“Retro-Active,” an upcoming series of one-shots bringing together classic DC Comics writers and artists from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, was announced earlier today at the DC Nation panel at San Francisco’s WonderCon and CBR has the details.
According to DC Comics:
“‘Retro-Active’ reunites classic writers and artists with classic characters Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Justice League of America, returning to the interpretations they are best known for. Each of these series will have 3 one-shots that pay homage respectively to the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.”
Each one-shot will contain 26 new story pages along with 20 pages of classic stories re-printed from that specific time-period. In an exclusive series of interviews, CBR spoke with some of those classic writers and artists – namely Keith Giffen (writing the ’90s “Justice League” one-shot), Marv Wolfman (writing the ’70s “Superman”), Louise Simonson (writing ’90s “Superman) and artist Jon Bogdanove (drawing ’90s “Superman”).
“We’re getting the Sunshine Boys back together!” Giffen laughed, revealing that his ’90s “Justice League” story is co-written by long-time collaborator J.M. DeMatteis and artist Kevin Maguire. Giffen also stated that his 26 new pages would feature his incarnation of the Injustice League as well as the full 1990s Justice League International roster: Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Big Barda, Mr. Miracle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, Black Canary, Rocket Red, Power Girl, even Power Girl’s cat.
“The way [DC Comics] put it was, look at your run back when you were doing ‘Justice League International,’ find a moment there and tell an untold story,” explained Giffen. “It’s one last blow-out. It’s one last hoorah for the characters.”
His trademark sense of humor evident, Giffen made sure to emphasize that his new JLI story will have the same heady mix of comedy and drama that made his ’90s run so appealing. “We do the kind of comic books Craig Ferguson would write: kind of goofy, kind of shameless. But what we wanted to do with these 26 pages was to remind readers why it was fun and how we could go from ‘Seinfeld-type’ sitcom comedy to heart attack! From Power Girl’s cat to BOOM Despero,” added Giffen.
The writer then summed up both his one-shot and his era of “Justice League” with three simple words: “Not too shabby!”
Simonson and Bogdanove spoke enthusiastically about the plot of their new story for the ’90s “Superman” one-shot, entitled “Speed.”
“The back-story is that Superman has already fought Doomsday, died, gotten better, and has just arrived home from a space adventure; Lex Luthor Jr. (actually a clone with the original Lex Luthor’s brain) is in the early throes of a devastating disease that is affecting the clones of Metropolis. Luthor has begun to age rapidly and is sliding into madness,” said Simonson when asked to explain what her all-new 26-page story would entail.
“For the continuity buffs out there, the ’90s was the era of five interlocked Superman titles – our story in ‘Superman: Retro-Active’ takes place between pages, about halfway through ‘Man of Steel’ #31,” the writer added.
Explaining that the story also plays out against the beginning of a war between Cadmus and the Underworlders, Simonson promised nearly all of her run’s famous characters (minus Doomsday and Dubbilex) would show up in the one-shot: Lois, Jimmy, Perry, Professor Hamilton, the Cadmus crew including Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, Charlie and Underworlders, and Keith and Myra at the orphanage.
“We may even be able to fit in an appearance by Steel,” said Simonson before adding, “Our ’90s continuity was nothing if not…complex.”
Bogdanove revealed he was working hard to make the one-shot look as close to his early ’90s work as possible, taking into consideration his growth as an artist over the intervening years. “I am using my powers as a chameleon artist to imitate myself!” he told CBR, adding “Weezie [Simonson] specifically requested big-shoulder fashions for Lois and I’m really enjoying her old Elizabeth Shue hairstyle.”
Both Bogdanove and Simonson were thrilled to be back together working on their iconic DC character.
“Besides the chance to work with Louise on Superman again, one of the reasons I agreed to do this was the opportunity to work ‘Marvel-Style’; I get to draw the story from a detailed synopsis by Louise,” said Bogdanove explaining that by “Marvel-Style” he means the way the two learned to work together while at Marvel Comics. He continued, “[Louise] then writes dialogue according to the finished artwork. It’s a more organic process, with a greater degree of collaboration between writer and artist.”
“[Jon’s] art is all about power and emotion and his Superman is utterly distinctive. It just wouldn’t be our ‘Man of Steel’ without him!” added Simonson.
Switching to the 70s “Superman,” Marv Wolfman hinted to CBR that his story would involve many of his original and famous “Superman” characters, and take place during the 1980s.
“What I’m doing is picking up on a story I had written back in the ’80s, featuring a character who is quite famous now and then turning everything we know on its head – I am using DC continuity from the ’80s onward in a story firmly rooted back then,” said Wolfman before mysteriously adding, “Oh, yeah…there is also a major surprise at the end which will make this a little bit different from what anyone expects.”
Wolfman stated that his new story would have many elements of his ’80s run – complete with captions and editorial notes – but his ultimate aim was to tell a good story. “I think the plot will feel like an ’80s plot, but it’s subtly not. I am hoping people will think it gives the feel of an ’80s story without looking back on those days with the irony of nearly 30 years passing,” said Wolfman.
“Although this will sound impossible, considering my age, I believe I am the only person ever who can say he wrote Superman each decade for a total of six decades: I can say that because my first Superman story was for ‘World of Krypton,’ then some Lois Lane stories in ‘Superman Family,’ etc. back at the very end of the 1960s (I believe 1969) and I’ve written at least one or more Superman stories every decade since and now into the teens,” he added.
More than anything, all four creators wanted to make sure to tell a story that not only paid homage to the specific time-period they came from, but to honor the characters the grew to know and love so well.
“When you come down to it, we’re just caretakers of all these characters,” said Giffen. “All you can do is hope that whatever you put out there, enough people will think it’s worth the money to purchase. And if you have that, you have a life-long career!”
“Superman is still the selfless character he’s always been, we’ve just given him nuance and shading. Superman is my favorite comics character,” added Wolfman, summing up his era of “Superman” as one of experimentation. “We definitely did some stories with artist Gil Kane that would never have been done a few years earlier [and] after Julie retired and we redeveloped Superman, I’d say the issues I wrote with Jerry Ordway as artist were definitely aimed at a much older audience. There was a lot more subtlety to the stories,” concluded Wolfman.
Bogdanove also professed his love for the Man of Steel and described his and Simonson’s run as “Historic,” saying that their ’90s comic did everything from his death to his marriage, selling the most “Superman” comic books since the 1940s.
“I think one of the things that distinguishes the work Louise and I do together is that, for us, Clark is the man and Superman is the job… Clark Kent is a true ‘melting pot’ immigrant: he may be of Kryptonian heritage, but he is an American first and foremost,” said Bogdanove.
“We wanted to feature the things we loved about our ’90s Superman. The series title is ‘Retro-Active’ and we certainly want it to be that: complex and almost maniacally active,” added Simonson.
Besides the Simonson/Bogdanove and Wolfman teams, “Retro-Active’s” Superman one-shots will also feature Martin Pasko (’70s). Cary Bates (’70s), and Gerry Conway (’80s) will be working on the two other “Justice League of America” one-shots. Other contributor’s include Dennis O’Neil (’70s), Roy Thomas (’80s), and William Messner-Loebs (’90s) on “Wonder Woman;” Cary Bates (’70s), William Messner-Loebs (’80s) and Brian Augustyn (’90s) on “The Flash;” Dennis O’Neil (’70s), Len Wein (’80s), and Ron Marz (’90s) on “Green Lantern.” And writing the “Batman” titles will be Len Wein (’70s), Mike W. Barr (’80s), and Alan Grant (’90s). “Retro-Active” will be published throughout July and August of this year, and will run at $4.99 a piece.