It's hard to believe DC's Earth 2 series has barely been around two years, because by the end of 2014, its characters are set to play a central role in several of the publisher's highest profile books.
In the October-launching weekly Earth 2: World's End, characters from the alternate Earth will be confronted by the possible end of their world. Concurrently, DC is showing readers the aftermath of the disaster in the weekly series The New 52 — Futures End.
For Tom Taylor, who's been writing Earth 2 since last November, the challenge now becomes how to navigate the excitement of the weeklies while still keeping readers connected to their favorite Earth 2 characters — like Green Lantern Alan Scott, the new Superman Val-Zod, and the fan-favorite new character Aquawoman.
He'll have help with the monthly beginning in October, as he's joined by co-writer Marguerite Bennett. The two will tie Earth 2 into the events of the weekly World's End, but will make the monthly story more personal and character-focused.
Taylor was originally listed as one of the co-writers on the weekly series, but his name was more recently absent from the creative team. Fans have wondered if he, too, left the comic in a similar fashion to Paul Levitz, who said he "didn't feel [the weekly] was the right use of his skill set.
But Taylor is still working on the hugely popular video game tie-in comic Injustice: Gods Among Us, which is back to a weekly format, and now he's also launching the just-announced Superior Iron Man comic for Marvel.
So what happened to the weekly gig? How is the new Superman, Val-Zod, going to battle Kal-El in next month's issue? And what happens with Power Girl and Huntress come home? Newsarama talked to Taylor to find out more about recent events in Earth 2 and what's coming up next.
Newsarama: Tom, there's been quite a reaction from fans about the teaser that said a bunch of people are going to die on Earth 2 during World's End. You must be flattered by the fact that people really don't want these characters to die, most of whom you've created or developed extensively. What do you think of the reaction you've seen?
Tom Taylor: I think it's the most flattering thing any writer can hear, is that people don't want their characters to die. That's definitely a plus, in my book.
Nrama: And they haven't even been around that long.
Taylor: Yeah, but I think people have really connected with them. Characters like Alan Scott, he has a massive following; Aquawoman, for some reason, has been a huge breakaway hit with a lot of fans; and particularly Val-Zod — the reaction to him from fans has been so great to see. It's great to see a character that can inspire hope and be a pacifist and be so innocent and still be so embraced by the community.
Nrama: Let's talk about Val-Zod, because this last issue, we saw his origin and learned a little more about him and saw him motivated to save the world. Can you clarify something from his origin? When he was rocketed away from Earth 2's Krypton, he mentioned that he was in one rocket, Kal-El was in another, and then Kara, or Power Girl, was in the third rocket. But then he said, "and another…" Were there three rockets, or four?
Taylor: There were four.
Nrama: So there's still another Kryptonian out there.
Taylor: There is another one out there. Who knows if they made it?
But there's definitely four.
Nrama: Getting back to Val-Zod, what were you implying that he saw in Dr. Fate's helmet? And why the choice to not show it?
Taylor: I think he says it when he takes off the helmet and he says he doesn't want to be the orphan of two worlds. I think you can sort of surmise what he saw there, without us needing to show too much.
Partly, it's because I think it's nice and elegant to do it that way. Partly, it's because we had 30 pages and over 30 characters, to get our origin across. So part of it was because I wanted to do it that way, and part of it's because we didn't have any more pages to do that anyway.
I liked what Jimmy said in response, that he had this speech that he was going to inspire the hell out of him with, and really motivate him. And Val-Zod's like, yeah, sorry… magic helmet. That's the thing that did.
And I think Jimmy, too, has been such a great character. People have really responded well to him. He's fun, you know? Anyone who can spank Batman like that has a place in people's hearts.
And I think the fact that Val isn't grim and dark and gritty — you know, he doesn't want to tear the whole world down like everybody else around him — really puts him in a different place, too. And in a similar fashion, Lois as well. Obviously, there's more that she's prepared to do. She's a realist.
But having such a wide-eyed innocent who really just wants to help is great.
Nrama: I think the last time we'd talked, I'd asked you about having to write Superman as a jerk in more than one comic, but you had mentioned that you had hope for another Superman. So it's interesting that Val-Zod's so not a jerk.
Taylor: There you go, yeah. I knew there was another one coming. I just couldn't tell anyone. I was like, "don't worry! It's not going to be evil dick Superman all the time! There's another one coming, and he's lovely!"
Nrama: Looking at who Val is, and how determined Clark is — see, I can't even call him Clark, especially after what he did to Pa Kent.
Taylor: Yeah, that was the moment. It was kind of funny; there were all these people tweeting at me saying, hey, he's going to be redeemed, right? And I was like, oh, there's going to be this moment where you're going to realize there's no redemption for this guy.
It's just about the worst thing I've ever written.
Nrama: It was pretty bad. But what I'm getting at is this showdown between the two Kryptonians. Can you describe where each of these characters are coming from, and how that will influence the confrontation?
Taylor: Well, regardless of what Val-Zod has seen, his heart is still the same. He's not going to be heading up to fight evil Superman with the intention of beating him up. That's not who he is. He's still a pacifist at heart.
Nrama: That's so unusual for a comic book character.
Taylor: Yeah, it's not something we've see a lot in superhero comics. It's really interesting that superheroes — and I think I've made this clear in Injustice; I had Captain Atom talk to Superman at one stage and saying, you now, why is it we have all these abilities and all these powers, and every time we come together, we just want to punch each other in the face? Whereas with Val, he doesn't.
He's still going to try to reason with him, or try to still get through to him with words, which may not sound that exciting. But I promise you that there's something coming up in #26 which should blow people away.
Nrama: I wanted to also ask about where Beguiler went. I assume that was the Speed Force?
Taylor: You can assume that. She was pushed into infinity.
I will say… I tend to think, once you write something ambiguous, as a writer, I like how, if readers want to put their own spin on something — if they want it a certain way, that's fine. And I don't always want to spell it out.
To me? I think it probably was the Speed Force. It's in the Flash mythology. Even though our Flash, even though Jay Garrick was given his powers by a god, I still think it makes sense for him to be connected to the Speed Force in some way, because the god would have been connected.
And so pushing her into that, I just thought, was an amazing thing, and his discovering it at that point in time and realizing that that's what he could do, was kind of a huge moment for him.
Nrama: What issue will we see Supergirl and Robin (now known as Power Girl and Huntress) returning? I think Supergirl is on the cover of #26, so is it happening in that issue?
Taylor: It's not really. It's on the cover, but really, it's just sort of bubbling under the surface. They'll truly return as World's End begins. That's where it's all going down.
I've actually been working on the first issue of the monthly with Marguerite Bennett, and we're hitting on a lot of that stuff.
So we're telling stories with Huntress and Batman, and it's all exciting. I mean, throwing those two together for the first time — a granddaughter who doesn't now her grandfather's alive, and a grandfather who probably thought his granddaughter was gone too.
There's some really powerful emotional stuff there, as well as just moments of supreme awkwardness.
Nrama: So #26 is the showdown that includes Green Lantern, Val-Zod and Kal-El?
Taylor: It's everybody. It's absolutely everybody. This is the big showdown. Lois will be there, Superman will be there, Kal-El will be there, Jay Garrick will be there, Alan Scott will be there, Aquawoman will be there, Batman is there — this is the big ending.
Nrama: The ending before World's End. Now we need to clarify something here, because you were listed as one of the writers on World's End. Are you still co-writing the weekly?
Taylor: No, no, I never really was. It's just that the monthly is tied to the weekly.
What we're doing with the monthly — because the weekly's going to go at this sort of break-neck pace, with this cast of thousands. And it's this huge, intense thing that they've crafted.
And they're doing just a fantastic job on it.
So what we're doing is we're taking the monthly to step back and tell more personal, intimate, smaller tales set in World's End, so that we can step back and say, hey, let's do an issue about Batman and Huntress set in all of this, let's do a story about Alan Scott set in all of this.
They're big stories, but on a smaller scale, and really deep character moments that will help drive the rest of World's End as well.
Nrama: Do they work within the timeline of World's End? For example, the week we get both World's End and Earth 2, it goes together — it's not necessarily like a crossover, where one comes before the other?
Taylor: Yeah. I mean, they can go together. I think it will probably end up being that you're better off reading World's End before the monthly. But they will absolutely compliment each other. That's the whole idea.
That's why I'm "writing" World's End, because the monthly is part of it.
Nrama: And then Marguerite is co-writing with you — the main reason for that is because she's involved with the weekly?
Taylor: Yeah, because she's involved in the weekly, and because I'm writing a TV series and doing another project, and Injustice is going weekly as well. And I only have one brain.
Nrama: OK, then to finish up, can you just give a general tease about what people are going to see over the next few months of Earth 2 until the weekly series ends in March 2015?
Taylor: Honestly, we don't want to tease it. In the month, you're going to see very personal stories. You're going to see big shifts for characters, but more personal shifts.
Big things are going to happen in Alan Scott's life, for instance. Big things are going to be happening for Power Girl and for Val-Zod. And for Lois.
I mean, Val and Power Girl — it's very likely that they knew each other, back on Krypton. Lois was Power Girl's mother for a time.
There are all of these relationships, the fractured relationships, that are coming together. And where they go from there is going to be absolutely worth watching, and worth reading.