The solicitations from DC this week had several changes in its line-up of writers on the "New 52" titles the company introduced in September.
One of the writer departures that surprised readers — and hadn't been announced before Monday's solicitations — was Sterling Gates, the creator behind the Hawk and Dove title.
Gates had told Newsarama in July that he had been told he was handpicked by artist Rob Liefeld as the writer on Hawk and Dove. Yet beginning with February's issue #6, Liefeld will be doing not only the art, but also the writing on the book.
"Honestly, I thought I was finished after issue # 5," Liefeld told Newsarama earlier this week. "Sterling Gates and I had told our initial arc. It was my understanding that Sterling was moving on to other projects and I was eager to draw other characters in the DC Universe. But I was asked if I would stay on the book and write it as well. I gave it a weekend to chew on it and decided to take on the challenge of writing the book as well."
Fans of Gates assumed those "other projects" included his Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory series from Dynamite. Or perhaps his departure is like the one by Fabian Nicieza, whose exit interview with Newsarama included his hope that he'd still write other comics for DC.
Gates first started winning loyal DC readers in 2008 when he came on board DC's Supergirl and not only cleaned up the messy continuity left by the title's multiple writers, but had one of the more successful runs on the comic with artist Jamal Igle. Gates also worked in conjunction with fan-favorite writers Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Greg Rucka on several issues of Superman and Action Comics, including the "War of the Supermen" event.
Although he had been announced as the writer on a new Kid Flash title, DC scrapped those plans after delays in the main Flash title. Then the company took Gates off Supergirl to make way for writer Nick Spencer (who consequently ended up not writing the book).
Then in July, Gates was announced as the writer on Hawk and Dove, but that now looks to be changing. Just like our exit interview with Nicieza, we gave Gates a call and asked for his thoughts on leaving behind the New 52 so soon.
Newsarama: Sterling, when we talked in July, you sounded like you were hoping for a long run on Hawk and Dove. Yet issue #5 now appears to be your last issue. Why are you leaving the title so soon?
Sterling Gates: First off, before we go any further, I just want to say how I'm immensely proud I am to have been part of the DC "New 52" launch. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can't thank DC Comics enough for allowing me to be involved and pairing me with one of my favorite pencilers, Rob Liefeld. I loved Rob's work when I was a kid, and it was an honor to work with him on the issues of Hawk and Dove I wrote.
We laid a lot of foundation in those first few issues, things that can be delved into indefinitely: creating new characters, reintroducing old ones, or looking deeper into the origins of the avatars that power Hank and Dawn.
Rachel Gluckstern, my editor at DC, phoned me up a couple months ago and said they were interested in taking the book in a different direction. As a result, my script to issue six was spiked, and the back half of issue five was rewritten in order to completely clear the decks for Rob's run. Rob came in and co-wrote issue #5's climactic battle with Condor and Swan to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
I can't wait to see where Rob takes Hawk and Dove next, either. He's got a vision for those characters, and hopefully I've managed to get enough pieces on the board for him to really dig into their mythology.
Nrama: You've already talked about being part of the New 52, but looking back, what was the experience like of launching Hawk and Dove in particular and giving them a new direction for a new universe? Any thoughts on what you were able to accomplish in those five issues?
Gates: It was a lot of fun, though I almost wish we'd rebooted them harder and made them a completely new and different thing. Hindsight's 20/20, I guess, and we weren't sure how successful the New 52 would be. Keeping H&D in line with Brightest Day felt like the right decision at the time.
I know some people weren't happy to see Deadman in the book, but for me, the entire concept of Hawk and Dove revolved around their balance, and Deadman was the wrench in the works that would upset that balance. Not to mention, Deadman gave us a hell of a bargaining chip for Condor and Swan to use against our heroes! Some of those elements were unfortunately truncated in the printed story, but I think issue #5 is a solid wrap-up to the first arc's conflicts.
Nrama: It became obvious a couple months ago when your work with other publishers was announced that you are no longer a DC exclusive writer. Does this departure from Hawk and Dove mean you won't be working with DC anymore?
Gates: I certainly hope to continue working with DC Comics! I truly believe that DC has the best and most diverse character roster in all of pop culture. I love their characters. Thousands upon thousands of incredible individuals populate the DCU, all of them with their own powers and personalities and lives.DC has gone to great lengths to revitalize the comic industry this year. Hopefully, their efforts mean comics as we know them will be around for at least another 75 years, and they'll be telling great character-driven stories on the massive canvas that is the DCU. Fingers crossed we all live to see DC's sesquicentennial celebrations.
Nrama: Until we hear about your next DC project, where else can we find your work?
Gates: I've got some other comic irons in the fire, so to speak. I'm also writing a Kirbyverse science fiction book for Dynamite called Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory. It's available on stands as we speak, and I hope fans give it a shot. I think the first issue is one of the best things I've written in a long time. I'm also working on some other types of writing here and there, but nothing I can talk about yet.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!