For DC Comics‘ upcoming two-month takeover known as “Convergence,” one of the biggest draws for longtime fans is seeing characters “lost” to previous line-wide continuity sweeps return. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in the miniseries written by Fabian Nicieza.
When the wave of two-issue series focusing on Brainiac-trapped former realities arrives in April, Nicieza will be zeroing in on characters not seen since before the advent of the New 52. First, his “Convergence: Titans” series with Ron Wagner revisits the controversial “Cry For Justice”-era Roy Harper who lost both his arm and his daughter to fan outrage. Joining in the story that sees Lian Harper’s return to reality are Donna Troy and Starfire — two characters drastically overhauled in the New 52. Meanwhile, “Convergence: Superboy” with Karl Moline finds Nicieza reviving the earring-wearing ’90s version of the Boy of Steel, who brings his cocky ways into a fight with the tragic Superman of “Kingdom Come.”
CBR News spoke with Nicieza about both series and their starring characters. The writer reveals the distaste he holds for “Cry For Justice’s” major changes to Arsenal, his plans to redeem and celebrate the end of many of the classic New Teen Titans characters, how a teen Superboy succeeds at fighting over the meaning of the S-shield mantle, and much more.
CBR News: Fabian, “Convergence,” as an event, pulls from all across the history of DC, and that provides a multitude of story and character hooks. When it came to the Titans character in their pre-Flashpoint phase, what drew you to this setup as where you knew you could find a story worth telling?
Fabian Nicieza: Roy Harper. Pure and simple. The creative decisions that were made to his character after “Cry For Justice” were, in my opinion, flawed and excessive choices. I wanted a chance to redeem the character, which he never really got in the pre-New 52 continuity. Dan DiDio encouraged that opportunity, so that gave me the hook to tell a story about the character trying to make the right choice under very difficult circumstances.
From the look of the solicits, you’re tweaking the expectations of that era with the possible return of Lian Harper to the mix. Why build a story around that tragedy, and what do you hope to show readers in revisiting events that were pretty shocking at the time?
Well, more than the loss of his arm, I think it was the loss of Lian is what really drove Roy into a downward spiral that he never had the chance to recover from. Telling a story where he has the opportunity to change that outcome, in essence redeeming parts of what he went through, made for a very interesting conflict.
Our other main cast members are Starfire and Donna Troy — two of the ladies most associated with the Titans over the years, who many feel also have occasionally gotten short shrift. What about their characters made them the right fit for this story, and what do you hope to explore about them on their own outside of what’s happening with Roy?
Part of the character mix was honestly due to who was available based on where else they would be appearing in the Convergence “side stories,” what time period they were drawn from and what city they might have been domed in. To that extent, it was logical to use the Pre-New 52 Donna and Kory, since those characters, as they were best known, were not part of the New 52 mix, which means they had hardcore fans clamoring for their return.
I think it’s safe to say that what appealed to a lot of readers about the Titans as a group over the years was that they felt more like members of a family than they did co-workers. Is there a chance we’ll see any other family members besides these three show up? And regardless of that, what about those deeper character bonds might complicate or bolster the action of this story?
Family and friendship is an integral aspect of the story. Along with Roy’s redemption and seeing “original” Donna/Kory again, I also wanted to revisit, even if briefly, the Cyborg/Changeling friendship from Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s “Teen Titans” run, so you’ll see them in the mix as well.
I think their long-standing relationships inform all the decisions they have to make, but I hope it’s in a way that will feel very comfortable and knowing for the readers.
The villains of this series are the Extremists — DC’s own answer to the always fun practice of cross-company archetype tweaking. Appropriate to their name, these guys are often played as much more violent and shocking than most other DCU players. Is that part of why you wanted to use them, in connection with Roy’s own shocking story, and which players from that world did you end up nabbing for your series?
Well, the Convergence side stories are predicated on characters having to fight to save their very precarious way of life and the cities they live in. That’s hard enough as it is (especially since it won’t always be a clean “hero” vs. “villain” battle), but in the case of “The Titans,” it’s a real challenge since the Extremists are among DC’s deadliest, craziest villains.
You artist here is Ron Wagner, who you’ve collaborated with before, including on your “The 99” series. I’ve always thought of him as having a muscular but classic superhero style. What’s he bringing to the page in this that suits your story well?
Ron was fantastic to work with, as always. The kind of excellent artist that too often gets overlooked by fans. His storytelling is flawless, he moves the camera around the page every panel, which makes dialogue for a team book easier to write, and he handled the dramatic aspects of Arsenal’s dilemma beautifully. I’ll work with Ron anytime, anywhere!
Overall, one of the things that stands out to me most about this era of Titans is that it really was the end of the character dynamics established by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, going back to the “New Teen Titans” days. As you’ve been playing in this specific corner of DC history, have you thought about how this story can serve as a farewell or a capper on the career of that very classic team?
Yes. We had two different ways to end the story, both very different, but very telling to the nature of the Teen Titans concept. The ending we went with was done with the needs of the core “Convergence” miniseries in mind, but still totally holding true to the themes of “Family and friends forever.”
On the other side of the coin, you’re writing two issues starring the “Reign of the Supermen” take on Superboy. That’s a character that was more specific to his time period than many other DC characters, but he also holds a soft spot in many fans’ hearts. What did you do to nail the voice of the fade-having, earring-wearing Metropolis kid?
I channeled myself at age 17. Arrogant, cocky and insecure. That wasn’t too hard to do. Many people would say that’s also me in the present day! [Laughs]
The hook for this series involves the arrival of the Superman from “Kingdom Come.” That take on the character was created as a response to the kind of wild, young heroes of the ’90s that Superboy, in some ways, embodies. Considering that, what new dimensions were you able to explore in either character with their diametrically opposed views?
Well, your question kind of answers itself. It’s exactly because Superboy has the potential as a character to so perfectly embody the themes of “Kingdom Come” that the conflict comes into play. The question then becomes, can either Superman or Superboy rise above their respective beliefs to do what is right?
Ultimately, the story you and Karl Moline are telling seems to be one of honor. It’s all about who has the right to carry this mantle. What about the story you’re telling together speaks to the core idea of what Superman is and who he’s supposed to be?
It’s a little less about the right to carry the mantle as, ultimately, the maturity to understand what the mantle embodies. What if winning a greater war requires the maturity to accept losing a battle? What does it take to learn that respect isn’t granted because you have powers but because of how you choose to use those powers?
Pitting Kon-El vs. “Kingdom Come” Kal-El makes for tailor-made conflict to address all these questions.
“Convergence” arrives in April from DC Comics.
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