As Steve Orlando kicks off a five-issue run on Wonder Woman this week, the writer is starting with an "overture" in issue #51 - a one-issue story he calls a "thesis statement" on who his Wonder Woman is.
After that, Orlando's next four issues will incorporate the old Wonder Woman villain Tezcatlipoca, whom he's giving what he calls a "fresh coat of paint." The story will also feature Aztek, a character Orlando helped re-establish as a new female character in the DCU during his recent Justice League of America run.
Orlando's five-issue Wonder Woman run immediately follows that a run by James Robinson. Following Orlando's run, the series will participate in a crossover event by James Tynion IV ("The Witching Hour") before finally getting a new regular creative team, G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord.
This week's #51 features art by Laura Braga before Orlando starts working with artists Aco and Raul Allen. Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about his plans for the character and her guest stars during his run.
Newsarama: Steve, I think we've talked before about Wonder Woman being one of your favorite characters. Is this kind of a dream come true for you, to write the character?
Steve Orlando: Oh, absolutely. Wonder Woman has been an important character, honestly, since I was younger and watching reruns of the show during the daytime, the live action show. And I also just remember being so excited when she finally joined the Justice League. When they finally debuted that show, they did, like, a primetime premiere and I was dissecting every moment.
So she's someone who's been on my mind for a long time, especially the George Pérez run, which was just coming out when I started reading.
And to be able to visit her for a little bit and tee things up for James and then Willow — I just could not be more excited to do that.
Nrama: You kick off with this week's issue. This is just a one-issue story to start with #51, right? Then you've got a longer story for the next few issues?
Orlando: Yeah, I'm sort of calling issue #51 the overture. It's a single-issue story that I wrote that I thought would really set the tone. And if you wanted one story that shows who Diana is, this is who she is. This is the thesis statement in many ways.
And then once we set the tone, we dig in for a story from issue #52-55, and that's our blockbuster.
Once we know the strength of Diana's compassions, we need someone who will test her and show the strength of her convictions.
And that's what's going to be happening in the final four issues of my run.
Nrama: That storyline features Aztek. How does that character fit with this story?
Orlando: I wanted to assure her place in the DC Universe after bringing Aztek back in Justice League of America. And I would have killed for more time to work with her on that book. So when I had the opportunity to tell this story and bring together items and concepts from Wonder Woman's past, looking at Wonder Woman's relationship with Tezcatlipoca, who she fought before Crisis on Infinite Earths, right toward the end of her original run... that was almost too much to pass up.
We needed a way to justify Aztek being in the book and this was it, a villain from Wonder Woman's past that could also use a fresh coat of paint.
And also, this just shows the influence that Diana has on up-and-coming heroes. I made a point of this in Supergirl too, where Supergirl herself is a hero, but she looks up to Diana and brings her up during one of her arguments with Cat Grant to show that even in a world of heroes, Diana's someone that other heroes look up to.
So I think having Aztek, who's relatively new to this field, is the perfect counterpoint for that.
Nrama: And you have Artemis in here, who is probably coming at this from a completely different direction?
Orlando: Yeah, for Artemis, it's essentially nauseating to buy what Diana's selling, at least at the outset. But we'll see where they end up when my run is done.
Nrama: You mentioned wanting to put a "fresh coat of paint" on some characters that are already known, and DC just announced that you'll be on a new Electric Warriors title that plays with some Jack Kirby concepts. Is that more of the same approach?
Orlando: Yeah, I like to think of existing continuity and characters as an on-ramp. Like, DC continuity and DC lore is this sort of scenic super-highway. And you need an on-ramp. Maybe it's Aztek. Maybe it's the history of Artemis. Maybe it's the first appearance in a long time of Tezcatlipoca.
We push these concepts forward and refresh them and re-present them and then invite you to investigate more and look to the future, digging into the richness of the past 75-plus years of DC Comics.
So that's the way I look at these things. It's not enough that I love them. I have to show you why I love them, and hopefully it inspires you to do your own research. Hopefully you find characters you love that I haven't talked about, because that's what happened to me. I had my own on-ramp into this world to explore, and you can tour it at your leisure, but there's so much there to see and explore. So when I write these stories, character is first, and then after that, I just want to invite you into this world that, you know, as a creator, I'm incredibly lucky to be part of.