This week, Dynamite Entertainment announced “Prophecy,” a massive seven issue crossover event involving a staggering number of characters including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Pantha, Alan Quartermain, Dorian Grey and more. Based around the Mayans’ 2012 end of the world prophecy, the storyline brings heroes together in order to prevent the destruction of the Earth and the universe. Written by Ron Marz with art by “Red Sonja” artist Walter Geovani, “Prophecy” promises to pit many Dynamite mainstays against impossible odds to help save the entirety of creation.
Marz spoke with CBR News about the upcoming event, its inception, the challenges of bringing characters from different time periods and genres together and his goals for “Prophecy” as a whole.
CBR News: What’s the story behind “Prophecy?” Why are all these characters from Dynamite coming together in one book?
Ron Marz: It’s an idea Dynamite presented to me at the Baltimore convention last year, so this has been in discussion for a while. It was really a first time for them to try and put a bunch of different characters into the mix and tell a coherent story. That being said, obviously these are some pretty disparate characters in terms of what era they’re from and where they’re located. So, a big part of the discussion was how do we actually get these characters in the same place? I think the springboard for it was that because these are mainly licensed characters — IDW has their “Infestation” crossovers, but those bring a singular threat threaded into the respective books of the characters — it’s not like the characters met each other to any great extent. We wanted to take this one step further and make sure that these characters actually met each other and interacted and did all the things you would expect in a crossover.
Many of Dynamite’s characters, such as Red Sonja and, say, Dorian Grey, are from drastically different time periods and cultures. Was there any difficulty in figuring out how to have them interact with one another?
Oh, yeah, that’s part of the challenge and part of the fun of it, actually, sorting out the logistics of how they’ll come together. Once that part of it is figured out, getting a sense of how they’re going to interact with each other, how they’re going to react to their surroundings. One of the reasons I’ve done a number of crossover stories and why I’m drawn to them is because you get to do things in these stories that have never been done before with these particular characters. I’ll be able to bring characters together that have never met each other, and to me, that’s fun. That’s a bit of a rare opportunity in comics where, generally, if you’re dealing with licensed characters or a big two universe, these characters have been around for so long that you end up using a lot of the same touchstones over and over again. The example I always end up trotting out is, “How many times has the Fantastic Four fought Doctor Doom?” Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that, I think the audience likes that stuff, but I think there’s something cool about showing something that’s new and different and hasn’t been done before.
The press release teased the end of the world, asÂ prophesiedÂ by the ancient Mayans. Will the heroes of the book primarily work to prevent the end of the world or does that serve as a catalyst for a larger threat?
You think we need a larger threat than the end of the world? [Laughs] First thing’s first, let’s save the world and the greater universe at large. Obviously, it’s tied in to the Mayan 2012 prophecy. Now, I think everyone’s under the impression that has to do with Snooki’s upcoming baby. It’s fun to bring together these characters especially if you have a threat that’s worthy of all the characters coming together and I think that we do.
Some of Dynamite’s characters regularly straddle the line between good and evil. How do you play with these morally ambiguous characters in “Prophecy?”
I actually like that aspect a lot. I’m more drawn to characters you would generally think of in shades of gray rather than white hats and black hats. I like the fact that maybe not everybody in the mix is completely trustworthy, and maybe not everybody in the mix is going to end up on the side on which they start. This kind of story makes for some strange bedfellows.
You’ve mentioned how much fun you have writing crossovers — what is it about “Prophecy” you think is unique to the crossover mentality?
Overall, it’s the allure of the new. I think part of it for me is the fact that those are the stories I remember so strongly from my childhood. The book that got me reading comics again as a 15 year old was the “X-Men/Teen Titans” crossover. I had kind of left comics in my rear view mirror at that point in my life, and I stumbled across that issue and was just so taken with, “Wait a minute, these characters aren’t supposed to be meeting! How did this happen?” I picked up that book and really got drawn back into comics in a big way. I guess, personally, a lot of it goes back to that issue. There was something very special about it for me as a reader. I try to a certain extent to recreate that when I do these kinds of story.
Is there anything special you’re doing with “Prophecy” to help recapture that attitude for fans who might mainly be familiar with Dynamite’s books?
Well, anytime I approach a story, one of my primary concerns is making sure it makes sense if you haven’t read a comic in ten years, that it makes sense if you’re not an every Wednesday Warrior who knows the continuity backwards and frontwards. “Prophecy” is that kind of job times ten for me because I want to make sure if you’re not reading any of these books or if you’re reading only a few of them or if you’re reading all of them that you understand who these characters are, you understand where they’re coming from, you know what their motivations are and how they’re going to interact in the story. You shouldn’t have to have a degree in continuity to read any book on the stands as far as I’m concerned — especially something like this, where you’re hoping an audience beyond the regular readership is going to pick it up. You have to make the thing accessible, you have to make it worth the reader’s while. They should get to the end of issue #1 and understand who everybody is and what everybody wants rather than making them feel like they need to look up a Wikipedia page to get the information for the story. As far as I’m concerned, you should get everything you need to know within the pages of the story.
Is there a particular bit of character interaction you’re looking forward to playing with?
So far, I’ve really enjoyed the interaction between Red Sonja and Vampirella. Once I did rediscover comics again as a kid, those were a couple of the stories I was drawn to; the Frank Thorne “Red Sonja” issues in some quarter bins, and obviously, if Vampirella was good enough for Archie Goodwin, she’s good enough for me.
You’re working with artist Walter Geovani on the project. What’s your collaborative process been like so far, and how did he end up being your partner for this story?
Obviously, he’s the regular “Red Sonja” guy, so he’s already got that notch in his belt. I think he’s a good, fluid storyteller. One of the things I like about his work is that he’s good at giving you a sense of place. He doesn’t scrimp on the background. I think a sense of place is an important aspect of this story because we’re going to be visiting a few different eras and a few different locations. Plus, he’s a really solid artist. I know he might not get the acclaim of guys working on big two superhero books, but I think he’s a real gem.
Are there characters that will feature more heavily than others in the book?
We’ll certainly have a number of characters that are the core group. Obviously, it’s not going to be every character that’s ever appeared in a Dynamite publication, because these are all licensed characters. There’s a level of approval and people signing on for the project that you need that adds another layer to it. I think we’ve got a pretty representative group of characters and I think we’re going to be able to tell a very satisfying story with the people that we have.
Will “Prophecy” affect what’s going on in any of Dynamite’s core titles?
No, everything’s going to stay self-contained within the seven issues of “Prophecy.” You don’t have to go buy any tie-in issues, you don’t have to go get one-shots. It’s a complete series in and of itself. That’s the way it was pitched to me and that’s the way I wanted to do it. To me, that’s the way you do a crossover, at least for my money. I don’t want the story to sprawl out in fifteen different directions at once. I want to have a story that drags the readership along with it through the main story, not a bunch of rabbit trails.
What have you found to be most challenging in writing a crossover on the level of “Prophecy?”
I think the challenge is really coming up with the mechanics of how everybody comes together. When you’re dealing with characters that are from different eras, it becomes a little bit more involved in terms of having logical reasons to show up. When the Avengers fight the X-Men, we know they’re all in basically the same place at the same time, so you don’t have to make these huge leaps of logic to make that make sense. Something like this, we’ve got a little bit wider spectrum of characters. Again, once you get that mechanism in place, it’s a little easier to deal with it as a whole.
Ron Marz and Walter Geovani’s “Prophecy” comes true in June.