When writer Tom Taylor's first issue of Earth 2 came out earlier this month, it was obvious that the story wasn't going to slow down just because the comic had a new writer.
By the time Earth 2 #17 ended, Green Lantern was missing, Superman was about to destroy the world, and a brand new Batman was releasing criminals from Arkham Asylum.
And in one of the more surprising character revamps of Earth 2, the new robotic Red Tornado was revealed to have to have the consciousness of — spoilers! — Lois Lane.
It may sound like everything is turned upside down, but that's the benefit of having an "alternate" universe to play with, like the one Taylor has been given in Earth 2. The Australian writer took over the comic after the departure of former writer James Robinson, although he's getting to work with the artist who launched the comic — Australian artist Nicola Scott.
Taylor came to the job on Earth 2 after already establishing his skills at telling an "alternate universe" story with DC's digital-first series, Injustice: Gods Among Us. The hugely successful video game tie-in comic is currently on hiatus, but returns in January.
Newsarama talked to Taylor to find out more about the developments in his first issue of Earth 2 — but to also find out what's coming up in the ongoing series, as well as January's Earth 2 Annual and return of Injustice
Newsarama: Tom, let's just start with the choice to resurrect Lois Lane as a new version of Red Tornado. What were your thoughts behind resurrecting Lois this way?
Tom Taylor: I had two big reasons for bringing Lois into our story.
The first reason was a little selfish, if I'm being honest. As a very big fan of Superman and Lois Lane, having to bring about her death in Injustice was the hardest thing I've ever had to write.
There's a term called ‘fridging’, coined by my friend Gail Simone, for when a woman dies as a plot point. The concern is that their life becomes inconsequential. It's all about the man's suffering and how it effects him.
I'm very aware of this. It was something we came under a lot of criticism for.
I tried very hard to celebrate Lois and to show her at her best in Injustice, before her tragic demise. Whenever Superman talks about her, he talks about the life they lost together. He acknowledges the person she was. She isn't dead and then forgotten.
The first thing I wanted to do on Earth 2 was 'unfridge' Lois Lane. If you look at the first page Red Tornado appears on, Nicola Scott and I actually have her coming out of a large blue, steaming refrigeration unit.
Nrama: Oh my gosh!
Taylor: We thought this was pretty appropriate.
Nrama: I'd say! But surely this is also about the fact that Superman is the villain of the story right now, as this brainwashed "Brutal" character?
Taylor: Which brings me to the second reason for bringing her back, the actual story reason. While evil bastard Superman is out there killing and maiming and destroying, I wanted Lois to exist as the counterpoint to this. She's the beating heart at the center. She's the good Ying to Superman's evil Yang. Where there's Lois, there's hope.
Nrama: Is there still a man inside the monster? Is that part of the story?
Taylor: You'll just have to wait and see.
Nrama: Obviously, you've written Superman as a villain before. How is this different from what you were exploring in Injustice?
Taylor: With Injustice, I was adamant from day one that Superman wouldn't suddenly snap and "be evil." I didn't want the death of Lois to suddenly change Superman overnight. You can still understand Superman's actions in Injustice. He's still trying to do the right thing by the world, in his mind. It wasn't "Lois is Dead," "Naaargh!," "I cackle maniacally and throw kittens into the sun now!"
In Injustice, Superman is a tortured, besieged man trying to keep it all together as it falls apart. In Earth 2, Superman has gone all the way. He works only for Darkseid and worships him. He's a zealot.
Nrama: You've also got a new Batman, whom you inherited from the last writer. What can you tell us about how you'll be exploring his story? And as long as we're talking about inheriting the book, what was that transition like?
Taylor: It's been great. Our editor, Mike Cotton, has told us from day one to make this book our own. While a lot has been established on Earth 2, what happens from now on is completely in our hands. While I think Earth 2 will go on go play a very big part in the DC Universe, there's no agenda or pre-established plot we're working towards at this stage.
This means Nicola and I get to mold a new Batman, a very different Batman to any we've seen before.
Wait until the end of issue #18. You'll see.
And, as a fan, being asked to create Batman's origin in the Earth 2 Annual in January is ridiculous.
Nrama: We just saw in issue #17 that this new Batman released the "criminals and madmen." How does that inform the tone of the book going forward? Will we see some villains turn hero when they're given the right opportunity, fighting against Brutal?
Taylor: The holding facility beneath Arkham, and some of those imprisoned there, will be a very big part in issue #18, but I don't want to spoil what's coming.
Nrama: The art showed Joker in stasis. Will we see Batman working alongside some of his own rogues, like the Joker? And will those villains know this is a different man inside the suit?
Taylor: We may just see the Joker in issue #18.
Nrama: You gave a clue to the new Batman's secret identity — he has been both a criminal and a madman. You mentioned that January's annual tells his origin story. Will you continue to drop clues about his identity until then?
Taylor: There will be clues along the way, but the final reveal, and his origin, will take place in the Earth 2 Annual. It's a story I'm really happy with, and Robson Rocha on pencils, and Scott Hannah on inks, have done a beautiful job on this book.
Nrama: Dr. Fate's ramblings — surely, this was a prophesy? Is it something that will take awhile to play out? What I mean is, how long have you planned out for your story in Earth 2, and how long do you see it taking until the payoff of the prophecy?
Taylor: You should certainly pay attention to Dr. Fate's ramblings. As far as payoff, I believe in not leading people on too long, but I also like to play the long game. Some of his words will make sense immediately; some may not make sense for a year. Pay attention.
Nrama: We didn't see Green Lantern your first issue. What can you tell us about his story going forward?
Taylor: Well, it looks like he fell in the fire of Dherain. Who knows if he even has a story going forward...?
Nrama: Oh man, now you have me worried. You really inherited a dark world, didn't you? Has it been a challenge?
Taylor: The hardest part about writing on Earth 2 is just how scarred it is. It’s a world that’s been beaten and hasn’t had time to repair. It seems like an entire planet that is just reeling. My job is to find a way to have them stop simply reacting and to take the power back.
Nrama: How has it been working with Nicola Scott?
Taylor: Working with Nic is brilliant. As well as being one of the best superhero artists working in comics today, she and I are good friends, and we’re both pretty excited to be given the chance to shape such a big book together. Knowing each other as we do, we don’t have to tiptoe around each other. There’s an honesty you can have immediately. Also, she swears a lot in emails. This is so damn refreshing.
Nrama: What else is Tom Taylor working on besides Earth 2? Any other projects you want to talk about?
Taylor: Well, obviously there’s Injustice: Year 2. This book is quickly becoming something on a much larger scale than year one. There are so many big things coming in this book. Earth is changing, and the universe is starting to take notice.
?My creator-owned series, The Deep, is flying along, and the CG-animated series is also in development with Technicolor. I'm loving developing our multiracial family for the screen. It's hard to describe how amazing it is to have characters that once only existed in your head walking and talking.
If you haven’t checked out The Deep, the first volume, "Here Be Dragons," is now on comiXology as well as print, and the second graphic novel is available in print.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming in Earth 2? Any final hints you can provide?
Taylor: I’ll just leave you with the nonsensical ramblings of Doctor Fate.
Angel in the slaughter.
The Queen. The Criminal. The resurrected hope. The alien.