When DC Comics announced its six "replacement" titles for May, there was one name that was surprising to see at DC: Howard Mackie, who had previously been most associated with Marvel comics.
Mackie's new DC title, The Ravagers, will spin out of a crossover between writer Scott Lobdell's Superboy and Teen Titans with writer Tom DeFalco's Legion Lost.
That "teen book" crossover will set up the circumstances that lead to the story kicking off The Ravagers. The title will star a group of teens who get away from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the organization that is central to the new Superboy comic.
The title will be drawn by Ian Churchill, and Mackie pointed out in our interview that it's not the first time the two former Marvel-creators have worked together. But it will be their first time at DC.
Newsarama talked with Mackie to find out more about the new series.
Newsarama: Howard, you've been so associated with Marvel that it's surprising to see you at DC. What got you on board with the publisher?
Howard Mackie: My story is kind of mirrored in many of the readers out there right now in that the New 52 made a fan of me right away. I certainly had seen all the buzz. I actually look at Newsarama several times a day. And I decided to check out the books.
And honestly, I picked up Justice League first and it grabbed me right away. And I think I next picked up the Batman book by Scott Snyder, and that certainly grabbed me. And then I just kept picking up more and more. That led me to Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws, written by somebody who I'd had a passing familiarity with in the past.
And honestly, I just became a genuine fan of the New 52.
I had the opportunity a couple of times to run into Dan DiDio, and we just chatted. He and I had met in the past and have discussed comics. And I think I potentially came across as a little too much of a gushing fan about the 52. But that just led to a series of conversations in which we were talking story and approach and all that, and here we are. Eventually, I received a phone call to help develop this new series.
Nrama: The Ravagers is a name we've heard before in the DC Universe. But does it have anything to do with the characters or concepts that long-time DC fans would identify with the name?
Mackie: I think your best bet is to forget what you think you know as you go into this. There will be some familiar characters, there will be some newer characters, but keeping in mind everything will be through the prism of the New 52.
Without going into too many details, because I think we will be unfolding and revealing more in the coming weeks, I wouldn't want people to assume they know who and what The Ravagers are. A lot of this is going to be explored in the pages of a crossover that's coming up with Teen Titans, Superboy and Legion Lost.
And this series will be coming out of the events in those books.
Nrama: So as you work with Ian Churchill, he's getting to design some new characters with you?
Mackie: Absolutely! We've been going back and forth about several new characters we're bringing to the book.
Nrama: So for these teens, they're under the control of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., but then something changes and then that's where your book takes off, right?
Mackie: Yes. The crossover will be the catalyst for the changes that occur to all these characters. Their situation with N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is changed, but before that change comes for them, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. will come much more into the light. And the readers will have a much better idea of exactly what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is and exactly how extensive it runs through the DC Universe.
Nrama: Can you confirm any of the characters who are in it? Is Ravager herself in it?
Mackie: Again, don't assume that because a character has been called Ravager in the past, that it holds a direct connection to what's going on here. But I will tell you that, as evidenced in the Superboy book, Rose Wilson will be involved in this storyline. I can tell you that much.Nrama: We've seen several characters introduced by Scott in Teen Titans and Superboy, for example Caitlin Fairchild from Gen 13 and other new teen faces, so is that where we should look for hints about who will be in The Ravagers, and what their stories will be? Mackie: If you're reading the books, if you're reading Teen Titans and Superboy, there are certainly some guideposts to the direction the series will take. But it's really not laying it out there. There are a lot of surprises built in, I think.
Nrama: What's the tone of the book going to be? Is this an explosion-filled, action-blockbuster book? Or is it more about the relationships between a group of teenagers who are trying to find their way in life?
Mackie: Exactly! Thank you. [laughs]
Nrama: Both those things, huh?
Mackie: Yeah, there will certainly be some explosions, because this is a comic book story and the nature of the characters, quite frankly. But it is much more about the nature of the teams as they try to find their way.
They have been developed as killers, but they will find themselves in conflict with that. And not all of them will find themselves on the "good" side of the line. As will be revealed there are more characters out there than will be featured in the book, initially.
Nrama: Is it the same sort of thing that we're seeing in Superboy, and what he's going through with N.O.W.H.E.R.E.?
Mackie: There are some similarities, and there are obvious connections with Superboy, but it's not as direct a line as one might assume.
Nrama: But they were raised to be supervillains, right?
Mackie: I wouldn't say they were "raised as supervillains." And this is where there's some separation from Superboy. They were not raised by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. from the beginning. These are characters who have been taken out of their day-to-day lives. And through a series of what some would call experimentation, others would perhaps call it torture, they are then developed to serve a purpose that is negative.
They're fighting machines for somebody who would be classified as a villain. But I don't know that I'd say they were raised to be "villains." They were raised for a specific purpose.
Nrama: Bob Harras has been talking about world-building. With this series, what part of DC are you trying to "build?"
Mackie: With the other books involved in the crossover, we're building the young hero part of the DCU. And the interaction between Scott, Tom and myself along with DC editorial has been extensive, and a real pleasure.
Nrama: How has it been working with Ian Churchill again?
Mackie: Oh, it's been a real pleasure. I worked with Ian many years ago on a project for another company. And it's been a real joy to reconnect with him. And there's quite a bit of back and forth. I like to develop a very close relationship with the artists that I've worked with in the past. And so the development of character and story goes back and forth between the two of us. And Ian is going to have a major role in this book.
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