Alex Ross on "Superpowers"

Dynamite Entertainment announced last month the creation of "Superpowers," the next project by the "Earth X" and "Justice" team of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. The project, described by Dynamite Publisher Nick Barrucci in conversation with CBR News as being in development for the last three years, is scheduled for release at the end of 2007 and marks the return of a host of classic Golden Age heroes and villains, all under the creative and artistic direction of Ross and writer Jim Krueger.

Many of the featured characters have not been seen in many years, lost to time and obscurity. They have all have been drawn, designed and/or re-imagined by Alex Ross, including Fighting Yank, Green Lama, The Death Defying 'Devil, the Black Terror, Masquerade, The Flame, Mister Face, Samson, The Scarab, The Owl, the Claw, Pyroman, the Arrow, the American Spirit, the Crusaders, the F-Troop and more.

CBR News speaks now with Alex Ross about the project, its origins and its goals.

When we previously spoke with Dynamite's Publisher Nick Barrucci, he told us "Superpowers" has been in development for about three years now. How and when did you get involved?

Aside from the guys working for him, I probably was one of the first people Nick talked to about it. Nick's desire to grab these characters, these legends, and work a grouping tale around them is something he's been talking with me about seemingly forever, at least going back those three years. He's had the title "Superpowers" for over the last year. Really, this is Nick's drive and passion making this all come together.

I'd been thinking about it a lot while I was working "Justice," basically just putting mind to the story and Jim Krueger's been a part of it since then as well. It wasn't really until my time became free after "Justice" that we've been able to spend any appreciable amount of time working on this; talking about it and working on the characters. For me, it just takes sitting down with a blank piece of paper and starting to tool out teaser images, designs, redesigns and just taking a fiscal approach to it all and asking the question, how do I illustrate these Golden Age characters today?

Let's talk about those characters. Who chose the line-up, you or Nick?

Nick's main push was for characters like Black Terror and – I don't want to call him the "Golden Age version" for fear that Marvel thinks we're promoting things based upon their character names – well, we're calling him Devil. "The Devil" is much like a nickname in this situation. I brought in my own "fanish" sensibilities by saying I really wanted the Flame and Green Lama and Samson and these characters I knew of from looking at a lot of art history books as a kid. Characters from by gone days that would always mesmerize me and I'd think, "Who were these guys? They're no longer around, but look at that costume!" You can credit the Golden Age "DD" for being the stylistic precursor to characters like Spider-Man and so many others. The Flame always had some of the best art and people wouldn't necessarily know off hand that he's the first flame related superhero character in comics.

I did not know that. The only character in the line-up I was really at all familiar with was Samson, this crazy, ridiculous character who's survived the years.

What can you tell us about the story you've developed to bring all these disparate characters together?

Basically, there are these super beings from 60 some years past that populated the world during wartime and they all mysteriously disappeared, and we're offering the answer to that mystery in our series. It's about how they were sort of absconded and how they can hopefully be resurrected from this sort of trap that has them lying in amber. It's sort of the metaphorical equivalent of what we've done creatively, and I can't say much more than that until that first issue delivers. It's hoping to be a very passionate tale of [laughs] "drama and intrigue" and blah blah blah [laughs].

Seriously, the series is meant to roll out a lot like a grand miniseries on the level of a "Kingdom Come" or something like that. Like any of the major miniseries you see involving a grand plot and a whole host of heroes that are a part of it.

Your participation on "Superpowers" is as a creative consultant, and you've redesigned all the characters and are providing the covers for each issue?

Right, and I will contribute a few elements for the interiors as well.

Can you clarify what a "few elements" means?

There might be a page by me, or some panels in the interiors. I'm trying to give as much as I can to it. We'll see how that all bears out in the end.

Painting the interiors of a book for me has always been a tough thing because of the investment of time. I beg only this of my fanbase, and that is to let me be Brian Bolland for a while, OK? [laughs] Let me cash in on some of that cover love that you guys have given him and Adam Hughes and so many others over the years, okay?

Oh, so you need a little break!

Yeah! Now stop busting my balls! [laughs]

You're obviously a big fan of the grand mythology superhero universes afford. With "Superpowers," is it your intent to do some mythology-building of your own?

As I've done with "Astro City" and in some ways done with "Earth X," yeah. It's an assembly of elements that don't necessarily all fit together, but yeah, we're trying to make a new patchwork quilt from them.

Image Comics is also reviving a number of these golden age heroes with their "Next Issue Project." While it's a very different series with different goals, are you at all concerned that there might be some confusion caused by having two series out there at the same time with similar characters? Do you have any comments on these two series, both reviving Golden Age characters?

There's always the drive to be first and, like I said, we have been planning and coordinating this for a very long time, so it's not like some flash in the pan that's thrown together to compete with any other publisher. It's bizarre to think that everyone is thinking about this kind of stuff at the same time. Why now? Why this? I'm hoping there's enough creative room for all of us and certainly what I've heard about on their end sounds interesting and I'll want to buy it, too. I just hope there's enough room for all of us at the table.


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