Marvel Comics brought Ruse and Sigil back with well-received returns in March, and this August will go for the CrossGen revival hat trick by debuting a reimagined Mystic.Running for 43 issues starting in 2000, Mystic was one of the original CrossGen's most popular titles. The fantasy tale, created by Ron Marz and Brandon Peterson, centered around the relationship between sisters Genevieve and Giselle. Those two characters are back for the new four-issue miniseries, though they've been completely reinvented by writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and artist David Lopez (Hawkeye & Mockingbird, Fallen Angel). This version of Mystic takes place in a city called Hyperion, where Genevieve and Giselle learn the "Noble Arts" in order to help keep their unique world turning — which has the unfortunate side effect of hastening the fateful conflict between the siblings. Newsarama talked via phone with Wilson about Mystic, discussing why she was attracted to the series, what's been retained from the original comic, the meticulous design work of Lopez and the task of "toning down the cheesecake considerably." For plenty more sketches and concept art, check out the "Related Images" gallery on the right. Newsarama: Willow, the first question I want to ask is kind of an obvious one, but since you're working on the Marvel revival of Mystic, was the original series something you were pretty familiar with before you started work on this book?
G. Willow Wilson: I came into it pretty new. Back when the CrossGen stuff was big I was more into Vertigo, back in the late '90s and early 2000s. I didn't read it the first go-around, so I was going back to the original material kind of with fresh eyes, and getting a totally new perspective on it.
Nrama: So far in the CrossGen revival, there's been Ruse, which has the same original writer and main characters and concept, and Sigil, which was pretty much a complete reinvention. Mystic seems kind of in between those two — is that fair to say?
Wilson: That's fair to say. We took the very barest bones of the original concept and created an entirely new world around it. Giselle and Genevieve are still there, but they've been absolutely reimagined and put in a completely new fictional world. I think the appeal will be a little bit more general than the original series was, I think the characters are a little bit more accessible than big cleavage stuff going on.
Nrama: I definitely associate the original series with being a little cheesecake-y.
Wilson: We've toned down the cheesecake considerably, so now we've got two female characters who I actually think will appeal to females, so that's a step in the right direction.
Some of the very general concepts are there, and some of the original characters are there, but they've been totally reimagined.
Nrama: One of the appeals of the original CrossGen line was that it branched out into genres that you didn't see often in comics. The first Mystic series was kind of a sword-and-sorcery thing. What kind of direction are you going with this one?
Wilson: It sort of straddles an interesting line between high fantasy and steampunk. The way that Jeanine Schaefer, who's the very wonderful editor on the series, describes it is "Mean Girls goes to Hogwarts." The basic gist is that Giselle and Genevieve are these two orphan girls living in this fictional world called Verne, which is powered by this kind of retro aether-powered technology that requires these very arcane mystical skills, referred to as "the Noble Arts," to manipulate and to build. They've taught themselves these Noble Arts in secret, which they're not supposed to do, and they kind of get tossed into the middle of this society; which is on the verge of revolution, and has all kinds of weird stuff going on, and there are giant aether-powered robots. It's a ton of fun.
There's definitely a high fantasy element there, but there's also some retro-tech stuff going on, too.
Nrama: Which, given some of your past work, sounds right up your alley.
Wilson: Yeah, absolutely. I was really excited to have a chance to work on a series like this that was entirely set in a different world, as opposed to most of the stuff that I've done, which is very much grounded in reality in some form or another. This is just a real breath of fresh air for me, and a very fun departure from some of the political stuff that I normally do.
Nrama: So coming into this, did Marvel have an idea of the basic direction they wanted to go in, or was it a matter of, "Hey, here's this property, what do you want to do with it?"
Wilson: Jeanine had already come up with a very broad outline of a direction that she wanted to go in, in terms of the relationship between the two main characters, and what the backdrop would be in terms of the story. I had a definite direction to go in, and I sort of built out from there.
Nrama: One thing I always wonder about with a revival like this, if you are going to change so much from the source material, why not just start fresh and call it something else? What is it that's still that's worth retaining the name? Is it the relationship between Genevieve and Giselle?
Wilson: In this case, yeah. There are hat tips to certain things in the original series, the most obvious ones being the two main characters. They've been reimagined, but they've retained certain elements of the original characters, albeit in a vastly different setting. It's an interesting question, and almost a philosophical one that I can't quite answer.
The thing about comics is, in a sense there's this constant reinvention that has to go on in order to keep things current, and relevant, and accessible to the audience of the moment. Presumably, you want to keep some kind of name recognition going so that people who were fans of the original series will come back and take a look, if for no other reason than to totally lambast it and tear it apart, which is a time-honored tradition in the comics industry.
Nrama: I definitely wanted to ask about the work of David Lopez, who seems like a bit of an inspired choice from this series, given that he's mainly known for superhero work.
Wilson: He is awesome. I had never worked with him before, so I didn't know what to expect, and I was just blown away when we were doing background development for the series. I sent him three or four pages of notes on what I thought the world should look like, and kind of what was going on, and what the city that this is set in should be like. He just took that and absolutely ran crazy with it, and made very, very intricate maps and detailed sketches of all these different places, and all these different people who would be in the background. It's been really, really great working with him and we've got a great team, a great colorist and a great inker, and it's just been a real, real treat to work with these guys, because the final product is absolutely jaw-dropping. The backgrounds are incredibly detailed, the art is really fresh, the colors are unbelievable, and I think people are going to be really, really pleased with the visual appeal of the comics, whether or not they were fans of the original series.
Nrama: One thing about the original CrossGen is that most of the books, even though they were diverse and took place on different planets and timelines, were all sort of loosely connected. It seems like that's not the case with the current CrossGen titles, though.
Wilson: If they do anything like that, it's going to be after the fact. We certainly weren't given any parameters to work with, in terms of "Well, keep in mind that this is going to have to connect to this."
Nrama: Between this and Sigil, it definitely seems that the CrossGen books are aiming a bit more at a female-friendly audience.
Wilson: It does seem that way. I know that was one of our goals working on Mystic, was to kind of open up the audience a little bit, and maybe bring in some of the female readers who maybe wouldn't pick up a book that was kind of obviously aimed at the cleavage-oriented audience, for which some of these sword and sorcery epics are intended, who maybe want female characters who are a little more relatable. I'm hoping that it does get more female readers, and male readers as well, because there's certainly plenty of action and slam-bang and all of the stuff that everybody likes to read in comics.Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think! More from Newsarama on CrossGen: <li> Mark Waid Talks Returning to RUSE After 10 Years <li> Mike Carey Mixes SIGIL with EL CAZADOR in CrossGen Revival <li> Former CROSSGEN Creators Speak Out on Marvel's Announcement