Tom King Reveals the Era of DC Comics He Still Wants to Explore

Last week saw the debut of Human Target #1, the latest in a string of DC Comics titles from writer Tom King. The series, which is in collaboration with artist Greg Smallwood, takes a uniquely anachronistic approach to DC canon, combining the early lore of Christopher Chance with the roster of Justice League Unlimited, all in a Mad Men-esque '60s aesthetic. The result is breathtaking to behold, and is just one example of King dipping into familiar DC territory with his work, after his and Doc Shaner's story in the Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular took on the 70s stint of Wonder Woman and Superman comics. recently attended a roundtable interview with King, where we asked if there are other eras or stints of DC history he would still like to take on.

"Yes, there are," King revealed. "I've been really into the Bronze Age comics of DC. I've been just loving that era of the late '60s, early '70s, when DC realized that Marvel was basically kicking its ass. No offense to the company that puts food on my table, but they were looking at [Jack] Kirby, they're looking at [Stan] Lee, and they're like, 'We don't understand. We make comics that have much cleaner art, that have cleaner stories.' And then DC went insane, basically, from 1968 to 1985. I love that era. It's just so bizarre. You've got your Warlords, and you've got the romance comics of the '70s, and you've got Tor, and you've got these beautiful war comics. They were just throwing everything against the wall, trying to find something that would stick and help them compete with Marvel, and they couldn't find anything. Including — they had all these Archie competitors that were so big, like these Binkys and Debbies and everything that could rhyme with Archie. So yeah, I would love to mine that era — and I have. There are books coming out that mine that bizarre era in DC comics. One of which is my creator owned, which is going to be announced soon, which takes a lot of inspiration from that era."

Later on in the interview, King spoke about how his love of the classic Justice League influences his view of the overall DC universe — and how that bled over into Human Target.

"When I think of the DC universe, I think of it wrong," King explained with a laugh. "I don't think of it as it currently is, even though I've been writing in the universe, probably consistently, longer than almost any other writer now. But I still think of the Justice League Unlimited. I still think of it as a bunch of guys and women who go into a satellite at the end of the day, and they have coffee and they share their stories, and then five of them get picked for the mission. I know none of that exists in continuity, but I will never erase that from my mind, that that's what the DC universe is. So to me, this is an exploration of that world, from a guy who will get an invite to the satellite, but can't stay. He has to have a guest pass. He has to wear his little badge the whole time, and have someone look after him. The way — when I was in CIA, if you ever invited someone to the building, you had to have a watcher. This is the view of the entire DC universe from the point of view of a guy who knows it, but is still an outsider. I have that line where someone's like, 'You're colleagues,' and he's like, 'No, I'm not a colleague.' He literally says in issue four — there's a big fight and someone's like, 'Why didn't you get in the fight, Chance?' He's like, 'I'm not a superhero.' He's like, 'That's your job. I'm just a guy who makes money by getting shot in the head.' It's a different perspective on superheroes. He is probably inspired by Mark Waid's Kingdom Come, or [Kurt Busiek's] Marvels, where you take the whole superhero universe and twist it, and look at it from someone who's looking up at people flying. In that way, it's a look at the entire universe itself."

Human Target #1 is now available wherever comics are sold.