If you have an electric car then you might want to heed the warning of Mark Russell and Mike Norton’s tale in the upcoming holiday anthology, DC Nuclear Winter Special #1, because you might find it difficult to charge your vehicle in a post-apocalyptic world, while cannibalistic mutants are deciding whether or not to eat you. SYFY WIRE has the exclusive preview of Russell’s story, which ties nine other stories together in an apocalyptic mashup of “A Christmas Story.”
Russell initially had trouble coming up with a story right away because there were just too many he was coming up with, especially with characters who can travel through time. So the editors posited Russell as the Crypt Keeper of the anthology, which unlocked the focus he needed.
“We wanted it to be about Rip Hunter and a Time Sphere, having to stall these cannibalistic mutants from eating him by telling them stories about the other DC characters like 1001 Nights,” Russell explained to SYFY WIRE. “This is not meant to be anti-electric vehicle, but I thought about how bad you’d be sweating (in this situation). Rip’s a fascinating character and I made him a little more sinister, trickier in this comic than he normally is, but I think that’s what the necessity of the situation required of the character. To me, a good story forces a character out of their comfort zone in order to survive the world they’re in.”
Nuclear Winter takes place at the ruins of the Oogle campus, as Russell describes as a thinly-veiled version of Google, which is one of the few remaining places Hunter can charge his time sphere.
“I wanted to write a more expansive story about how the mutants were there, at the cause of the downfall of civilization. Oogle in some way, actually caused the environmental collapse that rendered the rest of the stories in this post-apocalyptic environment, but I just didn’t have the time to give the explanation that deserved. So I just had them also in a post-apocalyptic environment without explaining how that world came to be, because the other stories all carry different versions of post-apocalypse and different versions of what it’d be like in a world post-civilization.”
“It’s interesting when you get a prompt like, ‘do this in a post-apocalyptic world’ what you can do and dove-tailing that into the DC Universe and how the DC Universe is in a lot of ways, created to deal with a post-apocalyptic environment because that’s maybe the way the creators saw the environment we’re living in now, as civilization gone terribly wrong, and that’s why we need Superman, that’s why we need Batman because we’re already in that post-apocalyptic environment.”
It’s Russell’s unique outlook that keeps earning him wild assignments, flipping the familiar ground on critical hits like Prez, The Flintstones and Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles. That’s made him the perfect choice for DC Meets Hanna-Barbara specials like Lex Luthor / Porky Pig, Green Lantern / Huckleberry Hound and the Booster Gold/ Flintstones. Russel found anthologies even more liberating.
“One of the things I like about writing anthologies is that they give you a prompt, like, it’s got to be in this post-apocalyptic world and you have to use this character. The limitations they impose on you actually help with the storytelling. They help you come up with a good story. Also, they often exist outside of the continuity, so you just focus on telling a story that you can come up with as opposed to figuring out how to fit in with Issue #131 of a series, or how will it affect the continuity of a series moving forward.”
Russell has also written backup Superman stories, and has Harley Quinn #56 due out in December. He is inching closer to writing a DCU title regularly. His next project is to establish The Wonder Twins as a part of Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics imprint in February of 2019. As for Rip Hunter, Russell had so much fun but had to leave much of it on the cutting room floor, similar to writing the Booster Gold / Flintstones crossover.
“What I would like to do someday is write a Booster Gold - Rip Hunter crossover that involves a time sphere, that expands on the two stories that I didn’t get to tell in their totality,” Russell openly pitched. If fans are lucky enough, Rip's future looks gold.
Check out our exclusive preview of The 80-page DC Nuclear Winter Special #1, which goes on sale November 28 for $9.99 and feature a cover by Yanick Paquette and the following stories:
• Rip Hunter Time Master in “The Nuclear Winter Special” by Mark Russell, Mike Norton, Hi-Fi colors, and Deron Bennett
• Batman 666 in “Warmth” by Colin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Romulo Fajardo Jr and Clayton Cowles
• Superman One Million in “Memory Hearth” by Steve Orlando, Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, Nathan Fairbairn and Clayton Cowles
• Kamandi in “Northern Lights” by Phillip Hester, Ande Parks, Trish Mulvihill and Steve Wands
• Aquaman in “Where the Light Cannot Reach” by Mairghread Scott, Dexter Soy, Veronica Gandini and Steve Wands
• Flash in “Once and Future” by Jeff Loveness, Christian Duce, Luis Guerrero and Tom Napolitano
• Firestorm in “Last Christmas” by Paul Dini, Jerry Ordway, Dave McCaig and Dave Sharpe
• Supergirl in “Last Daughters” by Tom Taylor, Yasmine Pitri, Tom Derrick and Deron Bennett
• Catwoman in “Nine Lives” by Cecil Castellucci, Amancay Nahuelpan, Brian Buccellato and Josh Reed
• Green Arrow in “The Birds of Christmas Past, Present and Future” by Dave Wielgosz, Scott Kolins, John Kalisz, and Tom Napolitano