This April, Brian Wood ("DMZ") brings back Wildstorm's long dormant superpowered team in "DV8: Gods and Monsters," and the writer is excited for the relaunch of one of his favorite titles. "I've been chasing this book for years. I've pitched this book numerous times over the last decade," Wood said. "It was never really a book that I thought Wildstorm saw a real urgency to bring back, but they had approached me about writing one of their other books and I said [DV8] was the book I really wanted to write. It went back and forth a bit and I eventually pitched it anyway, even though they didn't ask me to. [Laughs] It's not the last WildStorm project I'm doing – we're talking about other stuff. There's something about these characters in 'DV8' that really stuck in my mind since I read the Warren Ellis issue thirteen years ago. I'm almost done writing it – it's eight issues. I think the entire thing will be written and drawn by the time the first issue comes out."
According to Wood, writing "DV8" has been a longtime goal for a number of different reasons. "It was one of the first comics I ever read after the point I decided this was possibly something I wanted to do myself," he told CBR News. "You look at it now and even by today's standards, it's an appalling book. It's so violent, it's so filthy – it still amazes me that it came out. I feel like it wouldn't even come out now. I don't know what the confluence of the events were at the time. It's so bizarre. There's all kinds of drug use and a girl with a giant vagina on her stomach. It was really bizarre. I remember reading it and thinking, 'Oh my god…this can happen?' That's part of the reason why it's always stuck with me. The characters are so primal in their nature. They don't have rings or capes. They have the power to give you pain at a touch, or making a girl big – very basic, very old-world, very godlike powers. There was so much story to be found in those. It's good."
"DV8" will not be Wood's first book in the realm of superpowered teenagers. In addition to his critically acclaimed series "DEMO," which he works on with artist Becky Cloonan, Wood also worked on Marvel's "Generation X" with original "DV8" writer Warren Ellis. According to Wood, while Ellis was the one who helped him learn how to write comics, the two have had little to no contact for this project. "I'm friends with Warren, but he and I never even spoke about the 'DV8' thing. That's ancient history for him, too. It wasn't his idea in the first place, either, so I'm sure he couldn't care less," Wood said. "['DV8' is] a lot older than even I thought when I went back. I think that issue one came out in '96. When I worked with [Ellis] on 'Generation X,' I didn't know anything. I don't think I had written a proper script yet because the book I had done previous to that was a book I had drawn, so I didn't have to write a script. I had a very basic script for myself, and it wasn't a proper script. Warren taught me how to write comics basically during that time, structurally in terms of how to form a script. I definitely learned a lot. He's the kind of writer that I eventually became. We're not collaborative guys. We sit alone in a room and write our stuff. We're not on the phone kicking ideas back and forth. It's just not our personalities. He would send over, on the early issues of 'Generation X,' he used to send over what was basically a finished script. He's like, 'Here's the script, consider all the dialogue to be rough draft and edit it as you see fit.' That's what I did for the first couple issues. Gradually, I eventually wrote eight issues with him, if you can even call those issues writing with him. The eight that had both of our names on the cover, I'll put it that way. Gradually, he got less and less involved, and the final four, he would just send over a page long summary of the events in that issue and I would write the script. After that, he was done and I did five more on my own. It was a great little boot camp. I really think that was – I couldn't put a price tag on that experience, which is good because Marvel paid me for shit! [Laughs]"
When it came to the pitch that convinced WildStorm to give the series another shot, Wood was happy to share a bit about what he felt made his concept for the title and team unique and compelling. "I really hope it brings the book back for good," Wood said of his story. "I don't know if I'll be the one to write it, but if it does become a regular book, that would be really, really great."
"I talk about them having these old world powers, these very primal powers, and I actually set them thousands of years in the past into the Stone Age where they would be gods of fire and heat and giants," he continued. "I feel like that was cool. It really is a great version of what's so cool about super heroes at their core. When they first appear, [mankind has] never seen one before. It's timeless. This is a version of that, it's not like they're bratty teenagers who are mutants. They're literally a god coming down from the sky in the eyes of these very primitive human beings. I think that's really cool. I really played it up and wrote a really good pitch that really sold [WildStorm] on it. Each issue has a really heavy focus on one of the characters, so the issues are great reintroductions to who these characters are. That's why I hope it gets used after my series is done. I'm putting a lot of work into making these characters cool."
As fans of the WildStorm universe might know, there have been quite a few shakeups in the past couple of years for many of the imprint's titles. However, Wood intentionally stayed away from what else was happening in the rest of the WildStorm universe in order to make "DV8" more reader friendly. "I'm not giving anything away, because it happens in the first pages of the book, but the story doesn't happen on Earth," Wood said. "They eventually get back to Earth, though. That's also not a spoiler. By necessity, it is separate from everything else that's happening in WildStorm. We did that intentionally. There's a lot of heavy stuff happening in the WildStorm universe and I felt like it wouldn't be a good introduction for these characters to drop them into the middle of this linewide story that's happening. I put them someplace separate and allowed their story to be told with the assumption that they're going to be brought back into the regular continuity of the imprint."
However, much like many series in contained universes, Wood mentions that readers may have a higher appreciation for some of the smaller details in the book if they are familiar with the WildStorm canon. "I think a passing familiarity with basic, basic WildStorm things, like there's a shot of The Carrier, and obviously it would help if you know what The Carrier is," said Wood. "It's not crucial, you'll look at it and think it's a spaceship. There's nothing necessary to know, but having some base knowledge of anything about WildStorm could only help. If you read that Ellis trade, you'll definitely know who all these kids are when they start. The point was to reintroduce them, so it's not required."
Since many of the issues of the original "DV8"run are difficult to find collector's items (Wood himself had to wait until an auction went up on eBay and then paid $45 to get a full run for his research.), Wood made sure that the only issues that he drew from continuity-wise were the first half dozen. "As far as the old stuff, that first DV8 series ran 32 issues and only the first six are in a trade. I looked at that and realized that I wasn't going to base my series off of events that happened in books that most readers could never find," he said. "That just wasn't smart and it wasn't fair. I decided to start over again. I look at the Ellis issues, which are available in trade, and whatever these characters were like in that arc are what they're going to be like in the beginning. I'm not picking up a story thread, but as they were is how they are in mine. There's some continuity to the in-print stuff and I'm not radically changing any of it, but a lot of stuff happened in issues 7 through 32 that I'm not taking into consideration. I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for that, but from a practical standpoint, I didn't see how it was possible or fair."
Brian Wood's "DV8" relaunch hits stands this April, but if you're dying for a preview, check out Wood's "DMZ #50," which the author says will have a short preview of his WildStorm debut.