In October, inter-dimensional war rages through the DCU as Apokolips invades the monthly Earth 2 series and spawns the new weekly, Earth 2: World's End. Continuing until the end of March, World's End will not only decide the fate of Earth 2, but (according to what readers have seen in DC's five-years-later story, Futures End), the future of the entire DCU hinges on the war's outcome.
Daniel H. Wilson, author of the New York Times best-selling novel Robopocalypse, serves as a sort of "show runner" on World's End, working with writers Mike Johnson and Marguerite Bennett (the latter of which will also be co-writing Earth 2 with Tom Taylor).
The team is getting to revamp many of the characters and concepts of Apokolips while introducing new ones, including an all-new Court of Apokolips and new Four Furies of Apokolips (all designed by fan-favorite artist Phil Jimenez).
And as Apokolips invades, Wilson and his team will get to utilize Earth 2's brand new black Superman, Val-Zod; the new Earth 2 Batman, who's Bruce's father Thomas; the new Red Tornado, who's got the mind of Lois Lane; and Huntress and Power Girl, just returned from Prime Earth after years away from their Earth 2 home.
Readers have already been shown what the DCU will be like if Earth 2 loses its home world, because The New 52: Futures End weekly series takes place in a potential future where the destruction of Earth 2 has already taken place.
But that future isn't set in stone — Earth 2: World's End could see the heroes of Earth 2 victorious over Apokolips, not only saving their own Earth, but changing the future of the whole DCU. (And presumably, the end of World's End in March will lead into the expected event from DC in April 2015).
Newsarama talked to Wilson to find out more about the new characters and concepts he's introducing, what the biggest struggles will be for its main characters, and what readers can expect from Earth 2: World's End.
Newsarama: Daniel, there seems to be a trend lately, particularly at DC, toward exploring alternate versions of characters and earths. There are Batmen from the future, Supermen from other Earths, and every other kind of dimensional traveling characters in between. How much does this series depend on those kinds of concepts?
Daniel H. Wilson: The main characters of our weekly have been pretty well established in the Earth 2 monthly and in Worlds' Finest, but we certainly play with alternate versions of existing characters that we pull into Earth 2 and with the brand new characters that we’ve been cooking up. I see it as part of the world building — this is a different Earth, and it makes sense that we’d see clever new versions of existing people, places, and technology.
Nrama: As we join the heroes and villains of Earth 2 in issue #1, what's the status there? We've seen evil Superman's invasion of Earth over the last few issues of the Earth 2 series. What's happening in issue #1 of World's End to serve as a starting point for the weekly?
Wilson: Earth 2: World’s End #1 is a bonus double issue that uses the first 20 or so pages to catch the reader up on everything that's happened in the Earth 2 monthly. At the same time, those first pages also explain some of what was happening behind the scenes of Earth 2, and it sets up the rest of the weekly series.
Nrama: OK, but let's talk about that set-up a little. We know that villainous characters from Apokolips are invading Earth 2 in the weekly series, and the planet is fighting back. How much are you getting to revamp the pre-existing characters from Apokolips who are invading?
Wilson: We have an all-new Court of Apokolips — the baddies who are watching over Apokolips until Darkseid returns. It was a huge pleasure to watch Phil Jimenez hone those character designs into horrifying (yet very distinct) villainous characters.
Nrama: Any other revamped or new characters from Apokolips that we'll see?
Wilson: Well, I’m the robot guy, so I had to create a robotic character, right? Apokolips is an ecumenopolis with a sprawling city covering its surface, so it makes sense that it would require a lot of maintenance. Rectifier is an insectile robot who commands an army of smaller versions of itself, and oversees the operation and repair of the entire planet.
Nrama: We've seen Phil Jimenez's designs for War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. How would you describe the idea behind the Furies of Apokolips and the role they play — and is one of them pregnant?
Wilson: The Four Furies of Apokolips play a major role in preparing Earth 2 for the armies of Apokolips. Each of them has a unique and horrifying effect on the people around them, and as a team, they are nearly unstoppable. Their backstories tie into the Earth 2 monthly, and Marguerite Bennett really goes in depth there about their backgrounds. We learn where they came from, how they ended up fighting for Apokolips, and yes, even how and why one of them is pregnant!
Nrama: We know there's a new Superman on Earth 2 these days, as Val-Zod is trying to put aside his pacifism to save the world. How would you describe the character, and what kind of themes arise as you're writing a Superman who doesn't like to fight?
Wilson: Val is immensely powerful and he knows it. We can’t really brand him as a pacifist, because what it’s really about for him is being able to control the destructive side of his power. You also have to remember that he hasn’t had a lot of interaction with human beings, and he has seen his home world destroyed. Although Red Tornado (Lois Lane) has played a kind of mothering role for him so far, it will be his interactions with Kara that help him figure out his role in this conflict.
Nrama: Interesting. Now that Kara and Helena have shown up on Earth 2, how does their arrival shape the story of World's End?
Wilson: Kara gets to meet her adopted mother Lois — except, oh yeah, she’s a robot now.
And Helena gets to meet her grandfather, who happens to be a drug addict.
Kara and Hel have depended on each other for five years in another world, and now they return to find their home destroyed. It only strengthens the bond they have, but, well… their friendship will be tested.
Nrama: Yeah, the new Batman is no longer the iconic Bruce Wayne. On Earth 2, he's Bruce's father, and he's had a darker past than his son. What's Thomas like in the weekly, and how does his specific character put a different twist on the normal "Batman fights bad guys" story?
Wilson: Thomas Wayne is a rough, desperate guy who can be focused to the point of selfishness. He is dealing with the loss of his son, while at the same time getting to know his granddaughter. He’s also hiding a Miraclo habit, which gives him the strength to fight but is also an addiction. Despite all of this, he’s a talented surgeon and has the same creative spark and ability to scheme that Bruce had.
Nrama: We've learned that John Constantine plays a role in World's End — presumably the Prime Earth version, since this ties into the regular Constantine title. (The guy seems to be everywhere these days — he's also a key player in the other weekly, Futures End.) With him being from another Earth and being associated with supernatural threats (as opposed to other-worldly ones), why did this character make sense in World's End?
Wilson: The assumption we’re making in the series is that any magic we see is simply a very advanced technology. I enjoyed pulling in John Constantine because he is very mortal — he constantly gets hurt physically and emotionally. He offers a valuable perspective, the way Dick Grayson does, as a relatable character who's experiencing the end of the world, face-to-face, feet on the ground.
Nrama: You mention Dick Grayson — I saw you say in a panel or something that Dick Grayson's playing a role in this series. What can you tell us about Dick of Earth 2 and his role/purpose in World's End?
Wilson: Dick is trying to keep his family together during the end of the world. He gives us the perspective of an ordinary person living through the apocalypse.
Nrama: What other Earth 2 characters play a role? Any emerge as favorites of yours or surprise key characters?
Wilson: My favorite little addition is Dr. Crane. The design of him is amazing.
Nrama: Are you also getting to introduce new characters? Any you want to share or tease?
Wilson: Aside from the Four Furies of Apokolips, who are really just undeniably badass, I really like that I was able to dabble in a little bit of H.P. Lovecraft with the introduction of a character who comes from a deep, dark realm long buried beneath Atlantis.
Nrama: How has it been working with Marguerite Bennett and Mike Johnson? How did you guys end up working on this story together?
Wilson: We’re killing it. I break two issues a week and we script two issues a week. It’s a lot of work, but so far, we've kept this train roaring down the tracks.
Nrama: And yet you're a relative newcomer to comic books. How's it been for you to work on a comic? What's the biggest difference for you?
Wilson: The economy of space creates a fun problem of getting across as much as possible in as little space as possible. Sort of like writing a screenplay.
Nrama: Any chance we'll see you working on other comics in the future?
Wilson: There have been discussions… and I’d love to.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Earth 2: World's End?
Wilson: Thank you for reading! We're scripting the final few issues now, and I have to honestly say that this series reaches a truly epic culmination. If you love the first few issues, my goodness, just wait until the end!