In the three years since DC Comics relaunched its entire superhero universe as the New 52, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have been the creative force behind “Wonder Woman,” weaving a “Godfather”-style tale of secrets, betrayal and revenge among Diana’s family, the Greek Gods. All things must end, however, and this year marks the finale of their epic mono-story. Upon their departure, Azzarello and Chiang hand over the keys to the Amazonian demigod’s world to the just-announced husband-and-wife team of artist David Finch and writer Meredith Finch.
After honing his skills for years, illustrating high-profile projects for Marvel and Top Cow, David signed an exclusive contract with DC in 2010. Since coming on board, he’s put his spin on heroes such as Batman, Superman and the rest of the DCU through his work on books including “Batman: The Dark Knight,” “Justice League of America” and, most recently, “Forever Evil.”
While David is a comics veteran, Meredith Finch is a relative newcomer, with only three “Tales From Oz” one-shots published by Zenescope to her name. “Wonder Woman” not only marks her first ongoing series, it’s also her first collaboration with her husband, though the pair have designs on an eventual creator-owned project.
The couple spoke with CBR News about their plans for the series beginning with November’s “Wonder Woman” #36, the Amazon’s mythological family and the daunting challenge of following Azzarello and Chiang’s critically-acclaimed three-year run.
CBR News: Not only is Wonder Woman one of the biggest characters in the DC stable, but you two are coming onto the book after a critically-acclaimed three-year run from Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, a run that established her in the New 52 and broke the character’s traditional superhero mold. Is it intimidating to take over the book after a run that has had so much attention paid to it?
David Finch: For my part, this is actually the first time I’ve come onto a book in the middle of a run in a long, long time. It’s really nice that I get to come after Brian Azzarello, who I’ve been a fan of for a very, very long time; I think it has a great tone, and visually it’s really great — Cliff Chiang did a beautiful job. It gives me a lot to go with, which is nice, and it’s easier when I’m a big fan of what came before.
Meredith Finch: For my part, I’m just really fortunate I have the opportunity to have such a complex universe of characters that Brian has done a fantastic job creating. So from my point of view, I’m just really blessed that he’s given me so much to work with instead of me creating everything from scratch!
Meredith, I know you’ve written a little for Zenescope, but this your first time writing on a big, ongoing series. Is it basically something of a dream job?
Meredith: You know, it really is. I can’t say how grateful I am to DC for giving me the opportunity. It’s definitely a learning experience because I’ve done three one-shots for Zenescope, so to take a story and create an entire arc of what I want to do with [Wonder Woman] and having a lot more say in what’s happening in the book has been a lot of fun. It’s been a huge learning experience, but I guess I have a little ace in the hole because I have David here. He’s written comic books before, and he’s so steeped in the comic book industry, that if I have a question or I need to know something about comics lore, I have my own personal encyclopedia who lives in my house! It’s only been a bonus for me having him as a resource.
David: I have to say, I really thought, going in, I would have a stronger hand, but I feel like my main influence comes down to layouts and pacing. Its great to be able to have that input, it’s something I really enjoy. I really spent the first seven years or so of my career at Top Cow and everything I did was done loose Marvel-style plot. We’re not completely doing that right now, but I definitely have more influence than I would if I had a complete script. I’ve been so fortunate to work with writers who do that really well, so I certainly couldn’t complain, but it’s great to be able to put my stamp on it a little bit, and I feel like that’s really where I’ve been contributing. I think Meredith has been so strong with the story, and she’s had great help from Matt Idelson and all editorial at DC. I feel like she really hit the ground running.
Have the two of you collaborated on a creative project together, either in comics or outside of it?
Meredith: He says no, but the fact of the matter is, yes! [Laughs] He did that “Wolverine” #900 that he co-plotted with C.B. Cebulski, and of course we talked about it, and I also talk through ideas with him, and we have conversations about how to do this or on that–
David: I think it’s been a bit of a — we actually came up with a creator-owned project years ago that one day it would be great to do if we actually found the time to do. When I did “Batman: The Dark Knight,” for the most part, I wanted to do something a little darker, and that’s not really where DC was coming from. I wanted it to be my own. I probably ignored advice that would have been helpful! [Laughter] I feel like I went from trying to take a lead role with a lot of that stuff to realizing, you know what, I’m an artist. I feel pretty comfortable doing that, and I’m really not a writer; it’s not my strong suit. I have a really hard time keeping plot details oriented in my head because I’m so visual. I’m happy to leave the writing to somebody that is a little smarter than I am!
The last three years have given us less of a traditional superhero story and more of a re-imagining of Greek mythology along with Wonder Woman’s personal mythology. What is your take coming onto this book? Are you going to continue that tone and the idea it’s more myth than superheroes?
Meredith: I think that coming on as the new writer, I would be doing myself — and really, all the work Brian’s done — a disservice to try to recreate or continue his story. He’s done such a beautiful job telling it, and it wouldn’t be fair to him, it wouldn’t be fair to the fans, and I don’t think it would be fair to myself to try to continue on all the stories he’s done. I know at the end of his issues, he is planning on having that story essentially wrapped up. So while there’s going to be some of what he’s created, because I’d be foolish not to take advantage of what he’s got, we’re definitely going to steer the book a little more into a more mainstream — I guess I’d say there will be some superhero stuff in it. It really will still be a very character-driven book, though. I think that’s what Brian did so well with it, and what we’re hoping to do in terms of telling the character stories in our own way.
David: We absolutely want to make sure there’s a balance between her Amazonian lifestyle and the gods and all those things, and also the fact that she’s a superhero and has relationships with all these superheroes. She’s part of the Justice League, and that’s an important part of who she is — we don’t want to shortchange that.
To that end, we’ve seen Wonder Woman showing up in a lot of the Superman and Superman-related books. Are you guys planning on having Superman popping into “Wonder Woman,” or highlighting her relationship with these other Justice League heroes by having them pop in?
Meredith: Definitely, it’s going to be a factor as we’re going through our story, because again, like David said, we can’t ignore it. Brian really did concentrate a lot of what he did on her life as Diana, God of War, and part of that Greek mythology. She does have a relationship with Superman, and it’s a relationship-driven book — I think we can’t help but touch on it in some degree. It’s not going to be the main focus of the book, because that’s what that “Wonder Woman/Superman” book is for, but in the same way that she probably comes and goes in his books, he may come and go in an arc or two.
Then let’s talk about your focus on the book. Generally speaking, what interested you in “Wonder Woman?” What’s your sense of the character?
David: Well, for my part, I’m pretty visual and I’m really interested in that. She’s got a great costume and she’s got a lot of history — I’m really very visually attracted to “Wonder Woman.” She just looks great on the page. It was actually after talking to Meredith, for me, that I thought it was a good fit for me to try the book. She had some great ideas for who she felt Wonder Woman was as a person, and she had such a human take on the character, it really attracted me and I thought, “Yeah, this is something we can do. I think this could really work.”
Meredith: I would say Wonder Woman was really the first superhero I was exposed to. Lynda Carter, that “Wonder Woman” TV show — as a little girl growing up, I didn’t even know superheroes existed until I watched Wonder Woman on TV, and then we had the Superman movies around the same time. So for me, she’s always been the quintessential superhero.
One of the things I was really drawn to about her is, she has such integrity and that she really is the balance in-between. Batman is that really gritty, dark hero, Superman is really — I don’t want to say almost god-like, but he’s really pure. She sort of combines the best of both of them and she has a lot of character. I think the thing that drew her to me the most was her integrity and the courage of her convictions. She may not always be right, but she’s going to follow through and do what she believes in, whether anyone else believes in it or not. I really love that she’s willing to take a flying leap and then deal with the consequences later.
What would you say are your immediate short-term goals on the book? Do you have plans for one, long story, or do you want to do shorter arcs that establish Diana’s interactions with the rest of the DC Universe?
Meredith: I really love that great big mono-story that Brian did. But I think, especially because I am coming into this as a relatively new writer, that is something a really experienced writer can create and hold onto all the pieces. We won’t be telling one gigantic thirty-six or -five issue story. The first arc will be a shorter arc, but after that, I don’t know, because I think, inherently, stories just carry through. Part of what Brian has done naturally just carried through; there isn’t a finite beginning and end to anything. So we’re going to play it by ear a little bit, we definitely have the first six issues planned out, the first two books are written and we’ll see where we go from there. I think once you get in to writing a character, they tend to evolve and they really take on a life of their own for you, and what you planned six months ago may not be where you take them today.
David: In terms of the actual story itself, I think really, the main theme we wanted to touch on is just Wonder Woman as a character and as a person. She has her personal life with Superman, and she has her professional life with the Justice League, and she also has to deal with the Amazons and the gods — and all these things conflict with each other. She’s ultimately a human being, she can’t be everywhere at once, and it’s incredibly stressful. I think some of what Meredith wanted to do was really play off of that clash; it really tells a lot about who Wonder Woman is. And, um, uh — I’m babbling, I’m not the writer! [Laughter]
Is there a favorite part of the mythology you’re getting to play with in your first couple of issues or any part you’re really excited to touch on with this book?
Meredith: For me, it’s just being able to write Wonder Woman. She’s really a female icon from way back in the ’70s when females were stepping up and taking such powerful roles. Being able to take on that quintessential female superhero who represents so much for myself and for millions of people out there — especially at a time where comics are coming more into the mainstream — I feel like it’s really special, and that’s really where I’m coming from when I’m writing this. I want to always keep who she is and what I believe her core is central to what I’m doing.
David: And for my part, I’m excited to be drawing Meredith’s story and to be drawing such an icon. That’s something — since I’ve been at DC, it’s been an incredible privilege to be able to draw characters like Batman, and to the limited degree I’ve had, to draw Superman, and now to get into Wonder Woman. I think she’s a beautiful, strong character. Really, from where I come from, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.
Meredith and David Finch’s “Wonder Woman” run begins with Issue #36, on sale in November 2014.