“Infinite Crisis” may not be over, but this month readers began getting a glimpse of its affect on the DCU with the release of the first One Year Later titles. How Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern and the rest of the DC Universe reached this point, from DC Comics’ “Infinite Crisis,” will take a year in itself to reveal. The mystery unfolds in the pages of one of the most ambitious comic projects to date, the weekly series “52,” and at a panel on Day One of Wizard World Los Angeles.
The Herculean task of orchestrating the event, namely explaining how DC’s status quo has changed, falls to four of the company’s top writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. Friday Johns, Morrison, Waid and DC Senior Vice President-Executive Editor Dan DiDio all discussed the challenges and excitement surrounding “52” during the DC Nation Tour panel.
The writers said the effort has been totally collaborative, not just mere assignment of characters or specific issues.
“It’s ultimately collaborative,” Waid said. “I think we all kind of went in thinking that ‘Alright, let’s all throw out a bunch of ideas and you’ll go off and write this issues, and I’ll write odd number issues and Geoff will do this’ and it ended up being a lot more fun and a lot more collaborative than that.”
Over the next year, “52” will focus less on DC’s big three and more on some of the second tier characters, such as Booster Gold, Black Adam and Steel, among others.
“We just made a list of certain characters, each with different properties at their core that represent different areas of the universe we want to explore. We kicked some out of it and we put some more into it,” Johns said.
Waid said they came up with a list that pleased all four writers.
“Of the roughly six or seven characters that we follow throughout this in various stages … and every one of us likes all of those stories,” he said. “Every single one of us walk out of that room with no sense of propriety. I think we felt like, ‘I would write any of it. I love all of those stories, I would write any of those stories.'”
With so many characters, Waid said he expected each writer to have their favorites, and possibly even become a bit possessive of the ones they were writing. That, however, has not been the case.
“It’s like we are in a band. It’s exactly what it is like. We are all collaborative with every issue, every thing so far has some pages written by somebody in it. And if we do our job right, you can’t really tell that. You can’t really tell who writes what, that’s not part of the job. The job is to put all of your ego aside and tell a really good story. Man, everybody really stepped up with this,” he said. “You would think with four guys in a room there would be some territorial marks or whatever, but no, we are all riffing off each other’s stories.”
Waid said he can’t believe there have been no arguments, and that each writer would easily step into help any of the other three.
“I can’t believe someone has not just run out of the room at any point,” Johns said.
The stories in “52” are unfolding in real time, each issue taking place exactly one week after the prior issue. This unique take has presented the writers with a challenge in itself.
“One of the things we have to do with every issue is we want to make sure you come back next week,” Waid said. “It’s harder than it looks. ’52’ takes place in real time, we don’t necessarily see every day of every week, but every issue takes place in real time the week after the previous one. Now what this means is, we want you to come back and follow out on the exciting arc of the characters, but as a writer the tool that is taken away from us is this, the cliffhanger. … We can’t leave that for a week and pick up with it next issue because it will be seven days later. None of us I think saw that coming.
“With that tool taken away from us, that is a very convenient way of getting you to come back next issue … we don’t have that advantage. Instead what we have is it has forced us to go into characters more and forced us to write characters and their situation with such a real dramatic drive that you want to find out what happens next week not because it’s the next instance in their lives, but because something horrible has happened to them or something amazing has happened to them and you can’t wait to see how that affects their story.”
DiDio said The One Year Later titles are about the mystery, making “52” a year long reveal.
“With ‘One Year Later,’ the goal was always to create the mystery. That you are wondering what had happened and where it happened,” he said. “The way the editors are working right now they are building those answers or those solutions in the books themselves. Not that you have to read ’52’ or ‘Crisis.’ So, you still get the complete story inside the series as well.”
This is something Johns said he thinks will really add to the series.
“I think it’s also much more intriguing to read Superman and he has no powers. Then to figure out what happened, why does he have no powers. To me it’s much more interesting,” Johns said. “For me it creates much more mystery. I love the One Year Laters as a writer because you get to add to the mystery. You know the Teen Titans have had 25 new members, half of which are brand new characters, but now they are not on the team. … Or like with Green Arrow we see him one year later and he’s the mayor of Star City. In ’52’ we see how he became the mayor.”
The year-long weekly will not only bring readers into One Year Later, but will also spur new stories, the writers said. Morrison said the “Son of Batman” storyline spins out of something that happens in “52.”
DiDio hinted that not all of the characters focused on in “52” will necessarily survive. When asked if Booster Gold will feature in the new Blue Beetle book he said, “Booster Gold will be in ’52’ and you don’t know if he makes it out alive.”
The writers did a good job of keeping things a mystery during the panel of what will unfold from May ’06 to May ’07, but all of them seem very excited about their combined efforts in reshaping the DCU and the stories each are telling.
“It’s been the most fun collaborative process I’ve ever been a part of,” Waid said.
Waid was not the only member of the “52” team to praise his colleagues.
“I think some of the stuff Mark wrote, there’s some stuff in ’52’ that I think is some of the best [stuff] Mark has written,” Johns said.
CBR’s coverage of Wizard World Los Angeles is Sponsored by Comics Unlimited.