In November, comic readers will be re-introduced to the Great Ten, DC's team of superheroes from China, with a 10-issue mini-series by writer Tony Bedard.
Introduced to readers during the weekly series 52, the Great Ten was the brainchild of Grant Morrison.
"After the first 52 story meeting, I went home, dug out the reference material on Chinese history and culture I'd used to help create the back-story for the 'Xorn' character in New X-Men and hammered out a huge document complete with detailed origin stories and backgrounds for every member of the Great Ten, as well as some details of the Chinese government's 'super-functionary' program," Morrison told Newsarama when 52 finished.
Headquartered in a complex buried within China's Great Wall, the 10 super-powered characters have names that are a little different because they're literally translated from Chinese. And instead of being called "superheroes," they referred to as "super-functionaries" because their communist government prefers a humble moniker. But the team, because they are official tools of the government, are hindered by bureaucracy and often question the actions they are asked to take by their superiors, who have to approve everything the team does.
"They appeared in 52 and in Checkmate, but they still need to be fleshed out," Bedard told Newsarama when his series was announced.
Now Bedard will be working with artist Scott McDaniel to tell the 10-issue story of how the official "super-functionaries" of the People's Republic of China make difficult choices in the face of ancient enemies. Featuring a battle with the Old Gods of China, the mini-series promises to "redraw the map of the DC."
To help readers make sense of who's who in the Great Ten and what all those names mean, Newsarama will be doing a series of re-introductions to the 10 characters that make up the Great Ten, talking to Bedard to find out more about his upcoming mini-series.
This week, we take a look at Accomplished Perfect Physician and Celestial Archer.
Accomplished Perfect Physician
Real Name: Yao Fei.
Power: The ability to use the sound of his voice to heal or harm, as well as manipulate matter.
"The Accomplished Perfect Physician has sonic powers," Bedard said. "He whistles, hums, growls or clicks his tongue and he can heal a cancer, stop an earthquake, etc. It's a very interesting, open-ended power, but it's hard to visually convey in a medium without sound. But Scott McDaniel is actually finding cool ways to show his power at work. I'm very lucky to be working with him."
What Makes the Character Unique: "What stands out to me about Accomplished Perfect Physician is his tragic origin," Bedard said. "He was a soldier assigned to quell an uprising in Tibet. When he happens to kill the man who was to become the latest incarnation of the "accomplished perfect physician" this callow young soldier must take his place. So he is a normal guy with feet of clay who must now use this great power, and he has a cynical edge and rebellious nature because he knows what it is to be used as a pawn. He makes a great counterpoint to the Great Ten leader, the August General in Iron."
His Personality: "I'd say the Accomplished Perfect Physician is the team's detective," Bedard said. "His diagnostic mind and hard-won insight keep him looking for the truth, which makes his government masters nervous. In fact, he was a fugitive for years, before the formed the Great Ten and invited him to join. So even though he now works for 'the Man,' he still feels like an outsider.
What Part The Character Plays in the Great Ten mini-series: "Accomplished Perfect Physician is one of the main characters throughout our series, even though each issue focuses on a different character," Bedard said. "In fact, the tension between the Physician and the General is one of the main things driving the team. The Physician is the first to sense the mystery behind the return of the Chinese gods and he's on the trail to uncover the truth in every issue thereafter, no matter how much trouble it might cause."
Real Name: Unknown.
Power: The ability to fire arrows that are charged with an unknown energy.
"Celestial Archer can do incredibly over-the-top things with his magic bow, like shooting the sun out, or hitting a target on the other side of the world," Bedard said.
What Makes the Character Unique: "Celestial Archer is the Great Ten's strongest connection to the world of classical Chinese mythology," Bedard said. "As a boy, he lives at the foot of China's most sacred mountain, selling souvenirs to tourists. But he soaks up the lore of the place and when he discovers the fabled bow of Yi, the Excellent Archer of the gods, he becomes this great hero, charged with reminding the Chinese of their classical values and culture. But this duty becomes a burden when the gods invade China in our first issue, forcing the Celestial Archer to choose sides."
His Personality: "Celestial Archer is really a simple rural kid at heart," the writer said, "and he sees his mission and his godly mentors as wondrous. He especially pines for the moon goddess, who is his patron."
What Part The Character Plays in the Great Ten mini-series: "The Celestial Archer is torn between his loyalties to his teammates and is loyalty to the gods," Bedard said. "The events of this miniseries seriously put him through some changes and seriously test his faith in both the gods and his country."