When writer Howard Mackie introduces his new superpowered Ravagers team to the DCU, a few familiar names will be part of it.
As readers found out Friday on Newsarama, the new Ravagers team will include a red Beast Boy and a new version of the character Terra.
Caitlin Fairchild is also part of the team, along with a brother and sister named Thunder and Lightning, and the "monstrous" Ridge.
The new book spins out of a May event called "The Culling," which runs through an oversized Teen Titans Annual #1 and then continues in the ninth issues of Superboy, Legion Lost and Teen Titans. The Ravagers #1 will come out May 30th, with art by Ian Churchill.
"The Culling" crossover is the culmination of a plot that has been coursing through Superboy and Teen Titans since writer Scott Lobdell launched both comics in September. An organization named N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and its leader, Harvest, is capturing superpowered teens, including the Legion Lost.
Many of the new and "revamped" characters that are being introduced during the crossover will emerge from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s "Colony," the horrific place where the teens are imprisoned. And some of them will continue their adventures in the DCU within the pages of The Ravagers.
Newsarama spoke with Mackie to find out more about the premise of the book and what readers can expect from these new and not-so-new superpowered teens. While some of what he said has been reported as part of our coverage of "The Culling", what follows is a transcript of our entire discussion with the DC writer about his new Ravagers series.
Newsarama: Howard, we're finally getting a look at the team you'll be using for The Ravagers. What can you tell us about the idea for the make-up of the team?
Howard Mackie: This series grew organically from the Teen Titans/Superboy/Legion Lost crossover. I spent a lot of time on the sidelines of the crossover — lots e-mails, meetings, and conference calls with two of my favorite people on the planet, Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco.At the end of this process, I learned that I really only liked one of the two of them as much as I thought I did — and that changed on a daily basis.
We discussed, planned, cajoled, nudged, bounced ideas, and harangued each other about every detail of the core elements at the foundation of N.O.W.H.E.R.E, The Colony, and "The Culling."
We figured out some of the characters that Harvest would have thrown into hell known as The Colony — familiar and new — figured out who would play nice with each other, who would play poorly with each other, and that was the beginning of our group of Ravagers.
Nrama: We now know the team's formation spins out of the invasion by the Teen Titans and Legion Lost on the Colony beneath the Antarctic. What's the emotional state of these teens as they break out of that experience?
Mackie: These kids have been living in hell for the past few years. The Colony is basically a death camp combined with a boot camp. Every day was a battle for survival. Their youth was ripped from them. Their bodies where tortured, enhanced, tortured again, and they knew that they had two choices... survive or die.
Once you read the crossover, once you see what their day-to-day existence was, you will quickly realize that escape was long ago beaten from the deepest corners of their minds. Needless to say, they all learned to cope in their own ways, but emerging into the "real world" is going be a shock to their system. There is no one "emotional state." The elation of freedom does not immediately supplant fear, anxiety, and the need to survive at any cost.
Nrama: As the story takes off in the new series, then, how tied to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. will the comic's plotlines be?
Mackie: N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is ever present in the kids lives, and its tentacles will be revealed to be far reaching in the DC Universe. These kids came from, were formed by, and will pursued by N.O.W.H.E.R.E and its agents. But, the bottom line is that N.O.W.H.E.R.E, is always in their heads.
Nrama: We've seen the cover to the first issue. Who designed the new looks for these characters, and what was the thinking behind the way the team looks overall?
Mackie: Ian Churchill designed the look of The Ravagers with an assist on Warblade from a guy by the name of Jim Lee. The overall look was a work in progress, was born out of meetings and discussions between myself, Ian and Eddie Berganza. We started with the backgrounds — the history — of the characters and built out from there.
Nrama: We know a bit of Caitlin's story from her role in the Superboy comic. Can I ask you a few questions about each of them? I've got, like, six or seven questions about them.
Mackie: Honestly, all of these questions will be answered in the coming story arcs of The Ravagers. The short answer: "Read the book!"
Nrama: How about you just give me a word or two for each question? Let's start with, what's Caitlin's motivation for joining up with these other characters? One- or two-word answer?
Mackie: You'll see.
Nrama: The image we're seeing of Beast Boy has him a different color than we're used to seeing. What can you tell us about that character, and what's the motivation for the change in his look?
Mackie: Animal Man.
Nrama: Interesting. OK, will Beast Boy's origin and history be at all related to the one we're familiar with for the character?
Nrama: What can you tell us about the new Terra's personality?
Nrama: How tied to her origin is her look?
Mackie: A little.
Nrama; Is Terra's history at all related to the Terra that DC readers are more familiar with?
Mackie: A bit.
Nrama: Are Thunder and Lightning among the 13 characters that we found out in Superboy are related to Caitlin?
Nrama: What's the story behind the "monstrous" Ridge? Is he a teen? Is he even human?
Mackie: There is a story behind him...yes... and yes.
Nrama: OK, so they're on the run as we join them in Ravagers. So does that set the tone for the book? Lots of one-the-run action?
Mackie: We do not want this book to be strictly about the action — though there will be plenty of that — or about characters on the run from one of the most powerful and ruthless organizations on the planet. This book is about our characters trying to wrestle with their fate — their destiny — and trying to figure out if they can control it.In order for the characters to figure out who they are going forward, they will have a to take a real hard look at who they now, and who they have been in the past. We will explore each of these characters back stories, their childhood, how they came to the attention of Harvest, their capture by N.O.W.H.E.R.E, and the horrific time they spent in the Colony. All of these elements are what formed them, and will help determine what road they travel down in the future.
Nrama: Will Rose Wilson and Warblade play a role in the comic's run, as they try to capture the Ravagers?
Mackie: Yes. Both Rose Wilson and Warblade will play a major role in future stories. In many ways the books is as much about them as it is about the characters addressed above. I wouldn't come to this book expecting to see typical heroes and villains. The roles they all play in the book will remain fluid.
Nrama: How has it been working with Tom DeFalco and Scott Lobdell on the crossover?
Mackie: A real pain in the neck. No... really, I have a real pain in the neck. I think it is from holding the phone between my neck and my shoulder while on the phone with those two guys. My physical therapists suggests ice — never heat — and that I should stretch more. Or, I should just stop talking to these two.
Seriously, a real draw to my coming to this project was getting a chance to work with Tom and Scott. I have been admirers of their work ever since I was a wee lad, and my mother was buying me the comic books they wrote. I first read...
Nrama: Wait a minute, you said "seriously!"
Mackie: Fine. I will be serious. These are two of the most talented story people in the business — period! There were times I would get off of phone calls with the two of them and I would literally be breathless. Unless you have been there — within the maelstrom of creativity that exists when working with two such genuinely creative individuals — it is hard to describe the energy, the emotion, and the raw talent that flies across the airwaves.
Sometimes I would just sit back and marvel at the exchanges that were happening between the three of us. I know that talent will come across in the pages of the crossover, and I am looking forward to reading it myself.I am a fan of these two gentlemen, and it has been an honor to contribute the little bit that I did to the story.
Nrama: Wow, that was serious. OK, what does Ian Churchill bring to the project?
Mackie: What doesn't Ian bring to the project? I am thrilled to be working with Ian. He has been involved in the project from the earliest stages of development. I could not be more excited about getting a chance to work with Ian again. The Ravagers is truly a collaborative effort between the two of us.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Howard, is there a final thought you want to leave with fans about The Ravagers or "The Culling" crossover?
Mackie: Do not think you know what you think you know. They just ain't so.
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