Since DC rebooted its comic book universe last year, DC Universe Presents has been reintroducing many of the company's slate of characters, revamping them for modern audiences.
In this week's DC Universe Presents #13, writer Marc Andreyko and artist Robson Rocha begin a four-issue story reintroducing Black Lightning and Blue Devil to the DCU, as the two heroes team up for what the publisher is billing as the "Black and Blue."
"It's an urban, supernatural, crime, buddy, superhero book with hints of All the President's Men, sort of," Andreyko said with a smile.
Working directly with editor Eddie Berganza, Andreyko found a way to tie the book to other things going on in the DC Universe — but added, "you'll have to read to find out [how]." This book will also mark the re-introduction of other DC characters to the New 52. "A major bad guy from each of their histories in the old DCU show up to wreak havoc, albeit in newer, deadlier versions," Andreyko said. "And there are a few 'Easter egg' characters too."The writer said he was recruited by DC to write the story during a trip to Disneyland. "I was with Dan DiDio at Disneyland after Wonder Con this year and, while waiting in line for a ride, he mentioned 'black and blue' as a concept," Andreyko told Newsarama. "I mulled it over in my head for a few hours and then asked if i could pitch for it. Dan laughed and said, 'why do you think I brought it up?'"
Since this is the New 52, Andreyko was given some freedom to creatively reintroduce the two characters, but he said he wanted to respect their original incarnations as he tweaked them for the new universe.
"I've always liked the characters," he said, "and the only real note I had pre-pitch was that they needed to be an odd couple team and have some shared history. The details I came up with by figuring out a way to respect the cores of the originals, but make them fresh for a new audience. These guys have a lot that works, so it wasn't change for change's sake."Andreyko said the story in DC Universe Presents brings Blue Devil and Black Lightning together in DC's version of Los Angeles. "Bad things are happening on the streets of L.A., and both of them step up to do something about it, not knowing the other exists," the writer said. "When circumstances place them in a head-on collision with each other, well, as they say 'hilarity, and much more, ensues.'"
Jefferson Pierce, the hero known as Black Lightning, was described by Andreyko as "focused, selfless, a bit arrogant, honorable, headstrong, moral, logical," and "hates magic." Dan Cassidy, also known as Blue Devil, is "snarky, excitable, friendly, an instant gratification sort — and that's before the suit."
"Dan is definitely more happy-go-lucky and Id, while Jeff is logical and Superego," Andreyko said. "Their methods clash as well as their powers. Plus, the past they share shapes their relationship today. Black Lightning needs answers while Blue Devil, more often than not, goes with the flow."As readers can see from the artwork for the four-issue story, the characters have also gone through a visual redesign. While Andreyko said he wasn't involved in the initial designs for Black Lightning and Blue Devil, he did give a few notes "here and there."
"I love the new designs!" he said. "They honor the original designs but really amp up the costumes in a cool, and story relevant, way."
He called Robson's art "amazing. This guy is going to be a superstar. Detailed art, great storytelling, and fast."
Besides the DC Universe Presents story, Andreyko is also doing a four-part Stalker back-up feature for DC's new comic, Sword of Sorcery, starting in issue #4. He's currently writing Vampirella/Dark Shadows, and he hinted at some "creator-owned stuff" he'll be able to announce "very soon."Andreyko also hopes he'll be able to tell more stories for DC about Black Lightning and Blue Devil, because he likes the combination of the characters and hopes readers will too. With that goal in mind, the writer has left a few mysteries about the characters' origins, just in case they get more stories. "Some origin stuff will be revealed, but this is not an origin story per se," he said. "We leave enough mystery that fans will hopefully be clamoring for a monthly 'black and blue' book!
"I have lots of stories for these characters, and I hope they resonate with readers," he said. "I want to tell more of their stories!"
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