That’s what comes to mind when it was announced that Brian Wood is relaunching WildStorm’s DV8 with a new miniseries subtitled “Gods & Monsters”. Wood is best known for creator-owned work such as DMZ, Northlanders and DEMO, so the idea of him returning to doing a company-owned book – a superhero book no less – startled some, but opened up the idea of what a DV8 title could be.
For those unaware, DV8 began life as a series spinning out of the popular Gen13 title. It was launched with a roster of soon-to-be comic superstars in writer Warren Ellis and artist Humberto Ramos, who chronicled the story of a group of superpowered teens, called “Deviants” (or DV8), who were enlisted to do life-threatening black ops work under the lead of a tyrannical Ivana Baiul. The series lasted 32 issues, and it’s return has been asked about several times according to editors from WildStorm.Heralding this return is writer Brian Wood and artist Rebekah Isaacs. As stated earlier, the idea of him writing a DV8 might seem confusing to some but this idea has been something Wood’s been carrying around for some time. For more, we talked with Wood.
Newsarama: Brian, how would you describe the story of DV8: Gods And Monsters?
Brian Wood: The narrative structure of the story is via Gem (Copycat), as she sits in orange overalls in what looks like an interrogation room being debriefed after what seems to be a controversial mission. She is relaying her observations and impressions of the other members of the team, as well as the actual sequence of events. This interrogation room is actually on the Carrier, which sits some distance away from a planet that is breaking apart after a massive meteor strike.For the past several weeks, the kids have been running loose on this alien world, which is very similar to Earth circa the Stone Age, after literally being dropped from the sky and abandoned. They meet the locals, who obviously view them as gods, and essentially get up to no good - meddling, forming alliances, happily playing the role of gods, starting wars, altering the ecosystem, and causing a lot of death and destruction. The mystery of why and how and who left them on this planet matters to some, but less to others, and soon the kids find themselves in conflict with each other, the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent natives in the crossfire. And then there's that whole giant meteor thing. I like to refer to it as a cross between my DEMO and Northlanders.
Nrama:Will this feature all of the original DV8 characters, including the odd Sideways Bob?
Wood: No Sideways Bob, and no Ivana Baiul either. This is purely the kids, pretty much as they were as when Warren Ellis was writing them, although I've added Jocelyn (Freestyle) to the team. Even though I reference Warren Ellis' run, my take on this is not a continuation of any existing storylines and it doesn't really factor what was happening to the characters when the monthly book ended. That was a long time ago, about twelve years, that it seemed to make more sense to just start over. More of a reboot than a relaunch. I wanted to start fresh and not be tied to old ideas and stories that are essentially impossible to read since most of it was never collected.Nrama: Right. The DV8 returns to Wildstorm universe at a time when Earth has been torn apart. How does DV8 fit in with that?
Wood: Right now its separate from all of that. I pitched this story not really knowing much about the current state of the universe, and so I didn't try to fit it in. I think eventually, if DV8 continues past this story, it'll be fit in somehow, but I am mostly concerned with re-introducing the characters and the book in a way that's accessible to anyone.Nrama: How many issues will this be… and if successful, could you see doing more with these characters?
Wood: This "Gods And Monsters" story is eight issues long, and I think that will probably be it for me. My hope, my goal, is that DV8 continues in some form after I exit, since I think these characters are some of the richest and most complex in the Wildstorm Universe. I want to show this to people, I want to make these characters viable again. But I'm sure this will not be the last of the work I do in the Wildstorm Universe.Nrama: You’ve said that this is a title you’ve pitched to write several times. Can you tell us about the evolution of your story for DV8, and maybe glimpse at how your idea for the characters changed over time?
Wood: Each time I've pitched it, its been a brand new, ground-up proposal, as opposed to a refinement of existing ideas. I'm pretty sure my earliest attempts were just riffs off what Warren did, and so they were rejected (as they should have been). I know a later pitch was similar in tone to what DEMO ended up being, and that wasn't right for Wildstorm either. This most recent pitch was miles away from anything I had come up with before, and is clearly the result of so many years of thinking and of working on other books, and it struck the right balance of ideas and themes and level of maturity. It was just the right time. I don't regret all the times I failed, because this story I have now is much better than anything that came before it.Nrama: As surprised as people might be to see your name on a superhero teen book, it’s not the first time: you wrote issues of Generation X for Marvel. Can you tell us your thoughts on the corporate-owned superhero books, and your own writing and these odd intersections?
Wood: Contrary to assumption, I am not "against" working on company superhero books. I've pitched a lot of them over the years, and had others offered to me. But I've spent so many years, most of it working for no money, in building a career based off my creator-owned stuff that I just want to be careful in what work-for-hire I DO end up doing. I want to have it make sense with the rest of my catalog, and I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons. Those reasons, for me, are: because I have a great idea, and because I genuinely love the material. I don't ever want to do it just for a paycheck, or some ill-planned grab for exposure, or just to fill time. That doesn't do me, or my readers any favors, and I think it leads to unmemorable work.This DV8 is very much a "Brian Wood" book in that it makes sense with the other books I've done. I can say with absolute honestly that someone who liked my DEMO or The New York Four will like this, and someone who only likes my Viking stories will also like it. I made sure of it. Nrama: You’re not really known as a superhero fan, but doing DV8 has been described “a dream project” by you. What’s the attraction, and how’d you originally come across the book?
Wood: I read the original series just as I was making the decision to make comics myself, and at the time it really opened my eyes to the upper limits of what a 'mainstream' comic could be, especially one dealing with youth. And I fell in love with the characters, which, as I've said, are incredibly rich and interesting. There was a lot of stuff in those early issues that I know might have seemed to many to be just for shock value, but that was all surface stuff. I saw so much potential in the book that I literally couldn't get it out of my mind for years.
Nrama: The original DV8 title has a cult following, but outside of those fans not a lot of people know too much about the book. How do you write it in such a way to stay true to those die-hard fans while not making it too complicated for a casual readers who’s buying this because you’re writing it?
Wood: I actually didn't know to what degree there was a cult following, but there IS one, based on the emails I've gotten. I dunno, I'm just trying to write these characters according to their core personalities, and from the perspective of someone who is a true admirer. What more can I do, really? Nrama:And if you had to recommend any issues from the prior DV8 books, what would you point out that’s a good read?
Wood: The "Neighborhood Threat" collection, which is all that's in print right now.