Author: Jami Philbrick

Jami Philbrick is a freelance comic book and movie news reporter living in the Los Angeles area. In addition to ComicMix, he writes for Wizard Magazine and CBR News and works in the post-production department at 20th Century Fox.
Interview: Geoff Johns on “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds” and his Favorite Projects

Interview: Geoff Johns on “Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds” and his Favorite Projects

Back in June, I spoke to superstar writer Geoff Johns about the return of Brainiac in Action Comics and all things Superman. With this month’s release of the first issue of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, I spoke to the writer about bringing back one of DC’s most beloved superteams, The Legion of Super-Heroes, as well as some of his favorite projects.

COMICMIX: What can you tell us about the Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds miniseries?

GEOFF JOHNS: It’s a really complex, big story. But the simple premise is that it’s Superboy-Prime and The Legion Of Super Villains vs. Superman and The Legion Of Super-Heroes. Superboy-Prime is foreign to the future and through what happens when he first gets there he makes an attempt to destroy everything that Superman has inspired while utilizing the Legion Of Super Villains. So the Legion Of Super-Heroes, who are struggling to come back together, who are almost obsolete at this point in the eyes of a lot of the United Planets, have got to come back and rally together for this challenge.

I’m trying to focus in on character here. I’m trying to introduce these characters to people that don’t know them and for those that do, to see them go through new experiences and new challenges. My main goal in this series is to tell a gigantic, epic story that centers on Superman and The Legion Of Super-Heroes. It’s just like when I worked on Sinestro Corps War, I wanted to do an epic Green Lantern story. There is a lot of emotion behind everything in this. That’s what I’m trying to focus on: the emotion of the characters and what they’re going through. Why should you even care about a character like Lightning Lad, Sun Boy or Dawnstar? What makes these characters compelling? Why are they worth following? Why are they worth learning about? My main goal is to, by the end of it, have people say, “I love Dawnstar! I love Sun Boy! I like Lightning Lad" or "I like Cosmic Boy!"


Interview: Geoff Johns on the Return of Brainiac in Action Comics

Interview: Geoff Johns on the Return of Brainiac in Action Comics

Writer Geoff Johns is best known for re-imagining some of the most beloved heroes in the history of the DCU.

With his work on such books as Infinite Crisis, 52, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, Teen Titans and Justice Society Of America, Johns has “re-booted” some of DC’s most beloved classic heroes, including Hal Jordan, Booster Gold, Power Girl, The Teen Titans and The JSA.

But Johns’ ability to restore characters to their original glory does not stop with DC’s greatest heroes. No, he has left his mark on the villains as well, creating and revamping some of the scariest villains in DC’s arsenal. From his work on The Sinestro Corps War, and his run on The Flash he has placed Sinestro, Superboy-Prime, Cyborg Superman and The Rogue’s Gallery of The Flash back atop DC’s roster of its most dangerous bad guys.

Now Johns is reintroducing the most evil super computer of all, Brainiac, in the pages of Action Comics. Along with artist Gary Frank, the new arc, entitled “Brainiac” begins in Action Comics #866, in stores today.

First appearing in Action Comics #242 as a bald, green-skinned humanoid, Brainiac is the machine responsible for destroying Krypton and shrinking the city of Kandor down to bottle size. This five-issue arc will attempt to reintroduce the character who is arguably one of Superman’s most dangerous enemies back into the DCU.  

I had a chance to speak to Geoff Johns about the new arc in Action Comics and the experience of working with his mentor, Richard Donner.

COMICMIX: For starters, tell us about the upcoming “Brainiac” arc in Action Comics. What can fans of the book expect?

GEOFF JOHNS: Gary (Frank) and I are reintroducing Brainiac. The character has been around for a while now but he’s kind of been in a lot of different forms. Our goal was to create a villain that represents… well, we actually say it in one of the issues. For us, Luthor represents the worst of humanity and Brainiac, for us, will represent the worst in extraterrestrials. So we’re building off that. We want to introduce a Brainiac who is frightening, powerful and a little bit mysterious. We also wanted him to be very unsettling, very alien and feel different then the other adversaries that Superman has. The idea is to make Brainiac one of the villains that Superman dreads when he has to face him, rather than just another slot in a long line of villains. I think our first issue has a real creepy vibe to it and Gary did a really great design on him.


Interview: Ivory Madison on ‘Huntress: Year One’

Interview: Ivory Madison on ‘Huntress: Year One’

It’s no small feet for a comic book character to last over 60 years — but that’s exactly what the Huntress has done. 

Debuting in the ‘40s as a villain for Wildcat, she was recreated for the Silver Age as Helena Wayne, the daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of Earth-2, which was an alternate universe established in the early 1960s as the world where DC’s Golden Age stories took place. However, following DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries in 1985, the Helena Wayne version of the Huntress was removed from continuity.

In 1989, due to the popularity of the character, DC introduced a new version of the Huntress. She had the same first name and a similar costume, but an entirely different back-story and personality. The Modern Age Huntress, Helena Rosa Bertinelli is the daughter of one of Gotham’s mafia bosses. After seeing her entire family murdered by a mob hit, she vows revenge for her slain relatives. In Huntress: Cry For Blood by Greg Rucka, Huntress’ origin was revised. Originally, Helena believed that Franco Bertinelli was her father. She came to discover that her father was actually Santo Cassamento, the don of a rival mafia family, who was carrying on an affair with Helena’s mother, Maria.

The Huntress has been a member of the JLA, the Outsiders and most recently the Birds Of Prey. Not to mention, she had a recurring role on the animated hit Justice League Unlimited and a staring role in the WB’s failed television series, Birds Of Prey. Proving that her character is strong enough to survive many years and several makeovers, she returned this month in her own miniseries.

Huntress: Year One looks at the early days of Helena Bertinelli’s crime fighting career. Written by comic book newcomer Ivory Madison, the book promises to give fans of the character some real insight to her beginnings and what makes Helena the hero she is today.

I had the opportunity to speak to Madison about the new book, her love for all things Bat-related and her multifaceted career.

COMICMIX: How did you end up working on Huntress: Year One for DC?

IVORY MADISON: I’ve always wanted to write comics. I’m a DC Comics person and I’ve always been obsessed with Batman and anything Gotham-related.

It all started when I tried pitching a reintroduction of Batwoman and they said they were already doing it. I was briefly thrown, and had to shift gears or lose my momentum. I wrote a Batman one-shot, which they bought, and that got me the opportunity to pitch something for Huntress. That led them to step back and say, “Hey, we need a foundation for this character. We need a Year One.” I was very lucky to walk into that.


Interview: Mark Sable on Cyborg, the ‘Heroes’ Webcomic and ‘Two-Face: Year One’

Interview: Mark Sable on Cyborg, the ‘Heroes’ Webcomic and ‘Two-Face: Year One’

When it comes to portraying the duality of a character, there are probably no better examples in the DCU than Victor Stone and Harvey Dent — otherwise known as Cyborg and Two-Face. With two new miniseries, Grounded writer Mark Sable intends to bring readers the back-stories of these two tragic characters.

With DC Special: Cyborg, the writer takes a look at the fan-favorite Teen Titan in a six-issue arc that began this week. Victor Stone was an Olympic athlete who, after being crippled, was resurrected with experimental prosthetics by his scientist father. Blessed with powers but cursed by his accident, he called himself Cyborg and became an important member of the Teen Titans. Created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and introduced in the pages of The New Teen Titans, Cyborg quickly became one of the most popular DC characters of the ‘80s. He even became a member of the Super Friends on the ‘80s Saturday morning cartoon, The Super Powers Team: The Galactic Guardians.

In Two-Face: Year One, the writer takes a look at one of Batman’s most dangerous villains in a miniseries whose first issue hits shelves just days before Aaron Eckhart takes on the big-screen role of Harvey Dent in July’s Dark Knight. The two-issue miniseries follows Dent as he runs for District Attorney and has the accident that changes his fate (and his relationship with Batman) forever.

I spoke with Sable about Cyborg, Two-Face, the characters’ respective miniseries and writing webcomics for the hit NBC television series Heroes.

CMix: To start with, tell us what fans of Cyborg can expect from your new series.

Mark Sable: It’s a six-issue series and the first issue is almost like a “Year One” in the sense that it gives you a lot of his origin. I’m not tinkering with his origin. I’m trying to be as respectful as possible to what Marv Wolfman and George Perez did, because I think Cyborg’s origin is one of the best in comics. There were a couple of things that needed to be slightly tweaked to make everything make sense. It’s done deliberately because I want people who aren’t familiar with Cyborg to be able to pick it up. It lays the groundwork for what this series is about. Without giving too much away, we really weave his supporting cast of human characters into the story as well as the Teen Titans, so it was important for people to know who they are.


Interview: Dan Jurgens on Booster Gold and the Tangent Universe

Interview: Dan Jurgens on Booster Gold and the Tangent Universe

It’s pretty safe to say that creator Dan Jurgens is responsible for some of the most popular characters and events in the last 20 years of DC Comics.

After striking gold in the mid-‘80s with his work on the original Booster Gold series, featuring the solo adventures of a character he created, Jurgens continued his streak through the ‘90s with his seminal work on the "Death Of Superman" story. It was in this project that he created two of Superman’s most popular villains, Doomsday and Cyborg Superman. No stranger to major, universe-spanning events, Jurgens penciled both Armageddon 2001 and Zero Hour, the latter of which he also wrote. In the late ‘90s he created the Tangent Universe for DC and currently writes the ongoing DC series Tangent Comics: Superman’s Reign.

Last year, Jurgens returned to the character he created, continuing as artist on DC’s ongoing Booster Gold series, but stepping aside as writer. The new series teamed him with superstar scribes Geoff Johns and movie executive Jeff Katz. Issue #9 hits stores this week, and continues the current “Blue & Gold” story arc. This arc recently saw the return of fan-favorite character Ted Kord, The Blue Beetle. And if Jurgens’ cover to this week’s issue is any indication, fans of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis series Justice League International won’t be disappointed.

I spoke to Jurgens about his work on Booster Gold, Tangent Comics: Superman’s Reign and his career at DC comics.

COMICMIX: To start with, let’s talk about Booster Gold. What’s it like working with writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz on a character that you created so many years ago?

DAN JURGENS: There are times I just sit back and look at it and kind of have one of those “wow” moments. Just because it’s something that I probably didn’t anticipate doing.

CMix: Did you ever imagine when you were creating the character that he would last this long?

DJ: No. If you go back to those days, I hadn’t been in the business for that long. So any concept of what I might be doing, if anything 20-some years later, well it just was not anything that you stopped to consider. Whether it was Booster Gold, Superman or Spider-Man, or anything else. It just isn’t part of your thought process. At least it wasn’t part of mine.

CMix: How has the character changed since you first created him?

DJ: I don’t know that the character has changed a lot. If you go back to Booster’s first appearance, he was always supposed to be a fun, a joking sort of character, and he’ s still essentially that. I think his character’s become better defined. I think that his relationship with Blue Beetle is a really important element of who he is now, and of course that didn’t exist at the beginning. Like I said, I don’t know if his character has changed – and I think that’s part of the success. I think his character has been added to, amended and flushed out some but I think part of the reason we are succeeding is because his character has not changed.

CMix: How much are you involved in creating the story? Do they run ideas by you or are you completely surprised when you read a script for the first time?

DJ: Well, they write the script, send it and I take it from there. But we do talk reasonably often. We talk about ideas that we’d like to do and what we’d not like to do. So we certainly have, I think, a bit of give and take about the book and who Booster is. But that’s not to take anything away from them at all. The stories that are happening right now, certainly Booster’s journey through time, is absolutely due to Mr. Katz and Mr. Johns.


Sci-Fi Summit Report: More on ‘Star Trek’ and a Tale of Two Spocks

Sci-Fi Summit Report: More on ‘Star Trek’ and a Tale of Two Spocks

[EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re about to read our special ComicMix report on the Star Trek panel and Q&A at this year’s Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit in Burbank, CA. If you’d like to know more about the convention, we also have a general roundup of the Sci-Fi Summit and a special report on the James Marsters panel and Q&A session with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor. -RM]

Last Sunday, Sci-Fi Summit attendees were treated to one half of the writing team behind the upcoming Star Trek film and the recent live-action Transformers movie, as writer Roberto Orci kicked off the grand finale of the show. After the writer apologized for the absence of Alex Kurtzman, his associate of 17 years, the fans were treated to a screening of the Star Trek trailer and some photos that Orci took on set.

The trailer didn’t feature any new footage, and included shots of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s construction, apparently on Earth. When a fan expressed his displeasure at this, Orci assured him, “Just because they start building it on Earth, doesn’t mean that it can’t be finished in space.”

Orci’s slideshow also failed to reveal any spoilers, with the possible exception of a photo of an inedible-looking craft service table marked “Romulan’s Only,” confirming the appearance of the alien race in the film

When the recent writer’s strike ended, Orci said he and Kurtzman spent nine weeks writing Transformers 2 and handed in their first draft this past Friday. When asked what new Transformers fans could look forward to in the film, the writer answered, “Maybe Soundwave.”

Orci also hinted that there are Star Trek references in both of his previous films, The Island and Transformers, and there will be more references in Transformers 2. He also confirmed that the writing team did a polish on the script for Watchmen.

According to Orci, famed director Steven Spielberg played a large role in J.J. Abrams’ decision to direct Star Trek. Abrams had agreed to produce the film, but was not sure if he wanted to direct. Spielberg read the script and convinced Abrams to helm the project. Orci also recalled a set visit where the Close Encounters of the Third Kind director sat on the bridge of the Enterprise and helped block out an action sequence.


Sci-Fi Summit Report: James Marsters on ‘Spike’ Movie and ‘Buffy’ Reunion

Sci-Fi Summit Report: James Marsters on ‘Spike’ Movie and ‘Buffy’ Reunion

[EDITOR’S NOTE: You’re about to read our special ComicMix report on the James Marsters panel and Q&A session at this year’s Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit in Burbank, CA. If you’d like to know more about the convention, we also have a general roundup of the Sci-Fi Summit and a special report on the Star Trek panel and Q&A session, featuring "A Tale of Two Spocks." -RM]

Saturday at last weekend’s Sci-Fi Summit featured an appearance by popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor James Marsters (Spike), who also appears as Braniac on the television series Smallville, and is featured in a recurring role on the hit series Torchwood. Marsters will also be playing the role of villain Piccolo in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the anime classic Dragonball.

The actor began the panel by talking about his disappointment over the recent Buffy reunion at the Paily Center in New York.

“From my side, it was kind of a letdown, really. There were a lot of smart people on that show and really good questions being asked by the audience, but I felt like nobody really talked about anything interesting," said Marsters. "We didn’t say anything or bring anything nearly dangerous. I felt like we weren’t trying to prove something anymore, but trying to protect something — and I thought that was total bull. I left the stage thinking, ‘We didn’t get it, we didn’t give it to them. The audience was ready and we weren’t.’”

When asked about the possibility of a Spike film, he described his pitch for the film. It involved Spike falling in love with a woman but never telling her about his vampire origins for fear of her leaving him.

“She discovers he’s a vampire, is disgusted by it and kicks him out forever,” the actor explained. He went on to explain that later a monster would appear, and thinking that he could win her back by being the hero, Spike hunts the monster. However, once he gets into the fight, the monster grows to six times its original size and Spike runs away in fear.


Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit Report – BSG, James Marsters, Smallville and Star Trek

Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit Report – BSG, James Marsters, Smallville and Star Trek

It was an important weekend for science-fiction fans this past April 11-13 in Burbank, CA,  as past, present and future celebrities of the genre gathered for the Grand Slam: Sci-Fi Summit, an annual, weekend-long convention for fans of science-fiction movies and television that attracts some of sci-fi’s most beloved creators and celebrities.

The guest list at this year’s summit included Zachary Quinto (Heroes), Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Thomas Dekker (John Conner on Terminator: The Sara Conner Chronicles), Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) and James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood), as well as the reunion of Hercules stars Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst, and a panel featuring members of the cast of Smallville.

ComicMix was there throughout the weekend’s festivities and has the following breakdown of the highlights, featuring images from the events and a pair of comprehensive reports from the James Marsters and Star Trek panels. A gallery of full-size images from the show is posted at the end of each article.

On Saturday, actress Grace Park, who plays Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii on Battlestar Galactica, answered some questions from fans about the fourth and final season of the hit Sci-Fi Channel series.

“We only have seven episodes left to shoot,” the actress explained. She went on to say that for legal reasons, a Battlestar Galactica movie with this cast of actors and characters would not be possible. “I don’t think there is going to be anything else that we do together, this is the end.”