quantum, is a maverick hyper-genius who travels the world, saving humanity, and encountering different adventures each issue.
Guggenheim, who works on Arrow, The Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow for CW, will be working with Freddie Williams II on the creator-owned title, which he describes as "a modern-day take on Silver Age and Bronze Age kind of comics," with "big, bombastic" stories in each issue.
Newsarama talked to Guggenheim to find out more about the character of Jonas and what readers can expect from the new Legendary Comics title.
Newsarama: Marc, how did this come about?
Marc Guggenheim: About four years ago, when we were doing the pilot of Arrow, I was doing another pilot called Guilty. And one of the producers on it was a guy named Peter Johnson. And Peter and I really enjoyed working together. And then Peter went over to Legendary.
And we just got to talking about what we wanted to do together. And I threw out this notion, and he sent it around, sent it up the chain, and we just got going on it. It was a pretty easy process. And the folks at Legendary have been really, really great. I'm a big fan of their movies and their brand. Iappreciated all the resources that they threw at it. It's been a really terrific collaboration.
Nrama: Let's talk about Jonas Quantum. Who is he?
Guggenheim: He's the world's smartest man. That's the shortest, most succinct way I can put it. He's something who, because of his inventions, he doesn't have to work. He's a multi-gajillionaire. He could do anything he wants, and he sort of lives his life as an adventurer. And he solves problems for the government and travels to incredible places.
He does all these amazing things and he's got an insatiable curiosity.
Nrama: But from the images we've seen of him in the preview, he's pretty beefed up. I mean, this guy looks like a superhero.
Guggenheim: I suspect at some point we'll find out that he invented a pill or injection or a process that gave him those muscles.
Nrama: The description of it makes it seem like the story relies very heavily on the main character. Was that where the concept originally developed, was around the idea of this character?
Guggenheim: Yeah. I really approached it purely from a character place, and each issue is self-contained, so each issue is a new adventure, a new story. So with each issue, the series almost has to reinvent itself. I was inspired by the first hundred issues of Fantastic Four where it felt like each issue was self-contained and each issue had some new, incredible creation or fun adventure. And I wanted to re-capture a little bit of that feeling.
Nrama: It sounds very sci-fi, since this guy's a genius. Did you have to do a lot of research?
Guggenheim: It's funny — I found over the years that I've been reading a lot about science. I've been drawn to a lot about science. So when it came time to actually writing the book, I didn't find myself researching as much as I thought. It really was going back to articles I had clipped to Evernote or notions I had jotted down after reading an article or something. So I wasn't researching to find the stories I wanted to tell. It was that the research was already suggesting the stories to me.
Nrama: We mentioned that he's got muscles like a hero, and we already know he's super-smart. Would you call him a hero? Or does he at least do things he hero does?
Guggenheim: He does, but each issue's different. The fifth issue is just this crazy sort of, almost Indiana Jones-like kind of adventure, except it all takes place backwards. It's like a Memento version.
For me, part of the fun of it is that I can literally do anything because we're starting with character and not a high concept. Anything involving a character is up for grabs.
Nrama: But when I think about the world's smartest man, I can't help thinking that I wouldn't really want to be around him. It seems like he'd be a bit of a jerk. Is he a nice guy? Or is he a bit of a jerk?
Guggenheim: You know, I think he is a nice guy, but I also think he struggles with how to connect with people. It's very hard for him to sort of take himself down to people's level.
I sort of leave up to the reader whether or not he's a sympathetic figure or an arrogant figure.
Nrama; You're working with Freddie Williams II. Why did you want to bring him into this project?
Guggenheim: Freddie and I worked together on Justice Society of America and we just really hit it off and enjoyed working together. Freddie has a really cool, imaginative style. I just felt like, with the tone of this book, he would really fit the tone I was going for.
Nrama: What tone is that?
Guggenheim: Old-school but modern. Sort of a modern-day take on the Silver Age and Bronze Age kind of comics.
And Freddie's style really spoke to me as being a good fit. Also, he thought it was a good idea and he was into it. And he came to the table with a lot of amazing ideas and interesting questions. It's a very exciting collaboration.