Scott Kolins (“The Flash”), who takes over “Magog” as both writer and artist beginning with “Magog” #11, was originally scheduled to begin his run with a five-issue arc entitled, “Blown To Kingdom Come” but with DC Comics’ recent announcement of the series’ cancellation, that story will now be cut to just two issues.
However, Kolins told CBR News exclusively that DC liked where he was heading with Magog and his “Kingdom Come” origin tale and have planned a double-sized “Justice Society of America” Special to give the creator a project with which he can properly finish the story.
The character of Magog made his debut in the 1996 Elseworlds miniseries, “Kingdom Come,” created by the superstar creative team of Mark Waid and Alex Ross. Within the what-if future, Magog is the new Man of Tomorrow, an Ã¼ber-violent anti-hero who is in constant conflict with Superman and his Justice League, comprising of Wonder Woman, Wally West Flash and Dick Grayson Red Robin.
The character was then introduced into DCU proper in 2008 during Geoff Johns’ most recent run on “Justice Society of America” just prior to the megahit ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ arc, first as Lance Corporal David Reid, the great-grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later as Magog.
In 2009, DC Comics launched the recently canceled series with writer Keith Giffen and artist Howard Porter.
Kolins shared details about his important, albeit truncated, run on “Magog,” including what he thinks about his leading man’s personality, costume and raison d’Ãªtre.
CBR News: Originally, you signed on for a longer story but in the recent solicits we see the series is coming to an end with “Magog” #12. Your first issue isn’t even out yet, so do you wish DC would have given you a proper chance at delivering a Magog story so big, they would have had to keep the series alive? Â
Scott Kolins: I wish the fans and retailers would’ve had a bit more confidence, but it is what it is. DC has been very, very supportive. In fact, they still like my story so much that they’ve arranged a double-sized “Justice Society of America” Special #1 to finish the “Blown To Kingdom Come” story, which fits nicely as Magog’s old teammates are part of the climax. I’m working on that now.
To your understanding what was the reason the series was canceled? Was this purely based on sales?
As far as I know, yes. Hey, if something isn’t working and fans want to see something else – we move on. A Magog series may have been a long shot for some readers, but I give DC lots of credit for trying something different. And regardless of how this project changed, it is still a great opportunity for me. I got to create stories with Mike Carlin as editor. I have a few more issues of writing experience and learned a few more lessons. It’s all progress.
You mentioned progress, but let’s talk about process. It’s definitely not the first time you’ve served as writer and artist on a project, but what does this type of assignment mean to you in terms of commitment, and how do you break up your day/work week?
I love the opportunity to grab the whole book and shake it to see what I can do. I love the process of working with a team as well, but writing and drawing is still very new and scary refreshing. It really tests my skills. My work week doesn’t change too much. Most of the time, I’ll work on the writing as I’m drawing each day on the previous issue or the previous job. So as I was finishing what I did before “Magog,” I’ll write up the “Magog” plot so it’s ready to draw when my pencil hand is free. I’ll spend a few weeks prepping ideas and going over the topic with the editor. This is what I did on “Solomon Grundy” and what I did for “Magog.” In the case of “Magog,” I also got to talk a few times with Keith Giffen, who’s a real hero of mine. I’ve always loved Keith’s work as writer and artist and he was very helpful to me, wrapping my head around Magog to understand him better. So I’ll work up the overall plot over a couple weeks and then turn that in before I finish the previous issue. With the editor’s OK, I draw the pages based on a tight plot with panel breakdowns and loose dialogue. Once I’ve finished drawing the issue, I’ll go back and write the final dialogue – which the editor and I will go over.
Have you made any adjustments – subtle or dramatic – to your penciling because of the subject material, namely Magog?
Well, I started the tonal style again. Fans of mine might remember a Canadian group I drew a few year ago – Omega Flight – which I also drew in the tonal style. I thought it would be nice for the “Magog” covers, which DC responded to very positively. They encouraged me to use it inside the Magog story as well, so I found a specific usage in the story which was fun. Most of the issues are drawn in a regular style that looks inked, but there are a few pages here and there that are drawn tonally. Hopefully this can add some excitement to the story.
When Magog was originally introduced, Mark Waid reportedly asked Alex Ross to make him look like “everything we hate in modern superhero design.” What do you think about his design? Are there elements that you love in the design? Some you hate?
Magog’s design is very busy, and I understand that lampooning a trend of the time was the original idea, but Alex is a very talented artist and designer – so he probably couldn’t help but make sense of those over-complicated character designs. So what started as a joke eventually came to be something with more depth and character to it. As I understand it, Alex really came to like Magog’s design once it was done. Magog does take more time to draw, so the busy aspect is still there, but the implied randomness factor of the costume is actually not too crazy. I’ve drawn far worse. I liked his design before – especially in the context of his original story – being a ‘counterpart’ for Superman, but I actually like the design more since drawing him page after page. The biggest trick for me was giving the horns the respect that’ll make them work. My first drawings tried to play down the horns and make the tighter to his head or smaller, but it never felt right. Eventually I decided to stay much closer to the way Alex drew them and they worked better. There’s almost a certain Kirby grandiose-ness to them. Like Kirby’s Hela with her extravagantly horned head or those big fins on the side of Galactus’ head. If you tried to diminish those visual aspects of each design, the character wouldn’t look right. Those costume pieces help the operatic feel for the character. There should be some of that “larger than life” feel in Magog, too, I think.
What about the character? How did you find his voice?
I’ve finished “Magog” #11 and #12 and I can tell you, half of the fun is not only what Magog or David Reid says, but how people react to him. I feel like he’s one of those characters who have a dark cloud hanging over them. Even more than a bad reputation, some people immediately have an awful reaction to Magog. He does not get his due or respect. Some are put off by his look, some by his level of violence, but he sticks to what he thinks is right and pushes on through. I like that in a hero. Somewhat misunderstood, but honest and forthright.
The solicitation for “Magog” #11 teases our hero flashing towards his eventual future in Kingdom Come. Were you a fan of that series when it was originally released?
I am a big fan of the “Kingdom Come” series. I felt very much the same way as the main characters and it was a great topic to put in a heroic story. I also think there were some basic concepts in that series that made Magog such an interesting character. It made him a character that we are still trying to tell stories about all these years later, similar to the recent story arc of Magog getting kicked out of the Justice Society of America. Magog works best if rubbing people the wrong way. It’s just his nature. Or his fate?
How will that epic tie into what you’re doing in “Magog”?
I think it should be the underlying tension for the length of his title – or even most of his appearances in other books. Magog is all about the threat of things going wrong or too far. But, what is “too far?” That premise allows for many possible stories. So yes, I’m using what I can. And one of those pieces is the war machine: N-I-L-8.
Can you share any details about his debut in DCU proper?
He’s tied in very closely to David Reid and will re-enforce the fine line controversy that is Magog’s life. Again, what is “too far?” I’m also tying this together with the origins of Magog in the DCU based off the wildly popular “Justice Society of America” storyline, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Hopefully, I’ll weave it together well enough and make everyone happy.
So N-I-L-8 is definitely part of this story and will be a major contender for the action and plot. My hope is to make him a big enough character that the fans will want to see again and again. Not that N-I-L-8 is alone for the conflicts. I’ve created a bunch of fights that build this thing up.
What role will the JSA play in this story? And will we be seeing Magog out of his superhero duds as David Reid?
There will be a JSA angle that will grow in the story and none of them will be happy about it. Yes, there are some pivotal David scenes in this, from some unfinished business in Ordell, Kentucky to some major scenes dealing with N-I-L-8.
The cover for “Magog” #11 reveals a Flash will be in play for at least that issue, which reminds me – when are we going to see those Wally West stories that you and Geoff [Johns] were scheduled to do as a co-feature for the new “Flash” ongoing series?
There’s nothing with Geoff that I can announce yet. But those starving for some Wally West will want to check out “Magog” #11. I had a lot of fun in starting this story.
Are you working on anything else these days?
I was invited to join in with the “DC Universe Legacies” series. I’m drawing two pages in every issue. It was another outlet that DC thought would play well with the tonal artwork I’ve started again. It’s such a treat to be part of a book with such legendary creators.
“Magog” #11, the penultimate issue of the series, is slated for a July 14 release.