some info on the upcomming final crises ...
GRANT MORRISON ON FINAL CRISIS
by Zack Smith
Final Crisis is DC’s biggest event of this year…and writer Grant Morrison is poised to shake the universe to its core. So when we had a chance to do a spontaneous interview with Morrison, we jumped at the chance to find out the secrets of this cataclysmic storyline.
In the first of a two-part talk on his DC work, Morrison gives some hints at what readers can expect from Final Crisis, and why it pits DC’s heroes against a threat greater than anything before. Also, the return of a very obscure Martian Manhunter villain.
Newsarama: Now, Grant, I’d like to start by talking about Final Cou – I mean, Final Crisis. I keep almost calling it “The Final Countdown” because of that old song…
Grant Morrison: Yeah, it’s never going to be as good as that old song. (laughs)
NRAMA: You’re doing the prelude with Geoff (Johns), DC Universe #0. The cover depicts a cosmic backdrop made up of the different characters, similar to your description of the DC Universe as a living entity.
GM: Yeah, definitely, but I only just saw the cover today myself, so I had no idea what it looked like. But yeah, it’s certainly got that. We plan to treat the DC Universe in a slightly different way in Zero. It’s going to lead straight into one of the big events in Final Crisis #2.
And it’s going to be quite an interesting overview of everything that’s going on in the DC Universe, especially for new readers. It’s a 50-cent gateway book.
NRAMA: You’ve done crossovers before with DC One Million and more recently Seven Soldiers, the latter of which had you writing and coordinating the continuity between the books on an extremely complex level. How’s the experience of writing Final Crisis been compared to the other crossovers you’ve written?
GM: Actually, in the case Final Crisis, it’s much easier. On DC One Million, I wound up doing the plots for like 64 books in one month, which was one of the worst months of my life! (laughs) And a lot of the guys didn’t like the fact that they were given direction, which is fair enough - my editor asked me to do plots for all those books, when in fact I would have preferred to have the writers do their own thing.
But with Final Crisis, we don’t have the same trouble with crossing over that we did with One Million. The events of Final Crisis take place over maybe a month, so the other writers have the option of either playing with it or avoiding it as they see fit.
Readers won’t have to pick up any other books from the line top follow the story in Final Crisis and its satellite books. So there’s not quite as oppressive or overhanging a continuity there for other writers to have to cope with, just this really big, cataclysmic thing that happens.
As I say, the only real crossover business happens in the books Geoff Johns and I are working on. The two of us are pretty much telling the whole story, and anyone who wants to join in can, but it’s set up in such a way that they don’t have to. We really want people doing big stories in their own books.
NRAMA: You’ve been working with Geoff a lot lately, going back to 52. What’s your collaboration like?
GM: We get along well, and I love the stuff he’s doing. I think he’s taken quite a leap again this past year, and the work he’s doing on Green Lantern is amazing. Every time we meet we’re talking stories and comics and ideas, and it seemed inevitable after 52 to go back and develop some more stuff together.
Apart from DC Universe #0, we’re doing some other books together during the Final Crisis skip month, mainly because there’s a natural break in the story after issue #3, and everything moves forward a month. So in that time, we’re doing a couple of books that tie into the storyline as well, and Geoff and I will be writing one of those together, at least, and possibly some of the other ones.
NRAMA: What exactly does Final Crisis represent, in terms of how it’s going to be moving the DC Universe forward?
GM: It’s the apocalypse. (laughs) Basically, this is it. This is doomsday for the DC Universe.
And it’s not – I mean, a lot of people are speculating it’s going to be a big continuity reboot, but I don’t think we need any of that stuff. We’ve done all that, and this isn’t about a reboot, it’s about creating a big, epic storyline for the whole DCU. There may be some things that come out of it that change the universe, but it’s not a reboot and it’s not about fixing continuity gaffes. It’s a story about characters.
This is about the DC Universe under the greatest threat that it’s ever faced. It’s the ultimate annihilation of everything they hold dear. (laughs) Everyone will be quite shocked when they see what happens to some of their favorite characters.
NRAMA: So it sounds like you’re doing it as kind of a character-driven story, how these characters react when faced with the end of the world.
GM: Very much. I mean, obviously when you’re dealing with DC characters, these are very big, iconic guys. We’re doing some new characters as well, maybe revisiting some who’ve only made one appearance or so in books like 52, characters who might seem minor but they really become kind of the driving force of the narrative because they’re the identification guys – sometimes it can be really hard to identify with characters as huge as Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman in a story that’s this big, so we wanted some human scale guys in there too to reinforce the spine of the book.
So yeah, it’s very character-driven, but it’s also got this big mythic element as well, because of the type of characters we’re using.
We’re dealing with the evil gods, the New Gods and Darkseid, in a way that you’ve never seen them before. We discover that all the previous experiences of the New Gods have kind of been projections into the DC Universe, and we’ve never seen the real thing until now…so it’s bad. (laughs). It’s the real deal this time. Real evil.
NRAMA: You had a very interesting depiction of the New Gods in the Mister Miracle miniseries, showing them on a street level. How do you put yourself in the mindset to write the New Gods? How do you perceive them?
GM: Well, for me, the great thing about this story is that the New Gods themselves are out of the picture. The idea is that the war between the gods has been won, and evil has won, and evil has now come to Earth to enact its revenge against every living thing. So it’s essentially good versus evil, and that’s what the story is all about.
In previous cases where the heroes of the DCU have faced Darkseid, they’ve had the powers and the technology of the New Gods to help them…this time they’re alone against absolute overwhelming cosmic evil.
So from there, it’s quite easy to get into the mind of characters like Darkseid and Granny Goodness and Desaad, because they represent human potentials for nastiness taken to the extreme. You know, we’ve all got a little bit of that in us, but the evil gods are mainlining the bad stuff. So it’s just kind of ramping that up to the max and letting them loose.
They’re very easy characters to work with, because they just represent something so primal and so basic that it’s classic. It’s pure evil, and how often do you see pure evil in comics these days? Things have gotten so gray – the lines between heroes and villains have gotten so blurred and ambiguous. We thought, “let’s take it all back to what superhero comics are all about and go big.”
NRAMA: Now, speaking of evil, a character design that’s leaked depicts Libra, who made one appearance – albeit a very memorable one – in Justice League in the 1970s. I remember picking up that back issue, one of those “100-Page Super Spectaculars,” and being very intrigued by his fate, where he became one with the universe and went mad. Is this the character you’re bringing back?
GM: Pretty much, yeah. The thing that always interested me with Libra was that he was never given a background, or a back story – and that issue you mentioned, those were the comics I was reading when I was a kid, those were the books I started on. I can never overemphasize the inspirational debt I owe to the work of Len Wein. I’ve been living off this stuff for years now, man!
And I thought, “that’s probably the last character from the comics I read when I was growing up that we haven’t done anything with yet.” (laughs) So, he comes from kind of a nostalgic wish to reconnect with that and bring it into the modern world and update it a bit. But it was obviously fun to have that backstory ending with Libra becoming what was more or less a god. And, basically, out of that story comes his appearance in this story.
NRAMA: Are you able to talk about any more obscure characters you’re bringing back for Final Crisis at this time?
GM: Ah – in terms of obscurity, there’s so many. There’s some new Japanese superheroes we hinted about in 52. We’re bringing back Sonny Sumo, from Jack Kirby’s Forever People, and a couple of things like that. Quite a lot of the Kirby characters will be around, ones you’ve seen recently like OMAC – there’s been that robot version around recently, and now you’re going to see the next level of that program.
Everyone’s in this bloody thing ultimately! We’ve even got Streaky the Super-Cat in the second issue! (laughs) We’re trying to cover all the bases, but also to make you see these characters in a completely new way, like you’re just seeing the DC Universe for the first time.
NRAMA: So how obscure are you willing to go? Any chance we could see the Dingbats of Danger Street or any of those other crazy First Issue Special characters?
GM: Yeah, we have the potential to see everyone! I mean, the first issue opens with Anthro the Caveboy, and Kamandi’s in there, so there’s a whole bunch of stuff crossing the entire range and span of the DCU. And yeah, there’s the off chance I’ll put the Dingbats in if you want them! (laughs)
NRAMA: There you go! (laughs) But that could be fun, like the Newsboy Legion story you did in The Manhattan Guardian…
GM: I always kind of liked that idea of street-level superhero kids – they don’t really have great powers, but they can organize and get together into teams and fight crime.
There’s a really obscure character I like in Final Crisis, a guy called the Human Flame. He’s this really goofy character we found in an old Martian Manhunter story. He’s this dumb supervillain who just sits around with his cell phone taking pictures of all the other villains and driving them crazy. But he’s got a really big role to play. The name was just so great, “the Human Flame,” in a story about evil coming to Earth…and snuffing out “the Human Flame.”
NRAMA: …the Human Flame. Oy.
Along those lines, who are some of the other major players, beyond the New Gods and some of the other characters you’ve mentioned?
GM: The Green Lanterns are a big deal in it. The Alpha Lanterns, which I created for Final Crisis and Geoff then developed into the latest Green Lantern, those guys have a big role to play. The Green Lanterns are quite essential to the whole book. Superman and Batman, obviously, are going to be a big deal. Wonder Woman is a big deal.
The Question. Frankenstein. Mary Marvel…we’re going to take what’s been happening to Mary Marvel beyond all acceptable limits. I think fanboys should enjoy that one. There’s going to be a big definitive battle between Supergirl and Mary Marvel. Some seriously badass super-animals…There’s a ton of stuff that I don’t want to go into details about, because it’s too good to spoil! I’d love readers to just come to issue 1 with no real preconceived notion of what they’re going to get (ha!)…
NRAMA: You’re collaborating with J.G. Jones again on this one. The two of you worked together before on Marvel Boy – what’s it like working with him again?
GM: Just fantastic. He’s one of those artists who goes above and beyond the call of duty every time to bring this madness to life. The first issue is just full of insane stuff, and he did it all and made it real. He takes us from 50,000 years in the past to the other side of the galaxy…he covers all the bases, and he does the best bridge art you’ve ever seen. (laughs)
There’s a three-page sequence in the first issue that takes place on a bridge, and he draws every damn angle, with every rivet! Now that’s drawing! There’s stuff he’s doing now that just raises the bar for the way superhero comics will be in the future. I’m afraid he’ll have to spend six months on issue #2. (laughs)
NRAMA: Any, um, final thoughts on Final Crisis?
GM: I have so much to say, but I don’t want to blow too much of it! I’d like to save all the big surprises so they happen on the page. We’ve worked hard to give the DCU a very different feel, and that’s the hardest thing to explain to anyone. I’m working on issue 5 right now and the story keeps taking turns that surprise me.
If you like superhero fiction, pick it up! It’s got everything from street-level detective stuff to cosmic adventures. It’s got comedy, it’s epic, it’s surreal, it’s got nightmarish horror going on… We’re just trying to do the best DC comic you’ll see this year.
Next: Morrison on Batman, All-Star Superman, those Bruce Wayne rumors, the We3 movie and more!