On this edition of the Word Balloon Podcast, writer/artist Matt Wagner joins us for an interesting discussion that begins with a question. Will the 20th century superheroes be as easy to retcon and update in the decades to come? How well do modern versions of heroes like The Lone Ranger or Zorro work, without their 19th century settings and tools? Don't they need the horses and pistols? What about the Heroes created in the 20th century?
Matt asks this question not only about heroes he's currently working on like Zorro & his upcoming 2010 take on the Golden Age Green Hornet for Dynamite, but also about Superman and Batman, whom Matt thinks both still work best in their original 1930's era .
We also talk about what he has planed for Zorro in the current arc Tales Of The Fox. Wagner says "General Moncado slowly starts to gather information about this rogue highwayman...and it's like Rashomon getting all these different points of view individual stories of who and what Zorro is. At this point he's still more of an Urban Myth."
On his Green Hornet plans with artist Aaron Campbell, "I'm going to tell you why he does it...why does Britt Reid, who has a way to fight 1930's social injustices through his newspaper, still need to adopt this alternate identity? ...We also explore Kato's motivations He's Japaneese in my version, and I found a way to weave his origin into a very historical
event.. We learn why this very skilled martial artist would support and fight beside Britt."
We also discuss his Vertigo series Madame Xanadu, which continues to interact with other Vertigo characters that have strong DCU roots. Her main adversary through the centuries is The Phantom Stranger. There are other "easter egg" character appearances that blur the line between the DCU and Vertigo.
Matt says, "Everyone asks me how I'm able to do it, and my response is, I'm just doing it. I don't ask (laughs). I do tend to keep those references as ones that fit into her charcter history and senarios,like Etrigan, Zatara, and detective Jim Corrigan (The Spectre). Or they happen almost "off camera." Like the mystic Green Lantern showing up in ancient China, or The Phantom Stranger referring obliquely to the helmet of Doctor Fate. In the Kaluta run we included the golden age Sandman because I needed a character like "The Shadow" and Wesley Dobbs fit.
This arc has some unique time shifting where Amy will be on for two issues, then representing a different era Joel Jones comes on for two issues, then back to Amy. In this arc, Madame Xanadu runs into another unexpected DC character."