An DCU:NG Telephone Interview
Sean: So, how did the Titans gig with Devin come about?
Phil: In all honesty, I was going to do my X-Men mini-series at Marvel and DC panicked and pitched me this Titans thing. I didn't really want to do it, but we sat down and we worked out this story. You mentioned earlier about scale and granduer, and at this point, because I'm young and I have the energy to do it, I want my projects to have this sense of scale. The Titans book, what they were planning, is about these 20-something heroes and their place in the DC universe. And I know the book will be dealing with social issues with the interactions of the characters, which definitely appeals to me on some level. But, after I come from this series where I'm drawing more than 50 characters going to that one where I'm drawing only five, it just didn't interest me as much. And I had this other project I really wanted to do, so what I agreed to do was this mini-series that would jumpstart the book -- and then move on.
Sean: Because the mini had that bigger scope?
Phil:The mini is huge! I'm so far behind. It's because, with every panel, there's something new in there, with like a dozen characters. I'm telling everyone this -- I'm so excited to be working on a panel that has Flash, Martian Manhunter, Flamebird, Batman, and Wildebeast.
Sean: I think of some of the Crisis panels that had tons of characters in them.
Phil: There just people that you'd never think to see together and that just really interested me. So, more than anything, the project came about because DC wanted to keep me at DC, and this is a project that I really, really like, and Devin and I get along exceedingly well and we work really, really well together. They were interested and it was a way to make all everybody happy.
Sean: What can you tell us about the story?
Phil: I can tell you a couple of things. The ongoing theme of the story -- it was very important to Devin that this not just be a sort of standard crossover and that there should be some sort of theme, and Devin really approaches these characters as people. One of the things about the Titans is that many of them are "children" or protoges of the JLA. So the family dynamic, the group dynamic is a lot like a parent and child relationship. And Devin really wanted to explore that, as well as the differences between the way the teams works. The JLA works more like a military unit and the Titans work more like a family. So family is the underlying theme.
It's basically about an alien creature who comes to Earth literally to take over the moon, and it abducts the Titans for an unknown reason. When it takes over the moon, it starts causing planetwide havoc, and when the Justice League goes to destroy the creature they realize they can't because it has control of the Titans. We kind of play off of the family theme. How do they save the world and, at the same time, save their own "children"?
Sean: Sounds cool.
Phil: Yeah, I'm very excited about it. I think the story really works. Devin came up with an amazing ending. We were kind of stumped as to exactly how we were going to end it. I mean, we knew how we were going to end it, but there was this one little thing that we were like "How does this work?" and it came to us over dinner and we were so excited. What's going to be fun for us is that we get to explore the seven big DC heroes and then their relationships to the Titans, such as how does Batman feel about Nightwing, how does Aquaman feel about Tempest, how does Wonder Woman feel about Donna Troy. Each of their reactions are so different, especially when the characters are at odds. In all good superhero books, the mentors and their sidekicks have to face off against each other.
Sean: Of course.
Phil: It's interesting how each counterpart deals with it. Aquaman and Tempest have this gruff relationship. Wonder Woman and Donna Troy have this very sisterly, loving relationship. Tempest and Aquaman think "We beat each other up because this is the way we are," while Donna Troy and Wonder Woman are far less excited about it. And Batman and Nightwing, their sparring is all verbal. It's just very interesting, playing with these characters.
Sean: Speaking of Donna Troy, will she have a name for the mini-series?
Phil: The one that we wanted to use, Avatar, we can't because there's another book coming out with a villain with the same name. Actually, when I was online, talking to you earlier, we were going through the four or five other names we were looking at using. I mean, we had this name, we'd been working with it, and then we discovered that we couldn't use it.
Sean: I bet that was frustrating. While we're on Donna Troy and Tempest, you've had opportunities to work with them before on stories. Is the mini a natural continuation of that, getting to work with the rest of the team also?
Phil: The one thing about using George as a template is that I'm very familiar with the characters that he worked on, the way they act, the way the move, their body language, etc. So, yeah, it's definitely a natural progression. It's not a place I want to be forever. I think that after this project I'll have said all I need to say with these characters. They're very easy for me to do. I get them. And they're easy to draw too.
Sean: Why do you think so many of the teen characters and the former teens are becoming so popular again?
Phil: I have no idea. I think that with the original Teen Titans, it's because they've changed now. They're different, therefore people are more excited by them than they used to be. The one thing I think is cool about Young Justice is that boys are all cool characters. I don't think that the Jurgens' Titans worked because I don't think they were particularly strong characters, but I think Robin, Impulse, and Superboy are all distinctive enough, and there's a great voice behind them, and their fun and the look good. I think that plays a huge part in it. Some would say it appeals to the kinder, gentler day and I think there may be some truth to that.
Sean: You mentioned Jurgens' Titans. Are they going to play a pretty prominent role in the mini-series?
Phil: They're in there. Everybody's in there. In fact on the page I'm working on right now, Risk and Argent are definitely prominently displayed. Prysm gets to hang out with Impulse since they were basically raised in the same way, in a virtual reality world. The thing is, we didn't forget anybody. We didn't intentionally leave out anbody.
Sean: Even one of my favorites, Damage?
Phil: Damage's big moment is in issue three. He's around, but his big thing is in that issue. Our goal is not to insult readers or insult fans of these characters, so we treating them with as much respect as possible. That's why even Wildebeast gets his moment, because someone, somewhere out there, liked baby Wildebeast and so we're treating him with a great deal of respect. Even Chris King, the Dial H for Hero character, was a member of Titan's West for one issue.
Phil: Yeah. He's going to be around to.
Sean: That's almost scary.
Phil: Actually, what was scary about was that I had completely forgotten about it. A friend of mine asked me "Is Chris King going to be in there?" Then I remembered it, and we had to do some backtracking and fit him in.
Sean: You talked about not upsetting the fans. One thing that bugged me is that I'm a big fan of the Damage series, and then when I saw him in Jurgens' Titans, he was treated as kind of a know-nothing, and then he was treated the same way in JLA. I thought, I'll never see him in a book again.
Phil: I think Devin likes him.I know he at least plays a part in JLA/Titans and not a foolish part either. He and Aquaman are going to team up. It's such a bizarre thing to see the two of them interact. The Damage you see will not some foolish kid who blows up tables with food on them.
Sean: Especially considering that he restarted the whole universe in Zero Hour.
Phil: There is that, you know, but even people who restart universes don't always get respect.