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Monday, November 16, 2009

Aquaman Shrine Interview with J. Michael Straczynski - 2009

What I'm calling the "Brave and the Bold #32 Event" continues today, with a very special treat--a brand-new interview with the book's writer, J. Michael Straczynski!

Late Friday, as this random idea started to take shape, I got the idea of maybe contacting JMS to see if he'd like to talk about the book, and his work on Brave and the Bold overall.

Shrine Interview-wise, it would be sort of unprecedented, because we'd be talking about a comic that hasn't come out yet, which is, you know, odd. But luckily, after explaining to JMS what the GOTW (Get Out The Word) effort was all about, he generously agreed to talk with the Shrine:

Aquaman Shrine: How did you end up writing Brave and the Bold?

J. Michael Straczynski: DC gave me a number of options, and I think everyone expected me to go with one of the big titles, but B&B stuck out at me because I could work in or out of continuity as was best served by the story, and I could pair up anybody with anybody. So in that sense it's a great sampler-platter for the DCU. It also gives me a chance to learn the voices for a bunch of different DC characters, so that I can use those voices later.

Growing up, were you a fan of the original book?

JMS: Absolutely. Every time it came out, half the fun was, "Who're they gonna pair up this time?" The more unlikely the combo, the more fun it was. (Which is why I'm stoked about this week's release, putting Batman in the same story with Brother Power, the Geek. Show me five people on the planet who ever saw that one coming.)
AMS: You're right, I never would have guessed I'd ever see a Batman/Brother Power team-up. Knowing that's coming, I now realize there is no team-up too far out not to happen! Do you have favorite issues of the old series?

JMS: Too many to choose from. I just loved the whole extent of it.

AMS: When you started writing the Brave and the Bold stories, did you have a list of characters you wanted to work into a story?

JMS: Yes, and Aquaman was right toward the top of the list, which is why he's there fairly early in the run. Some of the other, still-forthcoming team-ups I presented to DC included Atom and the Joker, Adam Strange and Lois Lane, Green Lantern/Dr. Fate, The Legion of Superheroes and the Doom Patrol.

AMS: Is Aquaman a character you've wanted to write, but just never had the chance before?

JMS: I was at Marvel pretty much exclusively for over ten years, so I never had the chance to touch any of the DC characters during that time. So yeah, he's one of those I wanted to write, as manifested again by how soon he appears in the B&B roster. I've never really understood those who say they don't know what to do with Aquaman. It's not just that he can breathe underwater, there's a whole mythos to the character, and powers that may not have been adequately showcased before.

You can draw a line of comparison between Aquaman and the lead character in the Dune books: both royalty of a sort, both commanding vast creatures that live beneath the surface, and both living in an environment hostile to normal humans (with the reverse approach, extremely dry instead of extremely wet). If you look at what they've been able to do with the Dune books, you know there has to be more you can do with Aquaman. It just takes the right approach.

AMS: ...from your mouth to Dan Didio's ear! You have no idea what a relief that is to hear, at least from this particular Aqua-Fan's perspective.

You mention partly picking B&B since it gave you the opportunity to write stories "in or out of continuity." I assume this particular Aquaman/Demon team-up exists outside the current DCU since Aquaman is dead?

JMS: Correct. We're going to add a logline to the series, The Brave and the Bold: Lost Tales from Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow to make things easier for folks trying to figure out where this fits in continuity. So this is the "classic" Aquaman.

AMS: I've always been interested in just how writers craft team-up stories. In this particular case, did it start as an Aquaman story, and then as you worked on it you figured how to work The Demon into it? Or vice-versa?
JMS: They both came at kind of the same time. I saw them together (fire and water), and to keep it to Aquaman's strengths I kept it underwater, which led to the idea of finding something very, very ancient and dangerous with magical or supernatural overtones, which fit the Demon.

AMS: You seem to have put some definite thought into Aquaman and how to write him. Was he a favorite character of yours to read as a kid?

JMS: I wouldn't say a hardcore favorite--for me there's Superman, then everybody else--but he was on an equal footing with everybody else in the JLA, as far as I was concerned, and as far as the issues themselves were constructed.

AMS: Finally, now that you've written your first Aquaman story, do you have ideas in your head for more? Would you want to write Aquaman regularly if the opportunity came up? (Like, say, sales of this issue went through the roof?)

JMS: I'm keeping all options open in terms of work down the road, but in general, I've never had a hard time coming up with stories, whoever they might involve. It's what I love doing most in the world.

Whatever excitement I had over Brave and the Bold #32 got increased exponentially once I had the chance to talk to JMS about it. I think his answer above on how to write Aquaman should make every Aqua-Fan out there breath a giant sigh of relief--if only for just this one issue!

I thank JMS so much for talking to the Shrine, and I hope our little effort here can boost sales of the issue enough that maybe, just maybe, DC takes notice. We'll see.


David J. Cutler said...

While I wasn't on board for the second half of his Spider-Man run, JMS's recent Thor relaunch is a personal favorite of mine, and as I read it it became so clear to me how perfect a fit he'd be for Arthur. I'd love a JMS penned Aquaman ongoing with Thor's same sense of epic myth, character, and fun.

IADW said...

Great interview Rob! It's always cool hearing how the pro's reason things out. Aquaman's definitely in safe hands..

Diabolu Frank said...

JMS has been a mostly miss writer with me, but when he's on (Supreme Power, Midnight Nation) he's out of sight. His somber fantasy work would suit Aquaman a lot better than anyone who's been assigned the book since the '70s (I'm still so very disappointed in Peter David for dropping the ball.) If Gary Frank rejoined JMS for a classic relaunch, I'd make a mess of myself, yaknowhatimean?

Josh Hill said...

great interview, and I agree that JMS would make a fine choice for an Aquaman relaunch. personally, I'm still hoping for Geoff Johns, though.

Russell said...

Nice interview, and even nicer comments from JMS! It sounds like all my nephews are going to get this issue of B&B! :-)

Wings1295 said...

Great interview, Rob! When you do something, you go all out, don't ya?

Very cool, and great to read about how a comic writer feels about Aquaman and his potential!

David J. Cutler said...

@Josh I like Johns, but he seems incapable of writing a story where a supporting character isn't savagely brutalized and killed. It's the kind of darkness I'd like to see Aquaman move far far away from. A two-handed Aquaman qritten by JMS, Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Kurt Busiek or Grant Morrison would be a dream come true for me.

Nick Marino said...

very excellent. you turned this interview out super quick, rob!

rob! said...

Yeah, the stuff JMS had to say about Aquaman sounds really good to me!

I get these ideas, and I just go kinda nuts, yeah. :)

That was really JMS' doing. Frequently interviews take a week or so, but he answered my two sets of questions almost immediately so it was ready by today--which I'm thrilled over!

Diabolu Frank said...


The past week DC Comics held a creative retreat for a number of high-profile creators. And as part of it, mobile phones and devices were been told off and people asked not to twitter as a result. Which is why Geoff Johns went twitter dark from November 7th after posting;

Out with Blackest Night editor Adam Schlagman in NYC. Talking our next project…we both love Black Manta.

Adama said...

Nice one Rob! I've been a fan of JMS since his days on Babylon 5. I never read any of his Spider-Man stuff, but his run on Thor was amazing. If he can bring even a fraction of that magic over to the Aquaman story, it should be amazing!

Seriously though, if you think about it, Thor and Aquaman have a lot in common. Both royalty from a magical, out of the way kindgom, etc, etc.