The digital-first Gotham City Garage ongoing by creators Colin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing and Bryan Ching is hitting shelves for it’s first print issue this week in a story that focuses on new post-apocalyptic reinvention of Supergirl. And that's just the tip of the alternate DC Universe's story.
The series follows in the footsteps of DC Comics Bombshells and Bombshells United, taking cues and design elements from a line of DC Collectables statues to build a fully-realized story and world. As the series continues tom out its alternate reality, CBR sat down with writers Lanzing and Kelly to dig a bit deeper into the process they’ve gone through to build a new universe populated with fresh takes on classic characters.
CBR: So Gotham City Garage has set up a world where Lex Luthor is the ruler of a dystopian city in the middle of a wasteland. We’ve got an evil Bruce Wayne, a wasteland, and biker gangs...I think it’s pretty safe to say there’s a lot going on here. Where would you guy say this story is going?
Collin Kelly: That’s a great question. A lot of what Gotham City Garage is trying to explore is what being an “outlaw” really means, but in order to do that we need to set up a landscape that can be rebelled against. So, it starts personally [with the characters] but it’s also the garage element -- the thing we’re really excited to get into is all the really nested levels of things like totalitarianism that the characters will find themselves facing off against.
Jackson Lanzing: A big aspect for us, starting from just the overarching concept of the statue line -- all the superheroes that you know and love in the DC Universe, in this universe are not traditional superheroes. They’re these rebels and outlaws in that sort of old biker gang Hells Angels flavored style world...And frankly, that sort of world doesn’t really square with what we think of superheroes. It doesn’t square with superheroic justice all the time. It would be very hard to take a character like Clark Kent and say “oh, he’s gonna go join a biker gang.” So our initial challenge on this book, and what we eventually turned into our goal, is to explore very directly what it means a heroic outlaw. How do you break the law and rebel against authority, how do you live for yourself and with your own sense of justice, without becoming the Punisher?
We didn’t want to write a polemic about how fascism is bad without first trying to explore these characters and what it will bring out of them. We want to look deeply into things like why Kara Danvers -- Kara Gordon in this world -- feels the need to rebel. What about Harley Quinn, or Catwoman, or Barda? Each of these characters are coming to this problem from their own perspective and as the book goes on, each issue will focus on a different perspective. Issue one is from Kara’s, but issue two is from Barda’s, issue three is from Harley Quinn’s, four is from Catwoman’s. Each issue, though they’re part of a serialized story, will give you an individual perspective on concepts like rebellion and totalitarianism.
In this universe we have a totally reinvented Kara -- who, like you said, is not Kara Danvers, but Kara Gordon. We have a Jim Gordon who, spoilers, almost immediately dies -- or we’re left to assume he dies. Barbara gets name dropped a little bit, but that’s it so far. Can you talk a little bit about where this new version of the Gordon family is coming from?
Lanzing: You won’t meet Barbara in the flesh until the third print issue -- she factors pretty heavily into Harley Quinn’s story.
Kelly: We wanted to keep that kind of fundamental Gordon family, like how Jim is such a strong father figure and Barbara is so important to the overall dynamic of that unit...And even here, she’s also kind of driven by that traditional DCU mentality of justice and of helping people and heroism, but here the context of what that means is very different.
Lanzing: And to jump in on the “Why Kara Gordon?” of it all, looping back to that -- that’s one of those things that we sort of happened upon and then realized all of the various levels it was going to bring to the story. We knew we had a lot to say about a world where Superman had never existed, introducing Supergirl in a Clark-free context. So we had to figure out what that meant, if she had been raised by humans, if she doesn’t know her own heritage, then cool but who is raising her and why? So a big thing we realized immediately is that we had the opportunity for her to be raised by somebody who has lived in this grey-shaded society where rules don’t always cut it but who still tries their best to uphold and play by them when they can. So as we were describing this character and this environment for Kara to be raised in, it became readily apparent that we were talking about Gotham City...and the character I had just described as Jim Gordon. The story really spun out from there. It started as a practical question and then turned into a thematic one.
Not to focus completely on the Gotham-based mythology here, but another element that’s been introduced in these early chapters is the Red Hood Motorcycle Gang. Where did that particular concept come from? We kind of get a look at “TODD” on the back of one of the jackets, so I assume Jason is a part of this universe.
Lanzing: Well that was one of those things that we initially had in the abstract that we eventually realized just needed to be in the book. Part of it was because, like how I talked a bit about the Hell’s Angels earlier, they’re really kind of a bad example for the garage as far as this very feminist and sort of community oriented motive.
Kelly: And they’re disparate. The garage doesn’t wear a badge.
Lanzing: Right, the garage doesn’t fly colors. So the more we were talking about motorcycle gangs, the traditional motorcycle club, we realized that it would be remiss of us to not introduce a much more traditional motorcycle gang concept into the mix. So the Red Hoods followed soon behind just because anything we do in Gotham City Garage is going to tie back to the DC Universe, so we wanted a gang that roves around wastes that has a pretty morally bankrupt way of doing things, that lead us to the Red Hoods pretty quickly. And because there’s no readily apparent leader of the Red Hood Gang in the DCU, besides someone like Joker who you’ll see the Gotham City Garage incarnation of crop up in the third issue, it became pretty obvious to us who was going to be running this gang.
And Jason is a favorite of ours….
Kelly: [Laughs] Yeah.
Lanzing: We got to write him a little in Batman & Robin: Eternal, and we spend a good deal of time talking about a sort of theoretical book in our heads where we can follow Jason into a more Godfather style mob story, so this was a great way for us to kind of get our ya-yas out while also introducing a more traditional biker gang to the Gotham City Garage universe.
Are there any other character re inventions or introductions coming up for this universe that you’re excited about who you can tease for us?
Kelly: Oooooh, there are so many that we are so excited about, but our editor has let us know that we are not allowed to talk about a lot of them.
Lanzing: Based on the solicits that are out, though, I am very very excited for you guys to see our Catwoman. Our reinvention of Catwoman goes pretty deep -- I can tell you this right now, she is not Selina Kyle -- she is a character from the DC Universe that people know, and I think once you see how she fits into the wider roadmap of the garage, I think you’ll get a sense as to why we made that choice.