Joshua Williamson, a relative newcomer to the industry, is suddenly very busy. A writer who has contributed to “Superman/Batman,” the “Fractured Fables” anthology, and some DC Comics specials as well as creating “Necessary Evil” at Desperado, “Dear Dracula,” “Overlook,” and “Johnny Monster” at Image, by the end of 2010 Williamson will have added two original graphic novels, a meeting between Supergirl and Damian Wayne, and a Hulk family drama to his bibliography. CBR News spoke with Williamson about his new projects, in particular the Leed Moder-illustrated and Darwyn Cooke-covered “Mirror Mirror” and “Endangered,” both from new publisher Kickstart, as well as “Superman/Batman” #77 and his installment of Hulk's “Smash Files.”
“Mirror Mirror,” an original hardcover debuting November 20 (both in comics shops and, due to Kickstart's distribution program, Walmart), focuses on the fate of the magic mirror from the tale of Snow White and the perpetual dangers it represents. In Williamson's story, the mirror has been shattered and entrusted to several guardians, but now someone is trying to put the pieces back together. “There are a lot of fairy tale modern remakes out there, but this is more of a distant sequel that focuses just on one aspect that I’ve always felt was ignored in the Snow White fairy tale… the Magic Mirror,” Williamson said. “The Snow White legend is referenced in flashback and a few different Grimm Fairy Tales are also used throughout the story, because it’s revealed that the Grimm brothers' fairy tales were written as clues to hide the broken mirror pieces. So our heroes are looking at the told fairy tales to find the mirror pieces.”
Williamson told CBR that he was always bothered by the fact that the Snow White story never resolved what happened to the magic mirror after the wicked queen is thwarted. “In a lot of ways the mirror was just as evil as Snow White’s step mother. It could be viewed that the mirror was manipulating things the whole time,” the writer said. “That’s the idea I ran with here. The Magic Mirror was the real bad guy of the fairy tale and after Snow White was saved by Prince Charming, Snow White destroyed the magic mirror with a big sledge hammer.”
Snow White then charged a secret society called the Huntsmen with protecting the shards, according to Williamson's lore. "They are for sure the good guys. There are multiple secret societies introduced in this story but it’s the Huntsmen’s job to protect the mirror pieces,” he told CBR. “By the time our story starts, most of them are dead, having been betrayed by one of their own.
“One of the Huntsmen, Prince Mason, has been around the mirror pieces for too long,” Williamson continued. “He has slowly begun to be manipulated by the mirror. He is losing his mind and literally getting cracks in his skin.”
Perhaps reminiscent of the Grimm brothers themselves, the hero of “Mirror Mirror” is Owen Grim. “Owen Grim is a playboy sort of kid who just wants to travel and have a good time. He lives for the party and doesn’t want to be stuck in a classroom,” Williamson said. “In some ways Owen is a con artist who has conned his way around the world using his parents' good name. Owen’s parents, a pair of adventurers, were members of a secret society called the Huntsmen and, when they are betrayed by another member, their roles are passed down to him. Owen is hesitant to get involved, but throughout the story realizes that this is his true calling.”
Joining Williamson on the book is artist Lee Moder, who was brought onto the project by Kickstart and Jimmy Palmiotti, who is editing some of the new publisher's titles. “The finished hardcover is going to look awesome,” Williamson said regarding Moder's work on “Mirror Mirror.” “Since his work on 'Legion of Super Heroes,' Lee has been one of my favorite artists. Lee worked really hard to make our deadlines and turned in some absolutely incredible pages. A story likes this needs to have an artist who can convey action, excitement and humor. Lee did all of those things and more. I can’t wait for people to see his work in this book.
“I’m really proud of this book and Lee is a huge reason why. Also it can’t hurt to have a cover by Darwyn Cooke.”
Williamson's other Kickstart book, “Endangered,” sees two brothers take an adventure to the stars to rescue their father. “It’s a lot like 'The Last Starfighter,' where there is an epic battle going on in space but nobody on Earth knows about it,” Williamson said. “Earth is just a small blip in all of space so we only have one representative and that’s Captain James Donner, who is an amazing space pilot and hero. He has kept his job as Earth’s protector a secret from everyone on earth except for his son, Chris. So when Captain Donner gets kidnapped Chris tries to help him.”
This, of course, is all news to Chris' brother Mikey. “Chris and Mikey are two rival brothers in their mid-to-late teens. Chris is the good, smart kid, while Mikey is the rebel. Not only does Chris know about his father’s secret life but he also has been training to take his Dad’s place in the future. Chris is getting ready to leave for college when his dad’s ship shows up to teleport him off into space to take up his dad’s role - but it accidentally takes Mikey along as well,” Williamson told CBR.
“Mikey is pissed that his dad kept the space hero life a secret from him and he thinks he’d do a better job than Chris. So that brings the two brothers into conflict.”
Captain Donner's abductors are a race called the Decay, who have managed to exterminate most of their adversaries. “The Decay are the ultimate evil in the universe, a cancer that created itself to make space ill,” Williamson said. “Their leader is a creature named Ruin, who, like all great cosmic bad guys, is big and mean and obsessed with destroying everything,” Williamson said. “The only thing that can stop the Decay are the Ximeno.”
The Ximeno, sadly, are nearly extinct, and the brothers will find themselves teaming with and protecting one of the last of this species as they search for their father. “The Ximeno are creatures of light that the universe itself gave birth to, they embody all hope in the universe,” Williamson said. “The Ximeno have all been killed off by the Decay except for one girl named Caysea. Now that the Ximeno are almost all dead, the universe has become a very dark place. All the Ximeno had incredibly strong light powers, Caysea was learning to control and use these powers to defeat the Decay but her trainers were killed before she could finish.
“Caysea was being transported to a hide-out by Captain Donner when they were attacked. Captain Donner allowed himself to be captured so Caysea could get away. Now it’s the boys’ job to get Caysea to safety. Caysea feels there is a lot of pressure is on her to save the universe and isn’t handling it very well.”
The artist on “Endangered” is Juan Santacruz. “He is awesome and the detail is amazing. He really went over the top with things I didn’t expect,” Williamson said. “I was worried at times that it would be too loaded but he really got the job done and surprised me. He has done a few things for Marvel and here he is doing the best work I’ve ever seen him do.” “Endangered” arrives in stores December 29.
In addition to his own original projects, Williamson maintains a presence at the Big Two, notably with his upcoming issue of “Superman/Batman” #77, which gives its titular heroes a rest to focus on Supergirl and Robin, Damian Wayne. “It needed to be done. A team-up between Supergirl and Damian was long overdue,” Williamson said. “When it was suggested by my editors I jumped at it because I immediately saw the potential for a great story between such opposites. AND! Because of this departure, this is the first time in a while that the title has taken place in current continuity.”
The story deals with Supergirl handling some of the grimmer aspects of superhero work and heading to Gotham for some assistance. “Supergirl has seen a lot of bad things, especially this last year with 'World of Krypton' and 'Blackest Night.' She is slowly getting over some of it but the crime she sees haunts and reminds her of all that she has seen this last year,” Williamson said.
“Supergirl isn’t used to dealing with murders and crime scenes, so she goes to talk to Dick Grayson about it and maybe get some help but runs into Damian instead. At first she is hesitant to get help from Damian but changes her mind.”
This is not to say, however, that all runs smoothly. “They hate each other. Well, 'hate' is a strong word, but they really don’t get along. They bicker at each other constantly and, especially Damian, try to get under each other’s skin,” Williamson said. “But for the sake of this mystery they try to put things aside and save the day.” The artist on the issue is Alé Garza, who has lent his kinetic style to the ongoing “Supergirl” series in the past, as well as series like "Fathom," "Gen13," and "Batgirl." "After I was finished plotting I found Alé was drawing it and I knew that he loved drawing Supergirl and Robin, so I made sure to include a lot of scenes that would work with his strong suits. Excitement, humor, fast-paced fight scenes and just enough grittiness,” Williamson said.
“The story is a bit on the darker side, but I think people will like what Alé did with the more sinister scenes. When people see Ale’s pages they are going to be blown away by what he brought to the table. Among the many characters in the issue, Ale draws one member of Batman’s rogues gallery and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite interpretations of the character.”
At Marvel, Williamson will be writing a short Skaar backup for the “Incredible Hulks,” part of the new “S.M.A.S.H. Files” features starring members of the extended Hulk family, which begin in issue #614. “It takes place after Skaar’s and the Hulks' big battle in 'Incredible Hulk' #611,” Williamson said of his story. “Banner is trying to figure out what to do with Skaar, if Skaar is ready for the coming Dark Son.”
The Hulk's world has been a wild place ever since 2006's “Planet Hulk” story arc, but with “Fall of the Hulks” and the current “World War Hulks,” there are now several gamma-powered behemoths ready for multiple flavors of smashing. “It’s awesome,” Williamson said of the current status quo. “The Hulk is my favorite Marvel character and I’ve loved what Marvel has done with him these last few years, especially Greg Pak. I always buy the Hulk books, but a few years back I had fallen behind a bit, until Pak took over and started 'Planet Hulk.' So like everyone else I was blown away with how good the book was and the direction it was going. Ever since then I haven’t missed a beat.
“A million Hulks running around just increases the story telling potential in my opinion. The Hulk has always been a character that just wanted to be left alone, and that’s becoming more and more of a challenge.”
Williamson's Skaar story will focus on the familial relationship between Bruce Banner and the Son of Hulk, as well as the parallels between their stories. “So much of the Hulk’s personality is based on his relationship with his own father. I mean, c’mon, Bruce Banner killed his Dad after confronting him about killing his mom. Skaar tried to do the exact same thing! Where the two of them go from here will be very interesting.”
“Superman/Batman” #77 featuring Supergirl and Robin is on sale October 20, “Mirror Mirror” hits stores November 20 and “Endangered” arrives December 29.