TEAM 7 Writer Talks Team Line-up; Secret History of DCnU
variant coverFor DC comic fans that are enthusiastic about continuity, it's been rather maddening since the 2011 reboot. When most of the "New 52" comics launched, they picked up their stories at some point after the establishment of superheroes in the DCU. So readers don't know everything about their back-story, nor about the history of the DCU.
That will change in September, when not only will many back-stories be told during the publisher's "Zero Month" event, but one new comic will specifically begin telling DCU history.
Team 7, which launches with a #0 issue in September, takes place five years ago, when superheroes first emerged in the DCU. Guided by writer Justin Jordan (The Strange Talent of Luther Strode), the comic's goal will be to reveal the "secret" history of the DCU.
Featuring art by Jesús Merino, the new Team 7 comic is based on a concept that first appeared in the WildStorm universe in the '90s. Now that the WildStorm characters have been absorbed into the DCU, Team 7's black-ops team is being integrated into the universe's history.
Newsarama talked to Jordan to find out what characters are involved with Team 7, when it takes place and what readers can expect.
Newsarama: Justin, on the surface, this seems like a really daunting task for a new writer to the DCU, as you have to tell the history of so many characters who have already been introduced into current comics. How would you describe the "history-telling" job you're doing with Team 7, and how difficult has it been to make all the pieces fit together?
Justin Jordan: Well, it’s interesting, that’s for sure. There’s a definitely a lot of coordination and research that’s had to go on. I’m pretty fortunate that the new DCU continuity has only had 12 months of issues going on, which makes it a lot easier than it would be even another year from now.
The trickiest part, actually, was coordinating the zero issues. The Team 7 #0 isn’t so bad, but we’ve got four main characters who have ongoing series of their own, and the zeroes are largely origin issues, so that took some doing.
But it’s fun. Especially for a new writer like me, it’s very cool seeing the stuff I’ve been coming up with being integrated into the new DCU history. So I am having a good time with it all.
Nrama: As you've been working on this comic since landing the gig, what's the overall mood you've been hoping to establish while working with Jesús' artwork? Is this high-octane action as the latest cover suggests?
Jordan: Yup. I mean, it’s very definitely an adventure type book. What I said to Eddie (Berganza, the editor on the book) was that I wanted to do something that was similar in tone and scope to, say, the Mission Impossible movies, or the Bond movies. Which is what DC wanted, so that worked out.
I’m trying to take advantage of the unlimited budget aspect of comics. So we’re thinking pretty big with the book. This is a bit of change from the original Wildstorm Team 7 books, which were more of the gritty and dirty military fiction idea. I’m trying to keep the feel of the original book while telling a different sort of story.
Nrama: Readers probably know you best as the writer of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, although you're also relaunching Shadowman for Valiant. How has working on those comics informed your approach to Team 7? But how is the approach different?
Jordan: Shadowman is a lot closer to Luther Strode, in terms of writing, because both books feature basically one protagonist and a supporting cast. Team 7, though, is about, well, a team, so I’ve basically got seven main characters going on, and that’s a transition.
What’s sort of interesting is that on all three books, I’m building up a mythology. On Luther, it’s all me, whereas at Valiant and DC it’s got to fit into existing worlds. But working on this stuff that’s going to be a part of the world going forward is pretty cool. Annnnd I’ve gotten pretty far from the original question.
Nrama: That's ok. But let's switch to the story itself. Within the DCU, why was "Team 7" formed? Is this team completely in response to the emergence of superheroes, or is there more to it?
Jordan: Uh, both. Team 7 was basically formed because the U.S. government realized it didn’t have a response to the emergence of superhumans. It’s black swan event, an out of context problem. Imagine if someone nuked a city, and you had no idea that nuclear bombs were even possible, let alone that they existed. Superhumans are like that.
What Team 7 is designed to do is to figure out what the response should be, and what protocols need to be in place to deal with the superhuman problem. This doesn’t mean that their job is to kill superhumans, though, or even to control them. Their job is to figure out what the problems are and what the solutions could be.
Now, having said all that, there’s more to what Team 7 is doing than meets the eye, and that secret part forms the backbone of the book as we move forward. And that part ties into, pretty directly, where a lot of the characters end up in the modern DCU.
Nrama: It's interesting you bring up that there's a "secret" part. The solicitations for #1 indicate there are "secret" wars. How important is the word "secret" to the story you're telling about these characters?
Jordan: Pretty important. Some of that is that there’s stuff going on our characters don’t know about, and may not be happy about when they find out. And some of it is the idea that just as the U.S. government doesn’t know what to do, if anything, with superhumans, neither do the other governments. And you know, being able to get a Superman level person on your side is a game changer that turn a no one even knows it exists country into a global player.
Nrama: You pointed out that you're juggling a team of characters in this comic. What are they like as a team? How would you describe the team dynamic, and what are their greatest challenges?
Jordan: The team is composed of people who are not team players. Everyone who is on the team is very good at what they do; these are world-class operators. But that means there are a lot of egos involved, because when you have a lot of hard charging blue flamer types on one team, you’re looking at a lot of egos.
So goal number one is making the team an actual team, rather than a bunch of people that happen to work together. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that several of the people on the team already know each other and have worked together in the past, so they tend to gravitate towards the people they know rather than the person who might be best at handling whatever particular situation comes up.
Nrama: Creating a team to counteract superheroes implies that their "villains" might actually be known DC heroes. Who exactly are they fighting, or are you getting to play with that a little?
Jordan: Well, there’s a not a lot I can say without getting too spoily. I will say that the sandbox I’m playing in allows for a good bit more than that. Their job is assess and if need be deal with superhuman threats but in the DCU, there are more than a few ways for people to become superhuman, so that changes the game a bit.
Nrama: In the original WildStorm incarnation of this team, the "7" referred to the fact that this was the seventh team the government had formed. Can you say what the "seven" stands for in your upcoming title?
Jordan: Team 7 is one approach for how the government deals with the superhuman problem. But it’s not the only approach. So there are other teams out there, although we might not get to meet them in Team 7.
Nrama: Another challenge of this series must be the fact that we know how it all ends, right? I mean, we know where Dinah ends up, where Amanda ends up, etc. How are you making this an "ongoing" series yet working within the framework of a known ending?
Jordan: Oddly, that’s less of a challenge and more of a bonus. I mean, yes, on one hand, the ultimate fate of some of the character is known and set. On the other hand, even though this is an ongoing series, having that end point in mind allows us to have a definite arc for the characters rather than needing to continue on indefinitely.
Jordan: No ethnicity changes here. Everyone in that promo image is on the team, but everyone on the team is not in that promo image. So trying to match that up with the solicit doesn’t work. Two of the characters in that promo image, for instance, are characters that are more or less brand new to the DCU.
Nrama: Can you clear up who's on that promo image that we saw?
Jordan: Maybe? The promo image depicts Grifter, Dinah, Steve Trevor, Amanda Waller, James Bronson, John Higgins and Lynch.
Who are definitely all on the team. But the team isn’t just seven members, which accounts for the people mentioned in the solicit who aren’t in the image. And there are members who aren’t in either one.
Damn, that sounds confusing. But I’m pretty sure it isn’t, in the book. I hope.
Nrama: You mentioned new characters. Is there anything you can tell us about the role they'll play in the series?
Jordan: Well, there are three new people on the team, so definitely adding some characters. I’m also bring some new villains in, some of who are only new to the New DCU.
Nrama: Can you give a description of each of the team members -- maybe a brief tease about who they are as the series begins and what you're exploring about their evolution into the current New 52? Let's start with Dinah.
Jordan: Dinah at the beginning of the series is a government agent, and a very good one, which is why she’s on the team. Actually Dinah is fairly critical to the formation of the team, which you’ll get to see in issue zero.
Nrama: In Teen Titans, there have been hints about Kurt Lance being associated with Team 7. Will we learn more about him and his history with Dinah?
Jordan: Oh yeah. Lots and lots about that.
Nrama: How about Amanda?
Jordan: When we first meet Amanda, she’s been working as an analyst for the NSA. Her job is look at information and make sense of it, and she’s very much the brain of Team 7.
Nrama: She said in Suicide Squad that she's "changed a lot since the Team 7 days." Is she that different?
Jordan: She’s pretty different. For one thing, in Team 7, she’s far more idealistic and optimistic than the Wall we get to know later. Why she became willing to create something like the Suicide Squad is shown in Team 7.
Nrama: Moving on then... Steve Trevor?
Jordan: Steve is actually one of the characters that changes the least in the book. Out of the group, he’s probably the person who handles what happens to him in Team 7 the best. There’s some trauma, but he’s dealing with it.
Nrama: Will we learn more about the formation of his relationship with Wonder Woman in Team 7?
Jordan: Can’t say.
Nrama: Alright, then what can you say about Slade Wilson?
Jordan: Slade’s experiences on the team make him a lot more cynical and cold than he started out. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Slade in Team 7 isn’t fluffy puppy dog Slade Wilson, but he’s somewhat less of a bastard than he becomes.
Nrama: Will we learn more about his history and the loss of his wife?
Jordan: Definitely more about his history. You want to know about his powers, this would be your book.
Nrama: What about Alex Fairchild?
Jordan: Alex Fairchild is a surprisingly relaxed guy for a mercenary. He’s good at taking things as they come. At first. Team 7 changes that.
Nrama: Do we get to see links to the Caitlin from Ravagers?
Jordan: Yep. He’s her Dad, and Caitlin is actually his impetus for saying yes to the offer to join the team.
Nrama: Interesting. What about Cole?
Jordan: This is Cole in his special forces days, and Team 7 will show you why he left the military and became the Cole we see in Grifter.
Nrama: And John Lynch?
Jordan: Lynch here is pretty damn close to the Lynch from Sleeper, although I don’t hold much hope of me being as good as Ed Brubaker. But Lynch has a pretty long history as a military operator and intelligence guy, with links to several established characters.
Nrama: How about these two other characters you mentioned: James Bronson and John Higgins?
Jordan: James Bronson is a guy with links to an established character, although if you want to know which one, you'll need to read the comic to find out. John Higgins is a friend of Amanda Waller's and an Army Intelligence officer.
Higgins is basically Team 7's field commander, while Bronson is more of a utility player who has a pretty generalized skillset. But both of them are very important to the overall Team 7 arc, in case anybody was worried that the new characters would end up being redshirts.
Nrama: Is there anyone else you want to tease for potential readers?
Jordan: In addition to those fine folks, we’ll also be introducing two other fairly major characters from the Wildstorm universe into the DCU. So keep an eye on that, maybe?
Nrama: Let's talk about the kick-off of the comic, which occurs in September. How would you describe the story we'll see in issue #0? And when is it set?
Jordan: Issue #0 is set just after the initial arc of Action Comics, so five years in the DCU past, and what it’s about is the formation of the team. So it’ll show you why the team was formed, and why the people who are on it are on it. There’s also a good chunk of stuff set up in there that will be important later on.
Nrama: What will we see in issue #1? How would you describe that issue, and can you expand on what "secret wars" means?
Jordan: Issue #1 takes us right into the team’s first mission as a team. Basically, they’re sent into an experimental prison where something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. This starts an arc where we see the introduction of a fairly major character into the New DCU for the first time.
The secret wars part is about Team 7 trying to get ahead in what could be vaguely defined as a superhuman arms race. Worst-case scenario for the team is that someplace like North Korea gets the ability to produce superhumans. You don’t want batsh*t crazy dictators getting that kind of power.
Nrama: What are you hoping to do with the Team 7 comic for the remainder of 2012 and into the next year? What can readers expect to see?
Well, no. I mean, there is violence, but not head-exploding violence.
We’re aiming to do a pretty big, action-packed book. If you’re itching for some badass spy/military action, this will hopefully scratch that itch. The really interesting part is bouncing these characters off of each other and seeing what happens and how that leads them to be the characters they eventually become. Or at least, it’s interesting for me, and I hope that readers feel the same.
Nrama: Will we see anything in this comic that ties into the big DC event next year: Trinity War?
Jordan: Can’t say. Man, I’ve got to come up with a better way to say can’t say.
Nrama: One thing you can say, surely, is what it's been like working Jesús.
Jordan: It's been awesome. I’ve been really fortunate to work with really terrific artists who have done a whole lot to make me look good, and that includes Jesús. He’s been great to work with, and the pages he’s producing for this are jawdroppers.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Team 7?
Jordan: I hope fans of the old book will give it a shot. I know Team 7 was my favorite Wildstorm book back in the day and while the new take on it is a fairly different one, I’m trying damn hard to do justice to older book and get the spirit of the book right.
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