We’re back again with our weekly look at Trinity. We are indeed running a bit behind this week due to conventions and so forth. So no wasting of time! Let’s take it away.
Newsarama: We're at the one-month mark in terms of shipping. At this point, how long have you officially been on the project, and approximately where are you in terms of the writing?
Kurt Busiek: I couldn't begin to guess how long I've officially been on the project. I pitched it shortly before 52 debuted, and somewhere between then and now it became official and took shape. And at this point, more than a quarter of the series is done -- or at least, in at DC's lettering department, for them to work their magic, over a third of it is plotted, almost a third is penciled and Fabian and I are well into building the second act.
The heat of the deadline flames are always warming us, but we seem to be in good shape, and Mark Bagley's scaring all of us with how quickly he turns out gorgeous pages. Although after what I asked him to draw in #14 and #15, he did call me up to remind me that he has a gun, he has a truck and he knows where I live...
NRAMA: What, if anything, comes more easily as you get used to the weekly system?
KB: The rhythm of it, I think. Figuring out what works well for a single chapter and what doesn't, and how to build momentum from week to week.
NRAMA: I enjoyed the brief scene of Batman saving the family by scaring the crap out of them. In your mind, is that moment the common person's view of Batman in the DCU?
KB: If he's suddenly right there, you bet. If he's not crouched in the shadows and looking directly at you, it's more nuanced, but Batman's not a safe and cuddly guy. Seeing Superman makes you relieved. Seeing Batman makes you hurriedly wonder if you're doing anything bad and if so, does he know about it and is he here for you? The people Batman focuses on usually aren't having a good time.
NRAMA: That bit is followed in rapid succession by two similar moments. The people dealing with Wonder Woman seem tentative or intimidated. Fair assessment?
KB: They're scared, but they're scared because of their situation. They've retreated into fear, and she draws them out of it. She's good at that.
NRAMA: Then, we have Superman. And the crowd loves him. Even the villains remark on this. How much of what we know about these heroes is dependent on their ongoing perception by the public?
KB: I'm not sure how to answer that. As readers, we generally get to see things from the heroes' vantage point, so we see their perception of others more often than we see the public's perception of them, though with these three, we do see a fair amount of their public image. But we also get into their heads in a way the public can't, and we know their secrets, and share their hopes and struggles as the audience. So their public perception is a part of who they are and what they mean to the DCU, just as their stature in the League is, but it's not the whole story. It's something we wanted to establish as part of the foundation for this story, though.
NRAMA: Konvikt suddenly sprouted some body armor mid-way through the fight. Is he one of those super-characters that gets stronger the longer that a fight lasts?
KB: He's capable of calling on reserves, amping up his abilities to deal with tougher threats. He's got a baseline level, but he's not limited to it...
NRAMA: In the second story, we get more on Despero. There have been some distinct versions of him over time (the original one has been appearing in "Booster Gold"). What in particular about this version is appealing to you, and what do you think of the various iterations of the character?
KB: I like this version because he looks great, and he's tough as hell, and he feels dangerous. The earlier version -- which we saw in Booster Gold -- has always struck me as one of the avatars of the old idea that the classic DC villain is in his sixties, with a receding hairline, a pencil-thin mustache and a name ending in O. No matter how tough they are physically, they look like accountants, while the Marvel villains looked like they could knock over buildings just by bumping into them. Now, classic Despero doesn't have hair at all, much less a mustache, but he's a pencil-necked geek, which suits the Booster Gold story quite well. Still, I thought the remake he underwent way, way back around Justice League Of America #250 was a really good idea, and I think that whole approach to Despero worked great a few years later, as well, when Adam Hughes was drawing Justice League International, and Despero cropped up there for one hell of a strong story. So that's the version that sticks in my head. And we have a schemer in place, with Enigma, so we needed a brawler, a conqueror, a powerful physical threat. Despero in his modern form fills that role just fine, and when we asked to use him, Dan Didio said great, by all means, go for it.
I was actually a little surprised to see him in Booster Gold, because I was under the impression we had dibs on him -- but I gather that's a time-travel/other-dimension story, and there's no actual continuity conflict between the two.
NRAMA: Another old JLA enemy, Kanjar Ro, is present as well. Is he someone that we'll see again in the series?
KB: Yes. Despero stole something from him, and even if he doesn't know what it was or why it was valuable, Kanjar Ro doesn't just walk away from something that could enrich him. As long as he's out there on the loose, he'll be looking for a way to take back what he feels is rightfully his. Even if he doesn't know what it is. He's like that.
NRAMA: At the same time, we're checking in with Rita. As a writer, what do you believe that you need to do in order to get the readers to emotionally invest in a new character?
KB: I don't think there's a formula to it, but hopefully, Rita's interesting enough for readers to want to know what her troubles mean, and sympathetic enough for them to want to see her come through it okay. New characters can be tricky -- particularly in a long-running shared universe, where the audience mostly wants to see the guys they already like, but hopefully the combination of classic characters and new characters will give us the room for people to get used to the new guys while they're following the adventures of the familiar guys. Much will be learned over time, and there's fun revelations ahead...
NRAMA: I don't recognize the villains on the final page; are they new? If so, it would seem that in addition to using the Big Guns, you're also determined to expand the population of the DCU a bit. Is that one of your goals?
KB: The three on the last page aren't new, but I don't blame anyone for not recognizing them. As will be spelled out in the next issue, they're Throttle, Blindside and Whiteout, three kinda low-level hired super-mooks who debuted in Green Lantern, back in the mid-Eighties, when John Stewart was GL and the series was set in Los Angeles. Fabian and I needed some villains local to LA, who'd be able to be hired by a gang like the Culver Boulevard '68. They're not exactly gonna be able to go out and hire Deathstroke, after all, so they have to make do with what's available.
That said, we are introducing new characters -- from Konvikt, Graak and Rita herself, to new villains you'll be seeing in a few weeks. It's not so much expanding the DCU's population for the sake of it, but simply going wherever we need to to suit our story, whether it's well-established big names, forgotten low-level thugs or brand-new threats.
And to wrap this up, I'll note that you'll be seeing some of those threats converge, in both the lead feature and the back-chapter, this week...