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Iím sort of torn between "Iím a Vertigo guy" and
"Iíve got an unbelievable love of the DC Universe" ... .

I suppose I should ask you a couple of questions about AZTEK.

Mm-hm.

You and Grant wrapped that up last year, and Aztek has a found a home over in the JLA.

Uh-huh.

Are there any plans for him beyond that?

Well, AZTEK was a curious one, you know, because we were both Vertigo guys, and we said to DC, "Weíd like to do something in the DC Universe," and at that point Iíd JUST sold them RED SON and Grant was considering JLA. And [this was] just before anything was decided on that, that he was going to be the writer. And they said, "Well, make up a character," and we made up Aztek, and we liked it and everything.

We had a good time doing it, and it really—it was a weird one, because it actually really started building a massive audience as of about issue 5 or something. It started off O.K., and then after the fans really got behind it, ... [at] that point, which was really weird, theyíd actually decided to cancel it. Most titles donít get cancelled until around the teens, you know. But sales on AZTEK were O.K.; they werenít terribly bad. They were about break-even point, but they came up with this decision to cancel it.

And there [was] a kind of huge campaign of "save AZTEK," where DC—they normally get ... maybe about eight letters [a month] for a book, and there was something like a herd of 50 letters coming in a week in the "save AZTEK" campaign, you know?

Wow.

So there were a few hundred letters piled up, you know? But they still decided to cancel it anyway. By that point, weíd already planned for him to be in the JLA, but we decided that he should really be out of the JLA as soon as possible.

You know, Grantís actually going to be revising the membership in issue 16, and we thought itís unfair on the readers to actually— If Aztek doesnít have his own book anymore, he really shouldnít be in the JLA, Ďcause the JLA should be the top guys, you know? So we actually decided. We made the decision to remove him from the JLA in issue 15.

So weíre not killing him off or anything, but weíre taking him out BECAUSE he doesnít have his own book. And really, what happens to him from there, I suppose, will just be [up to] if anyone wants to use him or write him. We certainly donít have any plans to.

Because ... it was a bit odd, what happened with the [letter] writers, you know? I think if AZTEK had been given another six months or something, it couldíve been a kind of STARMAN thing or something. ĎCause people were really digging it.

Yeah, I think it was really building up a following there.

Yeah, it was. It was really weird because, like I say, there was eventually more letters coming in on AZTEK than SUPERMAN and BATMAN. Because [letter] writers were having this "save AZTEK" campaign. Which was really nice; I mean, we really appreciated it and everything, but the powers that be decided that the book shouldnít be around any more for a while for reasons. Nothing we can do about it, you know? Theyíre the guys who are putting out the book.

Well, letís talk about another JLA character. Letís talk about Zauriel.

Yeah.

When should we expect to see number 1?

Of PARADISE LOST?

Mm-hm.

All right. Well, what weíre doing is Grant introduced story elements in JLA 6 and 7, and, consciously, it was one-half of a story.

[T]he two of us devised the character about a year ago to be the new Hawkman, Ďcause the new Hawkman had been cancelled, and we decided that we would come up with another Hawkman and introduce him through JLA. So Grant wrote the first half of the story, and Iíve written a three-part thing called PARADISE LOST, which involves the JLA and the war on God—the second revolution in Heaven. And it ties up all the events of that storyline and ends with Zauriel becoming Hawkman and joining the JLA. And that leads directly into JLA 16, with a new line-up—you know, the big line-up of new characters.

So we should be expecting to see it around November-December?

Yeah, the first issue is actually in the new catalog. Itís in the new Diamond catalog, [PREVIEWS].

Oh! Well, see? I should have done my research before I asked.

[Laughs.] Though itís actually been slightly overshadowed because we must have picked the worst month of all time. Because youíve got JLA: YEAR ONE and UNCLE SAM both out in the same month.

Oh, thatís right.

So, if anything—I mean, itís going to be a JLA Special, PARADISE LOST, so itís going to sell well anyway, you know? I mean, itíll do O.K.

So with those three issues, then, he becomes a character; he becomes Hawkman in the JLA. And hopefully at some point—!

We said he should be in the JLA for a year before they try and launch him in his own book, we reckon. And let him build up a following, because I think the fans are ripped off by big companies too often; ... as soon as people seem to like a character, suddenly heís in his own monthly book, you know? I think itís better to let someone build a bit of a following, and Grant and I both agreed that this should happen with Hawkman—the new Hawkman.

Whoís going to be the artist on PARADISE LOST?

Well, Iíve just seen the first issue of it, actually. I just got the whole thing in letters, and itís amazing. Itís a guy called Ariel Olivetti.

Oh, wow!

His stuffís always been good—you know, really good—but this stuff is astounding. He really has done a brilliant job, period.

Iíll be looking forward to that.

Heís the greatest guy in the world, as far as Iím concerned. Heís done a great job here. I mean, Iím actually getting lost in the art of some of the stuff Iím looking at now Ďcause I really canít complain. Every fax I get sent over Iím really delighted with.

Yeah, Iíve seen a lot of his stuff—the Marvel books that heís been doing [like SABRETOOTH & MYSTIQUE and THE LAST AVENGERS STORY], the one-offs over the past year [like JLA ANNUAL # 1]—but Iíd really love to see some earlier stuff that heís done. Iím sure he has a history in comics.

Heís done some LOBO, I think, as well, but thatís more cartoony-looking. But this stuff heís done is great. Itís a bit of Simon Bisley, but itís more kind of human as well. It looks really good. I think itís good. Itís going to be a nice-looking book. Thatís why Iím really pleased with how itís come together.

I can see that. Have you seen Wim Wendersís film WINGS OF DESIRE?

Yeah, yeah. I have now actually.

Yeah, I think subconsciously Iíve probably pinched the Zauriel thing from there, Ďcause thatís exactly the plot. You know, referring to the girl and everything.

The stuff that we saw in JLA, it seemed to have a lot of that to it. I was wondering if maybe you were going to consciously rely on some of those images or try [to evoke] that distance between the angels and the humans that you get in the film. Is it going to be a visual book, or is it going to be a cerebral book, I suppose, is what Iím asking.

Ah, itís kind of going to be both. Itís going to be as close to Vertigo, I think, as DC Universe is going to get, but still with the Justice League and plenty of images thrown in for good measure.

I mean, I think Grantís doing that in JLA anyway, Ďcause what heís doing is heís having a really intelligent look at these iconic characters, when I think most writers if they were given JLA would give it that shitty dialogue—you know, where itíd be "Kill him!" and "I am your brother!," that usual stuff. And Grantís really getting in it and really making these characters real.

I think Iím just trying to kind of continue what heís doing but give it maybe more of a Vertigo flavor because of the background of the story—the idea of the second revolution in Heaven and demons and angels and everything. Itís a weird time, because Iím sort of torn between "Iím a Vertigo guy" and "Iíve got an unbelievable love of the DC Universe," you know? And I think thatís reflected in this.


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