This fall, DC Comics will launch Villains Month, a line-wide initiative that features the darkest, most dangerous characters in comics taking center stage. In September, each of DC’s New 52 titles will be taken over and renamed for of one of that book’s most infamous villains. In anticipation of this upcoming event, writer Ann Nocenti (Katana, Catwoman series) was kind enough to answer some questions about her contribution, “Justice League Dark #23.1: The Creeper.” She talked about her take on the character, what other villains she’s looking forward to seeing and offered some teasers for future issues of her regular series. Hit the jump to see what Nocenti had to say and to check out exclusive new images from the upcoming DC comics for Villains Month.
The interview with Nocenti follows below along with the exclusive image and synopsis for her Villains Month contribution, The Creeper, plus an exclusive image and synopsis for another Justice League Dark issue, featuring Eclipso:
Collider: We hear that you will be the pen behind the CREEPER installment of DC’s Villains Month. Since Creeper has played both hero and villain in his history, how did you approach the character for this special?
Ann Nocenti: The new Creeper was inspired by a couple things. First off, Dan DiDio and I were talking about picking up on the story in The Phantom Stranger where Jack Ryder was killed. The Creeper has ridden Jack Ryder before, and since the Creeper is insane, and Ryder is an egomaniacal, Machiavellian blowhard, I starting thinking of the Jekyll and Hyde story. In that tale, one persona is good, one evil. Creeper and Ryder are both monstrous, so this is more like all Hyde and no Jekyll. The creative staff at DC, Rachel Gluckstern, Ricky Purden, Harvey Richards, and Dan DiDio just started throwing great ideas at me, and we all pitched in to come up with the New Creeper. We looked to Japanese ghost tales, the myth of the Oni. An Oni is an agent of chaos, and was used like the bogeyman to scare children. So there’s a bit of the Oni myth in the Creeper. And now that Jack Ryder is dead, and the Creeper is riding him again, Dan came up with the idea that Ryder is such an egotist, he starts his own reality TV show: “My Life After Death.” He’s oblivious to the “normal” concerns of “what does this mean, I’m dead?” He only cares about how he can monetize death. I also went back and read a terrific mini series by Steve Niles called “Welcome to Creepsville” which I thought gave a great and wacky grounding for the character.
DC’s New 52 version of Creeper recently appeared in an unexpected way in issues #3 and #4 of Katana, a title for which you also write. Will the Creeper who appeared in that storyline crossover for the villain special and vice versa? Or is the Villains Month a one-off stand-alone?
Nocenti: The Creeper in the Katana series is the same Creeper that will be in Villains Month. We were thinking about who could be trapped in Katana’s Soultaker, so that when Killer Croc shattered her sword, some interesting souls would come out. The Soultaker is like limbo for those the sword killed. They are restless in there, it is a gray place of waiting, and the Creeper came out raging angry. So the Creeper Villains Month story will tell the tale of Creeper’s origin, his death, his time in the Soultaker, and most of all, develop this double-monster of Creeper & Ryder. Both, in their own ways, are agents of chaos.
Are there any other supervillains you’re looking forward to seeing in the takeover? Any writers or artists’ takes you’re particularly excited to see?
Nocenti: Poison Ivy. She’s my favorite DC Villain, and I heard Joe Keatinge was writing that one, so I’m really excited about that.
You’re well known for your interest in social issues outside of comics, but when asked if comics should be tools for social justice, you were quoted as saying, “No, comics should be fun.” Is there room for both?
Nocenti: Sure! I only meant put the fun first, the politics second, and the politics should come from the characters. Comics shouldn’t be “tools” for anyone’s agenda except for the characters. And I am speaking only of super hero action comics. I love many of the alternative comics that are like journalistic stories. Documentary comics, a mix of reportage and fiction. Those are just great. I know I’ve erred in the past putting too much of my social justice sentiments in comics, but hopefully not too much, and I tried to only do that with characters that it made sense with it. These days, with the “social justice” aspects of the two books I write, Catwoman and Katana, the concerns are more about moral justice.
In addition to Katana, you also write for DC’s Catwoman title and have previously written for Green Arrow. We saw each of them in Catwoman #19. Is there anything else coming up as far as crossovers or surprises that you’d like to tease for fans of your work?
Nocenti: At the end of Catwoman 19, Catwoman finds a spiraling hub of tunnels underneath Arkham Asylum. After the Penguin Gang War, which starts in Catwoman 20, continues in Black Ice, Catwoman Annual #1, and finishes in an all-war issue in Catwoman 21, Catwoman begins to get very curious about what is under Gotham. She obsesses on something Black Mask told her, that there is treasure down under. So Catwoman 22 and 23 are super fun issues for me, as she explores what’s underneath Gotham City .. let’s just say the treasure down there is surprising, and involves two villains from the DCU that we haven’t seen in a while. After that, I have some Gotham Crime stories planned for Catwoman. And issue 21, on the last page, we introduce something that perhaps the fans (including me) have been waiting for. A surprising but not unexpected new friend.