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WildStorm-Berries: Adam Beechen Talks WildCats

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Adam Beechen, once best known for his work on animated series such as Teen Titans and The Wild Thornberries, has become the go-to guy for many of DC’s top series, with work on books such as Countdown, Teen Titans, and his creator-owned series Killapalooza. Now he’s set to enter Jim Lee’s WildStorm universe on its flagship book, WildCats. Broken Frontier spoke to Adam about his plans for the WildStorm superteam.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Before we get into the meat and potatoes, tell us a bit about how you got started writing for DC, and eventually WildStorm.

ADAM BEECHEN: I’d been a comics fan forever, and an animation writer for some time, and I’d been working on action-oriented cartoons like Jackie Chan Adventures and Teen Titans. I went to New York for a visit, and rang up my old college friend Ivan Cohen, who was an editor at DC at the time. He asked if I wanted a tour of the offices, and like any fanboy, I said yes, not even considering the possibility of going in there and asking for work...I was more excited to see where people who made comics worked! So I visited, and Ivan showed me around, and I put faces with names I’d only seen in credit boxes, and generally geeked out.

Toward the end of my visit, Ivan introduced me to Tom Palmer, Jr., then the editor of the Teen Titans Go! comic, based on the animated series. We chatted about the show, then I got the bright idea to ask if I could pitch to the book. Ivan, who’d read my graphic novel Hench, recommended me enthusiastically, and Tom agreed to consider my pitches. I went back to LA and wrote a few up, and Tom bought two of them. About a month later, I got a call from Joan Hilty, who was then editing the Johnny DC line for younger readers, and asked if I’d be interested in writing a new Justice League Unlimited comic, based on the animated series, on a regular basis. I jumped at it. That led me to the DC mainstream books, like Robin, Teen Titans and Countdown, and in getting to know more DC folks, I came to know the WildStorm folks as well.

At one San Diego Comic-Con, editor Ben Abernathy took me out for beers and we talked about the gestating plans for the "Number of the Beast" storyline, and Ben promised to keep me in mind for stuff down the line. Out of that conversation came the beginnings of the storyline that became KillaPalooza, the miniseries I wrote and Trevor Hairsine drew, that’s currently on the stands. Once I finished writing that, Ben and I were looking for something else to do together, and I’d met editor Scott Peterson and we’d talked about doing stuff together, and by that time Shannon Eric Denton — an old pal of mine — was an editor there as well, so we were all looking for ways to collaborate.

BF: Who are the WildCats? What's their role in the WildStorm Universe?

AB: The WildCats are really the team at the center of the WildStorm U, I think. They’re a group of powered and/or highly skilled aliens, humans and hybrids that came together to fight on the side of the alien Kherans against their ancient enemies, the Daemonites — the defining conflict that set a lot of WildStorm in motion to begin with. That war lasted for millenia, and only in the last couple years have the WildCats learned that the war actually ended a long time ago, with the Kherans winning, and our heroes having never gotten the message. Since then, they’ve had a variety of incarnations and adventures, but their mission remains largely the same as it always has — protect planet Earth.

BF: What's the situation for the WildStorm Universe in general, and the WildCats in particular, as you begin your run? What are the immediate challenges the WildCats will have to face?

AB: The situation ain’t great. A while back, a bunch of highest-power clones, called Reapers, detonated in the Earth’s atmosphere, and did all kinds of damage. Since then, the various heroes of the WildStorm Universe have basically been doing triage, helping out where they can, dealing with situations as they arise. When we start our run, all the heroes that remain alive are joining together to battle two alien invasions that threaten the planet simultaneously. And even if the good guys get through that, they have to think about how they can help the world long-term, given its new circumstances.

BF: The WildStorm Universe has been through a lot of changes and reboots over the years, some of them apocalyptic in scope. Does this present a challenge for you in picking up this series? And how do you make the book relevant for an audience that may not already be WildStorm fans?

AB: Fortunately, our first arc gives us a chance to introduce a lot of characters to new readers, as so many will be appearing in the book. I want to emphasize, this is not a reboot of the WildStorm Universe — we’re picking up the story in progress and hopefully putting a new perspective on the challenges the heroes face.

BF: What do you think of what Christos Gage has done with the book? Are you going to be playing off of his run?

AB: I love what Christos has been doing...I’m a huge fan of his writing, and he’s left us with a lot of fun things to explore, both in terms of character and plot. We’re definitely adding on to what he’s built so well.

BF: Tim Seeley will be providing art for the series. What do you think of what you've seen of his art so far?

AB: It’s unbelievable, and if there’s any justice, it’s going to make him a big, big name. He’s got the unenviable challenge of drawing about thirty zillion characters, often all in the same page, and he does it brilliantly. He’s bringing a ton of thought to the work, changing some costumes and choreographing really complex battles. He can do the meat-and-potatoes storytelling as well as anyone, but his individual style will knock people over. Ryan Winn, our inker, is equally good. He brings out the best in Tim’s pencils, and keeps everything nice, clean and easy to understand — no simple task, given how many characters we’re dealing with. I met them both for the first time this summer in San Diego, and we got along like a house afire. We’re all pumped up to be working on the book.

BF: As you mentioned, your editor is Shannon Eric Denton. What's it been like working with him?

AB: I've known Shannon forever. He and Keith Giffen wrote an episode of Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi when I was story-editing that animated series, and I wrote a young-adult novel, What I Did On My Hypergalactic, Interstellar Summer Vacation for his Actionopolis publishing imprint. We've got similar perspectives and senses of humor, and he is a fountain of creative energy, ideas, and enthusiasm. He's a great editor to work with, and I'm enjoying our collaboration - and it is a collaboration -- immensely. He contributes a ton in terms of story ideas and overall direction.

BF: I've heard that Gen13 and Stormwatch will also be playing a big role here. How so?

AB: Well, the initial threats that come into play in our first arc are so overwhelming that the WildCats need to summon everyone with a power to come to their aid. The Cats’ reasoning: We have common causes we need to unite against, and the common goal of saving the world and setting it right, so it’s all hands on deck. Right now, we’re ALL WildCats, symbolically speaking.

BF: What other guest stars can people look forward to seeing? Is there a possibility that some characters that have been killed off might return?

AB: We’re going to try to account for every remaining hero on the planet, in some shape or form. We may not get to them right away, but part of the fun will be gradually revealing what’s become of some of these folks in this post-apocalyptic world — and there’s a lot of it we haven’t seen yet. I’ve assembled a mammoth chart of Wildstorm characters in an effort to figure out where everyone is right now. WildCats superfan Chris Stryker was invaluable in helping me out, making corrections and clarifications, and even adding a name or two I missed — He knows it all backwards and forwards. Old friends will be popping up in the book, familiar names will be returning with new spins, and new heroes and new teams will emerge. It’s an exciting time to be a long-standing WildStorm fan...and a good time for new readers to jump in.

Adam Beechen's run on WildCats starts with #19 this January from DC/WildStorm. Join us later in the week for a very special feature when Adam Beechen talks in greater depth about taking on the WildCats assignment.

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