Why DC's Female Heroes Are Fighting Fascism on Motorcycles
The fight for truth and justice is about to hit the open road — and for the heroes of DC Entertainment's new Gotham City Garage comic book project, "ride or die" might end up being less of a slogan and more of a literal way of life.
The series, to be released digitally first with print editions to follow, takes place in an alternate version of the DC Universe where the female heroes take center stage as part of a resistance effort against the fascist political rule of Lex Luthor. The "Garage" of the series title refers to the fact that, in this version of reality, the good guys are all bikers.
Heat Vision breakdown
Heat Vision spoke with series writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing about what's on the road ahead for DC's newest version of such iconic characters as Supergirl, Wonder Woman and even Batman…
For those who missed the initial announcement, what is Gotham City Garage?
Jackson Lanzing: Gotham City Garage is rebel fiction for the DC Universe. We get to take all the heroes of the DC Universe — particularly the women, but really, everybody — and turn them into outlaws. In this universe, the government is run by Lex Luthor and it's a fascist society where everyone is subsumed under Luthor's will. There is no free will.
Collin Kelly: Outside of that society, which is called the Garden, there is the freescape, where the rebels live. It's a world of grease and gears and action, and liberation is the key.
It sounds like you're taking the "resistance" movement of today's real-world politics and melding it with the world of Judge Dredd!
Lanzing: In fact, in our universe, Lex Luthor has his own Judge Dredd: The Bat, who is a relatively familiar DC character, as you might be able to imagine! You'll meet him in issue 1 because our first story is about a young woman, Kara Gordon — who, in the DC Universe, fans will know her as Kara Danvers, Supergirl — but in this universe, she was raised by Jim Gordon in secret as Barbara Gordon's sister. In the very first issue, she's going to find herself the target of Lex Luthor's cops and she's going to have to get the heck out of the Garden and find the rebels.
So where did Gotham City Garage come from? Obviously, like DC Bombshells before it, this was originally a series of statues from DC's Collectibles department, but what were your starting points for the mythology for the series?
Kelly: DC provided us with the statues, obviously, and they told us, 'We want a kind of a Blade Runner meets Mad Max kind of a vibe, but what can you do with that?'
Lanzing: They had the Garden, they had the five characters for whom there had been statues so far, but the rest of it, we carved pretty much out of whole cloth.
Kelly: But, when it comes to motorcycle fiction, you have to look at it as, essentially, rebel fiction. It's part of outlaw culture — they're not bad guys, they're not criminals, but there's a sense of saying eff you to the main societal structures and cutting out for the open road. Going back to Easy Rider, that's what motorcycle culture is, that's motorcycle culture to a T, and that's the rebel fiction that we brought to it. That's what DC fell in love with in our take.
Lanzing: It's been really interesting not just getting the keys to these characters, but getting to reinterpret them as outlaws. It really does change the paradigm of all of them. These are characters that, up until now, fight for abstract concepts like "good" and "justice," now they're having to fight in a far more concrete, 'If I don't get justice, I'll get run over by the world,' kind of way. All the stakes get turned up to 11. This is a book where the stakes are as high as they can be and we just get to drive that forward every issue. It's a blast.
Response to the series announcement was overwhelmingly positive.
Lanzing: We've been blown away by the response to be honest. There's a real appetite for this right now.
Does getting that kind of, and that strength of, feedback impact the way you're writing the series?
Kelly: A little bit, yeah. One of the things that we're excited about is, look, we can run this book for a decade. But seeing what fans are responding to already, we've got to know a little bit about where we want to lens in a little bit. One of the things we've realized it, we don't want to rush though this plot. We have some really huge reveals that we will eventually be getting to, but now we're in no hurry.
Lanzing: Something else we love is seeing what characters the fans want to see. Within hours of the book being announced, we were seeing messages, 'Where's Poison Ivy?' 'What about Lois Lane? Here's my seven-tweet treatise on why Lois Lane is important to the DC Universe, and I hope you've thought about this.' That's awesome to hear, because, yes! We have thought about this, and we want to know what you're excited about. The fact that they get so excited about that feeds back into our excitement for the project. It's amazing.
Gotham City Garage launches digitally Aug. 16, with a print edition released Oct. 11. If you can't wait that long, read an exclusive preview of the first issue below.
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