Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and the artists headlining DC Comics' newly announced Dark Matter line of titles -- John Romita, Jr., Greg Capullo and Andy Kubert -- spoke with select members of the press at C2E2 in Chicago about their specific projects. The line, which is placing a premium on the artist involved on each title, was designed with the intent of creating characters and series that will last a long time, as part of the new foundation being built for the DC Universe as the Rebirth initiative continues to roll out over the next year or so.
As part of our discuss, the first half of which can be read here, the panel took a deeper dive into the stories of each title, starting with "The Immortal Men" which Lee is creating alongside writer James Tynion IV. "This book ties into what Scott [Snyder] and Greg [Capullo] are doing in their book 'Metal,' which focuses on Nth Metal," the artist said. In part, "Immortal Men" will focus on the secret history of that powerful material in the DCU, reaching far back into the earth's ancient past. "We're using Nth Metal as the basis to launch our story. It has struck five siblings and given them immortality and metahuman powers...this causes in-fighting, and they break into factions." He said the battle between these powerful "houses" reverberates through to the present when the story picks up.
"The story starts with a young boy of privilege getting recruited into this shadow war...his family is killed in front of him, and his whole life is [changed]. It's really that story we're telling," Lee said. While plotting the story, he and Tynion will frequently meet at the DC offices in LA (face-to-face creation being a continual selling point for Dark Matter) and share "war stories" of how each approach comics creation. "It's a great mix of generations," he said of the collaborative process.
More so than a simple superhero story, "The Immortal Men" will draw in a wide range of genre influences – particularly for Lee's art style. He said he will draw in science fiction and horror flourishes from people he looks up to like Wally Wood and Bernie Wrightson – working the "lushness of their brushwork" into the "tonality of the book we're trying to create."
John Romita Jr. gave his own take on the origin of "The Silencer" with Dan Abnett. He explained that Abnett pitched him just the name, and the two agreed to do a kind of "female John Wick" but without a tragic end to her years as an assassin. "A female assassin trying to adjust to a normal life...if that sounds derivative it's probably been done before, but we've got a different take on it," the artist said. She's retired happily only to be retapped by the leader of DCU spy organization Leviathan: Talia Al'Ghul. "Her job was to stop evil men, but now she's got an ex-husband and a son she's dealing with...it's ironic."
The artist stressed that he and Dan Abnett know what's been done before, and they don't want to do anything that's readers expect from this kind of book. They'll be focusing on a balance of superheroic drama with more grounded storytelling. "It's street-level reality mixed with a little bit of fantasy."
That sensibility extends to the character's design – the Silencer is tattooed with Polonesian war symbols and shaves her head to aid her ability to fight and kill in close range."There's a challenge to doing an assassin, which has been done a million times before...I love the way she comes out. She's not a superhero muscular Wonder Woman. She's lean and cut and chiseled. There's no tragedy that makes her want to kill people. She was working a job."
Andy Kubert's work on "New Challengers" with Snyder has been inspired by both his desire to do something different from his recent work, and to pay homage to his most significant influence. "What attracted me to the project was that I like switching it up from superheroes," he said, promising a mix of adventure and dinosaurs. He was very inspired by covers he father Joe drew in the '70s – particularly "Challengers of the Unknown" #64, a cover DiDio also recalled with boyish enthusiasm. "When this project came up, I jumped at the chance, and it's something I really wanted to do."
Capullo was more demure when discussing "Metal," saying, "I'm going to have my chance to put my hands on a bunch of different DC characters." The book launches with a global problem that many heroes, including Batman, have different ideas on how to deal with. The series will draw from tons of DCU concepts including the Multiverse with the end result being, "It will have you wondering about the potential of where we can take things,"
DiDio added just a bit on his part as co-writer of "Sideways," saying that with Kenneth Rocafort at the head of the ship, "I just gave him the names of characters, and he sent them back. It was all based on his take and his sensibilities."