It's been a while since fans got to spend any time with Metamorpho, the Element Man.
The product of a bizarre transformation, Rex Mason's superhero alter-ego was a fixture on various iterations of the Justice League over the years, but hasn't been seen -- save for a one-panel cameo in Justice League International #1 -- since the launch of the post-Flashpoint DC Universe in 2011.
We had a chance to talk to Aaron Lopresti -- artist of Justice League International, and writer/artist of Legends of Tomorrow's new Metamorpho feature -- about the story he's looking to tell with the character.
You can get Legends of Tomorrow #1, out this week, at your local comic shop or on ComiXology.
I may be wrong, but is the only time we've seen any indication that Metamorpho existed in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe a panel you drew in JLI #1?
You are correct. Really the only reason he is in that splash page from JLI is because I like the character. I think Plastic Man and the Creeper are in there as well. There were no plans to use the character at the time I put him on that page.
The plot by Stagg and Java -- to essentially convince Rex to work with them by misleading him -- has always existed in some capacity, but nowadays it feels a bit more current and prescient. Is that notion -- that by going back to basics you can create something timeless -- important to how you're approaching Metamorpho/Legends?
I'm not sure I would say they are misleading him. I'm not sure how much of the issue(s) you've read or exactly when this interview is going to be published so I'm hesitant to give too much away.
I think Stagg and Metamorpho both want the same thing just for different reasons and certainly neither one trusts the other. But neither one of them has a clue as to where the path to the secrets of the Orb of Ra is going to lead them.
To more directly answer your question, I do tend to go back and explore retro ideas and concepts in an attempt to harken back to the elements in comics that I grew up loving. There's nothing wrong with using tried and true plot concepts as long as you don't allow yourself to fall into cliché and believe me there are plenty of unexpected turns along the way.
You're no stranger to anthology books, having done some work on My Greatest Adventure. Could we ever see a Garbage Man revival for the new DCU?
I'm amazed how many people have read My Greatest Adventure but are unaware of the preceding mini-series Weird Worlds which features the first six parts of the Garbage Man saga. Perhaps that's one of the problems with stretching out a series over two separate anthologies with different titles.
To answer your question, I would like to do more Garbage Man but that will be up to Dan Didio and company. It's a little harder sell now that Swamp Thing has returned to the DCU from Vertigo land. I do have a pretty good zombie story sitting on the shelf for him….
Kanjar Ro, being a cosmic villain, seems an unlikely candidate to be a villain for Metamorpho's first arc. What went into that decision?
My original pitch for the series was much smaller in scope and more personal. Dan wanted something bigger that potentially affect the entire DCU. Once we settled on the bigger concept, Dan brought Kanjar Ro into the fray as the third party antagonist that would help the story eventually cross over to bigger things in the DCU.
I can't say exactly "why Kanjar Ro" as opposed to some other villain, except that as we move through this re-incarnation of the DCU we need to bring more characters into use and Kanjar Ro really fit well with what we were trying to accomplish short term with this story and long term with the DCU. Also, Kanjar Ro is very much a self-serving rogue which is exactly the foil we needed for this Metamoprho story.
Did you catch that Kanjar Ro got name-dropped on DC's Legends of Tomorrow last week?
Sadly, I watch very little TV anymore. But that certainly will help with awareness of this series.
What made you want to keep so much of the conflict between Java and Rex in the shadows for now?
As this is a mini-series instead of a ongoing (at this point) you can only focus on so much. We really felt that Rex/Metamorpho relationship with Sapphire was the heart of the story.
That's not to say that Java's conflict with Rex is unaddressed. It does come to fruition as the story moves along but the intent here is to give readers a new beginning for Metamoprho and starting point for an ongoing series if the interest is there.
No matter how Metamorpho is used beyond this mini-series, Java will be a major antagonist for him moving forward and that table is being set here.
Was it important, as a writer, to push the idea that Sapphire is differentiated from her family by her compassion? I feel like the way you emphasized that helps keep her from feeling naive.
A lot of work went into Sapphire. Coming into this project, I knew I didn't want to use her as the dumb blonde socialite. I wanted her inbetween Rex and Simon Stagg but with a different dynamic than we've seen before. She is defined by her compassion but she is also desperate for her father's approval which causes even more problems. You're right, Sapphire is not naive and she knows exactly what she is doing.
This is an interesting story; it feels very dense, with as much story crammed into it as you might expect from a typical DC anthology book...but it still clocks in at the length of a full-length story. Was it just a matter of you wanting to get as much origin as possible out of the way so that you can start moving the story forward?
I would say it was more about properly setting up the characters and establishing their motivations than anything else. The story really takes off in the second issue but none of what happens going forward will work if the we don't understand the characters and who they are, especially Sapphire. Also, there has to be a foundation set for what is an origin story that unravels over the enitre six-issues. I think at the end of the series, the reader will feel the pacing was right.
How did you come to work on this particular story? Did you pitch it to DC, or did they come to you with "We want an idea for Metamorpho?"
I have been bugging Dan to do either Metamorpho, Plastic Man or the Creeper for a long time. After Convergence, the stars aligned and Metamorpho seemed to have a logical spot. I brought it to Dan and he was ready to give it a go. Dan and I went back and forth with story ideas and details for two months until we finally came to an agreement on how to proceed. And now, here we are.0comments
Anything to tease about the next installment?
Sure. Java/Metamorpho brawl. The pyramid of Ahk-Ton and then things get really weird.