Writer Jay Faerber broke into comics in the late '90s alongside the likes of Devin Grayson and Brian K. Vaughn, when all three made a name for themselves writing some of DC and Marvel's most iconic characters. The three writers even shared a website at one point. Since then, each has gone in a different direction, and Faerber's path has landed him in the center of his own superhero universe. Rather than write another's icons, he's now working hard to create his own. Faerber's "Noble Causes" series has been running in one form or another since the beginning of the decade, and his universe has expanded with spin-offs like "Dynamo 5." Now, Faerber adds a new character and Image Comics miniseries to the mix with May's "Gemini." Faerber talked to CBR News about his new character and the future of the Faerberverse.
"Gemini" is about a superhero with an identity so secret, even he doesn't know what it is. "Gemini appears to be a happy-go-lucky superhero with acrobatic abilities and a quick mouth, but what we quickly learn is that he's under constant surveillance -- and even control -- by a mysterious organization with all sorts of technology," Jay Faeber told CBR News. "Gemini's basically a 'sleeper agent' who is 'activated' by this organization whenever there's trouble. He has a civilian identity, but his civilian identity has no idea he's a super-hero, and vice versa.
"The book starts with a look at Gemini's current life," Faerber continued, "and as the five issues progress, we learn more about the organization and how Gemini got involved with them. And as we're learning this, so is he."
Faerber talked about the flip side of the Gemini coin. "Dan Johnson is the man who becomes Gemini, and he couldn't be more normal. He's actually quite boring, just a regular guy with a nondescript job in a nondescript cubicle. He doesn't have any close friends, just sticks to his routine. The last thing he ever expected was that he's a super-hero.
"I don't remember how the idea came about," Faerber said of the origins of the Gemini concept, "but I know it's partly inspired by the movie 'The Manchurian Candidate.' Only instead of being brainwashed into becoming an assassin, Gemini is brainwashed into becoming a super-hero."
Over the past several years, Faerber has become known for his creator-owned superhero universe, or Faerberverse, if you will. Inhabited by the likes of the Noble family from his successful "Noble Causes" books and joined most recently by the super group Dynamo 5. "Gemini takes place in that same universe," Faerber confirmed. "Venture, a superhero co-created by me and Jamal Igle for a short-lived series a few years ago, has a small role in the first issue [of 'Gemini']. And Dynamo 5 will be making a big guest appearance in issue #4. Gemini has a tiny cameo in the 'Dynamo 5 Annual' #1, on sale in April."
Gemini is set as a five-issue miniseries, but there could be more adventures of the split personality super-hero. Said Faerber, "Right now, all we've got planned is the initial mini-series. If it goes over well, who knows? I know Jon and I definitely want to keep working together."
Jon is artist Jon Sommariva, somewhat new to the comics scene, but as Faerber pointed out he's not exactly a rookie either. He drew 'Go Boy 7' at Dark Horse and got his start, interestingly, on a back-up story in an old issue of 'Noble Causes,'" said Faerber.
Faerber got his start in comics writing many of the younger characters, like Generation X, New Warriors and the Teen Titans for the industry's largest superhero publishers, Marvel and DC. However, since creating "Noble Causes" in 2001, the writer's primarily worked in his own Faerberverse with just a few exceptions, like "Vampirella" for Harris comics and an "Angel" special for IDW; universes Faerber isn't interested in revisited.
"It'd be kind hard to make that switch," Faerber said. "I mean, on my books I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. On Marvel and DC books, it's much more limiting in terms of which characters you can use, and what you can do with them. It'd be more tempting to pursue with at the other companies if I hadn't already written most of the characters I have a desire to write. So I got that out of my system, and now, I'm much happier writing characters that I own and control."
Faerber doesn't harbor any notions of turning his own universe of superheroes into a massive empire like a 21st Century Stan Lee, overseeing other creative teams. "Right now, I'm happy to be able to write all of the books I want to," said the creator. "That's pretty much the point, you know? I've handed over the writing duties to other writers in two 'Noble Causes' anthologies that featured short stories by other creators. But I don't anticipating giving any of my books over to another writer. I'd rather that other writer create his or her own comic."
Faerber's books feature superheroes in a classic mold, but with a much more modern approach. The titles have a clear appeal to fans of superhero books from the Big Two, but Faerber isn't looking toward them when he writes. "Honestly, the target audience is 'me.' I never write with a specific audience in mind," he said. "I just write stories that I'd want to read. That said, I think super-hero fans that are getting tired of Marvel and DC (or just want to branch out) will find a lot to like with 'Gemini,' 'Noble Causes,' and 'Dynamo 5.' The books aren't really geared towards little kids, but they're not heavy on nudity, graphic violence, or swearing, either."
For now, Faerber's keeping a narrow focus on future projects. "Right now I've got my hands full with 'Gemini,' 'Dynamo 5,' and 'Noble Causes,'" he said. "There's one other project in the works for later this summer, but I'm sworn to secrecy for the time being."
"Gemini" #1 hits the stands May 7, 2008.
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