It's been two years since first word came of DC Comics' all-new "Terra" series, featuring a heroine that is definitely not the traitorous teen from Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s famed Teen Titans story "The Judas Contract," but definitely is connected to the legendary turncoat in unknown ways.
While the long wait for the character who saw guest appearances back in "Supergirl" #12 and "World War III" runs the risk of turning away fans burned by advanced buzz, co-writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (“Jonah Hex”) aren't making excuses but rather promises as to the four-issue Amanda Connor-illustrated series' creative successes when it finally debuts in November.
"Time always helps and we try our best to have every project working well in advance," Gray told CBR News. "This kind of approach allows us to go back into scripts and tighten up and tie together all of the story elements. With 'Terra,' it was a case of trying to have as much fun with the character and allow that to show through in every panel. Having Amanda with us allows for that to happen.
"We did manage to have time to tweak a minor note or two, but really, the extra time gave Amanda and [colorist] Paul Mounts the most time to go in and add some extra juice to the book. Visually, the work by the both of them is stunning on every level," Palmiotti added.
But with two years wait also comes two years worth of planning, and in the case of "Terra," the creators tried their hardest to let their new series ride the fine line of new reader-friendliness and fanboy continuity nods. Palmiotti believes the writing duo’s past works prepared them well to run the course. "Well, we had a lot of history to deal with on our 'Hawkman' run and the history of 'Jonah Hex' still has a lot of impact on our new stories from time to time, but we tried to have a balanced mix of old and new in this series and now looking back on the series, a lot more new. This story of 'Terra' is important to us, but not so much that we got bogged down with the details of the past. We took some broad strokes and hit on the things we felt the die hard readers would want to see here."
"The challenge has always been to find a way to connect this Terra to the previous and with a few twists I think we’ve done that," said Gray. "You can’t stick too heavily with existing mythology when creating someone new because that lessens them as a character. Terra needs to stand out as her own girl and she does that. "
And as readers who saw the new Terra's debut in Gray & Palmiotti’s "Supergirl" solo shot, the teen rock slinger has a notably sunnier outlook than her predecessor and many other modern heroes. The tone comes with a purpose and a challenge. "We wanted her to stand in opposition of the existing anti-hero mold and especially from Tara Markov in terms of personality and drive," Gray noted, with his partner adding, "It’s easy to do dark characters all the time and get into that rut, so when we approached the idea of a new Terra, we wanted to go back to the seemingly old fashioned values of classic superheroes and update them at the same time.
"There is heavy stuff in the series but it is balanced out by the lighter stuff as well. The scenes between Power Girl and Terra, for instance, are light and yet very revealing between them."
Speaking of Power Girl, the Kryptonian heroine will soon star in her own monthly series courtesy of "Terra's" creative team, but as Palmiotti pointed out, her inclusion was equally a matter of thematic and story significance as it was a tie-in to their next project. "As characters, they both are fish out of water and we knew we were going to lead into the 'Power Girl' series, so we thought it was a good idea to tie them together. Honestly, I love Power Girl and the way Amanda draws her, so that also helped our decision as well."
As for spoilers regarding the new “Power Girl” ongoing, the writers admitted that Kara Zor-El's recent foray into Earth-2 in “Justice Society of America” would weigh on their book, but ultimately the monthly will serve as a jumping on point for readers who haven't been following there character since her recent reemergence.
"There is a lot of Power Girl in other books, and we made sure we know what’s going on,” said Gray & Palmiotti. ”We are looking at issue #1 of the ongoing series as the introduction of the character to new readers as well as established fans. We are setting up her life as a civilian, as a superhero and the people and world around her that impacts her daily life. It’s her book and the place you have to go to get your fix."
Of course, Kara is only one of many guest stars featured in the four-issue “Terra” mini, and beyond the selected appearances by the likes of Doctor Mid-Nite, Terra's knowledge of the superhero world will provide a solid hook for new readers as well as draw the attention of the original heroine's brother, Geo-Force. "The reason she knows so much ties directly into who she is and why she exists. The previous incarnation of Terra wenst a little crazy because she didn’t know everything about herself," Gray explained.
"Geo-Force has a history that we all know about, but the new Terra has something else she has on her mind that she has to have out with him," Palmiotti said of the former Justice Leaguer and current Outsider.
Gray and Palmiotti stressed that although "Terra" would be built upon the shoulders of stories that came before, their primary concern was adding new elements to DC canon, which is an area where Connor's art skills came heavily into play. "This is all new, never explored terrain for her, so she didn’t have to research 30 years of past DC history. She had to create all new characters, settings and such. She really got to use her imagination on this book," said Palmiotti of the series' villains, Pyrite and the Lavarians. "They relate to the character, where she comes from and why she is placed where she is in the series. It makes no sense just grabbing any old villain and throwing them against her. They each have a purpose to serve, whether it's bringing out some details about the character or just defining the powers. I think we pulled off some fun battles within the story."
"The villains are varied but thematic to the story and the goal," concluded Gray with one final tease. "However, yes, they aren’t exactly world domination oriented murderers. Well, some of them are but they’re fun and visually different. There are also a few familiar villains, on I wanted to use because I love the design."