How does a smaller title survive in the event-driven DC and Marvel Comics marketplace?
Well, it's tough, but Sterling Gates has had support from editorial and from fans on Justice League of America's Vibe. The story, which explores some lower-tier heroes in the DC Universe but does so with massive scale and consequence, will release its seventh issue next week--and then take two months to come back again because Vibe doesn't have his own Villains' Month title. How does the creative team cope with that? They joined us for a conversation about what makes the book so fun, so appealing to work on and, of course, how they hope to recapture everyone's attention after the time away.
Spoiler alert: It's because next week's issue is huge.
ComicBook.com: This is a book that opened with a lot of fanfare and that feels like it's had a bunch of creative changes in a fairly short period of time. Is it nice to be able to say that you're the stable part of the organization?
Sterling Gates: I don't know that I've ever put it that way, but I came on at issue 3 and I guess issue 6 just came out--we're working hard to tell a really great story in the book and I appreciate being able to tell a longer form story over those six or seven issues. I think we're telling a really fun story about characters who don't normally get a spotlight shone on them. Vibe and Gypsy are two sort of mainstays in the book with a guy named Dale Gunn. They're all old Justice League Detroit members if you remember that era of Justice League, and we're trying to update them and make them relevant within the confines of the DCU as it is now in the New 52.
ComicBook.com: With Gypsy particularly, she kind of inched her way into the book in that she was in the background and not really announced at first. Was that something you knew going in was part of the immediate plan?
Gates: That was set into motion by Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg in issue one and a lot of issue three was me learning what Geoff and Andrew's plan was and trying to execute that plan as best as I could before four came in. And Gypsy was a part of their plan so Gypsy became part of my plan, too. It was just taking the baton that they put out there and running with it as hard and as fast as I could.
I tried to get Gypsy on a cover early because I think she's a really important character in the book. She's a great character and I really like her and she kicks a lot of ass, so I wanted her to be present on the covers but I think issue #7 was the earliest I could get her on the cover, athough I guess issue four, she pretends to be Batman, so Batman on the cover of issue four is secretly Gypsy.
I appreciate her being on the book when I came on board. I appreciate that she's given us a great story engine moving forward and I think watching her interact with Vibe and their relationship develop and blossom has been important to me. Again, they're not A-listers so at least the B-listers get to band together and try to really gel.
A lot of stuff's going to happen with Gypsy in issues eight and nine. Like I said, she acts and her relationship with our dimension is a great story engine for the back half of this arc.
Andres Guinaldo: Before, I had to draw Gotham City Sirens--Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Harley Quinn--and they were all the same, and as an artist this is really good becuase it allows me to play with the shapes of her clothes, especially with a woman, and you can make something very different. It's really fun to be able to draw a woman who dresses that way.
ComicBook.com: What do you think of these characters' designs in the New 52? These characters were perhaps more reinvented than most.
Gates: It's a whole different approach to the DC Universe. That's kind of what I liked about the New 52 as an idea, is it's a very fresh and updated angle to take on old characters, old costume tropes and older designs. Some designs are classic and work fine just as they are--like Wonder Woman's look isn't all that different, because she is iconic in that way. Superman's look, there's some more lines on it but it's Superman's costume. Batman, same deal. Those looks are icons and they don't have a lot of change. There's room for variations and some are more successful than others but overall I think the designs are pretty damned rad.
Guinaldo: I like them because they look modern. That's something that people who are 18 or 20 are going to like more than the classic stuff. I understand completely why the change was made; they're trying to connect with a new audience.
At the end of the day, the suit is iconic. I know that, but what really matters is the character.
ComicBook.com: With Villains' Month, because this is a smaller book it doesn't get the downpour of titles. Is it a challenge to you to have a book ready in October that bounces back from that and catches everybody's attention?
Gates: [Sigh] I think that when you read the cliffhanger to #7, you're going to want to come back for #8. We tried really hard to make sure that it was such a shocking moment--I guess I'm spoiling something here--it's such a shocking moment that happens in issue #7 that you want to know what the hell happens in issue #8 in October. It's pretty big. That's all I'm going to say.