As DC Comics brings in several new series this October, the publisher is proving there's still plenty of fodder for expanding the DCU in the era of the New 52. "Team 7," helmed by writer and "The Strange Talent of Luther Strode" creator Justin Jordan and artist Jesus Merino, is a New 52 history enthusiast's dream, detailing how the government prepared for potential superhuman threats during the emergence of Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the superpowered beings who populate the DCU. "Team 7" #0 assembled a strike force consisting of Dinah Drake, Kurt Lance, Slade Wilson, Alex Fairchild, James Bronson, Summer Ramos, Cole Cash and Amanda Waller, and now they're off to meet metahuman threats head-on as the government's response team.
Jordan spoke with CBR News about the direction of the book following the zero month origin story, explained the challenges of writing for multiple protagonists instead of one and teased the significance of The Majestic Project and the superhuman cold war coming up in the series. Plus, an exclusive look at the variant cover artwork by DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee!
CBR News: Justin, "Team 7" #0 hit stores with favorable reviews. When you spoke with us previously about the book, you said the zero issue would lead directly into the opening arc -- what's in store for the team?
Justin Jordan: In the first two issues we see some of what the government has been doing to prepare for potential superhuman threats. It'd be pretty dull if it all went according to plan, so everything goes to hell. Almost literally.
This spins out into the next two issues, where they learn what they're dealing with is nothing compared to what's going to be loosed on the world if they don't stop it. So Team 7 gets a very quick introduction into what the stakes are.
Insinuated from the zero issue, it seems like "Team 7" is the normal-person alternative to a squad like the Justice League -- the most elite humans banding together to combat threats. As the team starts to acclimate to one another, how will the superhuman forces of the DCU affect them?
Team 7 does deal with superhuman threats, but they are at least in part intended to be a first contact team. They don't necessarily have to fight whatever it is they find; sometimes the answer to a problem is to do nothing, or to help it or to recognize it's not a problem at all.
Still, they are dealing with some seriously powerful people and weird situations which will affect them as the series goes on. It's like being on a bomb disposal unit in the army -- you're constantly dealing with things that could destroy you in a heartbeat and there really isn't a rulebook for how to do this sort of thing. So the situation is slightly stressful and that does things to people.
You did a great job with "The Strange Tale of Luther Strode" and you have Valiant's "Shadowman" coming this fall. These two books are very much oriented around a single protagonist -- what are your challenges in writing a continuity-heavy team book?
Hey, thanks! The continuity part actually isn't that bad. We had to do some juggling to make the logistics work, but just reading the books and talking to the editors does most of that work. I'm lucky this series takes place in the New 52 continuity, which makes it a lot easier to work with.
The team thing, on the other hand, has been tougher. I find writing a book where there's just one main character comes naturally to me; writing "Luther Strode," "Shadowman" and even "Deathstroke" are all a lot easier than "Team 7."
I'm lucky to be working with editors who can guide me through that. It's challenging, which is part of the fun, really.
One of the high points of "Team 7" #0 was the issue's ability to focus on each member of the team, giving everyone a chance to shine. Structurally, how do you plan to juggle each of these characters as the first arc gets into full swing?
Basically, I've taken the approach where one of the characters is the focus for each issue, our point of view character. If you read, say, "Game of Thrones," the series has a huge cast of characters, but Martin has a chapter follow a certain character to ground you. So a bit like that. Now, if I'm doing my job right, this shouldn't be too ridiculously obvious, but it allows me to manage the characters.
I also consulted television shows with a large cast and some team books to get a feel for how it's done. Lots of re-reading my old [Chris] Claremont "X-Men" and [Geoff] Johns' New 52 "Justice League" run as reference.
Tell us more about The Majestic Project. This type of concept seems like it will have a pretty large impact on the DCU as a whole.
That, unfortunately, is not something I can talk too much about, but it is very, very important to the book and you'll be hearing more about it in the series sooner rather than later. As Lynch said, all roads lead to Majestic.
While the zero issue did a great job of putting together the team, readers still don't know exactly what the team's mission is moving into the first arc. Anything you can tease about what they're going to be taking on?
Different things -- there are a lot of weird things in the DCU and anything seeming like it might hint at superhuman power is something Team 7 will have to look at. So they'll come up against everything from magic to aliens to beings from beyond time. Well, maybe.
One of the intriguing concepts in the solicits for "Team 7" is the secret history of the superhuman cold war. What exactly is the superhuman cold war and which countries are involved? Why is Team 7 a factor?
You'll get a sense of who Team 7 and by extension the US' primary adversary in the superhuman cold war is in issue one. It's not who you'd expect, and not someone who has previously been a player on the world stage, which is exactly why the governments are worried. A sufficiently powerful metahuman can take a country from being a backwater dictatorship most people can't find on a map to a (literal in this case) superpower overnight.
So in "Team 7," one of these small countries has gotten way ahead of the curve and has suddenly become a real player.
Now that the series has been solicited up to issue #3, you're pretty deep into the process. Take us through your current collaborative process with Jesus Merino.
Mostly, it's changed in that I've seen a lot of Jesus' work and I can tailor what I write more specifically towards him. This really does make a big difference in how I tell the stories -- knowing what is going to really allow Jesus to kick ass and do his thing and writing towards that.
One of the most interesting aspects of the New 52 is the interconnectivity between titles. In issue #3, you have Essence from "Red Hood and the Outlaws" making an appearance. As the series continues, can readers expect more of these cameo appearances from the modern DCU?
Yup. I don't think we want to turn into "The Brave and the Bold" with a guest star in every issue, but I am writing a story about the as yet untold history of a corner of the DCU, so it's cool to have the DCU people actually appear where they fit in.
Beyond "Team 7," what's coming down the line from you this year?
I've got "Shadowman" coming from Valiant in November, and then December has both the first issue of "The Legend of Luther Strode," sequel to "The Strange Talent of Luther Strode," and my first issue on "Deathstroke." So I'll have four books out this December, which is pretty amazing.
"Team 7" #0 is on sale now.