Before he became one of the major new voices at DC Comics, Hugo Award-nominated scribe Paul Cornell made a name for himself writing weird, dark and bloodthirsty tales for fantastical British franchises like “Doctor Who,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood.”
That’s exactly the same style of storytelling Cornell says he will employ with his two series set within the new DC Universe, “Demon Knights” and “Stormwatch.”
CBR News previously spoke with Cornell about “Demon Knights” and now the man behind the final issues of “Action Comics,” Volume 1 sheds light on his second title launching in September, “Stormwatch.”
Created by current DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee, Stormwatch made its debut in the first issue of its self-titled series, released by Image Comics in 1993. Just as the Wildstorm Universe once folded into the confines of DC Comics, becoming its own imprint in 1999, many of the Wildstorm’s major players, including key members of Stormwatch, will exist within the new DC Universe when the entire line relaunches this September.
Cornell discussed some of his lineup for the revamped team, which includes Jack Hawksmoor, Apollo, Midnighter and the biggest surprise of all, original JLAer Martian Manhunter, as well the importance of the title within the new DCU.
CBR News: First off, was this your pitch or something DC approached you about? What was your familiarity with the original Stormwatch and the other Wildstorm teams and characters?
Paul Cornell: They came to me and asked me if I wanted to do “Stormwatch.” I’d recently got very familiar with Stormwatch and The Authority because “Planetary” is one of my Top 3 comics ever, alongside “Fables” and “Scott Pilgrim,” and I just wanted to see where that had come from. So I’ve been reading back into that universe anyway.
There’s a certain attitude that those books have and that’s what we’re keeping — along with many other things. There’s arrogance. Stormwatch tend to look down on the universe. And that’s quite appealing, in a way. So that’s kind of what ‘The Edge’ means for us. The ability to experiment, to be completely mad. This is the maddest book in a really good way. It’s kind of extreme, and it’s extreme in all sorts of ways. It’s got that flavor that the Authority family of books had. I hope.
This is seen as a really important book in the new wave of titles, because it’s a capstone. It’s where a lot of things come together and we’re reflecting things in other books immediately in a very natural way. We’re a place where you can find out about what’s happening in all sorts of other books in the DCU.
From the teaser solicitation, we know Wildstorm alum Jack Hawksmoor, Midnighter and Apollo are members, or will be members, of the new Stormwatch. Can you share any other details about the team and its makeup?
I’ll start with Jack Hawksmoor. I think Jack’s a good example of what makes the superpowers from those books different, as well. They’re kind of a bit less showy, incredibly powerful, but kind of conceptually different too. There is something — and I use this word kind of precisely — of a medieval cosmology about them. When you say somebody is the God of Cities, that he’s in control of cities, that’s not the same as saying that somebody can project beams from their eyes. There’s a nice romantic leeway with that. And that’s one of the things that I love about these characters, and I’ve created some characters for this book, which are in the same mold.
But truly, Jack’s very fun for me. I think there’s something very urbane and American about him. I get this very educated, American voice in my head when I’m writing him, so that’s where he’ll be coming from for this. I’m really glad that’s he’s front and center on the cover, because he’s one of the major voices on the book.
From the cover, you see Midnighter and of course, the Martian Manhunter, who was everybody’s first choice for this book. [Laughs] And there’s Apollo.
And Apollo and Midnighter, as you’re probably going to ask, are out and proud because I wouldn’t have written this book if they weren’t. Not that I had to protest about that because DC was actually quite adamant. Actually, we’ve been asked to see what our options are in regards to diversity in all of our books. With “Stormwatch,” it was simply a case of, “Yes. Let’s keep that the same.”
That’s all I can reveal at the moment. There are some familiar faces apart from that and some news.
OK. Before we move away from the membership, let’s circle back to Martian Manhunter. Was he someone that you brought the table or were you asked to include J’onn J’onzz?
It was a suggestion that they made when they came to me with the team, and it really kind of works for what the book’s going to be, which is what you guys haven’t heard yet and I can’t say and that’s what the mission statement is. Stormwatch aren’t superheroes. They’re not a superhero team. And they don’t do superhero things. They do something in particular, and the Martian Manhunter being there really suits that. But at the same time, he puts a bit of a cog in the works because as people have already started saying, he and Stormwatch have different ways of going about things. And they do.
Were you a fan of Martian Manhunter coming in or were you at least familiar with his backstory?
I really liked the version of him used in “Justice League” back in the day, but that’s not where we’re going with him. He got very cuddly and… he’s not meant to be cuddly.
Martian Manhunter’s membership in Stormwatch very much bridges the DC Universe with the Wildstorm? Do you explore this new shared universe at all in this series? Or is it, Stormwatch is now in the DCU and let’s move on with it?
Stormwatch has always been part of the DC Universe.
Exactly. No. I see this is going to be my life now. OK. In terms of our world, no, that was a separate universe. In terms of the new DC Universe, Stormwatch has always been a part of the DC Universe. They haven’t suddenly arrived in a blaze of energy. They’ve always been here. And when I say, always, I mean, way, way back. There are all sorts of interesting historical things here.
I think that it’s really interesting that Superman and Batman are now in the same universe as Apollo and Midnighter because part of the energy of the old “Authority” books was that these were pastiches or other versions, and what we have here is that they can actually work as real characters themselves. They play off their opposite numbers a bit in that we are clearly going to see them think about that but the Midnighter and Batman are not actually the same. And neither are, certainly the way they go about things or the people they are or even actually their power set, Apollo and Superman. It’s going to be interesting.
The waves made by this book arriving in the DC Universe, as it were, and how the universe changes because it is in it, I think is really interesting.
In all my years of reading comics I have never, ever rooted for Lex Luthor and yet you made him a favorite of mine during your run on “Action Comics.” What can you tell us about the villains of “Stormwatch”? And more importantly, are we going to see more Lex?
Well, they’re in the same universe aren’t they? But no, there is going to be a central villainous threat — the nature of which I don’t want to reveal yet. And it’s all tied up with what Stormwatch do and what they’re about, which will become clear. And what they’re about and what they do is fundamental to the new DC Universe.
We’ve already spoken to you about “Demon Knights,” which looks like it’s going to be all kinds of fun, and “Stormwatch” sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun too, not to mention an important title within the DCU. However, in looking at these two books they also seem awfully different. That’s a good thing, right?
I actually think I got the best deal that I could have wanted. I’ve got two team books, which I love, they’re both weird, they’re both really odd in different ways and they’re both kind of dark and bloodthirsty in different ways. And they’re both character driven and really colorful. This just gives me huge room to play. It’s like having my own little corner, but it’s really sewn into the center of the fabric of the DC Universe. Right in the middle. It’s the best of both worlds.
Are you sad to be leaving “Action Comics” and writing Lex and Superman?â€¨
I had a brilliant time with the Superman book, that is to say on “Action Comics.” It’s kind of ironic that I made exactly 15 issues of “Action Comics” and an annual, which was my personal previous best on “Captain Britain” exactly. When my wife said to me about taking over “Action,” “Well they can’t cancel that, can they?” what little did she know? But they haven’t cancelled obviously but I’ve managed to get the whole universe cancelled.
So we’ll have a party when “Demon Knights” and “Stormwatch” hit #16.
And an annual.
“Stormwatch” #1, written by Paul Cornell and featuring art by Miguel Sepulveda, is scheduled to be released on September 7.
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