Every week, we speak with author Daniel H. Wilson for a detailed recap of Earth 2: World’s End, the weekly DC Comics title he’s spearheading about an alternate earth devastated by its prolonged war with Apokolips. The comic is instrumental in the lead-up to the publisher's upcoming Convergence event, and in this Blastr exclusive we explore the issue with Wilson -- and offer a sneak peek at what readers can look for in its final installments.
In the penultimate installment of our weekly talk, Daniel H. Wilson reflects back on how he has evolved as a comics writer over the course of the title, while also providing numerous hints about Earth 2: Society and Convergence, and provides details about his graphic novel Quarantine Zone.
Before we get into the issue, it was revealed this week that you're working with DC Comics and Alloy Entertainment on a graphic novel called Quarantine Zone, due January 2016. This is a stand-alone graphic novel?
That's correct. DC had this concept, which is really simple: Evil is a virus that people can catch. What does that world look like? What are the stories that take place there? At the same time that I was working on Earth 2: World's End, I was writing Quarantine Zone. At this point, it's written. There's still a ways to go, but for my part, I've finished. It was like writing a comic, but also like a film script. I wrote a treatment describing everything that was going to happen first, then scripted it out. It was very cool and different than anything I've worked on.
Is this a future set within the DC Comics Universe? And how is this playground different than Robopocalypse and Earth 2?
I don't know if Quarantine Zone exists within the larger DCU. We didn't talk about that. I suppose it is possible, but it is a self-contained story and world. It is more biologically driven, and about the transmission of this virus. The story doesn't revolve around robots or A.I. or superheroes. It is really grounded in biology. It all boils down to an emotional story, and the themes -- when you're talking about good and evil, or the freedom to commit evil acts -- are so fixed. They're low-hanging fruit, and I had a great time telling the emotional story.
This is your third comic-book story. Is this a medium you see yourself laying down long-term roots within?
Absolutely. I am trying to get better and better at this. Every time I pick up a new project, I'm trying to figure out ways to up my game. I'm in Portland, and out here with guys like Paul Tobin, Matt Fraction, so I've got a long ways to go before I'm competing with guys like that. But I'm doing my best to try.
How have you upped your game from the first issue of Earth 2: World's End to now?
As a writer, you always look at the things your wrote and kick yourself, and wish you'd done it better. You see a million flaws. I started out as a scientist and got used to looking very critically at my work, and having others tear it apart and tell me how I could have done it better. So I don't tend to be too precious about it. After World's End was over, I went into Burbank, met with my editors and asked how I could have been better. I would have done that no matter what. From those notes, from talking to friends, from continuing to read more and more, I am looking for a million ways to make work more personal, meaningful, thrilling, and just better.
Was there anything they told you to do better?
Every project is different, and the challenges change. One big challenge of Earth 2: Society is doing serious world-building with an ensemble cast. It is a tough act to pull off because you don't have the liberty of just diving into one character and letting them carry the series. It is so complex dealing with all these characters and hitting their personality perfectly, and pushing them along. And also carrying along 12 or 15 other characters in 20 pages. I'm just trying to gear up and do my best with every issue.
Who are some characters in World's End you wish you'd have more time with?
Flash, definitely. And Aquawoman, too. I would have like to continue exploring the story of what happened in Atlantis while all this was going on. There's just not enough room. The other person I haven't got to explore that much is Captain Steel. We saw him coming out of the fire pits before I started writing. He seemed so ready to do cool stuff, but we have bigger mouths to feed, and only so many pages.
What about characters you really made a mark on?
Well, the characters nearest and dearest to me were the ones I was writing every week, instead of just breaking stories for. Absolutely Terry Sloan, Mister Terrific, Jimmy Olsen, Mister Miracle, Fury. Those were the ones I wrote and felt most connected to. As a result, those characters will have a major impact in Earth 2: Society. I just wrote eight pages of the first issue, and they'll certainly play a major role.
Has it been difficult moving forward with Society while keep straight what happened in World's End?
What's crazy is I know these characters better than my relatives at this point. If I was in a room with 30 of these characters, I'd recognize them faster than my extended family. I actually don't have any trouble pinning them down. The only issue is figuring out what happens to some of them during Convergence, because I'm not completely informed on that yet.
I feel like I've previously said "all hell is breaking loose," but there is a double splash page early on in #25 that sets a tone for the issue.
If you base the amount of hell breaking loose on the number of double splashes, then it is certainly breaking loose in this issue. There are so many in this. This is when Earth-2 is throwing everything it has got, big and small. Johnny Thunder is coming out to fight, Aquawoman on a giant space eel, everyone is coming out to rescue these ships. This is the last gasp.
It's a small moment with Dick Grayson and Thomas Wayne in this issue, both in the same stance with teeth gritted. Is this foreshadowing?
They're fighting shoulder to shoulder, and it is definitely foreshadowing that they're going to have a continued relationship in Convergence. We'll have to see how that plays out.
Talk about the dynamics of the fight between Kara, Val and Darkseid, and what we should take away from this moment.
This is where Kara gets to give Darkseid everything she's got, and find out if it's enough. Val gets forcefully ejected through the sub-surface of Apokolips and thrown towards the surface of the earth. As he wakes up, while he's falling, the first thing he does is save the main escape ship. Val immediately turns into the role of protector. He's playing defense and saving lives; he's using his power, not to destroy, but preserve life. Once again you see Kara indulging in the destructive power she has. These kinds of roles the Kryptonians are falling into are, again, going to be continued in Earth 2: Society. We'll see how those philosophies play out.
Two heroes try to use their powers against Darkseid, as do the other heroes. So, is he unstoppable?
I think that's the point of this issue, really. He can't be stopped. It is really fun to see all the action, and see how they try to stop him, but this is World's End, man. There is no stopping Darkseid. We get to the last issue and see that, and wonder how the hell this is going to end.
I want to point out that I called the use of Sloan's multidimensional ships as an escape possibility. But Sloan says, "Don't say I never helped save humanity." It is true, so is he a hero?
It is so hard to tell with him. I think he's a hero, but he's so complicated that it'd be hard for everyone to call him a hero. Anyone who makes it on that ship owes their life to Terry Sloan.
Well, we have the ships, but Darkseid's forces are keeping the people from reaching them. So, is this Green Lantern's sole task?
Absolutely, it is all on Alan Scott for issue #26. This is going to be about him trying to figure out a way to save humanity or not.
Next week: The epic finale of Earth 2: World's End, and our final interview with Wilson, who will be joined by Marguerite Bennett and Mike Johnson!