In July of 2004, Bruce Jones signed an exclusive with DC Comics. Since that time, he’s kept busy at the company writing “Year One: Batman/Scarecrow” and the six-issue miniseries “Vigilante.” Well, as of this February, it appears DC plans on getting their full money’s worth out of Jones by adding two ongoing series his workload: “Nightwing” and “Warlord.” CBR News had a chat with the scribe to find out his plans for these two characters and what readers can look forward to from both of these series.
Jones is jumping on “Nightwing” at an interesting time. Like the rest of the DC Universe, the book will have jumped ahead in time as part of the “One Year Later” initiative, which follows “Infinite Crisis.” Joining him on the book is the art team of Joe Dodd (“Human Torch”) and Bit (“Batman: Gotham Knights”). The writer’s first issue on this series won’t appear until March, but we tried to see which details we could get him to share before then.
To begin with, we’ll start with the assumption that the Nightwing character you’re writing may or may not be Dick Grayson. Can you at least tell me if Nightwing is a he or she?
He’s a she. No, no…I mean, he’s a he. Wait a second…
From the cover on March’s solicited issue, it appears Nightwing’s new setting is New York. Is that correct? Was this a decision made before you came aboard?
It was made jointly between Nachie Castro, Matt Idleson and myself as I recall.
Can you give readers any hint as to why the character changed his base of operations?
Not really – not without giving away major plot points. Some of these may be revealed before my first issue hits the stands. [Editor’s Note: read the newly-released “Infinite Crisis” #4 to discover more about Bludhaven’s fate.]
If his setting has changed, will any of Nightwing’s supporting cast (or villains) be in this new series? Or are you dealing with a totally new set of characters?
Not totally, no. You’ll see some familiar faces, but a couple of brand new, really…ah, interesting ones!
As we pick him up, he’ll be pretty much on his own, though he will interact with old faces. It’s a balancing act between trying to be faithful to old readers and bringing new readers aboard who may not share the old reader’s passions. You’re kinda damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but you gotta try if this industry is going to continue to grow and remain viable in an increasingly fractured world of entertainment. You have to be special…but not too special. It’s like, now you have 500 channels, but how many do you actually watch?
While we only see Nightwing’s glove on the cover, it looks like his costume is the same. Can you tell our readers if the costume design is the same? Is the size of the costume the same?
You’ll know Nightwing when you see him – but there may be some changes to the actual costume itself.
Also on the solicited cover, it appears Nightwing is holding a knife dripping with blood. Will the Nightwing you’re writing use similar crime-fighting methods as in the past? Or is this Nightwing on a different path?
He will use weapons, but our Nightwing will tend to rely chiefly on his own physical prowess as well as “weapons” that happen to be on hand, if you will.
Can you tell us anything about the villains appearing in your initial story arc?
The first major villain gives Nightwing at least twice as much trouble as the average tough he’s dealt with in the past.
Finishing up with Nightwing, what about this character makes you most excited?
His physicality; that he possesses only mortal powers like his mentor the Batman. And what he’s gone through over the past year – though I can’t go into that here for obvious reasons.
With characters like “Conan” and “Red Sonja” making big comebacks in the comic book world, it seems like an ideal time to bring back DC’s own take on this genre, “Warlord.” Created by Mike Grell (“Starslayer,” “Jon Sable”), the character made his first appearance in the DCU in 1975, and has had several runs since that time. This February, Jones will be adding to the character’s lore with Bart Sears (“Justice League International”) joining him on art. The writer filled us in on some of the specifics.
Let’s start with how this project came to be. Was “Warlord” something DC brought to you? Or was it your idea to revive the character?
It was something that – when I got wind of it – I jumped at. I love “sword and sorcery” and I think the field desperately needs genre diversification right now. All the major media art forms are in danger of driving themselves into pigeon-hole extinction. I don’t like it when companies dictate tastes on unreliable information. Audience taste should be dictated by the audience.
For those who aren’t familiar with the character, what can you tell them about Skartaris (the book’s setting), Travis Morgan and his role as Warlord?
Travis Morgan is a modern day pilot/engineer engaged to beautiful Alexa McKenzie. With the help of his best friend Terry, Travis is testing a top-secret aircraft when things suddenly go terribly wrong. When they do, Terry and Alexa rush in to try and help. But it’s not so easy to find Travis now. His world has gone from the ice fields of Alaska to the jungles of Skartaris…and more immediately, the palace of Shamballah.
Does your series follow any previous continuity? Are you starting over from scratch? Or is your series somewhere in-between?
It’s somewhat in-between. Those who’ve read the Mike Grell books will recognize similarities, but on the other hand, those who are coming to this fresh will have no problem with continuity entanglements.
Is Travis Morgan on any sort of overall mission in this series? Or is he someone who just hops from adventure to adventure?
He starts out on a mission certainly. It just gets sort of…sidetracked.
Well, introducing (or reintroducing, if you will) the characters, of course. Laying down some basic exposition and character motivation while leaving plenty of room for the kind of action the genre is famous for – no mean feat.
Who are Warlord’s supporting characters?
Aside from fiancé Alexa and friend Terry, there is a whole other camp over in Skartaris, which includes King Milius of Shamballah, his daughter Princess Tara, and a visiting villain named Brovis among others. There are lots of people in this series – and lots of dinosaurs. I’ll let you conjecture on whether the twain ever meet.
One thing that has always kind of confused me is Warlord’s place in the DC universe. I do recall an appearance by him in a Green Arrow comic a long time ago, but does Warlord exist in the DC universe with the other heroes (more specifically, does your Warlord exist in the DC universe)?
A lot of people are confused about that, partly because it’s predicated on your definition of the DCU. You have to remember that the DCU on many levels runs concurrent with the real universe, otherwise we’d have no point of reference or orientation. In most instances a car looks like a car. Also, over the years, different writers, editors and publishers move things about in an attempt to go with what is contemporary within their time frame, so you get this in-and-out syndrome. The question becomes: do we stick strictly to continuity for the sake of the hard core fans (the old policy), or do we not sacrifice good story ideas on the basis of continued narrative flow, or do we open up sometimes and “cheat”? It’s not always an easy question to answer.
Are there any particular “sources” you’re looking to for inspiration in this series? For example, did you need to reference “Conan,” “Lord of the Rings,” “John Carter of Mars,” or the previous “Warlord” series to get the tone you were seeking?
That was never an issue. I spent an entire childhood reading everything you just mentioned and a whole lot more, so my system was filled to brimming with plenty of verisimilitude and downright swipe ideas if I chose to use them. But I’m trying very hard to make this at once a genre-recognizable book and also something very fresh the reader-off-the-street can dive right into and be comfortable with without frowning at the references. Having it begin in a contemporary setting goes a long way toward aiding that.
While your plate seems full writing “Vigilante,” “Warlord,” and “Nightwing,” do you have any other projects coming up that you want to mention?
Yes, but DC is rightfully very concerned about spoilers just now in the continuity of the DCU. It makes interviews difficult, but I understand it; I hate it when someone tells me the butler did it, you know?