It's common to describe a comic with the term "world-building," but probably nowhere is that more true than the new DC series Earth 2: Society.
Sure, there are plenty of pre-existing characters starring in the book, including the leads heroes in the just-finished Convergence event. But the plot of their new book is all about them building a new world, as Earth 2's residents crash land on the former Convergence planet and start from scratch.
Society is being written by Daniel H. Wilson, who helped craft the Earth 2 World's End weekly. But the author is making it clear that readers will see something a little different in Earth 2: Society than they did in the weekly. Not only does he have more time to explore and let the story breathe a bit — giving some room to regular artist Jorge Jimenez — but Wilson said the story in Earth 2: Society is much more hopeful than the bleak battle in the weekly, in which the heroes lost.
DC's eight-page Sneak Peek for Earth 2: Society had a bit of a surprise — the planet (created from the Convergence planet) is situated in the orbit of a binary star system. One star is yellow and one is red, which doesn't bode well for Kryptonians during half of the day.
The Peek, which took place one year after the events of World's End, revealed that there are new cities on this planet called New Gotham and Neotropolis. And although Val-Zod apparently isn't a costumed hero anymore, Power Girl and Dick Grayson Batman are both trying to stop Huntress, Red Arrow Oliver Queen and Doctor Impossible Jimmy Olsen from enabling a "Genesis Machine."
As Earth 2: Society launches this week, we talked to Wilson to find out more the new book, what the conflict is for the new Earth 2, and why he decided to make the planet part of a binary star system.
Newsarama: Daniel, the Sneak Peek we saw for Earth 2: Society takes place about a year after the events of Convergence created the planet where Earth 2 is set. Does the series also take place a year later?
Daniel H. Wilson: The series jumps back and forth. So every issue, we start out one year later, and then we jump back to, basically, the moment the ships arrive to the new planet. And then at the end, we jump back to the future.
So it's kind of like an episode of Lost, where you see the characters, and then you jump into some backstory and get specifics on how people got to where they are.
This way we get to explore the cities and the society and the culture that has evolved, but we also get to see that inception moment, when everything happened as the society was built.
Nrama: We also found out that this planet is situated in the orbit of a binary star system. That has to be a problem for the Kryptonians, right?
Wilson: Yes! One is a red star and one is a yellow star. Astronomers estimate that at least half the stars that we see at night are actually binary, so it's fairly common to have two stars that orbit each other.
So I thought it would be really fascinating to allow our Kryptonians to live as people. You know, to see what it's like when they don't have power for half the day.
This is after writing the Earth 2 event, where the Kryptonians are obviously super powerful and are capable of almost anything. So I thought it would be really fun to see Val and Kara deal with what it means to be human.
Nrama: We also know from Convergence who the new Batman of Earth 2 is. Since you're doing one year later and jumping into flashbacks, will we see Dick Grayson learning his role as Batman?
Wilson: Yeah, you know, we have been planning on having Dick Grayson take over this mantle from the beginning of Earth 2 World's End, and if you look back you see that he really grows throughout that whole crisis. And that's the crucible that forms Dick Grayson into somebody who's capable of taking on a Batman role.
But he's still a really flawed, just-starting-out sort of Batman. So you'll see that he's not quite as self-assured as the Batman we might be more used to. So it's really fun to watch him grapple with taking on that role.
Nrama: The Sneak Peek revealed that Huntress, Ollie and Jimmy Olsen — who's calling himself Dr. Impossible — are on one side, and some of the other heroes are on the other. Is this a war between heroes? Do the flashbacks show how they got to this point?
Wilson: Yeah. And the point isn't to say one side is good and one's evil. What they're split on is should you adapt to the new place or should you try to go back and make it into what you left behind. I think both of those perspectives are perfectly understandable.
So what we're seeing is, in this quest to build a new society, they have different ideas about what that should look like. And the question is whether they can get through this and create a new world without going to war.
Nrama: Let's back up a moment and talk about the feel of this comic. People have seen your work on Earth 2 with the weekly series, but it was under different circumstances. How would you describe this monthly comic?
Wilson: I definitely learned a lot. Earth 2 World's End was me getting thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool. And I also had other writers I was collaborating with, so I wasn't writing every word of those issues. And with a weekly, there was a lot of plot to cover.
For me, this is my chance to really spread my wings and explore this and have a lot more control over what's going to happen.
And it's great working with just one artist — Jorge Jimenez is doing amazing work.
Overall, the comic — it's more fun. Earth 2 World's End was bleak. This is more hopeful. That said, the characters are grappling with real issues.
And on the highest level, there's a great parallel. These people have just had a world taken away from them, and now they've arrived on a new world, and it looks as though they may be taking it away from somebody else.
I'm going to be exploring — what is this planet? We'll find out more about the planet. I'm not interested in having some sort of existing sentient race that's already here. It's a little more subtle than that. But it's about adapting to a new world, or taking it over with parking lots.
There are a lot of really interesting issues. So I'm really looking forward to making it deep, yet still fun, with some butt-kicking.
Nrama: It looks like you're also doing a lot of world-building?
Wilson: The world building is so much fun. There's so much to cover! We have 12 cities. We have these ships crashing and each forming into its own city and its own culture. Now they have to answer questions like, how do you get sued? How do you punish a criminal? What is that moment when you have civilization? What kind of government are they going to form? What are their values going to be?
Are they going to tolerate heroes after what's happened, after they've seen their world torn apart in these epic battles between super beings? Are they even going to want to have superheroes around?
What's going to happen to the Atlanteans?
There are so many different types of people. So much world-building and so much room to explore on Earth 2.
Nrama: You mentioned your artist briefly. What's Jorge's are bringing to the series?
Wilson: He did the character designs and all the costumes. We're just swapping ideas and thoughts on how all this technological stuff would work.
I have kind of a science background and I'm really interested in the mechanics of a binary solar system — how exoskeletons might work, or how these Generation ships would be set up, and what would happen when they crash. I love to talk with him about all the technological stuff.
But mostly, it's just about me giving him lots of space to create beautiful art. One of my first drafts, I had a lot of plot going on, because I was just so used to that break-neck World's End pace, and everybody kind of said, hey, let's settle down and let Jorge do his thing. Let's give him lots of space to create some really beautiful panels.
So we really slowed it down, and I'm so glad I did. I'm just blown away.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Daniel, is there anything else you want to tell potential readers about Earth 2: Society?
Wilson: Just that we're going to get to everyone's favorite characters.
Each issue, we're going to delve deeply into the background of one character, in the flashbacks, while kind of pushing forward the overall story.
I have plans for everybody's favorite characters, and I'm really looking forward to getting into a new character every month and really just building up a convincing world, and exploring what happens as they build this new society.