This September, the history of DC Comics’ New 52 Universe is getting a bit murkier.
Behind the scenes of the world-saving actions seen in top tier hits like “Justice League” and “Action Comics,” the government has also been building up its defenses against aliens like Superman. And it’s that story which will be told in the pages of “Team 7” — the new monthly series by Justin Jordan and JesÃºs Merino launching with a #0 issue. Based on the concept of the original ’90s WildStorm title by Chuck Dixon and Aron Wiesenfeld, “Team 7” will feature the black ops adventures of the government’s superhero response team, made up of familiar faces from both the DC and WildStorm Universes like Dinah Lance, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor and John Lynch.
Already known amongst comic fans for his Image Comics series “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode,” Jordan is making his big two debut on the series, and the writer spoke with CBR News about how the ’90s WildStorm aesthetic impacted this new book, how characters already appearing in the DCU like Grifter and Deathstroke will fit into this “five years ago” ongoing and what secrets behind the early DCU will be revealed over the course of “Team 7.”
CBR News: Justin, let’s go back a ways with you before this gig actually came about. Most people know you’re an Image creator thanks to your series “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” (and its incoming sequel!). What was your background as a reader in regard to this project? Did you follow the early days of the WildStorm Universe including the Chuck Dixon/Aron Wiesenfeld “Team 7” series?
Justin Jordan: I did! I was always a pretty big WildStorm fan, actually, especially once it started getting into the more covert ops side of things. The Dixon series actually remains one of my favorite comics from the ’90s. It hit a nice sweet spot of special forces type stuff mixed with superheroes. So getting to revamp the Team for the new DCU is pretty awesome and, truth be told, a little intimidating because I do like the original so much and it still has a ton of fans. Doing something that lives up to the original without being a total retread is pretty daunting.
How did you hook up with DC to start working on this book? Had you been looking to expand into mainstream work? What was your first response to the idea of working on “Team 7”?
One of DC’s writers had read “Strange Talent of Luther Strode” and told Editorial about it. They liked the book, and one day I got an email from Bob Harras, which was kind of funny actually, because when Bob asked me what I wanted to do, my answer was damn close to this book. So, serendipity there. I had been interested in doing some mainstream stuff. I mean, I grew up with these characters, so getting to play in that sandbox was exciting. I love creator-owned stuff, but there’s room in work life for both.
In its original conception, Team 7 was a group who came together as a covert black ops team, and then their connections ended up having ripple effects through the subsequent generations of the WildStorm U. How directly does this idea transpose over to the DCU?
The ripple part is already being seen, and considering the characters that are involved, it’s only going to keep going. It’s interesting; the concept of this Team 7 initially seems more different from the original book than it is. As the series goes on, you’ll see more and more parallels.
The book takes place in the past of the New 52 Universe, which is a place we’ve seen explored some in books like “Action Comics” and (maybe more importantly here) “Justice League.” Overall, how have the hints already dropped, especially for characters like Steve Trevor, play into what you’re building here?
Pretty strongly. I mean, this is where you get to see what those hints are alluding to, and in a very large way, how being on this team shaped who these characters are in the modern DCU. That said, those hints aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of cool stuff coming along that will give you a real sense of how this world worked and how it got where it is.
One of the major differences between this group and the original is the makeup or the team — not just in specific cast, but in terms of their skill set. This seems like a Team 7 very much centered on a superhero world. How does the emergence of superheroes play a role in the book in terms of plot and theme?
This Team 7 is explicitly a response to the emergence of superhumans, which is different from the original Team, who were being manipulated in an attempt to create superhumans, which is a big difference.
The basic idea with this Team 7 is that the emergence of superhumans has basically scared the crap out of the government, and they are scrambling to respond. Imagine if, suddenly and without warning, nukes started showing up in the world. Superhumans in this time period are basically an out of context event. A black swan. Something that virtually no one had considered was a possibility. So, it’s not that this team is specifically there to take out superhuman targets, it’s that they’re designed to assess and respond to superhuman threats. They are kind of a first contact team, and one of their bigger purposes is to create a protocol for dealing with threats when they come up. And their skill set reflects that. Everyone that’s on that team is on that team for a reason. We worked out what they brought to the table and what their role would be for the team in general — it’s not just a random grouping of characters.
You draw on a wide range of DC and WildStorm mainstays to make up this team. At this point in the game, whom have you found most engaging as a writer? What characters are taking lead in the book, right out the gate?
Dinah, right now. I’ve spent the most timing writing her, so far, and I’m enjoying writing her. I enjoy writing female characters, so having her and Amanda Waller together in the same book is great fun.
That said, I want to, over the course of the book, give each character some time in limelight. Like I said earlier, the characters on the team for their skills, and those skills mean that some of them are going to play bigger roles on some missions.
A number of your cast — Dinah Lance, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, Cole Cash and Slade Wilson — appear elsewhere in the modern DCU right now. Are you writing these characters with a specific endpoint in mind, or do you have the flexibility to not worry about that?
The coordination has taken a bit of effort. I come from an indie background, where I just need to keep my character’s histories internally consistent with themselves. Here, I’m writing a past for characters whose current versions are still in progress, which is challenging. This is especially true when trying to do so with the zero issues, which are also set somewhere in the past.
But yeah, from the very start, we’ve known where this version of Team 7 is going. There is an endpoint in mind, and you’ll see the reverberations of that in the current DCU.
On the other hand, John Lynch and Alex Fairchild are two characters we’ve seen very little of since the New 52 started (though their “offspring” have made an impact). What’s been most interesting for you about reinventing these WildStormers for the new DCU?
I’m trying to get the ideal versions of the character. I mean, is this the Lynch from “Team 7” or the one from “Sleeper?” Now, obviously, those are the same guy, but the way the characters are written is different — and not just because of the decades of in story time that separates them.
So, when I’m looking at reintroducing these characters, I’m trying to figure out what the essential qualities of each of those characters are — the parts of them that people who’ve read the books in the past will recognize them.
Like every DC book in September, “Team 7” has a zero issue on tap. What was your focus, first and foremost, for this first taste of the team’s adventures, and how does this story lead into the opening arc?
With the zero issue, what we were trying to do was establish the characters and what the overriding mission of Team 7 is. So you get to see how and why Team 7 is formed, and you’ll know why these characters are on this team. This leads pretty directly into the opening arc, as the team acts on what they find out in the zero issue.
Your artist on the series is JesÃºs Merino who’s been teaming with a lot of big names of late at DC. What is he accomplishing with the book now that he’s working fully solo, and how does that impact your scripting?
Well, his stuff looks terrific. It’s very WIldStorm, and I mean that as a huge compliment. JesÃºs and I have talked about what we want the book to look like visually, and I’m writing scripts with that in mind. This is an action-packed book, so I’m trying to do my best to tell Jesus do his thing and not let me get in his way. So far, that’s been working damn well.
Justin Jordan and JesÃºs Merino explore the underbelly of DC’s New 52 in September’s “Team 7” debut.