As DC heads toward their Flashpoint event this summer, one rising star at DC Comics is reviving a beloved Grant Morrison concept and fan-favorite team from the past.
Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown, the three-issue mini-series by Jeff Lemire and Ibraim Roberson, starts next week with a roster of characters taken from Weird War Tales and Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series. Starring the Creature Commandos and Morrison's Frankenstein character, the series also has some new faces among its cast.
Lemire has gotten a lot of attention since he debuted at DC Comics last year. His work on Superboy has won the title an Eisner nomination, although it isn't the first for the writer, who also earned nods for Sweet Tooth and Essex County.
Now he's tying up loose ends with Superboy, and while he has confirmed for Newsarama that he'll still be working with DC in September, he hasn't said what he'll be writing.
Until then, Lemire's fans can get an extra dose of his work in Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown, which kicks off next week. Newsarama talked with Lemire to find out more about the book.
Newsarama: Jeff, readers of your other comic work are familiar with the type of quirky fun you have with unusual characters. How would you describe what you're doing with the Creature Commandos in this book?
Jeff Lemire: It starts off as this really fun, pulpy World War II adventure comic with monsters. And then, without giving anything away, halfway through the first issue, it shifts dramatically into something completely different.
It turns out being like a road movie, as these four monsters are on the run from the military, trying to stay alive.
And it has implications for the bigger Flashpoint story as well.
Nrama: We've seen so much of this alternate universe, so I assume how the Creature Commandos came to be is a little different from the regular DCU?
Lemire: Yeah, their origin is a little different, but the real point of Flashpoint is that the characters are not different people. It's not like Batman popped up in the 1920s. They're the same people, and they came around at the same time, but circumstances around them were so different that they were changed by it.
In Frankenstein's case, it's the same character that Grant Morrison brought into the DCU. It's just that circumstances of the world are different. Whereas in the regular DCU, he was awakened during modern times in the Seven Soldiers storyline, it's different in the Flashpoint universe. He was actually awakened in 1942, during World War II. He is driven to root out evil, and he becomes a war hero.
But this changes the course of the war, and it changes a lot of other heroes' destinies as well. Because of what happened with Frankenstein, the history of other costumed heroes in the Flashpoint universe took a different course, including the JSA and All-Star Squadron.
Nrama: That makes sense, because their history in the DCU is so closely tied to World War II. Who are the other monsters with Frankenstein? You said there are four on the team?
Lemire: Yeah, but since the original Frankenstein's monster was never awakened, there was never any impetus for Project M to create their own version of Frankenstein. So the Lucky Taylor version of Frankenstein, from the classic Commando strips, was never created.
But instead we have the Grant Morrison version of Frankenstein. And the Vampire Velcro and Werewolf Griffith characters were created to be Frankenstein's field team. So they're in the book.
I didn't use the Medusa character from the Creature Commandos, because I didn't think she fit with the team. You had these three classic monster characters -- Frankenstein, Dracula and a werewolf -- who fit the monster archetype. But then you had something out of a Greek myth, and it felt like she didn't fit. So she's not on the team.I created a new character who's kind of like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but it's a female character. And she's brand new.
Nrama: The solicitations have indicated the characters are searching for their maker?
Lemiree: Yeah, but I don't want to reveal too much about that. It's only a three-issue mini-series, so you'll find out about all of that in the first issue.
Nrama: You're working with Ibraim Roberson on art, but it's also cool that Doug Mahnke is doing the covers, since he worked on the Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein mini-series with Grant.
Lemire: Yeah, that was very cool. I actually have an original art page of his from that mini-series. I've had it for a couple of years right up above where I type. So it's ironic that I'm writing scripts for the same character, with him doing the covers. It's very cool.
And just to get to work with this character is great. When Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers stuff was coming out, I thought the Frankenstein mini-series the best part of it. I always wished that DC had done something more with the character. So it's really cool for me to do it. I mean, it's also intimidating to write a Grant Morrison character. If you try to be like Grant Morrison, you're doomed to fail. You just have to take the character and do your thing with it. I'm definitely not trying to replicate his style or even his take on the character. I'm just trying to take the essence of the character he created and do my own thing with it.
Nrama: But fans have noticed that the title isn't "Creature Commandos" -- it's "Creatures of the Unknown." So is the mini-series tied at all to the Challengers of the Unknown?
Lemire: Not really. DC just took the Creature Commandos name and tweaked it to put a little different spin on it for Flashpoint. And I suppose they thought there would be more guessing among the fans when the series was announced if they used something familiar.
Nrama: How did you end up working on Flashpoint? Did DC approach you?
Lemire: Yeah, Geoff started talking to me about Flashpoint. And DC came to me with some ideas of what I could write, and those were all great, but they also gave me the option of coming up with my own new ideas. I'm a huge fan of Creature Commandos, and I had always wanted to write them. So I just wrote up a one paragraph Creature Commandos mini-series idea for Flashpoint.
I remember describing it as We3 meets Hellboy. And they really liked that. So that's how it happened.
But the Frankenstein aspect of it came later. I was just planning to use the Creature Commandos and their version of Frankenstein, that was in their team in the old comics. And I'm not sure who it was, but I think it was Eddie Berganza who suggested I use the Grant Morrison version of Frankenstein.And that's what triggered the whole storyline for me. If he was the Frankenstein, how did the Commandos come to be? That was the genesis of the whole mini-series.
Nrama: And now that you're knee-deep in Flashpoint, what do you think of it?
Lemire: You know, I always really liked the Elseworlds books, and I know DC will get mad at me for saying that because they don't want this to be compared to an Elseworlds thing. But as a fan of DC and DC characters, it was always fun to see alternate versions of those characters, and I always enjoyed those. So I always liked this kind of stuff.
But I think that, just on its own, would be gimmicky, and not enough to make this a significant story. And knowing what I do about the story, and where it's going, and the implications, this is something that's much more far-reaching than that.
It has real implications. And it's really, really cool to be a part of what's coming.