The New Age of DC Heroes -- formerly known as Dark Matter -- is an artist-driven initiative designed to introduce both new and classic characters into the Rebirth era of the DC Universe, in many cases picking up the breadcrumbs left behind by the current Dark Nights: Metal event. As part of this initiative, DC co-publisher Jim Lee and James Tynion IV (Detective Comics) are teaming up to create The Immortal Men a series about -- you guessed it -- the DCU's immortal characters.
CBR recently sat down with Lee and Tynion IV to dig a bit deeper into the story and concept of their series, as well as get some hints as to who might be showing up in the title's potentially massive roster of undying heroes... and perhaps even some villains.
CBR: So we’ve gotten a taste of the Immortal Men sprinkled through Metal so far, and in both The Forge and The Casting prelude books. So to start out, what should we expect from them moving forward from those points?
James Tynion IV: This is really the secret history of heroes and villains in the DC Universe. It’s an entirely new world that has been built in the shadows of the world that we know and love. These are characters who -- especially our core cast, the core Immortal Men -- these are heroes, they’ve been going out in secret and saving the world, over and over again through the centuries. But their actions don’t always look like heroism because they’re trying to save humanity, to perpetuate the existence of humanity for generations and generations.
They’re trying to save the world, which is different than trying to save a city in a moment. It’s a matter of scale -- which is really where the ideal started. We wanted to look at that scale and that perspective; the idea of looking at the question like “what does a being who has the perspective to see centuries build to save the world?” And there are conflicting worlds on what to “build” so that’s what creates the conflicts that drive the book.
Jim Lee: And just to add onto that, I think we saw an opportunity as we discussed the idea -- We actually started the whole concept with just the name, “Immortal Man.” And then we started talking about Vandal Savage and how much we both liked him as a villain, and how in some ways we wanted to use that character -- that notion -- and build off of it. Immortal Man originally was Vandal’s uncle or brother or something, so it was like, “Well, what if there’s more than one beyond that? What if there was a cousin or a nephew twice removed and they were all there? And they were all struck with this comet -- metal -- that granted them immortality?”
And then we realized there was really an opportunity here to develop a whole other aspect of the DC Universe that’s only been touched upon through characters like Vandal Savage, where you realize that, oh yeah, there are other immortal characters in the DCU, and these guys have been around for a long time. There’s probably not a lot of them, they must all know each other, over time they’ve run into each other in various forms. That’s when it started becoming world building on grand, grand scale. That’s when we got super excited about it. In many ways, we’re adding on to a big chunk of existing DC lore, with a whole new aspect that really builds upon things that have been there the '50s.
One of the big insinuations we see in The Forge is that this is all going to directly relate back to Duke Thomas. Can you talk about how much Immortal Men is going to bring the Thomas family into things, if at all?
Tynion IV: What I can say there is that Duke is getting his own series -- Batman And The Signal -- and he’s slowly exploring his own ties Nth Metal and all of that. But we sort of see in what was revealed in The Forge kind of what’s going to drive what these characters’ powers are. It’s this trace amount of Nth Metal that’s in their bloodstream that activates into these incredible abilities, and we’re seeing that activate in Duke in the Metal prequel books. We see that Immortal Man made the offer to Duke’s mother way back when to join this secret group, but she turned it down in order to have a family and a life.
And that sort of hints at the larger world of Immortal Men and what these characters all have to give up in order to be part of this. They can’t have normal lives, once they go and join. It’s like, “You can save the world forever, but you’re never going to be able to turn back. You have to give up your family, you have to give up your city, you have to give up the small version of heroism.”
There are elements that tie that all together but Duke’s on his own path right now. I’m sure we’ll all connect down the road but right now, it’s like that.