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Wilson Readies a More “Hopeful” Tone in DC’s “Earth 2: Society”

by  in Comic News Comment
Wilson Readies a More “Hopeful” Tone in DC’s “Earth 2: Society”

Befitting its title, DC Comics weekly series “Earth 2: World’s End” has depicted a rough period for Earth 2, with the planet under attack from Darkseid and Apokolips. But in June, when “Earth 2: Society” launches as part of DC’s new publishing initiative (24 new series set to debut starting that month and continuing into July), heroes like Green Lantern, Power Girl and The Flash will have a fresh start — a very fresh start, as they’re picking up, and moving to a new world, following the April 1 conclusion of “World’s End.”

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Writer Daniel H. Wilson — a novelist whose first comic book work of length came as part of the “World’s End” writing team with Marguerite Bennett and Mike Johnson — is set to continue this story in “Earth 2: Society,” illustrated by Jorge Jimenez. Yet the writer told CBR News during a recent press event at DC’s Burbank offices that this series will have a more “hopeful” tone, as he and Jimenez prepare to engage in some very literal world-building.

CBR News: Daniel, you’ve been writing in the Earth 2 world for about a year, and this is the next step — and a lot’s been happening! What can you say about where this book picks up?

Daniel H. Wilson: Yeah! I did not take it easy in “World’s End.” You need to pay attention, you need to take notes. [Laughs]

I’ve been carrying these characters in my head for a year. Twenty-six issues, two double issues, so much of it is happening. All of it is occurring with this impending doom. We know that the world’s at stake, and everyone’s trying to survive. Darkseid, of all people, is after them. Tonally, it’s a little bit of doom and horror. So I’m really looking forward to “Earth 2: Society,” because it’s jumping into more of a hopeful tone. It’s about rebuilding. It’s about starting over in a new place, and choosing what world you’re going to create and live in.

What characters will readers see in “Earth 2: Society”? The word “society” certainly has implications.

We will see a lot of Justice Society members. We’ll see Green Lantern, Power Girl and Huntress. Mr. Terrific is one of my favorites, I know he’s going to have to come through. Val-Zod. Beyond that, I think most of the characters we’ve seen in “World’s End” are going to be coming through. I’m looking forward to playing around with Dr. Terry Sloane. I love him, I can’t quit him. [Laughs] So many machinations with that guy. Fury’s coming through. Of course Flash and Kenda [Hawkgirl] are going to be coming in. Jimmy Olsen is one of my favorites.

I’ve got quite a few characters to play with. That’s kind of one of the challenges — how do I play with all the toys and further all the storylines but also maintain some focus? What I’m hoping to do is make sure that the theme can carry this book. I’m trying to set up a really clear theme: “Do they move forward or they go back? Are they going to try to recreate what they lost on Earth 2, or are they going to try to adapt and create a new world?” That theme I think is going to underly every single issue, and it’s going to be the decision that’s behind every emotional arc for every character.

The stated goal of DC’s current publishing initiative is to give creators freedom to tell stories they want to tell, explore their takes on characters. In what ways is this series a different creative opportunity than what you had been doing with these characters previously?

First of all, it’s just me, and it’s one artist, and it’s a monthly, so I have time. I have time! Four issues a month — it’s an amazing thing to pull off, for everybody involved, all the multiple writers and all the artists and editors. That’s the main thing I’m looking forward to, just being able to really take my time and get into the themes. I want to surprise people with every issue. We did an eight-page preview that’s going to be coming out pretty soon, and there is a surprise on every single page. There are eight surprises. Some of them are little things — little, cool, technological things, where you go, “oh, neat!” — others are bigger. I just want to remind the readers this is a new world. It’s going to have challenges.

For me personally, I’m really looking forward to having the time to get into some of my own themes that matter to me as a person. For instance, I am a Cherokee citizen. I grew up in Oklahoma, within the Cherokee nation. I vote. I participate in the nation. I’m not a full-blood Cherokee person, I would never claim to be, but it’s part of my childhood, it’s a part of my life, it’s interesting to me. This is clearly colonization — they’re showing up to a new planet to colonize it. There are indigenous lifeforms on this planet. That speaks to me. There are themes there about whether they even have the right to tear down that world and rebuild it in whatever way they want. And I love the symmetry. What did Apokolips just do to Earth 2? Apokolips showed up and they destroyed the world so they could make it what they wanted it to be. Now we have our characters with this exact same dilemma, and they’re on the other side of it. Thematically, it’s just fascinating. I really can’t wait to get into it and put these characters into really difficult positions where they find out about themselves.

“Earth 2” was among your first comic book work, and now you’re continuing with it, so I suppose it’s safe to say you’re enjoying it.

Yeah! And they hired me again. That’s so nice. [Laughs]

Are you looking to sink your teeth into the comics world even further? Do you see yourself as a comics writer as well as novelist now?

I absolutely do. First of all, I like to diversify, because I’ve got kids to feed. If my last novel, for some reason, does terribly, I want to be able to do different things. [Laughs] Writing a comic is so collaborative, there’s this relationship with an artist, and with editors — there are human beings involved. With a novel, it’s really just me in my study or whatever, by myself. On that level, I’ve loved it, because I like to interact with other human beings. That’s a fun part of a day, if you can squeeze it in there.

I’m taking on more and more comic work. I’m finishing up writing a graphic novel for DC called “Quarantine Zone.” That’ll come out probably later this year. It’s really exciting. It’s outside of the DC Universe, it doesn’t have any of the characters that probably anybody cares about. [Laughs] It’s a really cool high concept, and it’s been really fun to write, and I’ve learned so much.

Now that I’ve done it, I love it. The instant gratification — you get to see the art, the character design. Interacting with people. It’s really fun.

That has to be two very different experiences — going from writing novels by yourself to co-writing a weekly comic with other writers, collaborating with artists, working with editors.

It’s also a little bit different in terms of your ownership, and how they feel about owning it. You write a novel, and you’re really totally responsible for it, which is a source of pride, obviously. But also, your novel is a car in a snowstorm, and you start it, and you have to start driving — with this, you’re jumping on a bullet train. These characters have been going, they have their own fans. It’s kind of fun to just jump into the fast lane and try to steer for a little while.

With a new #1 that’s spinning out of a weekly series, how do you handle the balance of touching on everything that happened before, and keeping things open so anybody can pick it up?

I’m picking a unique structure — reminiscent of the “Lost” television show, where we’re doing some flashing around, some flash forwards. It’ll be the identity of the book. Move forward or go back. I’m going to let that theme carry the book, and I’m going to explore different characters each time, and jump forward and see what’s happened, and then go back into deeper, character-driven stuff, and figure out what decisions were made to get people to these shocking conclusions.

You mentioned enjoying the collaborative nature of comics — what has you excited about working with the artist on the series, Jorge Jimenez?

He has his own style. I’m looking at the character designs — they look like Jorge made them. That’s pretty fun. It’s also fun to be able to start from the ground level with somebody. For me, I have more of a technical background. I used to be a roboticist. I love all the gadgets — I’m sending him reference images of exoskeletons, trying to, from the ground up, really build a convincing, technological world. Obviously, it’s in the DC Universe, and that’s already got its own momentum, but we are literally on a new planet. We literally have to build cities from scratch. For me, it’s a really fun thought experiment, to figure out not only how they do it, and then collaborating with Jorge.

It’s a book that’s going to be about rebuilding a society out of basically nothing. I think that it kind of speaks, on a meta-level, to reading comics in general. When you read a comic with a character you love, part of you feels nostalgic, and you kind of want the character that you know and love in the same thing again and again, and you want to go back to the way things were, maybe, if you’re been reading the character for 10, 20 years. Then there’s another part that says, “What’s new? Change something.” Like Superman getting a new power — you see people’s reaction to this stuff. “Oh wow, something major is different.” Balancing that — when you read, you want some nostalgia, but you also need things to change so that it matters. That’s the same kind of issue that the characters are going through.

“Earth 2: Society” #1 is scheduled for release on June 10.

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