Edison Rex On the Road to Supervillainy: Monkeybrain's Chris Roberson Talks #7

It's Edison Rex: Year One this month as fans get to meet Gladiator Gladstone, the man who may have [...]


It's Edison Rex: Year One this month as fans get to meet Gladiator Gladstone, the man who may have prevented Edison from experiencing the pain and loss of Bruce Wayne--and set him on the path to becoming the most brilliant and ruthless supervillain in the world. Wow, I bet that guy feels silly. Series co-creator and writer Chris Roberson joined ComicBook.com to discuss the issue, which hit last Wednesday alongside the first trade paperback volume of the series, which collected the first arc. Bear in mind that our "commentary tracks" are SPOILER-HEAVY conversations. If you haven't read Edison Rex #7 yet, you should go buy it and read along with us. ComicBook.com: I like the idea of turning the Batman origin story on its head a bit. I'd say that's got to be the most-reprinted sequence in comics history but I've never seen it homaged/parodied more than once or twice. Did you find it pretty easy to tinker with it? Chris Roberson: This is one of those instances where I can't quite recall if the idea originated with me or with Dennis Culver. Whichever of us first suggested it, though, I know that both of us agreed it was a fantastic idea immediately. ComicBook.com: Is Gladstone still alive and kicking? It could be interesting to see his perspective on what's become of Edison in the last year or so. Roberson: Just what became of Gladstone is something we'll be addressing in the not-too-distant future. ComicBook.com: So...did Edison steal the blueprints to the Gladstone Institute on his way out the door? Because that building (and location) looks strangely familiar... Roberson: In fact, it's the very same building. When we first saw the "Edison Aid" building at a press conference, one of the reporters mentioned that the site was the former home of the Gladstone Institute. Rex was denied the chance to be Gladstone's successor, so he just did the next best thing and bought the place for himself. [Note: I've apparently got a terrible memory, as we've discussed Gladstone and his Institute here and here.]


You guys have built up a rich world here. How much of that is just for flavor, versus how many of these characters have plans that you've already got mapped out down the road? Roberson: It's a little bit of both. Dennis and I like the idea of this seeming like a "lived in" world, one that has been going on for quite some time. And also the idea that there are lots of other stories still going on out there somewhere, and we're only seeing bits and pieces of it. Some of the characters that are mentioned or glimpsed in passing are just there to help flesh out the world, some are "seeds" planted for future storylines, and some are just too fun to resist including. ComicBook.com: People who read and remember the RexFiles from previous episodes will already know, but we've seen Hegenberger before, no? Roberson: Oh, definitely. What becomes of Hegenberger isn't intended as a mystery, as such, just a little something going on in the background that offers a bit more insight for readers who notice it. ComicBook.com: Speaking of which, no RexFiles this week. We get a little Gladiator Gladstone story instead. Will you be varying things up a bit for this second arc?


We'll be switching it up from time to time, but the RexFiles are back with the next few issues. We just couldn't resist the idea of doing a backup in the style of "Golden Age" comics. And Dennis, Steve Downer, and John J. Hill did a FANTASTIC job with it, don't you think? ComicBook.com: With the publishing schedule being a bit irregular, did you think twice about doing a full-issue flashback? It was a great issue but I always feel like I would worry about readers who complain this kind of thing doesn't advance the larger narrative. Roberson: Wasn't really a concern, to be honest. In fact, this issue functions as a kind of prologue to our second year's worth of adventures, and so it really DOES advance the larger narrative in some pretty meaningful ways. A lot of characters and storylines that are seeded here in the flashback will be cropping up in the present-day stories in various important ways. ComicBook.com: It's interesting in that we've seen so many villains whose origins play with this idea that they've failed and can't handle it--Doctor Doom and Lex Luthor certainly play with that--whereas Edison isn't wrong--he WAS sabotaged. He just didn't know by whom. What did going down that road do for the story? Roberson: The key characteristic that so many "mad scientist" types have in common is not that they failed in the past or were sabotaged or what-have-you, but in how they REACTED to those events. Edison's experiment failing was unfortunate, but it was his unrestrained and almost mindlessly aggressive response that set him on the path to supervillainy, as it were.


But as to whether Edison will eventually discover that his experiment was sabotaged, and more importantly WHO it was that sabotaged him? You'll just have to keep reading and find out about that one. ComicBook.com: Now, Superman rescued Lois Lane in the "experimental space-plane" in Byrne's The Man of Steel. Should I intuit some homoerotic tension between Edison and Valiant as a result of the way this issue panned out? Roberson: Ha! ComicBook.com: I love Dennis's body language. If he weren't ranting in that panel where he's sitting on the curb, I could totally "hear" the sad Peanuts theme in my head looking at that art. Roberson: Dennis's gestural and figure work, and his expressions most of all, are nothing short of phenomenal! ComicBook.com: Not a little bit of foreshadowing in the lab, there, when we see Hegenberger standing under the image of the giant, red brain... Roberson: Yep! ComicBook.com:And sideways comics convention #4 for the issue - the hair thing. That seems a pretty clear reference... Roberson: That's not so much a reference as it is a clever little bit of visual business that Dennis worked out early on. Edison's hair starts going white right after the experiment fails, when he basically choses the life of a supervillain, and it continues to grow gradually white over the course of years. So we can roughly pinpoint where various flashback sequences happen based on how much of Edison's hair is white. Nifty, no?