Spinning out of the pages of Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones' epic "Final Crisis," DC Comics is launching in May four six-issue miniseries in featuring characters not usually described as headliners.
While the Human Flame was the de facto flashpoint of "Final Crisis," Super Young Team saved the Multiverse while Nemesis is lost somewhere and sometime in it, and the Tattooed Man easily experienced the biggest change to his status quo.
Not too long ago - "Infinite Crisis" to be exact - the star of "Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink" was a member of Secret Society of Super Villains. And more recently, in "Justice League of America" #17, he was on his way to the prison planet featured in "Salvation Run." But when Black Lightning asked Mark Richards to step up during "Final Crisis," he delivered, and as result Black Canary named the Tattooed Man an honorary member of the Justice League.
Eric Wallace ("Eureka") has been tagged to write "Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink," illustrated by Fabrizio Fiorentino ("Countdown to Adventure") with covers by Brian Stelfreeze, and DC Comics must have liked what they got from the veteran TV writer because he's also writing "Titans" #14.
CBR News recently checked in with Wallace to see why he can't seem to keep his pen out of DC's ink.
CBR: When we last saw the Tattooed Man, he was being named an honorary member of the Justice League in the pages of "Final Crisis." That's quite a rise from his days with the Secret Society of Super Villains.
Eric Wallace: Yes, and that's something we deal with very early on in the "Ink" miniseries. Just imagine how cool it would be to suddenly be picked to join the ranks of the world's greatest superhero team? Well, that should give you an idea of how Mark feels about this big change in his life.
Where do we pick up with Tattooed Man when "Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink" opens?
"Ink" #1 picks up pretty soon after the events of "Final Crisis." The readers will get tiny nods to the tragic events that happened, little things here and there that are remnants of the battle with the Justifiers. Meanwhile, Mark is enjoying his new JLA status. I mean, who wouldn't? But it's a big change from his life as a villain, but it's something that's going to take some getting used to. That's one of the main themes of this miniseries - how does a villain deal with life on the other side as a good guy?
Mark Richards is putting that honorary JLA card to good use by fighting crime and giving bad guys a hard time. Along the way, he starts to learn that being a hero is way more fun that being a bad guy. First of all, you don't have the law breathing down your neck all the time. Secondly, the ladies definitely like a guy in spandex. That is, if Mark actually wore any.
But to your question, the actual opening scene of #1 tells us exactly what Mark's been doing since "Final Crisis" ended. I won't ruin the surprise here, but let's say that being a hero can be dangerous, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.
What else can you share about the story you will be telling?
"Ink" is a story about one man's ascension as a hero, what that means, and the price he has to pay for it. It's about how becoming a hero changes the way people see you, especially those in the community where Mark lives - Liberty Hill. Rocked by poverty, crime, and other hardships, Liberty Hill is crying out for a savior. However, be careful what you wish for. Because the Tattooed Man is far from just your ordinary superhero; he's a man with something to prove and a lot to lose.
And what about the art of Fabrizio Fiorentino?
Honestly, I just can't say enough about the spectacular art that Fabrizio is doing on this book. The Tattooed Man has some very crazy powers, what with the way things emanate directly from his body and then come to life. It calls for a very meticulous, boldly imaginative visual style. Fortunately, Fabrizio has this in spades.
I mean, the guy's just awesome. Just wait until you see some the stuff he's done. And I don't just mean the cool battles - because, yes, there are plenty of those throughout the series. The way he makes a simple meeting or tense conversation come to life is fantastic. So, yeah, I've said this before to anyone who asks, and I'll say it again now - you're going to love Fabrizio's art on "Ink."
What makes his superpower so extraordinary?
What I love about the Tattooed Man's powers is that they're so unpredictable. We've really tried to play with the fact that readers haven't seen all of Mark's tattoos. Therefore, he's got objects and entities on him that can come to life and do incredibly weird, bizarre things. Plus, there's also the imaginative way Mark uses them. The result is a superhero with an almost endless palette of superpowers, and it's this lack of limitations that makes Mark's powers so exciting and extraordinary.
Have you enjoyed getting to knowing the Tattooed Man as a character?
Yes, big time. To say that I'm having a blast with this guy is a major understatement. First of all, there's his background. I mean, this guy was a pretty badass villain. That gives him a dark edge that's very appealing to me as a writer. But in addition to Mark's darker side, what's also been great is expanding on him as both a husband and father.
The "Final Crisis" series did a great job with this, especially the "Final Crisis: Submit" one-shot that supported the main series. Thanks to some brilliant work from the writers and artists that came before me, I had a lot to work with and a great jumping off point. Hopefully, folks will enjoy the way this series digs deeper into Mark's family life, because it plays a critical part in the "Ink" storyline.
While he's been around in various forms for nearly a half century, the Mark Richards version of the Tattooed Man is fairly new. Will you be diving into his backstory and fleshing that out further for fans?
Readers will get a brief glimpse into how Mark got his powers in "Ink." But one of the things we were conscious about was not getting too bogged down in a ton of backstory. We really want these stories to move, to have a fast pace, and contain a ton of action, mystery, and suspense.
Are there future plans for Tattooed Man coming out of your miniseries? And if so, would you like to be involved in those stories?
Not that I know of. However, I'm having such a great time writing this character that I hope to be given the chance to do more with him in the near future.
Do you have any other plans for future projects with DC? If not, any favorite heroes you'd like to write?
There are a few possible DC projects that I hope to be involved with, but it's too early in the process to know what's going to happen yet. But I can say my next comic project is writing "Titans" #14. It's a special one-shot issue that focuses on Cyborg.
As for other DC heroes I'd like to write? There's so many. But right now I'm obsessed with Supergirl, Red Arrow, Swamp Thing, Vixen, Green Lantern, and Superman. Writing for any of those characters would be fantastic.
Are you a long-time "Teen Titans" fan? And specifically, Cyborg?
Yes, I remember reading the Marv Wolfman/George Perez run back in the eighties. "Teen Titans" #13 was my first, and I remember just being blown away by the book. I also can still remember the thrill the first time I read the whole "Judas Contract" storyline; what a run that was. So, now, to be able to write a story for that same group of heroes is just a dream come true.
As for Cyborg, I've always loved the human side of him - the part of him that struggles with being a normal guy while trapped in a robotic body. It's really a tragic, classic archetype with endless story possibilities that's tremendous fun to write. The challenge, as always, is to try and bring something slightly new to the table, something that feels familiar and genuine to the already established "Titans" world, but which also offers readers some new twists and surprises. Hopefully we've accomplished that with this issue, but I'll let all of you be the judge.
Can you share any details about the story?
"Titans" #14 is the first in a series of special one-shot issues, each of which will focus on a different character. This Cyborg story is very much a "Day in the Life," only it's a very unusual day for Vic. I don't want to ruin any surprises, but I will say that an element of Vic's past turns up in a very unexpected place.
Also, the issue takes place just after the "Deathtrap" storyline, so Vic will be dealing with the repercussions of that, too. But remember, just because it's an average day for Vic that doesn't mean that he won't get into the kind of trouble that calls for a major round of fisticuffs. Only this time he won't have the rest of the Titans around to help.
You work on SYFY's "Eureka." Are you writing anything else in TV land?
I've also just finished up the latest season of "Eureka," which will return to the air in July, 2009 on SYFY, and am working on the latest series of "Dark Shadows" audio dramas for Big Finish Productions.
"Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink" #1 is scheduled to arrive in comic book stores on May 27 from DC Comics.