REFLECTIONS #216: Tony Bedard

I ruined Tony Bedard's career for three years.

I consider Tony one of my closest friends in the industry, and, because of that, I really want him to like everything I like. I told him three years ago that watching UPN's low-rated but excellent "Veronica Mars" would be a good luck charm for his career and launch him into superstardom. I don't remember my exact reasoning, but he started watching, and his career stayed exactly the same for three years.

And now "Veronica Mars" is cancelled, and in the weeks since Bedard has gone on to sign an exclusive contract with DC Comics and is writing a fair few books for them every month. And when I say a fair few, I mean that no "Previews" goes by without his name popping up five or six times; so much that I have to split this gigantic interview into two parts or suffer an aneurysm from transcribing.

Did I inadvertently jinx Tony for three years? We may never know, but he's still talking to me, so I guess he's not that mad. But, just in case, I probably shouldn't tell him about the how much of a good luck charm "The 4400" is for those who watch….

"Supergirl" #20, on sale in August

Robert Taylor: How is everything going in Bedard-land?

Tony Bedard: Everything is good. I've got a lot of work and if I could find a way not to sleep that would be great.

RT: What I do is crush caffeine pills, mix them in with Coke, put that into a syringe and shoot it directly into my eye.

TB: (Laughs)

RT: I want to talk about "Supergirl" first because that is what I'm most palpably excited about, and as a segue into it I want to know how you write women so well in all your work.

TB: I don't know. I think growing up I just wanted to be a woman so I could stare at myself in a mirror naked all day long.

Yeah, I'm just not sure.

RT: But you have to admit, in all of your work, and I have read most of it, your strongest writing comes when a strong female is central to the story in some way, whether on a team or on a solo book.

TB: I just try and hopefully write smart characters and give them a good reason to drive them forward, whether they are a male or a female.

RT: So why "Supergirl"?

TB: Because I got a call asking if I'd be interested in writing "Supergirl." (laughs)

I've really enjoyed the sheer variety of assignments I've gotten, especially at Crossgen, so I'm trying to do as much as I can in the DCU, and I've been lucky enough to have many different opportunities.

RT: Is it open-ended?

TB: Three issues.

RT: And what's happening there?

TB: She has a lot of things going on. We've got the "Amazons Attack" going on, where Supergirl and Wonder Girl do something they think might help end the war and end up making things a lot worse. I'm dealing with the aftermath of that. It's about as big a disaster as you could imagine.

Also, we have Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl running around in "Countdown" and have Supergirl encounter them and deal with some of her history in the Legion of Superheroes. She doesn't remember all that time she spent in the future with the Legion, and I want to address that.

RT: I haven't been reading the book on a regular basis since Jeph Loeb left, but I get the impression that Kara is pretty much @*^&ing up everything she tries to do. Is she ever going to do something right?

TB: My first issue deals with that. My personal belief is that you learn more from your mistakes than from when everything is going right for her.

I don't want to make her a disaster, though. I would like for her to be a more positive, upbeat character.

Also, artist Renato Guedes has a very different visual take on her that I really like. I don't like the skinny, lean, hypersexual superheroine for her because she's only 17.

RT: And you are saying this as a father, of course.

TB: As a father and a husband. When I was 20, I had a completely different view, of course.

RT: Are you a big fan of her thus far?

TB: I'm not really trying to follow through on what Loeb and Joe Kelly were doing, I'm building on the other storylines that are going on and using them as a springboard.

RT: Are you enjoying "Amazons Attack"?

TB: I am. The sheer scale and impact of what is going on in those issues is gigantic and I really hope other writers are picking up on it. It's like September 11 times ten, and we should be dealing with it. It's going to have major repercussions in a big project I have coming up.

My only problem with "Amazons Attack," and this happens with a lot of crossovers, is that it jumps back and forth so much between "Wonder Woman" and "Amazons Attack."

RT: Do you want to return to "Supergirl" on a more permanent basis in the future?

TB: Sure, that's something I could see myself handling for a while. I have a real affection and comfort level with the character.

RT: You're normally doing books without a set arc in mind; books that are more open-ended, but at DC you seem to be doing mainly single arcs on titles. What's up with the change and are you going back to open-ended stuff any time soon?

TB: Well sure. I think readers should know that on a book that you are indefinitely on, you are still planning it out in six-issue chunks. I'm on "Legion of Superheroes" for six issues, which made it not feel that different than anything else I was writing.

RT: Do you want to tell us about your secret plan to end up writing every single DC book in any given month?

TB: (laughs) Well, I think it might be Dan DiDio's secret plan, not mine. It might be that I'm hitting all my deadlines, and the editors are fairly assured that my stuff will get in on time.

RT: I have to say it's great that you signed the exclusive contract and now you are everywhere in the Universe on a diverse number of projects.

I'm rather curious about the reason you are writing "Outsiders" #50, especially because I haven't read the book on a regular basis since One Year Later.

TB: Well, I did an issue of that "Five of a Kind" event in which the team is shaken up and Batman has to step in and take over the Outsiders again, and issue #50 deals with the outcome again, and it's all leading to a certain project…

RT: Ooh, what?

TB: Starting in October, I'm going to be writing "Batman and the Outsiders" on an ongoing basis. I'm really jazzed about it, and it's a neat lineup of characters too.

RT: Who are they?

TB: It's not the exact lineup they have in the ad. Captain Boomerang is off doing something else. Obviously, I've got Batman. I've got Aquaman, Catwoman, Martian Manhunter….

RT: Oh look, another book with a strong female character. Not Martian Manhunter-Catwoman.

TB: Though he could be a woman if he wanted to.

RT: And has been.

TB: I've got Thunder and Grace and Metamorpho. When you think about it, it's a very powerful lineup.

Because of all these things like "Amazons Attack" and "World War III" and the murder of the Flash, a lot of things have happened that are making people fear metahumans. Black Adam killed a whole country, and you have to wonder if these people should be running around at all. All of this is leading into another big event, and I'm not sure if they have a definite title yet.

It has to do with a lot of villains getting rounded up. In fact, the two rogues in "Countdown," Piper and Trickster's arc has to do with the storyline.

Anyways, there are forces that would get rid of all metahumans, and Batman knows that. And he also knows that you can't just send the Justice League against certain people. You can't just send the League against China, for example, it would be a huge public relations disaster. He needs a deniable strike team, and that is what the Outsiders can be, because they already have the reputation to be terrorists and outlaws.

One way of looking at it is that the Justice League are the Avengers of the DCU, and the Outsiders are the X-Men of the DCU.

RT: Is Batman going to be more hands-on, or more like Oracle.

TB: He's going to pick and choose. If they are going to do a big public raid, he can't be in the middle of that and then show up for the next Justice League meeting. He's smart about that and has spent most of his career being an urban legend figure.

The biggest thing is that, as they infiltrate the underbelly of the DCU, it will bring up some interesting conflicts in the group. Especially with Catwoman, who is more of a villain than a hero. That is useful in some ways, but this is the team Batman has taken over, but they might get away from him a little bit.

RT: How long are you on the book?

TB: I've got a good solid year of some interesting storylines. I'm going to play with what good and evil are all about. The most interesting bad guys are the hero of their own story, and I'm going to play with whether these people can be redeemed or not.

RT: Did you get to handpick the team?

TB: I had a lot of leeway on it. But a lot of the Outsiders fit the bill already, and I'm cranking that up even more.

RT: Why do you think the book needed a relaunch? Couldn't this easily have been issue #51?

TB: It's a few different things. The creative team change, first. Some of it has to do with sales, and DC wants to refocus attention on the book. There is also a change of tone and direction because you have Batman in there.

I love Judd's stories, and I don't want to sound like I'm criticizing him, but over the past year, there didn't seem to be a real direction for the team. It's time we refocused that.

RT: Yeah, I kind of dropped the book then, partly because of the lack of direction and partly because I just hate Captain Boomerang.

TB: Yeah, he doesn't do too much for me either. I think, though, that where they are moving him may be a better fit.

RT: Who is the art team?

TB: The artist is Koi Turnbull. He had been doing stuff for Aspen Comics and has done a few things for us. He was just getting in just as I was leaving DC Editorial way back when, so I actually gave him work. It's been great to see how far he's come.

RT: Since you were an editor previously, how does it feel to be a writer working with several editors on an exclusive basis?

TB: Mostly it shows how little I knew as an editor. I wish all editors could spend a couple of months as freelancers. I'm hoping, and I think that because I did the job on the other side of the desk, I better understand their problems and don't cause any more of them.

I think it helps to critique the art as it comes in and gauge the changes I ask for, and know how much things can be corrected. It's just rounded out my knowledge of the entire process.

Next Week: A double REFLECTIONS attack! First, find out all about Tony's work on "Countdown," "Birds of Prey," "Black Canary" and "Legion of Superheroes." Then, in a special edition in celebration of Comic Con, I compile all of your favorite creators' weirdest convention experiences into one big article!

Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.

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