Writer/artist Aaron Lopresti describes his re-imagining of Metamorpho as a character "for everyone," with "all of the silliness and goofiness of the character gone."
The character's story is launching this week in DC's anthology series Legends of Tomorrow, a six-issue title that is capitalizing on the popularity of the TV show of the same name. Lopresti is both writing and drawing Metamorpho, touching on his origin and cleaning up some of his history with a new approach.
Lopresti's Metamorpho will share the Legends of Tomorrow issues with three other stories: Len Wein and Yildiray Cinar's Metal Men, Gerry Conway and Eduardo Pansica's Firestorm, and Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely's Sugar & Spike. Newsarama talked to Lopresti about his take on Metamorpho and learned the story has "big implications down the line in the DCU."
Newsarama: Aaron, what about this character interested you in writing a Metamorpho story?
Aaron Lopresti: I have always liked the weird, oddball DC characters the best. Metamorpho has this difficult balance of being sort of half man and half monster that I find appealing. I've always loved monsters as well as superheroes, so working on a character that embodies both of those aspects made him really attractive to me.
Also, I was never satisfied with his origin or his relationship with Sapphire Stagg. Neither one made much sense or was particularly believable to me. Getting to work out those storylines sealed the deal for me.
Nrama: Where — and who — is Metamorpho in this story? What's his status quo now?
Lopresti: That is too loaded of a question, considering the heart of this story arc addresses those issues. The story takes place in current DC continuity and by the end, the table will be set for Metamorpho to move into the DCU as a regular full-time player.
Nrama: OK, then what's the basic premise of the story?
Lopresti: The story begins with Rex Mason already in his Metamorpho incarnation. He's being held captive by Simon Stagg because Stagg wants to learn the secrets of his power. Metamorpho wants those same answers but for different reasons.
It’s a big adventure with Metamorpho’s origins as the catalyst.
Nrama: You mentioned Sapphire Stagg. Will we learn more about their relationship and other mysteries about this characters?
Lopresti: His relationship with Sapphire Stagg is very different than in past incarnations and is the real heart of the story. She's been completely re-imagined as a bio-chemist that works for her dad. She is the dumb blonde socialite no more.
We finally learn the secrets of the Orb of Ra, where it came from and how and why it transformed Rex Mason into Metamorpho. Not to mention aliens, monsters and major battles.
Nrama: Anything you can reveal about other characters we'll get to know in your story?
Lopresti: Simon Stagg is his evil self, except maybe more so. His role in society is more on the lines of a Lex Luthor than a goofy millionaire as seen previously. Java is there as well, but he's much more fleshed out, although he still fills the role as Rex Mason/Metamorpho’s foil.
Nrama: What's it been like drawing from your own story? How do you approach the combination of both writing and drawing?
Lopresti: I enjoy writing and drawing much more than just drawing a book. I can make changes to the story while drawing if I find something works better visually than I had first imagined as the writer.
Nrama: Do you draw from a script?
Lopresti: Yeah, I write a finished script before I start drawing, but the door is open for adding or subtracting as I go along. The challenges are shoe-horning your vision into the confines of the company vision for the character. There was a lot of give and take in the early stages of the project but it has been pretty smooth sailing since that point.
Nrama: Let's talk about your art. What's your approach to drawing the character? And did you run into any challenges as you tried to draw such a malleable character?
Lopresti: I used Bart Sears approach from Justice League Europe as starting point. Dan DiDio and I both liked Bart’s bulky powerful take on the character. I used a little bit of Tom Raney’s facial design from the Outsiders as well. Then I went in and did a little studying of the elements that make up the human body so I could design the character to more accurately fit that mold.
I didn’t want a redesign that didn’t look like the original character because then it would lose its appeal to me. I just streamlined his look so that, again, it made more logical sense.
Trying to figure out exactly what he can do with his body without it getting silly was and is the challenge for me.
Nrama: This character has been handled a lot of different ways in the past, and you mentioned how silly it can be. How would you describe the style of your story about Metamorpho?
Lopresti: I’m playing this as straight superhero drama. All of the silliness and goofiness of the character are gone. We deal with the real issues of Rex Mason struggling with what he has become and how he fits in the world as Metamorpho. It’s an adventure story that takes Metamorpho down paths he has never gone before.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Aaron, is there anything else you want to tell potential readers about your Metamorpho story for Legends of Tomorrow?
Lopresti: I really think this is the Metamorpho for everyone. Old readers will like the familiar but fresh approach to the character and readers new to the character will find this to be very entertaining story with an emotional core that really draws you in.
I also think it’s important to note that this story has big implications down the line in the DCU. It may be about Metamorpho, but it leads to much bigger things.