What's happened to the Wildstorm universe?
In a nutshell, the world ended. In the events of the Number of the Beast, the earth's surface was decimated by a legion of cloned superheroes-gone-bad – and the world afterwards was changed. The people who survived were on their own in this strange new Earth, with some going to drastic measures. Early on, the Wildcats found Majestic carving out his own island kingdom and seemingly going mad, and recently the maligned machinations of Tao seen in the World's End backups have started coming to the fore.
Wildcats' current writer Christos Gage is finishing up his eighteen issue run in December with the promise (according to Wildstorm's solicits at least) of Tao going head-to-head with Wildcats, a reunited Team Seven and – get this – Max Faraday from the Divine Right series. What happens? We'll be reading December's Wildcats #18 just like the rest of you, but after that… who's going to pick up the pieces?
Announced earlier this year at Comic-Con International in San Diego, writer Adam Beechen (Teen Titans, Robin) and artist Tim Seeley (Hack/SLASH, New Exiles) are taking up the banner of Wildstorm's flagship title with January's Wildcats #19 and they're taking it on the road. Wildstorm editors and creators alike have teased about an expanded roster in the Wildcats roster and a tighter connection with sister titles like Stormwatch and Gen13. For more on this, we talked to the two creators Beechen and Seeley for more.
Newsarama: So many questions, I don't know where to begin. Make my job easy Adam, and tell me what's going on in your run on Wildcats.
Adam Beechen: For Wildcats, we really want to focus on the fact that this is now a very different world than before the Number of the Beast incident. Ninety percent of the planet’s population is gone, there are no governments, no services, little communication. Earth has been one giant free-for-all since everything went to hell. How do you rebuild after that? Can you rebuild after that? What place do superheroes have and what are their responsibilities? What bad guys see the opportunities this new world gives them? What else did World’s End change, like the role of magic in the Wildstorm Universe? But before our heroes can sit down and really ponder these giant questions, there’s the little matter of the Red Blade — the legendary Kheran warship that’s returned from millenia-long exile in the Bleed desperately wanting to conquer Earth and with a mad-on for Jackson King — to deal with. And that’s the simple name of our first story arc: “Red Blade.”
Nrama: Word is that it isn’t just you and Tim new to the Wildcats team – the team itself is adding some members. Can you tell us about that?Beechen: Well, it’s another question this “new world order” raises. Do past team affiliations mean anything anymore? The overall goal is to get the planet back up on its feet and running once more, so essentially, they should all be one giant team. At least, that’s how some of the heroes feel. Others, not so much. Plus, you’ve got the Carrier heading out into space over in The Authority, and it’s taking some Wildstorm stalwarts, but not others. So a lot of the superheroes are in a place of reassessing what they want to do and where they want to be, going forward. Bottom line is, yes, look for some new faces in Wildcats over the next few months. In fact, while our first arc alone is going on, you’re going to see just about every hero in the Wildstorm U across the line’s books. The Red Blade is such a major threat that the call goes out to everyone alive with a super power to come help. Most of them do.
Nrama: The February solicits tease a tattooed teamup between Voodoo and Gen13's Grunge, so that's just one example. Is it too late to put in requests for some long-lost Wildstorm heroes?Beechen: Nope! But be aware that Tim, Shannon [Denton, Editor] and I have scoured the back-issue bins for characters, and there’s already a ton of unexpected cameos happening, and plans for lots of folks that haven’t been seen in a long time.
Nrama: Newsarama readers, comment with your requests! I read on the Wildstorm blog how there's a page with 70+ characters on it. Tim, how's that challenge coming?
Tim Seeley: Heh, I actually haven't draw the 70 character page yet. I start that today. Seriously. But i have had a few 35-40 character pages already. I have an advantage in this stuff in that I'm pretty trained up in drawing A LOT of characters, having started out on G.I. Joe back in the DDP days. I'm also lucky in that I do not own any sort of video game system, so I can focus on drawing piles and piles of little costumed guys kicking the spandex out of each other.
Nrama: Are you pretty much sticking to the designs from previous appearances, or are you getting a chance to tweak these characters coming into the book?
Seeley: Shannon wanted to slightly modify a few characters, so he and I kicked back and forth our ideas. We both found we liked a lot of the earliest designs of these characters best, so we're giving some of them a "retro-modern" look. Shannon worked in animation and won an Emmy for character design, so if I made him happy with a design, I figured I must be doing alright. The scariest part was when Shannon told me Jim Lee himself had been in to look over the designs. Out of like 50 of them, his only suggested change was to get rid of a hat. Whew.
Nrama: Jim Lee, not a fan of hats. I'll have to remember that. This gives me a chance to ask – when doing all these characters, how do you keep them straight? Does Wildstorm have a character bible, or do they just send you stacks of comics?
Seeley: We use the old Wildstorm Sourcebooks, and I have a fat folder on my computer FULL of character scans. And right next to my desk is a pile of comics. Luckily for Wildstorm, I had most of this stuff, so I just had to go spelunking in my long boxes.
Nrama: Is there a favorite character out of the bunch yet, one that you feel you’ve got the hang of most?
Seeley: I think I had a hang of Ladytron from birth, so I love drawing her. Fuji is fun as hell, and I feel like I really captured the power and majesty of...Dingo.
Nrama: Adam, since I got you nailed down here, I see you’re doing a 2 issue stint on Gen13 around the same time as your first issue of Wildcats. Will that connect to this?Beechen: Yes. The first issue is more-or-less a straight-up GEN adventure that re-introduces some familiar names to the Wildstorm U in ways that might surprise longtime fans. It also sets up some key plot threads that we’ll be exploring in Wildcats and other titles as we move along. The second issue spotlights Gen 13 as they take part in the war against the Red Blade, as seen particularly through the eyes of one of Gen’s newest members. It’s more serious in tone than most Gen13 stories, and hopefully really drives home that this new world isn’t all fun and games for them.
Nrama: Guys, this idea of a all-encompassing approach to the Wildstorm U can be seen in the gatefold cover that will be spread over Authority #18 and Wildcats #19, by George Perez no less. Is this a sign of things to come?
Beechen: I think it’s representative of everyone coming together against a common enemy. There’s not much that can unite everyone in this universe, but this is one of the few things that can. And in the wake of that battle, things are going to change, with new alliances, new animosities, and so on.
Interior Splash- WILDCATS #19 Nrama: And I have to ask, how'd you end up on this title? You've done work for Wildstorm before with the creator-owned miniseries Killapalooza, but how'd you get from A to B?
Beechen: It goes back a long ways, to Ben Abernathy taking me out for a beer a couple years ago at the San Diego con. At the time, we talked about my being involved in what became World’s End, but I had too many other commitments, unfortunately. Still, out of that conversation came what became Killapalooza, and Ben and I have been in touch a lot since then, wanting to work more together. Additionally, Shannon Denton, an old friend of mine (Seriously: He’s really, really old!), became an editor at Wildstorm, so the stars really aligned.
I’d been asked to write a miniseries called the Secret History of the Engineer a few years ago, and that went really well, although the series was never published (although maybe if fans demand it...). But I think it showed to the editors that I understood the Wildstorm Universe well enough that I could handle working in their mainstream. And, like I said, I’d been working with Ben and was good friends with Shannon, so when the opportunity arose, I was lucky enough to be on their short list.
Nrama: How about you, Tim? How'd you get on this project?
Seeley: I had been looking for some kind of kick-ass superhero comic to draw for awhile. I ended up bumping into Shannon Denton at the Phoenix Comicon, and we hit it off. Little did I know, Shannon was the newly minted editor on some kick ass Wildstorm superhero comics. He had me try out for Gen13 and God Of War, but I guess my Wildcats tryout piece did the trick because I ended up being the Wildcats guys
Nrama: And finally, as the men now in the chair of Wildstorm's flagship title, what's it like to be working on this?
Seeley: I suppose "Holy Super Friggin' Sweet" isn't the most literate of answers, but that's my first reaction. I read Wildcats for a lot o' years, and I still count the Moore and Casey runs as among my all time favorites period. So, getting to finally exercise my spandex bone on a book I have affection for makes me a happy little nerd.
Beechen: It’s an honor, every bit as much as being asked to write Fantastic Four and Justice League would be! These characters have been around for a long time now, with a well-established history and a devoted fan base. I want to do right by those characters, by fans new and old, and by Jim Lee, who I respect and admire so much. Tim and Shannon and I have talked a lot about what makes Wildstorm so great and different — the wide-screen action, the high concept stories, the sense of wonder inspired by spectacular artwork and designs — and we really want to bring that to every page. .