This summer as part of DC Comics big “Flashpoint” event, the mighty Amazons hit London–and Lois Lane hits back!
Starting in June, “Wonder Woman and the Furies” will give readers the Amazonian side of “Flashpoint,” touching on everything from Wonder Woman’s new back-story to her involvement in Europe. Written by renowned comic book duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (A.K.A. DnA) the comic promises a dangerous new Diana and features art by Scott Clark and David Beaty. Pulling double duty, DnA is also in charge of the three-issue miniseries “Lois Lane and the Resistance,” with art by Eddie Nunez.
In an exclusive interview – part two of our extended “Flashpoint” coverage today – DnA spoke to CBR News about both books, filling us in on who the Resistance is resisting, the difference between the DCU and the “Flashpoint” Wonder Woman, and what European countries they’d like to obliterate in a comic next (watch out, France)!
CBR News: You guys are working on both “Lois Lane and the Resistance” and “Wonder Woman and the Furies.” As I understand it, both comics take place in London and the tagline for “Lois Lane” is “She’s ready to reveal the Amazon’s secret!” My first question is, how are the “Lois Lane” and “Wonder Woman” comics connected?
Dan Abnett: They are connected to a certain extent–Geoff Johns has very, very cleverly created this world for this event, and everything works together in different ways so the political and geographical events that are going on tie the characters together. As you said, they’re sort of both set in London. In fact, the “Wonder Woman” story will show more of Wonder Woman’s past, leading up to contemporary events, whereas “Lois Lane” is rather more directly focused. Their paths will cross because they are in the same place at the same time these great big events are going down.
Andy Lanning: It’s kind of a difficult one for us because we don’t know yet what’s been revealed and how much we can say about stuff, because obviously that will play into this when this comes out. I think even from the covers released at the moment you get a sense of the fact that the UK has been dominated by the Amazons. The point of the Wonder Woman book is showing how it got to that stage, and what happened between her and Aquaman, because again the other element you can get from the covers and I think is pretty much out there in terms of the teaser stuff that they’ve released is that Wonder Woman and Aquaman and Atlantis and Themyscria are at war with each other. And so obviously the Wonder Woman book will be revealing the back-story as to how the Amazons came to be in London. And obviously with “Lois Lane and the Resistance,” the title kind of suggests it all! [Laughs] But again they are in London operating as a resistance force against the Amazon–invasion?
Abnett: Occupation is the word you’re looking for.
Lanning: That’s the word!
Abnett: And also because Lois is a canny reporter, not only is this series revealing the situation from the reader’s point of view, but she’s a character trying to unlock those secrets for herself and reveal them to the world. So she is trying to find out what makes the Amazons tick and what their weaknesses might be, and what their ultimate agenda is going to be.
Lanning: In terms of the Resistance, one of the things you’re going to find cropping up in quite a lot of the “Flashpoint” titles and in the “Flashpoint” alternate universe is seeing familiar characters in unfamiliar places, as well as some new characters. We can definitely say that in “Lois Lane and the Resistance” there’s going to be some new characters and some surprising familiar characters.
Let’s talk about “Lois Lane and the Resistance.” What is Lois’s role in the Resistance against the Amazons?
Lanning: She starts out from the reporter perspective, but is drawn into it, because under those circumstances–you see quite often reporters caught up in a war zone situation end up having to take some kind of side just to survive. And it doesn’t become about the story anymore, it becomes about the situation. So she gets drawn in. I think in order for them to trust her as an outsider she needs to prove she’s more than just a spectator.
Lanning: And I think the other vital thing with Lois at the beginning of issue #1 and the events that draw her into it, you can quite literally say she’s in the right place at the wrong time.
You probably can’t tell us who the Resistance Leader is, but what sort of character is the Resistance Leader? Are you going for that classic World War II underground resistance-fighter archetype?
Abnett: We have to be very careful because obviously one of the nice Easter eggs of the story is who that character is. I think it’s a great reveal and fans will not be disappointed when they discover the power behind the Resistance. I think that’s something Geoff has done extremely well in orchestrating this, taking some of DC’s most interesting characters and deploying them in the story in ways that are unexpected and make brilliant sense. It’s a genuine surprise that some of the people are doing the things they are doing, yet when you think about it, it’s not confusing. It might not be what they normally do but it makes perfect sense. I think its one of the great things about “Flashpoint” is it’s got characters involved in roles that suit them completely without being the conventional thing you’d expect to see them doing.
Lanning: When we were looped in we were genuinely excited to see how that plays out. When we get to that point in the story people are going to get quite excited.
When writing your two “Flashpoint” comics how much of the story comes from you and how much is DC coming to you and saying, “This is the story?”
Abnett: The core of the “Flashpoint” story Geoff had worked out by the time we sat down and talked to him. Where we come in, and I think this is true of the other writing teams, is that he’s sort of given us milestones and said, “This event happens, and then at this point this event happens.” And then it’s how do you get between those two points in an interesting way, in a way that makes sense? We’ve got options to fill in the details about events that are happening in other parts of the world or happening parallel to the main storyline. I mean, the core book is the one that Geoff is writing where there is that centerline story. But there’s so much more going on because it affects the whole world and that’s where he’s allowed us to run free and come up with an awful lot of new stuff. And a lot of the back-story, actually. Connecting the dots of the back-story with Wonder Woman and, in Tony Bedard’s case, “Aquaman,” has been left up to us. Which is very fun indeed.
Lanning: I think specifically with the “Wonder Woman” one within in the main “Flashpoint” title the Amazons and the Atlanteans are at war and that is a major event within the “Flashpoint” world. [Geoff] hadn’t necessarily developed what happened and what were the major events in that; certain dots we were given the liberty to join up and create a rich back-story with Tony. Which was quite good fun, and pretty much the same with the Lois book–there were key points we needed to get to, but how we get to that is entirely up to us.
Something that we’ve been hearing is that the “Flashpoint” books are almost like many independent “Elseworlds” stories. Due to this, are “Lois Lane” and “Wonder Woman” integrally connected to the main Flash rewriting the timeline story? Will fans need to read them to understand what’s happening with Flash?
Abnett: I think they are integral. I mean, that is true; in a lot of comic book events there will be a core story and then the subsidiary stories try to tie into it in a way that if you read them on their own they are sort of dissatisfying and empty. But obviously some of them have more of a direct effect on the main story. “Wonder Woman” is such a central character in this that obviously her book is essential, and Lois’s connection via the Resistance is almost as crucial. Particularly in terms of the Wonder Woman side of things. I think Andy and I were very lucky as we got books that were the best of both worlds. We got to tell interesting, self-contained stories but they obviously have a lot of bearing on the center.
Lanning: I think there is that idea, and hopefully other people have picked up on it as well, is the idea that the key characters from the Justice League have taken a different, more distorted path for themselves. Wonder Woman and Aquaman being part of the original Big Seven heroes for the JLA, their stories are pivotal to the backdrop of the world because it’s against that Flash has to play out his story in the main title. Both books are a little more integral because those characters have such a large footprint on the DCU. Therefore their removal from the “Flashpoint” universe is sort of key to how it’s distorted.
Dan, you’ve said before that we’ll see Lois at her most determined and resourceful. While the Big Seven have changed, is this Lois Lane pretty much the same character as the regular DCU Lois?
Abnett: She is as a person, absolutely, because I think that’s the idea: through any different iteration of reality these characters are always true to themselves as individuals. What’s different are the circumstances and the opportunities people been given in their lives. In this, Lois has not necessarily had the same career that she has in mainstream DCU, and therefore that has a bearing on her actions and the way she thinks about herself and her aspirations and ambitions. So part of her drive and determination is the opportunity to prove herself, which she actually hasn’t had before.
Lanning: Not to create spoilers, but obviously the whole set-up with Superman is totally different in the “Flashpoint” universe. Lois hasn’t met and fallen in love and married Superman, so her whole career and life-path is totally different. But she’s still that determined hardedge reporter. She just hasn’t been given the opportunity she had when she met Superman.
Dan, you’ve also described Lois as a “superhero without superpowers.” Does this just apply to the world of Flashpoint or is this how you feel about her in general?
Abnett: I think we feel that about her in general anyway. She’s one of those great comic book characters who is the absolute top-tier character without superpowers. But it is particularly apt in these circumstances. The role she plays in this is particularly important. In fact superpowers, or the lack of them, have a bearing in the course of the story. Obviously the super powered people are more useful in this struggle than non-super powered people because of their ability to take the fight to the meta-human level. So that’s part of what we’ll be dealing with.
You guys have really been given the task to write the DCU’s two strongest and most famous female characters. How do you approach writing these strong women?
Lanning: Well, I dress up in a tiara and Dan–
Abnett: [Laughs] You can see where this is going, can’t you!
Lanning: I think, like Dan said, Lois and Wonder Woman are such iconic characters in the DCU that there’s almost a template to writing them. They are strong female characters that got forty, fifty-plus years of history going on with them. So we’re not stretching ourselves to come up with new innovative stuff with them. It’s more that idea of taking that slight twist, the fork in the road they’ve taken into the “Flashpoint” universe, and really playing that out based on what we know of the characters [from] their huge back-story and continuity. We don’t want to reinvent them as characters, we want to respect the vision they’ve always had as characters and play around with them.
Abnett: When the whole thing first came out, they were characters we volunteered to work on because we hadn’t written for Wonder Woman or Lois, and they appealed enormously. Which I think speaks to their enduring strength in the DCU. Given our options they were top of the list of characters to work on. I think it’s just an odd coincidence that they happen to be two strong female characters.
Lanning: Something else we did notice is the fact that we got to destroy London!
Abnett: I don’t know why they gave us that job! I can’t imagine!
Lanning: We obviously did such a good job of it in “The Authority” when we leveled the UK. So they were like, “Yes, bring those guys in! They are the go-to guys for destroying London!”
Abnett: “They live there, so obviously they know how to bring it too its knees!”
You are both master London-leveling plotters.
Abnett: In fact, the Royal wedding is such a wonderful opportunity!
Lanning: Watch your screen for it!
Since we’re on the topic of destroying London, let’s talk about what Wonder Woman and the Amazons are doing. Dan, you’ve said “Wonder Woman and the Furies” show Diana “as a full on Amazonian warrior, true to her heritage.” What exactly does that mean?
Abnett: It means taking her back to her warrior-code roots of the Amazon people, and also to the sort of classical mythological origins. The Amazons were the most feared warriors in ancient times and were absolutely relentless and ruthless. In many respects they’ve become a lot more serene, wise nation in the DCU, Wonder Woman typifying that. You have flashes of that warrior queen but she’s also even-tempered and just and virtuous. Whereas “Flashpoint” is a world where the Amazons have always been warriors to defend themselves. They haven’t evolved that maturity we see in the DCU. They are extremely dangerous and very aggressive and they can beat almost anything in a fight. It reminds us how scary the Amazons should be. And Diana is the most powerful and most able of them, which makes her a formidable character.
Lanning: It gives you the opportunity to look at the characters Wonder Woman and Aquaman and give them this grandeur and slight threat about them. Which is removed in the normal DCU as they are overtly heroic characters and have banded together to do good within the confines of the JLA. In this universe that’s been removed and it’s such a vital touchstone for them and their development. So like Dan said, we’ve extrapolated the warrior code and the fact that Diana, through certain events in her past, never followed the path she took in the DCU and always retained that warrior edge. I think talking for what Tony is doing with Aquaman, the Atlanteans have gone that route as well. These characters can be dangerous without the slight edge of humanity the DCU has given them. When you go back and read them in the DCU hopefully people will say wow! These guys, if they chose to be, would be formidable characters.
Abnett: As a general rule of thumb in the “Flashpoint” story, all the major DC figures are the way they would be without the checks and balances. They are the characters you know with the safety catches removed. They are not being tempered or balanced out with the histories and lives they’ve seen in the conventional DCU, and because of that this story is happening.
Because of this, would you classify Wonder Woman as a bad guy, or is she more complicated than that?
Abnett: She’s defiantly not a villain. She’s a formidable opponent and quite a lot of people are in opposition to her, so she’s squaring off against good guys and bad guys alike because of the nature of her situation. She’s not out for evil ends, but she is definitely very aggressive and capable of determining her life and the lives of the Amazons–by force of arms if necessary. In a very technical sense, if you are the wrong side of that she may appear to be an enemy. She certainly is an indomitable enemy. The reader will sympathize with her because she’s not intrinsically evil and she’s not doing anything that would make you unsympathetic to her, but she’s going about things in a very aggressive way.
Lanning: That was what was interesting for us. The Amazons and the Atlanteans are at war with each other. Both see themselves as being right and that war threatens to spill out and create mayhem over the planet as well. In the context of people looking from the outside in, these guys are bad guys because they are at war and a lot of death is happening. But they are just acting true to their own spirit, doing what they need to do for their civilizations with a greater noble cause behind it, but just doing it in a very warrior and aggressive manner. If they go to war, they go to war to win. They are not going to compromise. It’s all-out victory, and that is scary.
Abnett: They are uncompromising! It’s victory by any means necessary, which makes them difficult to deal with.
You said more so in “Wonder Woman” than “Lois Lane” we’re going to see Diana’s back-story–will the first issues do a retelling of her origin story?
Abnett: Yeah, absolutely. We are going to see how we got this Wonder Woman and how she’s different from the Wonder Woman that we understand from the regular books. Obviously we don’t have a huge amount of space to do that with, but that first issue will position the reader so they understand exactly what’s motivating her in “Flashpoint.”
Lanning: It ties a lot in with the nature of the war. That’s at the heart of this story–it’s more about the situation between these two ancient civilizations.
Since “Flashpoint” is coming right on the heels of “Wonder Woman: Odyssey,” was it challenging to rewrite Diana in a way that was both completely different from who she was in “Odyssey” and in regular DC continuity?
Lanning: It was more to do with keeping her true to what Geoff wanted to do in “Flashpoint” rather than echo or steer clear of existing stuff. We immersed ourselves more in the “Flashpoint” stuff and almost tried not to get involved in current stuff because it had to be absolutely true to the point at which the histories diverged in “Flashpoint” more than normal continuity. That had more of a direct impact on our story.
Because there is so much mythology and back-story to Wonder Woman, how did you guys pick and choose what elements went into “Flashpoint?”
Abnett: That’s probably the toughest thing of all, actually. Going into it we could think of really interesting things we could do with almost every aspect of Wonder Woman in “Flashpoint.” The temptation was trying to tie everything in. We just had to be really selective and pick the bits that told the story, which is the most essential part. There’s room for some terrific side-projects that go into the other aspects of her life and existence in “Flashpoint” but we had to be really selective and ditch stuff that we liked that wasn’t pertinent to the story.
So I guess we won’t be seeing a “Flashpoint” invisible jet, huh?
Abnett: Well, obviously you won’t see it. [Laughs] Actually, there are invisible jets!
Lanning: So there are some parts we couldn’t get rid of!
Abnett: There are lots of Amazonian characters and aircraft you will see that perhaps we would have played around with more if we had an invisible jet one-shot. But I still think all the way through you’ll be recognizing classic moments and things from her continuity.
How much say did you have over the art? Did you want “Wonder Woman” and “Lois Lane” to look different and distinct from each other?
Abnett: The art choices were made by the editors when the books were getting started. What we try to do is make sure to integrate our script into the art that’s coming back from the artists so they keep in step with each other. I don’t envy the editors’ duties orchestrating this event as a whole. Its full of things that will be seen in six or seven books from different view points, and that’s got to be quite tough. But there’s a nice communal sense between the books where we all try to make it feel consistent.
From the covers it looks like “Lois Lane” is more cloak and dagger and “Wonder Woman” is a much more standard superhero style.
Abnett: Absolutely. That’s where the editors made those choices in the first place. It gives those books different flavors. There is something very regional and imperial and splendid about “Wonder Woman,” hence the style, while there’s a great deal of subterfuge and shadowiness and stealth in “Lois Lane.”
Lanning: The Lois book is coming from that point of view of your classic World War II underground freedom fighters. So we’ve been creating sort of Amazon-occupied London where we’re taking landmarks and repurposing them for the Amazons. So that cloak and dagger underground art feel is in keeping with that. It’s always nice to have a different flavor with the books because that more than anything can get people interested and picking up titles they wouldn’t necessarily before because each give something different.
Starting last year there’s been a movement among fans agitating for a Lois Lane book. What do you guys think about the sudden resurgence in interest for a Lois Lane series?
Abnett: I think its great! One of the things that drew us to her in the first place is that we think she’s a fantastic character. She’s one of the all-time great comic book characters! I think she can easily hold a book together and it would be a very compelling thing. I think there is something interesting about focusing a book on a character that is remarkable but unpowered in a world where super powered people exist, certainly as somebody who has access to those people with her job. So I envy whoever gets that!
Lanning: I was particularly a fan of the 1970s “Lois Lane” book because we got to see what funky outfits she got to wear on the cover each time.
Do you need to read both books for the full Resistance/Amazon story to make sense?
Lanning: No, not at all. In terms of “Flashpoint” both are important titles because the core ideas and characters feed into the main “Flashpoint” title specifically. But you don’t have to read them with each other. Obviously the “Wonder Woman” title gives you a lot more information and flavor and story about why certain things happened. Where Lois’s book deals with the now and we connect the dots with “Flashpoint.” Again, there’s only so much Geoff can cram into those issues. So we’re dealing with the overspill as far as that’s concerned.
A lot of fans you guys are best know for your recent Marvel Cosmic books–how did you end up writing for DC’s “Flashpoint?”
Abnett: It’s the biggest modern DC event that we’ve done. I think the last one we contributed to was “DC One Million.” And we were writing “Resurrection Man” and “Legion of Superheroes.” But in the current new generation of big DC events, this is the first one we’ve done in a while.
Lanning: We had previously an extended run at DC. The trajectory of our career: we started off doing Marvel stuff in the late ’80s early ’90s for about five years and then worked at DC for a good ten years. During that time we worked very closely with Eddie Berganza. Going back to Marvel we had an exclusive contract with them, and when that came to the end we decided we wanted to let that lapse to dip our toes into the water of freelancing. And it just so happened to coincide with the early stages of “Flashpoint.” So Eddie, who we keep in touch with because he’s a good friend as well as our editor, actually knew that was what was happening and roped us in. He had us at “Fla.” [Laughs]
How does this compare to the crossovers you did while at Marvel? Are there big differences from a writer standpoint?
Abnett: I hadn’t really though about that! They are fairly similar–there’s very few ways you can successfully orchestrate a bunch of different creative teams working on parallel titles. It’s interesting because this year we are working on both sides of that divide and seeing both companies operate. I think the difference is more in the way the actual creative universes operate. The DCU functions in a slightly different form to the Marvel universe therefore the stories and effect work in a different way.
Lanning: I think as well with “Flashpoint” when we got involved Geoff was very generous because he was a fan of the “Legion” stuff we did and we’re a huge fan of what Geoff’s done. We had a nice mutual admiration society going on there. Geoff has a very distinctive vision as far as what he wants out of “Flashpoint,” which is a whole meta-story for the DCU. I think this gives it that gravity which is really cool to work on at the moment. As well, we’re doing stuff at Marvel that ties into the “Fear Itself” event; that is being handled by Matt Fraction, who again has got this great idea that gives you opportunities to tell different stories within those universes. That’s the main similarity: you have a writer who is given the opportunity to create a universe-spanning story which then gives the other writers opportunities to take that idea and spin it into other areas which I think is rewarding. To a lesser extent we’ve done it ourselves with the mini events in the Cosmic books. It’s just that we were the writers and the other writers! [Laughs]
Are there elements or themes in either “Lois Lane” or “Wonder Woman” that you think carried over from you Cosmic work?
Abnett: I think the mythological part, particularly “Wonder Woman,” is particularly similar to the future myths of writing the science fiction Cosmic stuff. At either Marvel or DC there is this sense of watching a legend as it happens, which perhaps we share between the two. But also it’s very different, which appealed to us. It’s trying to do a story with very different characters.
Does “Flashpoint” mean fans should expect more DC work in the pipeline?
Abnett: I think that depends on whether we do a good job! [Laughs]
Lanning: Watch this space!
Abnett: If we don’t end up with another book it means we did a really bad job! [Laughs]
All right, the fans have a right to know: what was your favorite part of destroying London?
Lanning: In keeping with Royal events and the Royal wedding, we’ve repurposed Buckingham Palace, which was fun!
Abnett: It’s being used for new evil ends!
And Big Ben is gone!
Abnett: Big Ben is! It’s less the destroying of them and more the wacky new purposes for which these buildings are put. Without spoiling anything, some landmarks of continental Europe suffered quite a great deal–several of them were harmed during the making of this book! I know Andy took particular glee in destroying parts of Paris.
Lanning: We all hate the French.
Abnett: [Laughing] We can’t say that!
Lanning: Oh, did I say that out loud?
Abnett: He called them cheese-eating surrender monkeys!
Lanning: And they never worked again. Bang goes that “Tintin” book! [Laughs] Oh wait, that’s Belgium. Well, they are even more shifty. Don’t get us started on the Germans!
Now that we’ve pissed off all of Europe–
Lanning: I love Bosnia!
Abnett: That’s just random!
To start wrapping things up, as the writers of both books, what draws you to Lois and Diana?
Lanning: I think within the story structure of “Flashpoint” the fun is this idea of taking characters with such long histories and re-imagining them. Any character you would have been given you would have had fun with, and we had particular fun with Lois and Wonder Woman not only because they are strong female characters but also because of the way their stories tie in and give the extra depth to the “Flashpoint” universe. That was very appealing.
Abnett: And the very fact that they are two huge iconic characters. I mean you don’t miss the opportunity to write characters of that kind of prominence.
How would you describe Wonder Woman’s role in the occupation of London?
Abnett: She’s very proactive. She is leading and she is commanding and she’s going further than she ever would do under other circumstances. Like I said, it’s that relentless and aggressive version we have not seen before.
Lanning: All bets are off with this version of Diana.
What is the relationship between Aquaman and Wonder Woman?
Lanning: I think we’re getting into spoiler territory, but the nature of the relationship between Aquaman and Diana is definitely a catalyst for the military and political relationship that happens to the Atlanteans and the Amazons.
To you guys, what is the very heart of “Lois Lane and the Resistance?”
Abnett: Probably Lois’s determination to get to the truth of things because the truth is better than anything, even is the truth is painful or dangerous. The truth is always better in the long run. This motivates her as a reporter and it motivates her here when she crosses that line between being strictly a reporter and actually being a participant. She’s determined that truth and justice is more important than anything else.
Lanning: And the idea that the truth will set you free plays out with the liberation of the UK as well. Lois is determined to do what she can to liberate them from the oppressive occupation.
Along those same lines, what is the core essence of “Wonder Woman and the Furies?”
Lanning: When we were in gestation period of coming up with the original idea, I think it has a real element of Shakespearean tragedy to it. Great misfortune is unfolding. It’s one of those things where events have gone out of control but you have to see it through to the end, and of doing your warrior duty whether or not at the end of the day you agree with what’s happening.
Abnett: It’s also about the determination of a people to survive and a country to survive against these enemies and determine its own destiny, something that the Amazons take very seriously indeed. Diana embodies that, I think.
What do you want fans to ultimately take away from your “Flashpoint” comics?
Abnett: I hope they enjoy this alternative look at them and the differences in their lives that very small changes can create. We’ve really enjoyed examining them this way. I hope it’ll be a pleasure for readers to do the same. Looking at it in a new way reminds you how very cool it is and how cool it is in their own books on a regular monthly basis.
Lanning: “Lois Lane and the Resistance” as well, there are some very cool reveals and interesting new characters I hope people enjoy.
Finally, what do you want to say directly to the fans and “Flashpoint” readers?
Abnett: Please, please buy these books!
Lanning: If it goes well, we might get to blow up Portugal! [Laughs]
Abnett: Seriously, we just hope that if people pick it up they enjoy it and stick along for the ride, because we certainly enjoyed writing it.
“Wonder Woman and the Furies” issue #1 arrives in stores June 15. “Lois Lane and the Resistance” issue #1 arrives June 22.