Adam Glass made his comics writing debut for DC Comics earlier this year with “JLA 80-Page Giant.” With the Super Friends tucked away into his bat-belt bucket list, the supervising producer of Warner Bros.’ hit genre series “Supernatural” is now playing both sides of the oversized penny as his next challenge is re-imagining some of the most sinister villains of all time for the “Flashpoint” tie-in miniseries “Flashpoint: Legion of Doom.”
And while this alternate reality incarnation of the Legion of Doom is without classic members of the team from the original “Challenge of the Super Friends” animated series like Lex Luthor, Bizarro and Gorilla Grodd, there is Black Manta. And Sportsmaster? And…Animal Man?
Remember, this is “Flashpoint.” That means Bruce Wayne died in Crime Alley, not his father; Cyborg is the new Superman; and Heat Wave, the miniseries’ featured ne’er-do-well, is badder than Leroy Brown.
Created by John Broome, Heat Wave originally appeared in “Flash” #140 in 1963. A long-time “member” of the scarlet speedster’s famed Rogues Gallery, Heat Wave was also affiliated with the Secret Society of Super Villains during “Infinite Crisis” and “Final Crisis.” However, Glass told CBR News, in “Flashpoint: Legion of Doom,” Heat Wave doesn’t play nice with the other supervillains; he’s more of a one-man wolf pack. And more importantly, he’s Cyborg’s greatest threat.
Glass also revealed that while the Darth Vader-looking Hall of Doom does exist in this altered reality, it’s no longer the Legion of Doom’s secret hideaway. Instead, it’s a supermax prison containing Heat Wave and all the other rogues — meta and non-meta — that Cyborg has decommissioned.
Kicking off June 22, the three-issue “Flashpoint: Legion of Doom” features art by Brazilian illustrator Rodney Buchemi (“Incredible Hercules”) and long-time “The Flash” inker Jose Marzan, Jr., with covers by Miguel Sepulveda (“Thunderbolts”).
CBR News: When we spoke about “JLA 80-Page Giant,” you mentioned you were a fan of “Super Friends” when you were a kid. So I guess writing a Legion of Doom comic fulfills some kind of childhood fantasy.
Adam Glass: I loved the Legion of Doom, especially the Hall of Doom, which looked like a big, floating Darth Vader helmet. It’s funny. When I first started talking to Patrick McCallum, who is editing the book, I said, “We get to use the big Darth Vader head, right?” And he said, “Absolutely.” So I was like, “Great. And it has to come out of the swamp — I want to see that.”
The Hall of Doom, and even the Legion of Doom, rarely, if ever, appears in the DCU proper. That, in and of itself, must make this assignment particularly rewarding.
As you know, “Flashpoint” is very much not regular continuity. It is set within the DCU proper, but it’s very much an altered version.
I guess the best way to explain it is, this is basically Heat Wave’s story, and it’s a classic revenge story. Cyborg, who is the Superman of this world, is his target because he stopped Heat Wave from doing something he really wanted. In the process, Heat Wave received burns over 60 percent of his body and he loses his sense of smell and taste. So he can’t smell or feel fire, which sets him off even more.
What he was trying to get to was, he found a way, which I can’t reveal, to become the ultimate weapon of fire but was stopped in the process by Cyborg and sent to prison.
So the Hall of Doom, in this setting, in our world, is a maximum security prison for supervillains. It literally flies to the villains and picks them up from wherever they have been incarcerated. It’s really cool. You actually see it coming out of the swamp, flying to these places and coming down to pick these guys up.
Amazo is the superguard and inside, the supervillains are separated by metas and non-metas. So instead of the classic ethnic structure that would be in a regular prison, it’s the guys with powers versus no powers. All of the metas have collars that sap their energy and powers.
Heat Wave is a total lone wolf. He’s up against everyone. He hasn’t joined anyone. He has his mind set on revenge and how he is going to escape. No one has ever escaped from there, so he’s attempting the impossible.
But he has an ace up his sleeve. We’re going to take one of DC’s most beloved heroes and give him a villainous makeover. I can’t say who it is. You may have already figured it out, but you’re not going to hear it from me.
Well, Plastic Man doesn’t look too friendly on the solicited cover for “Flashpoint: Legion of Doom” #2…
Let’s just say that he is definitely a big part of our story.
Which other DCU supervillains have you cast in “Flashpoint: Legion of Doom”?
I love Animal Man. I’m actually currently re-reading Grant Morrison’s epic run with Buddy Baker. Why explore his fall from grace in this venue?
He’s in there because he’s wrongly accused of killing his wife. But like anything, the prison has turned him into something else. He’s trying to stay straight and trying to be hero, but you have to make your bed with somebody sooner or later, and he makes his bed with the meta gang. Eventually, they say, “Look, we’ve been protecting you for a long time and we’re not going to protect you anymore unless you start doing our bidding.”
So he’s forced into a big fight with Heat Wave to prove himself. He doesn’t want to do it, but if he doesn’t, his days inside are numbered.
What was the thinking behind the decision to cast Amazo as the Hall of Doom’s superguard?
He’s the ultimate guard. He’s also the guy these villains hate because as soon as you show up, he sucks your powers. But we’re also going to see with Amazo that everything isn’t as it seems.
We also learn Ollie Queen owns this prison, so the villains find out that their weapons and their powers are being used for other things. And this isn’t all on the up and up. They’re actually being used too.
There’s also an Oz-like character that is behind everything.
Black Manta is another one of my favorite bad guys. How did you round out the cast? Is tit made up of your choices or were there specific villains you had to use?
“Flashpoint” is such a big, wide, gigantic series that I had to make a big list of guys I wanted to use. There were definitely a lot of people who I wanted that didn’t make the cut because they were involved in other books, but I’ve always been a big fan of Black Manta and a big fan of Sportsmaster. I’m an old “JSA”/”All-Star Squadron” guy. Back when I was growing up, it was the Earth-Two Sportsmaster character.
But again, this is Heat Wave’s story and these guys are all playing supporting roles.
Legion of Doom featured some heavy hitters back in the day, including Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Does Heat Wave have the chops to be this book’s big villain?
Geoff Johns did a great one-shot on him, which I used as my jumping-off point. In that book, what Geoff really got down to was that this guy is psychotic. He’s the worst kind of psychotic because he actually has something that motivates him, which is fire.
He’s more than an arsonist. Fire drives him. It’s his everything. In that book, and we talk about it a little in our book, he burns his house down with his family in it when he was a kid. And he didn’t go running to the police. He was excited about it. Once you get under the layers of the guy, he’s fucking crazy. He’s a true, true psychotic, so I used that as the jumping off point for him and like I said, I took from him the thing that he loved. And if you love something and all of sudden, you can’t feel it anymore, smell it anymore, taste it anymore, it just amps you up even more.
You’ll see when you read the book, right from the jump, he has this ultimate plan for how he can basically become this living inferno and be one with the fire. And when that gets taken away from him, he’s a dog with a bone. He is literally obsessed, and his obsession is not only, “I am going to hurt Cyborg,” it’s, “I am going to destroy everything that Cyborg loves, to whatever extent that means.” And you’ll see that’s a pretty far extension.
It’s a classic revenge story, but on a really big, global level. It’s not about how powerful you are. Our history shows that. Look who shot JFK or Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s not some supervillain. One man can change the world. He doesn’t have to have superpowers. All he needs is drive, and Heat Wave has that in spades.
So we’re obviously going to see a really dark side of Heat Wave and a dark side of humanity. When someone is out for revenge like him, a twisted psychotic like he is, it’s a really interesting journey. I think people are going to be surprised by how the book has a ton of action but also, how psychological the book is.
With Heatwave and the other supervillains serving as the lead characters in your series, are we supposed to be cheering for them or are they portrayed very much as villains?
I think it’s much like the way that you root for Hannibal Lecter. [Laughs] It’s sort of the same thing.
For the first two books, it’s really a prison story. It’s all about Heat Wave’s revenge, how he’s going to escape and the politics and the pecking order of what’s going on inside.
How does this series reflect what’s going on in “Flashpoint” and the other “Flashpoint” tie-in miniseries?
It’s an isolated story, and yet you feel the influence from what’s going on outside the Hall of Doom. They speak about it, they talk about it. Cyborg, obviously, is a gigantic character in it. He’s our Superman. He’s sort of the big device that our revenge plot is all pitted around. So you feel it more than you live with it everyday. It’s around them. They talk about Atlanteans. They talk about the Amazons. But it’s Cyborg who makes it all connect because he is the Superman of this universe.
Cyborg versus Heatwave isn’t a classic DCU confrontation. Was this your idea or were these two main adversaries handed to you?
They pretty much said these are going to be the two guys, and I had to figure it out. You have to find ways to make that into an interesting fight. And we do. You’ve got one guy that is obviously much more powerful than the other guy but in this book, Heat Wave is really a criminal mastermind. He’s really smart and is always two steps ahead of everybody. Putting the pieces together and figuring out how Heat Wave can basically bring Cyborg to his knees — well, you’ll have to read the book to see how that plays out.
Cyborg has a long history within the DCU, starting out as a member of the Wolfman/Perez “New Teen Titans.” He’s also been featured on TV for more the 25 years, dating back to the old “Super Powers” cartoon and most recently on “Smallville.” I know Brad Meltzer wanted to use him in his relaunch of “Justice League of America” a few years back, but it never really came together. All that said, Cyborg has never really been considered by fans, or creators, as an A-lister. Is it finally Vic Stone’s time to shine?
I think so. Cyborg has always been an amazing character and his time has finally come. I think what this book will show is that he is a Superman-esque character. He has the ability and powers to not only be a team member but an amazing leader.
The other thing, too, and it’s something you mentioned, the Wolfman/Perez “New Teen Titans” had a big influence on me when I was a kid. I’m 42, so “The Judas Contract” was a big series for me. I’ve been a fan of Cyborg’s for a long time. Think about it; how many guys are super strong, super smart, super big and at the same time, seem to be a pretty nice guy?
There are not enough African American superhero characters out there, and here we have a great one that has been underused and is finally getting his shot in the spotlight. He’s hip. He’s cool. I always used to think when I was a kid, with that kind of armor, what could I do? Now I get to see what I would do.
And by the way, I think technology has caught up to him. When he first appeared, he was a little sci-fi. Now, the world has caught up with him and he’s the kind of character that people can identify with. He’s the supercomputer.