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Interview: Sterling Gates Talks VIBE

The writer for JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA'S VIBE reveals what he has in store for the character.

When it was first announced that Vibe would be getting his own ongoing series, many of us were surprised: it had been quite a while since we had seen Vibe make an appearance in comics. Since the launch of his series, it's been pretty sweet to see the character come into his own, but what does the future hold for Vibe? We recently caught up with the series' writer Sterling Gates to find out what's next for VIBE and why you should be reading the series.


Comic Vine: You took over writing duties on JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA'S VIBE with the third issue, and your fourth issue is scheduled to hit comic store shelves on May 15th. How did you come to work on this series?

Sterling Gates: Um, they asked! [laughs] I had read the first VIBE script that Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg had written and absolutely loved it, and I was very surprised and humbled when Geoff and DC called and asked if I’d be interested in writing the series once Geoff and Andrew left. Geoff and Andrew are both incredibly talented and busy creators in comics and television, and they felt they wouldn’t be able to give the book the attention it deserved.

CV: How would you pitch this series to new readers?

SG: I think our pitch is in every issue’s origin box: “Cisco Ramon was caught in the event horizon of a Boom Tube during Darkseid’s first invasion of Earth. The exposure to the interdimensional forces rewrote his DNA, and now Cisco uses his vibrational powers to help A.R.G.U.S. find and restrain dangerous fugitives from other realities! The second-youngest member of the Justice League of America, he is…VIBE!”

Essentially, Vibe is a border cop, working for a spy organization called A.R.G.U.S. to ensure the sanctity of our reality and send interdimensional “breachers” back where they came from.


CV: How much of your original pitch to DC for this series was kept? How much of it was changed?

SG: Well, plans for issue three were sort of locked in when I came onboard, because there was already a cover for three and Geoff and Andrew had written the Kid Flash reveal ending to issue two. From issue four on, though, we’re telling stories that spring out of the events of the first few issues.

So far, DC has liked everything I’ve pitched them, including the climactic scene in issue six, which I was ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE they were going to reject.

CV: What qualities drew you to the character? Why did you decide that you wanted to write this series? Did you have any reservations at all?

SG: I like Cisco’s optimism and idealism in the face of grief and cynicism. This is a kid who’s lost most of his family in one form of another – either physically or spiritually -- and yet he still works to keep them afloat, and he keeps a job, and he gets through high school with decent grades.

As readers saw in issue one, Vibe lost his eldest brother, Armando, when he was vaporized by a Boom Tube during Darkseid’s invasion of Earth. Vibe now looks at his other brother, Dante, and sees someone who just…well, who just lost their way when their oldest brother was killed. He looks at his father and sees how deep the well of grief can go, how deeply you can drown in that stuff.

Cisco sees all of that negativity and heavy grieving and he rebels against it and tries to stay positive. I think he realized early on that no one was going to be the support for his family but him, so he had to stay on his toes and do the right thing.

The fact that those qualities are still with him once he puts that costume on says a lot about him, and it’s been great fun to write a superhero who wants to help people however he can. He’s almost desperate to help people. It backfires for Vibe like crazy, but even after all of that, he still wants – and is willing -- to help and protect the people who need it the most. It’s a trait I admire, and it’s that trait that really drew me into this character and got me riled up to write this series.

I also really appreciated the relationship that Geoff and Andrew created for Cisco and Dante. It reminds me a lot of my relationship to my older brother, so it was easy to pick that up and run with it. As Cisco gets in over his head more and more, and things get crazier and crazier for him, Dante’s gonna to have to learn to man up and help him out.

CV: How closely are you working with writers Geoff Johns and Matt Kindt to align JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA'S VIBE to their JUSTICE LEAGUE series? What are some similarities fans can anticipate? What are some major differences?

SG: Geoff and I have been meeting every couple weeks since I started writing this book to discuss character and story. We want to be sure that the Vibe you read in my book is the same you read in Geoff’s main title, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. Once the scripts are all in with DC, the Justice League editors Brian Cunningham and Kate Stewart check ‘em and make sure the Justice League universe is consistent and strong. And can I just say that they’ve been extremely supportive of this series and passionate about Vibe as a character.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them, and I can’t thank them enough for pairing me up with artists like Pete Woods, Sean Parsons, Brad Anderson, Fabiano Neves, and Manuel Garcia.

CV: In issue #4 Vibe battles Batman. What was it like writing Batman? How did you integrate him into your series? What can fans expect to see in this issue and why specifically did you want to bring Batman into your story?

SG: Well, uh…Hm. This isn’t the easiest question to answer, to be honest. I think once you read issue four, you’ll see why! I guess I should vaguely warn you that when you’re reading a series that deals with a lot of other dimensions and worlds and people from those worlds, you, uh…well, the Batman who shows up on the cover of issue four might not be the Batman you’re expecting to read about!

I hope that’s vague enough! [laughs]


CV: In the series' fifth issue we see that Vibe is on the run from A.R.G.U.S., can you tell us a bit about why?

SG: Vibe comes into conflict with A.R.G.U.S.’ director, Amanda Waller, as a direct result of the events in issue four. She sends the Suicide Squad after Vibe and, well, it doesn’t go so great. For any of them.

CV: What other adversaries do you have in store for Vibe?

SG: Well, like I said, Vibe goes up against the Suicide Squad in issue five. This iteration of the Squad will also include an old Justice League villain named Crowbar, who’s sort of filling-in while Boomerang and the Unknown Soldier are off on their own mission.

Issue six will see the return of a lot of familiar DCU faces as we explore just who’s kept in the Circus, ARGUS’ interdimensional prison (dig out your Who’s Who back issues now!), and issue seven feature a new villain with some pretty intense ties to Vibe’s past!


CV: Do you have a favorite moment yet that you have written for this series? If so, what is it?

SG: There’s a couple in issue four, like the scene where Gypsy walks through the street fair and trades different items in order to get new clothes and buy the old lady popcorn, or the first time Vibe sees Gypsy with his own eyes. I liked developing Agent Gunn’s relationship with his husband, Casey. Those characters will play bigger and bigger roles in the series as we go along.

I adored writing the Suicide Squad in issue five. I love those characters, and it was great getting to write these supremely scary and effed up individuals as they try to track down our hero.

There’s a moment in issue six I really like where Vibe’s entire worldview changes. It’s the first moment of true adulthood for him, where he makes a tough decision that he’ll have to deal with for a very long time.

Oh, and I loved loved LOVED writing Kid Flash again. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love that character, no matter the iteration. People still approach me at cons and things to tell me how much they liked that KID FLASH LOST series I wrote, which is very gratifying and humbling and a little bittersweet.

So yeah, there are a lot of moments I’ve enjoyed in this book. I really hope people give it a fair shot. I know Vibe’s not the easiest sell – I was skeptical of this new version until I read issue one’s script -- but I think we’re doing a lot of really exciting things with the character, and it’s going to be a very fun ride!