When James Robinson abruptly left “Earth 2” and DC Comics in May, fans of the series held their collective breath waiting to see who would fill the Eisner Award-winner’s sizable shoes as the series’ regular writer.
In what is clearly a massive vote of confidence for his best-selling work on DC Comics’ digital-first series, “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” Australian writer Tom Taylor has been tapped to join forces with artist and countrymate Nicola Scott beginning with November’s “Earth 2” #17.
Taylor, who has also enjoyed success writing a number of “Star Wars” series for Dark Horse Comics, told CBR News that Robinson was leaving the superheroes of Earth 2 in a “brutal” place for him when his run begins in November but that he and Scott are up for the challenge.
Citing legendary fantasy heavyweights like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, Taylor, who is reimagining the world’s finest in “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” is obviously primed for telling fresh stories with his new world’s Big 3 — Green Lantern, The Flash and The Atom — while expanding the mythos with other characters like Batman, Red Tornado and some yet-to-be-named others.
Taylor also teased that the Batman currently under cowl on Earth 2 will soon be revealed and that something is bubbling beneath Arkham. Read on to find out what he has in store for the New 52’s other earth.
CBR News: A few years back you enjoyed success with an eight-issue run on “The Authority,” but the DC Comics book that really raised your profile is obviously your current run on “Injustice: Gods Among Us.” How has that complex level of re-imagined world-building prepared you for your latest assignment on “Earth 2?”
Tom Taylor: “Injustice” is a fair way removed from “Earth 2.” With “Injustice,” I’m playing in our world to a certain extent, and I’m writing established heroes. With “Injustice,” I see my role as breaking down and torturing characters I love. I hate doing it. And I think one of the reasons people are fascinated by “Injustice” is because they’re seeing a slow dismantling of the World’s Finest friendship as told by someone who desperately doesn’t want it to happen.
“Earth 2” is something else entirely. I’ve obviously had to create and populate a lot of worlds in the Star Wars universe over the years but this is something very different.
“Earth 2” is a world similar to our own but it’s scarred. This is a universe still in its infancy, and it’s already been through so much. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are gone. Whole cities have been lost. Firepits have opened up across the planet. And, in James’ last story you’ll learn just what insanity I’ve inherited. It’s pretty brutal.
You have taken some incredible risks on “Injustice,” to the delight of some fans and the ire of others. Are you more willing to take those kinds of risks now or did the creative climate and circumstances of “Injustice” allow for a special brand of storytelling?
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had the sort of creative freedom on a licensed book as I’ve enjoyed with “Injustice.” The writers at NetherRealm and my editor, Jim Chadwick, have shown a huge amount of faith in me from day one and I think this is exactly what writers need. I’ve responded to that level of respect and trust by putting everything into “Injustice.” It’s a weekly book and it would have been easy to phone some of it in. But I’ve foregone sleep many times to make sure I’m happy with every single syllable. I feel a real ownership of this book and that’s largely down to Jim’s support.
As far as risk-taking, there are a lot of people on this thing called the internet who seem to get angry when you do things they weren’t expecting. People on the internet can now read something and immediately react from the comfort of their own lounge rooms, or tree houses, or jet skis. Yes, the internet is mobile now so it works on jet skis. If we listened to the vocal minority on the internet, stories would be dull and safe and nothing would ever change. In short, stories wouldn’t be stories, and you wouldn’t need storytellers.
If Tolkien was writing chapter by chapter with the internet watching, Twitter would have told him to let Bilbo stay in his nice cozy hole and to tell that wizard and all those freeloading dwarves to go screw themselves.Â Bilbo never would have gone there, or back again, because Tolkien would have been disheartened and spent the rest of his days watching animated GIFs of cats.
Have you been following James and Nicola’s current run on “Earth 2?”
Absolutely. There are people who haven’t been? Present them to me. I will show them the error of their ways.
[Laughs] What is it about the series that you think has resonated with readers like yourself and is that something you hope to continue and emulate or will your run come with a new direction?
I think it’s that blend of old characters made new, along with the uncertainty of everything. The big three are dead. No one is safe here. No one knows what will happen next. You could be settling in with a group of characters that you completely love, and then suddenly someone comes along and George R.R. Martin-s up the place.
G.R.R.M. as a verb. I love it. Has Robinson, officially or unofficially, left you any specific plotlines or loose threads you need to address during your run or is your first issue the beginning of a fresh start?
Unofficially, a homing pigeon showed up at my house with a piece of twine around its ankle and no message. That could have been from James. Officially, James leaves with a bang. Trust me. He really is dropping me in the middle of something huge.
We’re a few months out from the release of your first issue, but what can you share with us about your first arc?
There’s not much I can say just yet, mainly because I don’t want to give anything away that James has created. However, I can tell you that big changes are on the way. New faces are coming. Batman’s identity will be revealed. Red Tornado’s role will probably come as a surprise. And what comes from beneath Arkham is… No, I’ve said too much.
While James has been building histories predominantly with the Big 3 of The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom, he’s also been populating Earth 2 with other notables like Dr. Fate andÂ Red Arrow. Will you continue to focus on Jay, Alan and Al or do you have plans to showcase other superheroes?
I really like that Big 3. We will definitely see them all. But yes, we will be showcasing other heroes as well.
Any teases of which superhero will make their New 52 debut next?
Maybe someone you’ve never heard of…
Do you have a favorite Earth 2 superhero?
I really like Alan Scott and I think there’s a vast amount of potential for his character. I also think, being one of the most prominent openly gay characters in the DC Universe, his role is incredibly important. If you’ve read my creator-owned series,Â “The Deep,” you’ll know how I feel about heroes being representative ofÂ everyone.
Desaad and Solomon Grundy are the two featured headliners in the two Villains Month specials this September. Will these two supervillains continue to play major roles moving forward or will you be raising hell with other mortal enemies of Earth 2’s superheroes?
You’ll just have to wait and see. I think it will be obvious by the last page of James’ run.
Finally, you are collaborating with fellow Aussie Nicola Scott, who has been there since the beginning on “Earth 2.” What do you feel she brings to a project?
Nic and I are friends. We get along like a house on fire, without the smoke-inhalation, screaming and property damage. I think she’s wonderful and I have a lot of time for her husband too, who’s also a talented writer. We have worked together once on theÂ “Legends of the Dark KnightÂ story, ‘The Crime Never Committed’Â and that was one of the first times I’ve plucked up the courage to ask an artist, “Could I have a page of that please?”
I’m stupidly excited about working with Nicola. Her work is just stunning. She can do the flash-bang, and the giant-impending-doom spreads with the best of them but it’s her character work that excites me most. Nicola can put so much real emotion into every person on the page, and that’s where I hope our “Earth 2” will shine.
Tom Taylor takes the reins of “Earth 2” starting with issue #17 in November.