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Home Are the Heroes

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With the debut of Countdown to Adventure later this week, DC fans will finally get to see what happened next for Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange after a year travelling home to Earth in the pages of 52. It also features a backup strip starring Forerunner, from the pages of Countdown, that looks set to be an important part of the bigger picture in the DC Multiverse. Broken Frontier caught up with writer Adam Beechen about his part of Countdown to Adventure, and what’s coming up for the "space heroes" of 52.

BF: The title Countdown to Adventure seems to be a nod in the direction of that old DC favorite Adventure Comics. I have fond memories of the book being one where anyone could show up and anything could happen, from the Fleischer/Aparo Spectre to the death of the Golden Age Batman through to Ditko on the cosmic Starman and a Plastic Man revival. Pretty diverse stuff! Will you be channelling the spirit of the old Adventure in terms of unpredictability and diversity?

ADAM BEECHEN: Well, we certainly hope the story (or at least the half that I'm doing --Justin Gray's writing a Forerunner feature that's going to be awesome) will be unpredictable, but in terms of diversity, we're pretty much sticking with the "space heroes" from 52, although there will be a guest appearance by a certain prominent DC super-team.

BF: Your feature in Countdown to Adventure picks up where 52 left off in chronicling the lives of the formerly "lost in space" heroes Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange. For those coming in fresh what can you tell us about the point these characters have reached in their lives?

AB: At the beginning of our story, it's a few weeks after Animal Man crossed the galaxy using the abilities of Sun Eaters to return to his wife Ellen, and their kids, Maxine and Cliff. He's back at work as a Hollywood stuntman, and trying to resume a normal life, but that's complicated by his rather unusual houseguest, Starfire, who after recharging her powers on Rann, also flew back to Earth to deliver Animal Man's jacket to Ellen, as she mistakenly believed Animal Man was dead. Starfire's been unconscious in the Baker family guest room ever since. Meanwhile, on Rann, Adam Strange is adjusting to his new set of eyes, and taking a well-earned vacation with his wife Alanna, their daughter Aleea, and some friends of theirs. Then, all heck breaks loose for everyone involved.

BF: From a storytelling perspective are you following the structure of 52, with the characters’ individual plot threads intersecting as part of a greater whole?

AB: You know, a little bit, but not intentionally. The story concerns all three of our heroes, but they don't come together to battle the overarching menace right away. Because Animal Man and Starfire are on Earth, they're naturally teamed up from the beginning, but Adam's on his own, isolated as he is at the start on Rann.

BF: Can we look forward to more fourth wall-breaking shenanigans and weirdness with Animal Man? And how much of a part will Buddy’s family play in the pages of Countdown to Adventure? You just can’t help but love the Baker family!

AB: I do love the Baker family, particularly how otherwise normal they are. And they're very much a part of this story, especially Buddy's relationship with Ellen. As for fourth-wall stuff, I think I'm gonna leave that to experts like Grant Morrison! Our story will be pretty straight-ahead adventure.

BF: Adam Strange’s stock hasn’t been so high in years, with the success of his miniseries a couple of years back and his 52 appearances. While never an A-list hero in terms of profile or sales he’s always been something of a fan favorite. What would you put his enduring popularity down to?

AB: It took me a while to figure this out, but once I did, it totally made sense. He's DC's version of John McClane from the Die Hard movies. He never really set out to be a hero, but had it thrust upon him, he's frequently outmanned or outgunned, and his greatest asset in any scrape he gets into, whether he gets into it intentionally or not, is his brain. He's been described as the "thinking man's hero," and that really applies, and we'll be playing it up, here. He's always thinking two steps ahead, trying to figure out his advantages and angles against more powerful foes and greater numbers, and that's just enormously entertaining to watch!

BF: Unsurprisingly, it looks like you’ll be playing up the cosmic side to Adam and making full use of Rann and its culture. Will there be any guest-shots from other DC sci-fi stars as per the cameos in the recent Mystery In Space book?

AB: We're giving Adam the full spotlight he deserves. We're putting him into a deep mess, then we're going to enjoy watching him dig out of it using his native wits and skill, rather than relying on a lot of help from outside forces. But when he does reunite with Animal Man and Starfire, they'll become the same great, interesting team they were in 52.

BF: Starfire seems to be a character without a natural home right now. She’s too old to be a Teen Titan and she appears to have severed her ties to some of the heroes she once hung out with. I was kind of surprised she made it out of 52 alive to be honest! Will you be redefining her role and place in the DC Universe in this series?

AB: It's funny you mention this, because it's very much at the core of Kory's arc in this story. Who is she, where does she belong? She's never really stood solo since coming to Earth -- is that something she wants...or needs? She's had a lot of roles in her life, from princess to prisoner to hero, but who is she deep down inside? Does she even know?

BF: Which of the characters presented you with the greatest challenge? Were you less familiar with some than others?

AB: Ironically, though I've probably read the most stories concerning Starfire over the years, she's been the most difficult, because her journey is more internal than the others over the course of the series...which isn't to say she doesn't see a lot of action, too! And I was pretty familiar with all the characters going in, having loved Grant's run on Animal Man's book, having been a follower of Starfire since she debuted, and having Adam Strange pop up in one of the first comics I ever read, a Justice League story from the 1970s!

BF: What can you tell us about the art team and what they’re bringing to the feature?

AB: Holy smokes, I can't say enough about Eddy Barrows and Julio Ferreira! They are putting heart and soul into this thing, and I couldn't be happier. I'm asking them to jump through hoops, leaping back and forth from LA to Rann, and they've imagined everything just as I've seen it and better. The layouts themselves, just the way the pages are arranged, are gorgeous, and they've done a masterful job of capturing both the "alienness" of Rann and the "normalness" of LA. Their figure work is spectacular -- the action is totally kinetic, and the expressions are perfect. And, needless to say, they draw a VERY sexy Starfire (their versions of Ellen and Alanna aren't bad, either -- hubba hubba).

BF: And, finally, by the series conclusion, how different will the lives of the characters be after their eight-issue journey?

AB: Each of our characters will be in a pretty different place from where they started, whether it's in terms of their power level, their status, or their emotional base. This book doesn't take the characters on a little trip, then return them to the old status quo. Hopefully, the changes we make will offer lots of good storytelling opportunities for future creative teams to follow.

 

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