When writer Josh Williamson takes over Voodoo in January, he plans to continue what's come before, but with more action — a new twist on Priscilla Kitaen.
Williamson may be a new name to most DC readers, but he's certainly earned his stripes as an up-and-coming writer the last couple years as he worked diligently to make a name in the comic book industry. This year alone, he's seen his work published by the top four publishers in the business, writing everything from high-profile superhero stories to an all-ages graphic novel.
Now he gets his big break from DC as they try a new direction with Voodoo beginning next year. As announced here on Newsarama this week, Williamson will be taking over writing duties on Voodoo beginning with January's issue #5, working with current series artist Sami Basri.
Williamson got the job because his outline had a twist to the story that won over the editors at DC — something about Voodoo that the writer is happy to tease but reluctant to give away.
The writer emphasized that he likes the issues already done by departing writer Ron Marz, who told Newsarama he wasn't sure why he was leaving the book. Williamson said doesn't want to change what's happened so far in the title, yet does plan to ramp up the action, turning the series into an "epic, sci-fi" comic.
DC is apparently hoping the switch in writers and change in direction will give the title an added boost in 2012. While Voodoo isn't the lowest selling title in the DCU, it's among the lower tier — although probably expectedly so, since the lead character is hardly one of DC's best-known properties. But this isn't the first creative shake-up from DC since it introduced the DCnU in September, indicating the company is quick to move when it wants a change.
Williamson is already writing a monthly comic for DC: the video game-related comic Uncharted, which launched in October. But this series represents his first monthly within the shared universe at DC.
Newsarama talked to the new series writer to find out more.
Newsarama: Wow, Josh. We've talked a lot lately. Just in the last few months, I've interviewed you about Uncharted, then your Image series XenoHolics, then last month's graphic novel Sketch Monsters. You're working in a lot of different corners of the comics industry. What led to this gig on Voodoo?
Josh Williamson: Yup, I’ve been doing a lot work lately, trying to get my name out there and work with good people on projects that I love. In the last year, I’ve had comic books come out from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, with no signs of stopping any time soon.
I believe it's dedication like that which led to me getting the Voodoo gig. It’s a simple story really: DC approached me, asked me if I was interested in writing an outline and my vision for the book. Of course, I said yes. The editors at DC knew I was passionate about the material and that I was a hungry, hard-working writer that can hit his deadlines. So when my name came up, people in the office that I’ve worked with before backed me up. But I still had to write that outline. Just wasn’t going to be handed to me. So after a lot of work, I turned in the outline, DC Comics loved it and we were off.
Nrama: What was it about this project in particular that appealed to you?
Williamson: I’ve always been a big fan of the WildStorm Universe and its characters. Integrating them with the DC Universe has been a dream come true. It’s funny, I remember working at a comic store in college and my co-workers and I would discuss for hours how you could mesh the DC and WildStorm Universe. It’s very cool to see it happening and to be a part of it.
But I was also a fan of the book before I took over and liked the idea of doing this alien sleeper agent story starring Priscilla Kitaen a.k.a. Voodoo. Her mission and her place in the new DCU intrigued me.
Nrama: Now that you're writing Voodoo, what are you hoping to bring to the comic?
Williamson: Action. My mission statement with this book was to up the ante with the action and place it more in the edgy sci-fi, epic realm. My philosophy is go big or go home — readers will experience bigger action and deeper drama through kick-ass fight scenes and high stakes set pieces.
Nrama: This book had been characterized as a "sexy" book during its introductory issues. Would you describe it that way as you take over? Or are you giving it a new direction?
Williamson: It’s still sexy. But like I said, the book will have a more action, sci-fi feel to it.
You know, here is the thing: You don’t have to be a stripper to be sexy. You can look at the Aliens franchise and see that Sigourney Weaver as a kick-ass strong female character can still be sexy. I think people will be surprised by the direction we’re taking the character, how it works with what came before but also takes her into new dangerous territory.
Nrama: What does Sami bring to the comic, and how are you hoping to heighten that in your story?
Williamson: Sami Basri is an amazing artist. His previous work on Powergirl and his current Voodoo pages have been great. I really think he is a talent, who with each issue gets better, and in no time will be blowing people away even more than he already is. Sami brings a level of pacing and drama to his art. He knows how to lay out a page to get the right effect and doesn’t waste any space on the page so he can tell the best story possible. Sami knows that it’s “show, not tell” but at the same time he knows that sometimes it’s what you don't show that tells the story.Knowing that Sami was staying on the book was a huge relief for me. It’s always better for a writer to know who the artist is on their story. I’m a very visual person, so I’ve been writing the scripts with his art and page layouts in mind. Sami knows how to pace out his action, so in doing an epic, sci-fi, action book like this, he’s a great fit.
Nrama: What's your take on Voodoo as a character?
Williamson: Voodoo is a woman with something to prove. She’s been placed on this mission and has already demonstrated that she will go to any length to complete it. The Daemonites have a cause, and Voodoo is a believer in that cause. Voodoo can be cold and almost "Terminator” like, but she is still witnessing the pros and cons of humans and Earth and learning about herself at the same time.
Nrama: It's tough so far to figure out if she's a hero or a villain. Any hint on what she is as you take over in January?
Williamson: She’s conflicted. She has a mission to help her kind take over the world, but because of the influence some of the humans have had on her, she has started to feel a level of compassion for the human race. But is that compassion real? Or just left over feelings from her reading the minds of Agent Evans and Agent Fallon? And what happens when those feelings start to fade away?
She’s already a shape shifter, so having identity issues is bound to happen. We want to keep that going — the idea that you don’t really know if she is a hero or villain — but a big part of my pitch for the books is that she’ll… well… you’ll see.
Nrama: Ah, nice tease. But what about Special Agent Fallon? Will she continue to play a role?
Williamson: Agent Fallon will definitely continue to play a big part in the book. Voodoo has gotten past Fallon a few times now and Fallon is a little sick of it and pissed off. In issue one, Voodoo killed Fallon’s partner and lover. Agent Fallon will take things into her own hands and go to the extreme to bring Voodoo in — dead or alive.
Nrama: And what can you tell us about the Black Razors and Black Jack?
Williamson: Both are making a major comebacks. We’ll learn more about Black Jack and his place in the Black Razors. Black Jack was trained and given these super powers to catch aliens, but Voodoo made a fool of him in issue #2, and he didn’t take too kindly to that.
I can’t really say too much about the Black Razors and their mission yet, except that the Black Razors are tied into another top-secret military force in the DCU whose team name also starts with “Black.” Things are going to get crazy once the Black Razors are fully unleashed on Voodoo. But really, I’m not worried about Voodoo. I’m worried for the Black Razors.
Nrama: How will you be rounding out the cast of villains and allies for Voodoo in the comic?
Williamson: For the most part, we’ll be sticking with the supporting characters that have already been established. A few Daemonite higher-ups will appear, but this book is sort of different than the rest of the New 52 in that there are no clear-cut heroes and villains.
Also, there might be a few guest appearances and connections to a few of the other DC Edge books.
Nrama: We're told in the solicitations for issue #6 that there are "shocking events" in issue #5. Now that you're writing Voodoo #5, how would you describe it? Would there be a new solicitation for #5?
Williamson: As far as I’m concerned… the solicitation info still stands: Voodoo discovers a threat that could expose her secrets before she can complete her mission. With her shape-shifting abilities in overdrive, Pris does what she does best when she's cornered: fight.And that’s exactly what happens. Voodoo gets in a big fight with someone who’s threatening her mission, but she also discovers something “shocking” that will set up the direction for the series from there on out.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up?
Williamson: Voodoo’s new place in the DCU will surprise you. It’s our goal to make her into a major character, but you’ll have to read if that’s a major hero or villain. Get ready for some awesome action.
Nrama: Anything else you want to share about your new job as writer on Voodoo?
Williamson: I want to assure everyone that I’m not throwing out what Ron Marz was doing with the book. That would be silly. Ron built an excellent base, and I’m taking what he was doing and upping the ante. I’m a big believer that continuity is a tool and not a crutch, and I would be remiss if I didn’t use the pieces and foundation that Ron built. Part of why I took the job was because I was interested in the character that Ron introduced and was excited to move forward with her into a new direction.
People will find the new book to be exciting, packed with action and a great take on a WildStorm Universe character being brought into the DCU. I’m really excited to be on Voodoo and to be a part of the New 52.