Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Exclusive: Tynion Talks Outlaws 1/17/2013 Edition

                                                            Mike DePalo

     Sometimes lightning strikes twice in the same place.  Over a year ago, we were lucky enough to have Scott Lobdell sit down with the Red Hood & the Outlaws Facebook page and discuss the debut of the series and he has since become a great friend to the fandom. With a new creative team just announced, we are once again very fortunate to be able to bring you a Q&A with the new writer of Red Hood And The Outlaws, James Tynion IV!

1. What comics did you grow up on, your favorite stuff?

James Tynion IV: I grew up on the X-Books in the 90s… I think I still have a stack of my original Age of Apocalypse books lying around somewhere, but the X-Men were always my favorites. I would also pick up a stack of Young Justice books whenever I got the chance, because I absolutely loved those characters and couldn't get enough of them (I have that Sins of Youth trade on my shelf that's absolutely falling apart because I read it over and over). But those were in the "before James had a car" era when I could only get to my LCS in the Milwaukee suburbs once every couple of months.

 It was a mix of the Marvel Ultimate Universe, Winnick's Exiles, and Morrison's X-Men that got me into comics full-throttle, coming back to the shops week after week. I discovered the DC Universe through the rise of Geoff Johns, and my favorite book of his had to have been Teen Titans. Outside and around the corners of super-heroes, the work of Warren Ellis, Brian K. Vaughan, and Neil Gaiman made me fall head-over-heels in love with the comic book medium. Those are the guys who made me want to write comic books for the first time, and their stuff is probably the work I revisit the most.

2. Now that the announcement you're taking over RHatO has hit the wire, what would you say your goal for the book's tone is?

Tynion: There's a great balance that this book thrives on… There's an inherent darkness to each of the characters, in that they all have horrific formative experiences that haunt them to this day. But when thrown together, their stories don't have to wallow in the darkness… Together, these three have fun. These are stories about friendship in the face of incredible threats, and because of that, the book isn't the mopey, dark title that it could be.

RHATO has been an incredibly fun adventure series, with a great sense of humor, and I am absolutely going to keep that. Big, high concept settings… Big, high concept threats… We're not going to have them punching out members of drug cartels, we're going to have them fighting crazy assassins and giant monsters and the weirdest stuff I can throw at them. In every issue of the book, I want you guys to have fun. The characters will absolutely go to some pretty dark places emotionally, and they'll have to face that darkness… But even in the midst of that, I want this book to be energetic and insanely fun to read. I want RHATO to climb to the top of your pull list, because you need to know what happens to the characters next. 

3. How would you describe Jason Todd, your take on who he is?

Tynion: Jason Todd is easily one of the most complex and fascinating characters in the DC Universe, because of his ongoing search to figure out his place in the world. Jason lives with a deep rage in his heart, and that's something he's struggled with since his troubled childhood, through his work as Robin. His death and resurrection pushed him over the edge… He came back into the world, guns a blazing, thinking that to be a hero he needed to cross the line that Batman never would. He needed to kill. It's why he couldn't stay with the All-Caste all those years ago. He needed to go back to Gotham and make his stand, no matter what he had learned from Ducra about controlling and overcoming that rage.

And like we saw in the series, lashing out like that meant he wasn't there to protect Ducra when she was killed, and the All-Caste was slaughtered, and I think that was a real sobering moment for him. And he's since worked past a lot of his rage to the point that he's willing to work side-by-side with the Bat-Family, not just against them. His entire journey, from the moment he first put on the domino mask as a boy, has been about mastering the darkness he knows is deep inside him. Because, just like Batman, and just like Ducra, Jason knows that he has the potential to be something great. He is fully capable of becoming one of the greatest individuals on the planet… Whether he chooses to wield that greatness for the light, or the dark, is right at the core of the character. He's on a journey with his two best friends to figure that out for himself.

 I really think that that is the core of this series… The arc of working to get over, or simply accept your past, and fulfill your true potential. You have Roy who wears his heart on his sleeve, who clearly wants to be a hero, but who screwed it up so badly for himself last time that he's not sure he really trusts himself anymore. You have Kori, who had such a horrifying childhood, locked away in slavery, that nobody can really understand. Her people expect her to be this powerful leader and this noble warrior, but the deep betrayal by her family and race to have sold her away like a pawn. And that's a struggle she faces every day. And then you have Jason, who was training to become a warrior at Batman's side, when he was brutally and terribly murdered, then resurrected for reasons he's never understood… 

They share a darkness that they all understand innately about one another. It's why they're so close. That's why it's them vs. the world. People expect them to be heroes, or villains, when they are simply themselves… They're working through the answers to those expectations every single day, and they're stronger because they're working through it together.

The Outlaws need each other. I think that's why this book has resonated so much with the fans. 

4. Any messages for all the Hoodies out there eagerly awaiting your arrival?

Tynion: I'd say that I know there are concerns in all directions. Some people are worried I can't pull off the humor that makes the book unique. Some are worried I want to make this a grim and gritty streets of Gotham book. A lot of these concerns won't go away until you read the book, but I promise that I want to do justice to these characters, and tell the best stories possible with them. People have seen me tackle darkness, but they haven't really seen me tackle a fun book like RHATO. But honestly, this is the kind of superhero book I've been dying to write since I first started wanting to write comics.

And furthermore, I love these characters. I've been wanting to write them for years and years. I'm sure there will be differences in how I approach some things than what we've seen for the last year and a half, but that's always the case when a new writer comes on board. But I just want to say that sitting down and writing the first two issues of this comic has been some of the most fun I've had in my young professional writing career. 

I couldn't be happier coming onto a series with such an incredible fan base, and I want to give you all incredible stories with these incredible characters. I can't wait for you to see what we have in store. I look forward to seeing all of your responses, but first I hope everyone checks out the last batch of Scott's issues coming out of Death of the Family. #17 & 18 are absolutely great issues, and set up a really incredible launching point for the future of the book. 

It's going to be a hell of a year for The Outlaws. I hope you all stick around for the ride :)

5. One word spoiler?

Tynion: Strange.

     And with that last little tidbit I'm already probably reading too much into, I just want to thank James Tynion for talking with us.  He will debut with artist Mico Suayan when Red Hood And The Outlaws #19 comes out on April 17th. You can also read his work monthly in Talon and back-up features in Batman. Another major thanks to Pamela Mullin and Alex Segura at DC Comics for making this happen.

To follow James Tynion IV:
@JamesTheFourth on Twitter

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Mike DePalo
Hoodie Admin
@RedHoodOutlaws on Twitter