REFLECTIONS: Talking "Wonder Woman" With Allan Heinberg

Reflections Volume 2 Number 18

Damn you, Allan Heinberg, damn you to heck!

I'm sure it's his fault that everything he touches turns into something completely irresistible to me.

When it was announced that he would be writing some book called, of all things, "Young Avengers" with Jimmy Cheung, I sent Cheung an email pretty much questioning his sanity at drawing a book called…ugh…"Young Avengers."

Cheung told me to try watching Heinberg's television show "The O.C.", so I bought the boxed set and watched all 28 episodes in 3 days, and suddenly couldn't wait to see what Heinberg could do for the comic industry. From there I turned into a crazy television person: you know, that weird guy that lives next door and is up until 4 a.m. watching DVD boxed sets. Heinberg wrote "Gilmore Girls" and "Sex and the City?" Suddenly I am addicted to those shows as well, devouring the boxed sets like fruit roll ups.

And his work in the comic medium is just as addictive. "Young Avengers" rightfully got an Eisner nomination for best new series this year, and deserves all the heaps of praise and high sales it's been getting since launching. His writing of confused teenagers trying to be adults when they may not be ready is amazing, and got a friend of mine to try comics for the first time as a result. His follow-up work on books like "JLA" has been just as captivating.

Just as "Young Avengers" is winding down, and "The O.C." and "Gilmore Girls" (both of which he has left) have gone on summer hiatus, I figured it was the perfect time to focus on getting over my Heinberg-related addictions.

Then it was announced he was writing a "Wonder Woman" relaunch for DC.

Damn you, Heinberg, damn you to heck.

Robert Taylor: Hey Allan, how's life?

Allan Heinberg: Life, Robert, is probably a lot simpler than I think it is.

RT: Then I'll try to keep it as simple as possible. Let's begin with just how you got the gig. The 'net was swirling with rumors that you would be taking over the title, then that you had to withdraw, then that you were back on. What's the real story?

AH: The real story is that Terry Dodson and I were all set to do "Wonder Woman" last year, but I ended up selling a pilot to ABC and had to pull out because of ABC's schedule. But the network ended up pushing the pilot into the 2007 development season, and I suddenly found myself with a few months to devote to "Wonder Woman." And DC was very gracious about letting me come back and resume my work with Terry.

RT: Wasn't an issue of "Wonder Woman" your first comic ever? What was it about that issue that drew you into the comic world?

AH: Yes, the very first comic book I ever bought with my own money was "Wonder Woman" (vol. 1) #212, written by Len Wein and drawn by Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell. In it, after a few years of having been "The All-New Wonder Woman… Diana Prince," Wonder Woman had just gotten her powers and memory back, but felt she needed to prove herself before rejoining the JLA by performing twelve Herculean labors.

At the time, I was struck by - and no doubt identified with - the idea of a superhero who was all-powerful, yet completely vulnerable because of her utter lack of self-confidence.

RT: As one of the biggest names in the comic biz today…

AH: First of all, I am not- whatever - thank you. Moving on --

RT: And he's humble too! Anyway, you could probably have picked whichever book and character you wanted to be your next comic. What is it about Diana that draws you to the character? What about the mythology?

AH: I think I'm probably drawn to Wonder Woman because, even within the superhero community, she's an outsider. She's a woman, for one thing; she's an Amazon; and she's literally a child of the gods. She's never quite fit in on Paradise Island, in Man's world, or on Olympus. So, even after all these years, she's still struggling to find her place in the world and her purpose. I can totally relate.

RT: To you, what is the definitive version of "Wonder Woman?"

AH: I think most readers have an emotional attachment to the version of the character they grew up with, so I have a deep and abiding love for the pre-"Crisis" Wonder Woman and her alter ego, Diana Prince. But George Perez's version is certainly the definitive, modern one.

RT: Are you a fan of Rucka's and, before him, Jimenez's work on the title?

AH: I love Greg and Phil personally and professionally and am a huge fan of all the work they've done on the book and the character. And they've each been ridiculously supportive and generous to me in preparation for Terry's and my work on the book.

RT: How will your take on the character differ from previous incarnations?

AH: I'm not sure it's for me to say. I'm drawing from Phil's and Greg's runs for inspiration - and William Moulton Marston's and George Perez's and John Byrne's and Williams Messner-Loebs', for that matter. But Terry and my take on the character is definitely a very personal one with as much attention paid to the character's emotional life as there is over-the-top, wide-screen, superhero action.

RT: "Infinite Crisis" pretty much hit the reset button for Wonder Woman. Her gods, her friends, her world…all gone. Will the past figure prominently into the relaunch, or are you starting over from square one?

AH: We are respectfully building on the character's, and the book's, long, distinguished history, but if you've never read "Wonder Woman" before, issue #1 is absolutely the beginning of the story and an ideal jumping-on point.

RT: Okay, just one more "Infinite Crisis" question. Will the fact that Diana, not her mother, helped to found the Justice League be touched upon?

AH: Probably not. We're trying to focus squarely on Wonder Woman herself and less on her role in the DCU.

RT: What about the rest of Hippolyta's history?

AH: Hippolyta's history plays a part in the story, yes.

RT: What else is coming up?

AH: Non-stop action, romance, and hopefully a few surprises. Wonder Woman's sword never stays sheathed for very long. And we knock down a few skyscrapers, as well. Plus a host of DCU guest stars and the re-emergence of Wonder Woman's rogues gallery, as reimagined by Terry and Rachel Dodson. And the most gorgeous and dynamic visual storytelling the Dodsons have ever produced.

RT: Who's gonna be guest-starring in the first few issues?

AH: Donna Troy, Cassie Sandsmark, Batman and Robin, and many, many others.

RT: Diana has one of the more…um…limited rogues galleries in the DCU. Tell us about who you see as a great Wonder Woman villain and what makes them great.

AH: I think Geoff Johns' "Flash" run has proven there are no lame villains, just diamonds in the rough. I love the Cheetah. Circe. I have fond "Super Friends" memories of Giganta. And of pre-Crisis antagonists like Dr. Cyber, Osira, and the Red Panzer.

RT: How long are you going to be writing the book?

AH: At this point, we're only talking about the first five, but if my schedule permits, I'd love to write more.

RT: Tell us more about the Dodsons. Why them?

AH: Because they were born to draw this character and this book. Wait till you see these pages - they're jaw-droppingly gorgeous. You won't believe how beautiful this book is.

RT: And now to my famous list of similar questions for each creator. What books can't you miss month after month?

AH: Anything by Brian Bendis, Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, Brad Meltzer, and Brian K. Vaughan. Anything by Neil Gaiman, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Alex Robinson, Craig Thompson, and Joss Whedon. And "Lucifer."

RT: What is your favorite comic book of all time?

AH: Probably Bendis' and Gaydos' "Alias."

RT: Awww…me too! Has there ever been a comic book that touched/changed your life? What was it?

AH: Comics have been a constant source of inspiration. Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil's "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" run had a profound effect on me. Alan Moore's "Miracleman" and "Watchmen." Denny O'Neil and Denys Cowan's "The Question," Neil Gaiman's "Sandman." Keith Giffen's Five Years Later "Legion" is one of my favorite runs of all-time. And "Alias," of course.

RT: If you could only write one book for the rest of your career, what would it be?

AH: "Young Avengers." No question.

RT: Who would be your drawing partner?

AH: "Young Avengers" co-creator Jim Cheung, of course. Forever and ever. Until he gets tired of me.

RT: What's the best comic book movie ever made?

AH: Though it's not a literal comic book adaptation, I think "The Matrix" is the best comic book movie ever made.

RT: If you were remembered for only one thing in your career, what would you want it to be?

AH: At this point, "Young Avengers" is the most personal writing I've done in any medium, so probably YA. Thanks for asking.

RT: Anytime.

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