DC's young "New 52" series have already had their share of high-profile guest stars, but DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio said he's trying to keep the company's upcoming crossovers limited to comics where they make sense.
"In past storytelling, you knew by the fourth issue of any given series that Superman would appear. Or Batman would appear. That used to be the rhythm of these series," DiDio told Newsarama. "But now, we're trying to put the crossovers where they make sense for each series — not to artificially prop them up, but to add to the storytelling going forward."
The executive is starting in January with the company's first official crossover in the relaunched DC Universe. To kick off 2012 — and the fifth month of the DCnU — DiDio is uniting O.M.A.C. with Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
"We knew that we wanted to show an interconnectivity to the DC Universe once we launched the 52 new series, but we're trying to find it in the right places, the ones that makes sense," DiDio said. "We felt like Frankenstein made sense as a crossover for O.M.A.C., with the idea of monster versus monster."
The crossover begins in O.M.A.C. #5, the comic DiDio co-writes with series artist Keith Giffen, then finishes up in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #5 by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Alberto Ponticelli.
But Giffen told Newsarama that the crossover does not require readers to buy both issues. "One of the things I'm proudest of about this Frankenstein-O.M.A.C. crossover is that I think we're doing it right," he said. "We're doing it in such a way that if you're just reading O.M.A.C., you're not obligated to go out and buy an extra comic unless you want to. I personally would buy both, because the whole thing fits together much neater that way.
"What we're doing is the comic book version of Rashomon," Giffen added. "We'll give you the full story from O.M.A.C.'s point of view. If you want the full story from Frankenstein's point of view, you pick up the other book. They compliment one another. They are not continued in the next issue. In other words, if you buy O.M.A.C. and then don't buy Frankenstein, you haven't missed half of a story. What you've missed is a lot of point-counterpoint stuff that will enrich the story being told."
The story motivation for the crossover comes when there is intersection between the two top-secret organizations that exist in each comic. While the O.M.A.C. character is hunted by the secret organization known as Checkmate, the crossover shows that the organization reaches out to S.H.A.D.E.'s best agent, Frankenstein.
"On a narrative level, it's really easy to make Checkmate and S.H.A.D.E. interact," Lemire said. "But the motivation for the crossover really comes down to Dan wanting to see these two monsters fight and have some fun.
"There's a lot of variety in the 52 books. You know, there's a Western, there's horror, there's a lot of different things. And Dan and Keith and I have the two monster books," he said. "So it's very simple. It's two monsters that you kind of want to see fighting."Yet the writers said the story they're telling ends up meaning more than just a random fight.
"We have bigger ideas about what it means for Brother Eye to attack S.H.A.D.E. and ultimately, not in just this one story, but ramifications past that," DiDio said.
"The O.M.A.C. crossover is really fun, but it's by no means just a one-off. There's actually a lot of stuff in there that will have implications for the Frankenstein series down the road," Lemire said. "So it's not just a stand-alone, throw-away thing. There's a lot of stuff coming that will really build the history of the character and of S.H.A.D.E. You'll see the secret history of S.H.A.D.E. and Frankenstein and what happened between the Bride and Frankenstein and what drove them apart. And afterward, there are some really big surprises that have implications for Animal Man."
The writers are also being careful to make sure the stories work together tonally. "Jeff and I had been up at the FanExpo in Toronto. We were having lunch together. The story just came together over lunch. We came up with it really quickly," DiDio said.
"But we also sent him our script so he can go over the Frankenstein dialogue to make sure it matches the voicing tone, and we've done a pass on the O.M.A.C. dialogue so it matches well for the way the character speaks in our series," DiDio added. "Everything feels like it really works together."
The executive said there are more crossovers coming in the DCU in 2012, but they're being approached as a way to expand upon stories and characters instead of a sales gimmick.
"We're trying to build the voice and tone for these characters so they can exist past their own books," DiDio said. "It's important for us to start getting them out there and having other writers using them, so they're adding into part of other mythology moving forward."