Once Alan Moore did it, it's no longer surprising to find anyone writing WildStorm's Wildcats characters. Next up is Ed Brubaker, who's taking on former team leader Grifter in the "Point Blank" miniseries.
"I would like it to sort of be like Watchmen meets 'Get Carter' (and not the Stallone version)," Brubaker told CBR News on Monday. "I think of it as a mystery, a stylish action piece and a deconstruction of the WildStorm universe all at one time. It focuses on Grifter, from Wildcats, as he tries to solve the near-fatal shooting of his old friend Lynch, from Team 7, while Lynch is in a hospital bed on life-support."
A five part miniseries seems like a lot of room to tell what sounds like a fairly straightforward story on first blush.
"It's not actually that straightforward. It's a winding road to the truth, and it has a lot of bumps and twists along the way. I can't really reveal too much, or I'd spoil my surprises, but I will say that Grifter starts out in the dark, and the more he learns about Lynch as he goes along, the more concerned he is that he's been in the dark the entire time he's known this guy."
"Point Blank" also marks yet another superhero book for a creator who started initially doing work outside the most popular genre in comics.
"It certainly wasn't a plan, and I would hope that the superhero work I'm doing, between Batman, Catwoman and now Point Blank, is different enough from the standard fare that it stands apart. I do think that the nature of this industry forces those who want success to work in this genre, at least for a time. I'm enjoying the work I'm doing, honestly, especially Catwoman and Point Blank, so it's not that big a concern of mine right now. But at some point I'm going to want to do another creator-owned non-superhero book, and I hope that any new readers I find on these more high profile books will follow me to what I do next."
And Brubaker has tried to retain a distinctive flavor to his books, even when they feature the Spandex set.
"Yeah, I haven't been following superhero comics since about the mid-80s, other than to read Watchmen and Dark Knight, and a few other things here and there, so when I started working on superhero stuff, I was coming in completely as a outsider and just trying to figure out what I would like to see. I tend to work through the characters to find the plot, so my books end up having a more character-oriented feel, I hope."
And speaking of unconventional superhero books, Brubaker's next big project, DC Comics' "Catwoman," will be solicited in this week's Previews catalog.
"It's going to be familiar to long-time readers, and seem like a good place to start for people who never looked at Catwoman before. It's really hard to describe, unfortunately, but in a lot of ways it's like that old TV show, 'To Catch a Thief,' which was about the world's best cat-burglar working for the side of good. But in this, it's more of an exploration of Selina Kyle and who she is, what she's been through, and what she wants to do with herself now. She will end up, at the end of the first arc, finding a new path for herself, not necessarily as a good guy, but as someone who cares about the people around her, the people that society cast-off, who live on the fringes. Selina has always been like the ultimate anti-establishment figure, and this is just taking that same aspect of her in a different direction.
"Plus, the art is gonna be kickass!"
The character has been through countless reinterpretations over the decades as one of Batman's most popular opponents. To Brubaker, the essential nature of Catwoman is pretty simple:
"Where she came from, I think. The fact that she's a result of the system, the way a lot of kids are. This is a person whose parents died when she was young and she lived in state-run facilities and on the streets for years. She had a tough life, but she survived. I think the survival was the most important part. Too many times she's been played as someone full of resentment, and I don't mean to imply there isn't some inside her, but she knows she survived, so that's gotta take the edge off a bit."
But given the different versions of the characters over the years means making some choices for the writer.
"I think one online message poster put it best, so much has been done with her over the years, so many conflicting stories, that you really just have to pick a lane and drive. That said, I tried to drive a little in every lane and see what parts worked and what parts didn't. I'm not saying that I tossed out any of her history, though, but there will be huge chunks of it that I never refer to. I guess a slimmed down version is the best way to describe it."
Brubaker's been working on the Catwoman assignment for some time now, and the long gestation period has meant a few changes along the way, for the project and for how he views it.
"Well, when I first agreed I was scheduled to start last March or April, then they got our first issue in-house and Darwyn [Cooke's] art and (hopefully) my new direction for the character combined made DC decide to relaunch the book with number 1. Then we got to do the Slam Bradley back-up in ['Detective Comics'], which I think we both loved. I always intended to bring Slam into Catwoman, so it was great to have an easy way in. Other than that, the main thing is how much I've gotten into the characters, and how much my desire to stay on this book has increased with each script. When I first agreed to do the book, I said I'd do at least 12, and see how I felt, now I already have plots lined out for about three years worth of stories. I feel very possessive and protective of these characters, which is a double-edged sword I suppose, since I don't own them. But everyone at DC seems to like what I'm doing with them, so it doesn't seem like it'll be a problem."