As DC Comics unleashes "Brightest Day," CBR News is along for the ride with a new monthly feature we call DAYBREAK.
Checking in with the writers, artists and editors putting together the monster 26-issue, bi-weekly series, DAYBREAK will get beyond the bright and shiny stuff and keep readers up to speed with the hued happenings not only of the core title, but also the series carrying the "Brightest Day" banner, including "Green Lantern," "Green Lantern Corps," "Justice League of America," "Titans" and "The Flash."
If you somehow missed the bestselling "Blackest Night"—the trigger for the events of "Brightest Day" – a dozen superheroes and villains were resurrected at its conclusion and now must traverse the DCU in effort to find out why they're back with the living and why some of their friends and foes are not.
For this first installment, CBR spoke with Peter Tomasi ("Green Lantern Corps"), who is co-writing "Brightest Day" with superstar writer and DCU Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Thanks to a long run as an editor at DC Comics, on titles such as "Aquaman," "Hawkman" and "JLA: Year One," Tomasi has edited titles in the past featuring each of the main characters of "Brightest Day."
Tomasi told CBR News that "Brightest Day" is not only the follow-up to "Blackest Night" but it also serves as the yin to its predecessor's yang in developing a story that brings darkness into light. Tomasi also teased that, despite the brightness, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and the others should still beware what's lurking in the shadows.
Geoff Johns also stopped by for our inaugural edition for a quick chat about the return of Aquaman in "Brightest Day" and how the Sea King stacks up against other superheroes of the DC Universe.
Q&A WITH "BRIGHTEST DAY" CO-WRITER PETER TOMASI
CBR News: First off, let's start with a little housecleaning. Can you take us back to the beginning? How did this massive project originate and how did you come to be involved?
Peter Tomasi: Well, Geoff and I wanted to tell a big story following "Blackest Night," DC wanted a big story to sell and here we are. It was all pretty organic, actually. It flowed seamlessly from "Blackest Night" to "Brightest Day." There couldn't be one without the other because the end result, as everyone will see, has been developed with a singular purpose in mind that will make sense once it's all colored in. We're hoping readers will be just as excited as we are about the revelations to come.
Was it always the plan to run "Brightest Day" as a year-long bi-weekly series?
It was always a plan to run it for one year, and we did talk about it being a weekly series at an early point, but thank God wiser heads prevailed after they saw me drop to the floor and fracture my skull and came to the conclusion that a bi-weekly was eminently a better fit schedule-wise for all involved.
Geoff told us a while back that the overall story of "Brightest Day" is explaining why these 12 heroes came back and specifically, what they're here to do. Now, I know you don't want to tell us what happens in the final panel of the final issue of the series, but what can you share with us about the story, at least for the early goings?
I'd love to tell you what happens, but then Eddie Berganza would send a Guatemalan hit squad after me and that'd be that. "Brightest Day" #1 hasn't come out yet, so I can't reveal too much, but let's say that Aquaman, J'onn, Firestorm, Hawkman and Hawkgirl find themselves in the middle of some serious craziness in the first few issues and will discover that it sure as hell would have been easier staying dead.
We also learn from the solicitations that those five heroes also discover the price for their resurrections, fairly early on in the series. Do the superheroes question their returns or do they make the leap of faith that this all must be for the greater good?
They all have questions. Whether they're going to like the answers is a whole other problem. But serving the greater good is always at the top of each of our heroes' list. Sometimes the ability to do that is intertwined with sacrifice.
How was the roster selected? I know from past interviews, you were very sorry to see Martian Manhunter killed in "Final Crisis." Did you push for J'onn's return or did you always know he would be back in "Brightest Day?"
I'm always pushing for J'onn. He's one of my favorite characters. He was at the very top of the resurrection list. Thinking about it now, it's kind of funny, because Grant [Morrison] had a line in "Final Crisis" where he had Supes say something like we pray for a resurrection and Geoff and I, being the magicians we are, made it happen in a big way.
One character you haven't mentioned yet is Deadman? The solicitation for "Brightest Day" #5 teases that Boston Brand will discover the truth behind the formation of the White Lantern and what it means to the 12 returnees and the rest of the DC Universe. What light, if any, can you shed on the White Lantern at this point?
The White Lantern is a key factor to the entire story. I'd dare to say that our entire resurrected cast's comings and goings hinges on it.
Is there a character, or characters, that you've scripted in "Brightest Day" that has surprised you, in terms what you or like, or maybe dislike, about him or her?
To be honest, not really. I love all these characters. Whichever one I happen to be writing is getting a 110 percent of my focus. When I say I wasn't surprised, you have to understand my history with the group. I've actually edited a monthly title starring each of them, so I'm mighty familiar with all these guys and gals.
Do the 12 characters interact much throughout the series or does each character follow his or her own distinct path?
They have distinct stories and specific paths, but each of these stories are all part of a larger tapestry that will pay off as the series winds down. But also, yes, there will be interaction throughout the series as some larger truths become known that bring them together out of necessity as we learn that they are all connected by something special.
Speaking of interaction, how do you and Geoff split writing duties?
As I've mentioned at some cons, Geoff and I had several story meetings at DC with Eddie and Adam [Schlagman] where we beat out the broad strokes, then more meetings where we fill in the details, and then the rest gets done in the nitty gritty of writing itself. It's a true collaborative effort and one that we're all really enjoying.
I assume it's safe to say that you're pretty pleased to be working with your old pal, Geoff Johns on this one.
Just about a week ago at the Chicago C2E2 Con, Geoff held up the "Brightest Day" poster and pointed to our names together across the cool David Finch art and it kind of hit us right there what a long strange trip it's been.
Speaking of David Finch, aside from his covers, DC has lined up a pretty impressive lineup of artists for this project. Does that fuel you as a writer to really go all out just to see what superstar artists like Ivan Reis and David Finch can deliver?
I wouldn't say it fuels me up, because my job is to deliver as good a script as I can, but am I psyched to have great talent on a project I'm involved with? Hell, yeah, I am. The whole lineup is doing great work, from Ivan to Finch, to Gleason and Syaf, to Scott and Prado and let's not forget Peter Steigerwald, our colorist.
How tightly does the "Brightest Day" series tie into the other titles under the "Brightest Day" banner? Will the story you're telling have an impact on the rest of the DCU, as well, over these next 12 months? Because, there is a pretty big story cooking in Gotham right now, too.
The story will most definitely have an impact across the line, in some spots bigger than others, but I would say that the entire DCU will feel the reverberations and be blinded by the "Brightest Day" on the horizon.
Can we close with a little word play? Give us a word that best describes where each of these heroes and villains are at the start of "Brightest Day," and maybe we can play this again at around the half-way point of the series and see if we have any improvements or setbacks.
Q&A WITH DCU CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER GEOFF JOHNS
Since we launched GEOFF JOHNS PRIME last year, there has been no shortage of questions about Aquaman. And no doubt, there's not a panel you've sat on at a con over the last few years where you weren't asked about the return of the Sea King. Did you hear those calls for Aquaman's return and respond accordingly?
Geoff Johns: I did. And I agree with them because I wanted him to come back, too [Laughs]. Aquaman has always been one of my favorite characters. He's always been someone that I've looked at it and been anxious to work with.
I love the DC Universe – and all the characters in it – but in particular, I love the main Justice League. The core Justice League has always been my favorites – Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Atom, all of those guys.
So yeah, to answer your question, there's always a big demand for Aquaman.
If there is such a big demand for the character, why does his title usually struggle? Since his debut in 1941, Aquaman's had six shots at an ongoing series with the longest run lasting only 75 issues. That said, there is an obviously loyal fanbase out there - the second "Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis" was cancelled three years ago, immediately the forums and message boards lit up, calling for a return of Orin.
He's a character that everybody knows. He has had successful runs in the past, and I guess he's probably more well known to the general public than Green Lantern even is at this point – though that will change soon with the film.
But honestly, Aquaman is one of DC's biggest characters to the global audience. I think he's incredibly valuable and integral and has a role to play in the DC Universe. Now, it's just a matter of finding that role, celebrating it and pushing him forward.
He's got a great cast behind him. Mera is a very strong character, and we'll be bringing some other characters back from his world too.
Despite his fanbase, Aquaman, as a character, is much maligned, and over the past decade or so has become a target for an incredible amount of ridicule. He's been mocked on "Seinfeld," "Family Guy," "The Simpsons" and even "Entourage" dedicated a whole season to his lameness.
Well, wait a second. It wasn't dedicated to his lameness. It was dedicated to Aquaman being one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. So I think you're projecting.
OK. That's true. But still, he does get teased a lot. And you know me - I love Aquaman too, so I want to know: what is about him that makes him an easy target? Is it his powers; talking to fish and breathing under water?
I don't think so. He's Aquaman. He talks to fish. The whole thing is, they always say, "Well, he talks to fish." It's part of who he is. I think there are some inherent things that may be there, but every character is like that. I think the key is to embrace what Aquaman is and not turn away from it. So often, we turn away from the core of what Aquaman is. I think the key to success is embracing exactly who Aquaman is while adding some dimensions to it, building off the strong foundation that's already there. There's a reason the character is popular. There is a reason that people like that character. If you look at the mainstream DC t-shirts that they sell in stores, Aquaman is always there. He definitely has an audience.
We've discussed the importance of Mera in the past, but how vital was establishing her within "Blackest Night" to a successful rebirth of Aquaman?
That was big part of pushing Mera into the spotlight. If she's with Aquaman and she's a part of Aquaman's life, how cool is Aquaman?
One other character closely tied to Aquaman is Black Manta. I know you're a big fan of the character. What do you love about him and why do think readers are drawn to him?
Well, visually I think he's great, and just his demeanor feels so cold to me. He's so removed in that mask, hiding his face. He's obviously deeply disturbed and what he's done to Aquaman...I mean, he slaughtered his kid. He's pretty vicious.
You sound pretty passionate about him. Can you let us know, does Black Manta play a major role in "Brightest Day?"
"Brightest Day" #1, written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi and featuring art by Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark and Joe Prado and a cover by David Finch, is on sale now.