Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pfeifer talks about his run on RHATO

Just some highlights from the interview and my thoughts on them.

In some of your past DC work, like "Aquaman" or "HERO," you were known for finding new spins on old ideas. I wonder -- what was the spin or the hook that you found in "Red Hood" to pick up on?

It was the characters. You've got Jason, Roy and Kori, and I grew up reading the Wolfman/Perez "Teen Titans" with Starfire. That hit when I was about 13 or 14, and when it came out, that book completely blew me away. It was my favorite comic for years. I always followed the path of Jason Todd, and Roy's been around the DCU with different characters and in different guises. So they all have a level in them about how much control they have over their own lives and how much they rely on their hero identity versus their civilian identity. And they all bounce off of each other in really interesting ways. This felt like three characters with a lot of potential
And I've never really written a team book before. This is almost halfway between a solo book and a team book, because they're not a unified Justice League or Justice Society kind of a team. They're three friends who hang out. It's one of those books where the characters really drive things, and to me, that's always fun.

I did feel that Kori was felt a little like the Wolfman/Perez Starfire when she wondered why Jason didn't marvel at the wonders of his world. Interesting to hear that this is the first team book he's done. I'm glad that he gets that their not a team per se but friends that like to be around each other. Tynion seemed to imply there was a big change at the end of his run but it doesn't look like there was in terms of how they operate.

How did you approach tackling each of those characters on their own terms, then? I understand that, at least at the beginning of your story, Roy is off from the rest of the team, and Jason technically headlines the book. Did you try to start with him and then build out from there?

I did. Obviously, it's called "Red Hood And The Outlaws," and I think Jason has -- for lack of a better term -- the most interesting back story. It's pretty crazy what's happened to him and how he reacts to that. If you had to pick a leader of this group, I suppose it would be him because as a former Batman assistant, he's got more training and a more organized outlook. He's a more tactical planner, and whatever crazy situation they're in, he's the guy saying, "This is how we should handle it." And a lot of times, he may or may not be right about that. But ultimately he's the main draw of the group.
Now, having said that, for this first arc, we do see Roy on his own for a while, and Jason and Kori are teamed up trying to find Roy. That was an interesting dynamic to build between those two while Roy is off talking to himself. We don't get a lot of him interacting with them until later in the arc, but it definitely comes.

The leadership role has never been something they've taken seriously. They hand off who handles what based on who knows what to do. Kori was in charge in space, when things involved Jason they listened to what he wanted. Roy was kind of in charge during the mind wipe story. It's not something they feel needs to be chosen. While I'm looking forward to more Kori and Jason bonding I always get nervous that new writers won't get their relationship.

What about the milieu of this book in particular? In its short life, "Red Hood" has shifted a bit between more grounded superhero stories and tales that fall more along the space opera spectrum.

To me. whether I was writing "HERO" or "Catwoman" or "Aquaman" or anything in the DCU, I loved the fact that there's this playground of different superheroes and the world they're in. I think it's great to write characters in this massive universe where there are little pockets of history, and I like taking these three characters and bouncing them off everything. The first story is more of a space opera thing. Roy's part takes place in space for a while, and then Kori and Jason are on the ground. Eventually, they realize they need to steal a ship -- actually it's two ships, but they need to steal something! [Laughs]
When I was talking to my editor, we started discussing S.H.A.D.E. as part of this, and that's something that didn't even exist the last time I was writing DC Comics, so this is a whole new playground to play in, and it gives me characters like Frankenstein to bounce off them. It's fun to put all the pieces on the chessboard, move them around and see how they respond to each other.

"First story"? So either Lobdell is a one shot fill in or that was a misprint?

As the book progresses, I know you've also got Lobo waiting in the wings. That's a character that DC seems to have broader plans for as they've moved him from title to title. What's his role here?

The main story I came up with in broad strokes involves these aliens who are causing chaos and mischief. They're goofballs, in a way, but they're very dangerous goofballs. We needed someone for them to play off of, and that's when the idea of using Lobo came up. He's very different from them, and he's very different from Roy, Kori and Jason. So to put them all in space with each other, sparks can fly, and it makes for an interesting story. He's going to be in the book for a little bit, and like you said, there are big plans for him at DC. So here we'll see more of him, what he can do and what his personality is like. I've been reading Lobo comics for years, going back to when he was introduced, so it was fun to play with that character.

Lobo is a character that's best in small doses. Since DC can't seem to decide how they want to portray him I worry about these "big plans" and hope he's not added to the cast.

For the long term life of this book, do you have plans for how it can develop beyond the opening arc?

There's definitely some plans. It all comes down to, what situations you can put these three characters in? What sets them apart from a Batman or a Superman or a Wonder Woman? How do they react to a situation that's unique? This is all about finding out what's most interesting about these characters and then showcasing that in a way that's a lot of fun for the reader.

I was starting to look forward to Lobdell returning so I'm not thrilled that Pfeifer seems to be staying. I know one issue is hardly something to judge by but I wasn't too impressed. It was okay but there are a lot of holes and stretches to make the plot work.

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