During the panel for DC's New Age of Heroes initiative at New York Comic Con, writer Justin Jordan -- currently working on Sideways for the line, which will launch later this month -- got a second title announced.
The second book, The Curse of Brimstone, brings Jordan together with artist Philip Tan who, like Jordan, spent some time in the Green Lantern office during The New 52. Together they will develop a series, due in April, which should look and feel much different than a lot of DC superhero titles.
“The Curse of Brimstone is actually kind of a superhero horror book,” explained Jordan, who broke into comics with a similar title in The Strange Talent of Luther Strode. “The Curse of Brimstone is a very personal sort of book, which is why I was doing it when Dan was approaching me about doing a supernatural book. I come from, as you know, a very rural place in Pennsylvania. The county that I live in is the size of Rhode Island, it has 40,000 people in it. It is literally 99% white people; it is that kind of place. It is coal country: the coal mines moved out, factories moved in, factories moved out, nothing moved in. It’s a dying area, and most of the U.S., by geography, is that, but that is not what we see in superhero comic.”
Looking at an area like that, the rise of reactionary, nationalist, and white nationalist politics is an obvious area of conflict. Jordan seems keen to examine those themes, but from the perspective of someone who knows and relates to the people being drawn into such movements.
“I see these people making decisions that I think are bad for them, and I see them personally because I still live in an area like that,” Jordan said. “I was like, ‘what drives people to make those kinds of decisions?’ and I don’t think in fiction, especially in comics, that has been real accurately portrayed. I think horror gives us a lens to look at that kind of stuff. I think horror works well when it’s examining real things and real fears.”
Jordan used the example of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which managed to take the idea that in high school, everything “feels like the end of the world,” and turn it into a literal, supernatural problem.
“What Brimstone’s actually about is, a kid grows up in this no-nothing town, he has no prospects of getting out, he’s too poor to move, he can’t go to school,” Jordan explained. “He sees his sister is probably going to go the same way even though she’s smarter than he is and could do better. He sees this town has died in his lifetime; the elementary school that he went to has closed down. This man called The Salesman comes into town and makes him an offer. He says, ‘I will give you what you want; I will give you the ability to make this town great, this town someplace people want to visit. You just need to be the agent of the people I work for.’ He foolishly agrees, and it turns out that’s a curse not a deal, and he becomes Brimstone, which is kind of this supernaturally-charged version of him. He gets those powers and he decides to try to do good with them, to try to stop the Salesman from doing this in other towns, but the problem is that Brimstone is a curse, and so how do you use a fundamentally evil power to do good? Can you do it?”
Jordan and Tan's Brimstone is not connected to any of the characters from DC lore who have used variations on that name in the past, but instead a new character entirely who will have to feel around in the dark to figure out how he wants to handle his approach to heroism.
“I talked to Dan DiDio about it and it’s like the idea of a fire break: if there’s a forest fire coming, you can burn down part of the forest to stop it, but you’re still starting another fire, and it can do unpredictable things,” Jordan added. “That’s kind of like Brimstone; he’s fighting a supernatural evil but he is himself supernatural evil. That kind of stuff has always interested me. If you look at my superhero career, the idea of what power means and what you can do with it and what it does to an individual has always been interesting to me.”
The Curse of Brimstone #1 is due in stores and online April 8.