Scott Lobdell made a splash with his triumphant return to Aspen Comics last week. “The Four Points,” his new ongoing series with artist Jordan Gunderson (“Executive Assistant: Assassins”), focuses on a young woman named Gia who walks out of an asylum after her parents pass away. She soon discovers that they considered themselves overseers of the odd, who built an organization dedicated to monitoring all kinds of weirdness.
Gia plans to use these new assets along with her own abilities to stop a mysterious evil from wrecking the world. But she can’t do it alone. So she decides to put a group of super-powered women together to stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as only they can. Gia herself can manipulate earth, Ivana Ghoul can fly and Ara wields power over fire.
The first issue of the new sci-fi/fantasy adventure series included a shocker of an ending, so you might want to tread lightly if avoiding spoilers. After gathering women with power of Earth, Fire and Wind, the Water woman was revealed to be none other than Aspen Mathews, the namesake of the company created by Michael Turner and star of the publisher’s flagship series, “Fathom.”
CBR News talked to Lobdell about early plans to include Aspen, the looming threats presented and creating a super-squad consisting solely of female characters.
CBR News: Was “The Four Points” always planned as an Aspen comic featuring Aspen Matthews?
Scott Lobdell: Yes! As the centerpiece of the Aspen comic universe, I really wanted to examine the near limitless possibilities that Micheal Turner established with the creation of “Fathom.” While there is no way to know what he had in his head lo those many years ago when he first imagined Aspen Matthews and the Blue, I would like to believe that he would have eventually expanded upon the world he’d created. Just look at the sheer amount of world building he put into first six issues of “Fathom” — sometimes it felt like the pages themselves couldn’t contain all the ideas.
So I’m very honored that Peter [Steigerwald], Frank [Mastromauro] and Vince [Hernandez] — the Triad of Power — over at Aspen trusted me with task of opening up the world of Aspen Matthews.
I knew how protective they are of Michael’s legacy and so when I pitched “Four Points” I wrote out the whole first issue full script, hinted at the possibilities of the ability and history of Gia, Ivana and Ara and then ended with the last page of Aspen Matthews being introduced as the Fourth Point.
So the experience you and the rest of the fans of the series had when you came across Aspen on the last page and sort of stopped and said “Whoa?”, that’s the same way they read it the first time and so they wanted to preserve that for readers by “burying the lede” when they were marketing the book.
I love these guys — and, honestly, the only reason I thought to even develop and pitch “Four Points” to them was because I love them all so much.
I’ve worked for big companies and small companies, but I’ve never worked at a company that feels so much like a family.
Given that last page reveal, would you say you’re working within the existing continuity established in previous Aspen stories or is it still too soon to talk about that?
It is more like I am using Aspen Matthews as our “everywoman” to explore the rest of the world around her. You have to remember it wasn’t that long ago she was just an everyday marine biologist who woke up to discover she was actually a member of an ancient race of underwater dwellers — she had barely caught her breath when she learned she was the linchpin in a coming war between humanity, the Blue and eventually the Black — that she possessed incredible powers. That, instead of simply seeing the ocean depths through a portal in a submarine, she was able to walk the ocean floor as easily as you and I walk down the street.
The idea with “Four Points” is that now that Aspen has come to grips with the majesty of the Blue and the Black it is time for her to start to become aware of the rest of the world around her. So to that end, no, we’re not going to be spending any significant time underwater in this series.
As the catalyst for the series Gia gets the most page time this issue, but readers don’t know too much about her or Ara and Ivana just yet. How do you plan out what to reveal to readers and when?
With this series I started out with a yellow legal pad and numbered it 1 to 20. I did that eight times until I had a representation of all the pages I’d have available to me for this story. On the other side of the paper I wrote out what had to be revealed about each of them and then as I started to break down the overall story I started to look for the most natural places to reveal the information.
Aside from the tease of Aspen at the end of the issue, you have three of your four leads together by the end of the first issue. Would you say there’s a particular trick or shorthand for establishing a team in such a short time?
Hmmm. I don’t like to think in terms of “tricks” or “shorthand” — as I find writing to be a much more organic process. But I will say it was important to me that in the first issue we got to see the characters using their abilities as they were introduced and that they used them in ways that related to their characters.
We meet Gia in the home asylum her parents built for her — processing a near infinite amount of other people’s thoughts at once. Ivana’s powers were revealed when her jet was obliterated and she was left floating in mid-air. She is a soldier who gets kicked out of the Russian air force and finds herself enlisted by Gia. Ara is using her lava-based powers to try to make things better for the world around her and so when Gia asks for help Ara realizes she has to stop playing small ball.
So as I say, it is important that we learn a lot of information organically. I wouldn’t call that a trick though.
Readers of the first issue have heard that something dark is coming and even seen evidence of some strange historical artifacts, but can you tell us a little more about what kind of threat the Four Points will be facing?
One of the world’s most famous foursomes — besides the Beatles and the Monkees and the cast of “Seinfeld” — are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In my head I was thinking what if there were four “horse women” whose job it was to beat down the Four Horsemen every time they tried to rise up and destroy the world. So in my head (and maybe it will make it onto the page) I see the Four Points as a timeless force of four women — different women for different times over the centuries — who protect us when we most need them.
“Four Points” is fairly unique in that it is a super powered team consisting solely of women. Why was it important to you that this group consist solely of females?
I love women. Some of my favorite people are women. I don’t think there are nearly enough women or minority characters in comic books. If you look at early “Generation X,” the women characters were evenly split with the number of boy characters. When Bobby Drake led the X-Men in “Zero Tolerance” he was outnumbered by women while Jean Grey was leading another team in “Eve of Destruction.” Even the recent relaunch of “Teen Titans” had women characters well represented. Even “Red Hood and the Outlaws,” aside from half the Internet losing its mind over the notion that a woman can have sex on her own terms, I think it is clear to anyone who read the book that Starfire was one of my favorite characters to write!
You know, if I made a list of all the characters I’ve created over the years I’m pretty sure the women characters and people of color characters would outweigh the Just Another White Guy characters. I am just another white guy and I can’t tell you how boring it is.
Also, Aspen is known for its strong female characters. The idea of making an entire team of strong female characters just seemed natural to me. There were no conversations to the contrary.
With “Superman” and “Teen Titans,” you got some flack for using thought balloons, but I didn’t see any in the first issue of “The Four Points.” Was that in reaction to the criticism?
I’d have to actually read what my critics say to respond to them — but I am much too busy writing to bother.
It is funny because many years ago when I wrote “Wildcats” with Travis Charest I didn’t use thought balloons or anything other than location captions. And when I say years ago I’m talking about a time before today’s “critics” were even reading comics. I didn’t use them on “Scourge” either.
And to be honest, I would probably not have used them on the other books you mentioned except that editorial at DC specifically asked me to use thought balloons and captions. As a writer, when you have to chose between being asked to write in a specific way by the company that is paying you and the message board brigade looking for any excuse to tear you down, what would you chose to do?
How was the creative process of building this world with Jordan. Did the two of you talk a lot about the look ahead of time or as elements pop up in the script?
There was very little collaboration — but only because a guy as talented as Jordan doesn’t need me to tell him how to be amazing! Just the other day he sent me four character sketches for a character in issue #5. He asked me to pick one. I said, “No way! He is your character to design! Have fun! You decide what you most want to draw and I’ll work from there!” Hmmm… I guess that is a collaboration. But you know what I mean!
“The Four Points” #2 by Scott Lobdell and Jordan Gunderson is scheduled for release May 13 from Aspen Comics.
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