Legend of the Shield - Part 2

Lowdown - Interview

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In the second part of Broken Frontier's interview with The Shield writer Eric Trautmann we talk about upcoming guest-stars, reimagining old The Shield continuity, the trauma of the character's origins and his relationship with the Justice Society of America's Magog...

Read Part One

BROKEN FRONTIER: The Shield has already made recent cameos in books like Wonder Woman and Green Arrow and Black Canary and The Shield #1 is set in Bialya, the country devastated by Black Adam in World War III.

How quickly will this integration of the Red Circle characters with mainstays of the DCU continue? I could see encounters with military/espionage groups like Checkmate or the Suicide Squad being a perfect fit here for example...

ERIC TRAUTMANN: I wouldn't expect to see Checkmate in the title any time soon; they have their hands full over in JSA Vs. Kobra, for starters.

I have another DCU "guest" character appearing in issues 2-3 (along with Magog) -- as well as a new version of an old MLJ villain. In issues 4-6, The Shield will encounter some other known DCU characters. That's my hope: by simply having Joe be active and doing his thing, he will logically encounter familiar locations and people.

BF: It’s interesting to hear you talking about other DCU characters popping up in this arc and the next. Obviously I won’t ask you outright about those upcoming guest-stars’ identities, but would I be right to suspect there is at least one very big, simian-shaped clue on the front cover of The Shield #1 (right)?

ET: Why, yes. Yes, you would be right.

BF: And, as you just mentioned a revamped MLJ villain coming up in the near future, will there be other Easter Eggs in terms of the odd bit of The Shield lore being reimagined for the new run?

ET: I'm hoping to do more of that, yes. Without veering too far into spoiler territory, I'd love to throw a reference in to Steel Sterling and a couple of the other Red Circle characters, but honestly have no idea how far I'd be allowed to go down that path. But it's a point of discussion for future stories, for sure.

BF: Given the extent of Joe Higgins’s injuries in his origin story will the psychological aspects of his condition play a part in the book’s storylines in coming issues? And just how powerful/adaptable is the nanotechnology behind his suit? I get the feeling that what we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its capabilities.

ET: You can't go through what Joe went through and not have it affect you.

There's a greater understanding today of PTSD, and the other health and psychological effects that combat troops suffer, and Joe is no exception. I doubt I'll do a whole issue about it, but it is a part of the character and obviously, that'll affect how I write him.

As for the nanotech: you ain't seen nothin' yet.

It is quite powerful, and, as you point out, adaptable. And Joe hasn't been using it for very long. He's still learning what it can do, and I think some of the more subtle advantages it confers are the most interesting. (He's, for example, a walking wireless cloud/cell phone node, so you'll never have problems getting a signal if you're near him. The implications for intel gathering and coordination of troops there are certainly useful.)

BF: What can you say about what the art team are bringing to the table? I felt that the detailed realism of Rudy and Gray’s pages was an inspired choice for the "real world" elements of this first issue and the coloring of Art Lyons stunningly captured the desolation of the ruined Bialya.

ET: I can't say enough good stuff about Marco's pencils. Ever since he stepped in and helped us on Final Crisis: Resist, he struck me as a guy to watch. And here, he's pushing the full-page layout to the edge in upcoming issues; very innovative, very polished. Exciting stuff. Issue #2 looks astonishing.

And I've been a huge fan of Mick Gray since some of his early Marvel work with Mike McKone (who I also adore). He brings a nice, clean touch to Marco's already razor-sharp pencils. Honestly, the pages are coming in far better than I could've hoped for.

BF: Magog is the big guest-star of the first arc. In many ways he’s very similar to the Shield in terms of military background and motivation and yet he’s also his polar opposite in that he’s a renegade loose cannon. Was this "compare and contrast" scenario the reason David Reid was chosen for this initial "team-up"?

ET: That's it exactly: on the surface, the characters could be perceived as very similar. So one of the goals here -- at Rachel's [Gluckstern - The Shield editor] urging, for sure, I should add -- is to show how these "similar" characters are actually quite distinct, quite different, and yet work well together as part of the DCU. I love the relationship between the two of them: Joe thinks Magog is a "jarhead jackass," and Magog has endless fun mocking "Flag-pants."

Fun stuff to write.

BF: Finally are there any other upcoming Trautmann projects you would like to tell the Broken Frontier readers about both within and outside the DCU?

ET: Unfortunately there's not a lot I can say right now. Issue #4 of JSA Vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith hit store shelves this week, and I'm literally putting the finishing touches to the revisions of the final issue as soon as I'm done here, actually. That has been a tremendously challenging series to write, and the response has been great. (And it's another case of my phenomenal luck with art teams--Don Kramer and Michael Babinski have been a dream-team for that book.)

I have one other DC project that just landed in my lap, that I'm quite excited about, but is not ready for chatting about... Oh, and Brandon Jerwa and I also completed the script for our long-suffering Vertigo editors, so the unannounced, we-can't-talk-about-it-yet Vertigo book should finally be inching closer to seeing the light of day.

Speaking of Brandon, we are also getting ramped up for the postponed launch of our webcomic, Wide Awake. We debuted a "teaser" for the last Free Comic Book Day, hoping to start it as a weekly in June, but a combination of factors slowed that down (not least of which was the artist being snapped up by Marvel for a while, and the movie deal the teaser landed us).

But we're cranking again, and later this fall (knock wood), Wide Awake will finally start up.

It's the story of a young girl, Amanda Carter, tormented by horrific nightmares, plagued in her dreams by demonic figures with some manner of terrifying agenda. If she doesn't defeat the monsters in her dreams, they follow her into the waking world.

It's a horror/adventure story that Brandon and I originally tested out in the second Image Comics Popgun anthology, and its being drawn by David Messina and Mirco Pierfederici.

(For the teaser and some other goodies, check out www.wideawakeonline.com, or follow us on Twitter @wideawakeonline .)

For more on Eric and his work check out his website here. The Shield is published monthly by DC Comics priced $3.99.

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