'Infinite Frontier' Launches Next Era of the DC Universe (Exclusive)
It's time for something new for DC.
For the past few weeks, the publisher has been teasing what that something new will look like, announcing new creative teams for titles like Superman, Action Comics, Wonder Woman and Nightwing, as well as new series for characters and concepts such as Swamp Thing, The Joker, Teen Titans and Suicide Squad.
Heat Vision breakdown
The Hollywood Reporter can now reveal that the new beginning has its own beginning — an extra-length special issue featuring multiple stories by various creative teams, titled Infinite Frontier No. 0.
Featuring work by creators including Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, Becky Cloonan, James Tynion IV, Joëlle Jones, Alitha Martinez, John Romita Jr. and many more, Infinite Frontier sets up storylines for the next year of DC Universe storylines and beyond. The mastermind behind the issue is former Flash writer Joshua Williamson, who talked to THR about just what’s in store for Superman, Batman and the rest of the DCU following the current Dark Nights: Death Metal series, along with the upcoming DC Future State publishing event.
As we're talking, a retailer mailing that's been shared publicly has let people know that there's something coming called Infinite Frontier, but no one knows what it actually is yet. What should people should expect from Infinite Frontier?
It’s kickstarting all the stuff that we're doing in the DC Universe next year. You know, we have Dark Nights: Death Metal, and then we have Future State, and then spinning out of all of that is Infinite Frontier No. 0. It's a one-shot special that is going to feature different creative teams, showcasing what we're going to be doing and giving teases.
There's a framing device I'm working on, starring Wonder Woman and the Spectre, and we get to see sort of this sneak peek glimpse of what's happening, and we get to play around with these big toys and have some fun, getting a good lead-in to 2021 for DC and beyond.
DC is in an interesting place right now — Death Metal is just about to end, and there's a sense of a looming, not a reboot, per se, but definitely sort of a refresh in terms of where the characters going and where the line is going.
Yeah, it's definitely a refresh — it's the beginning of something new, the beginning of this next stage. The last few months, talking with editorial, talking with creators getting to work on this stuff, you can really see how much it feels like we're entering into a new era of DC. As we're entering this new era of DC, we want to showcase that, we want to show the work that we're doing.
I was working with Scott [Snyder] and James [Tynion] on Dark Nights: Death Metal, and we're having a lot of fun doing that. We started having a conversation about what was coming next, and what was going to be the thing after DC Future State, and we started looking at this giant tapestry of stuff we were building — all these really cool, big, exciting books — we really wanted to have a one-shot issue that can say what DC is moving forward, and talk about how we're going to be embracing the core of the DCU, but moving forward with it, and going into some really fun, bold, big places.
We also wanted to show that the DCU is still together, it's still a universe that's moving forward. We've got a lot of really cool, big stuff coming with that, but it's still one big universe that is connected, and that these characters, and these stories, are still connected, telling the greatest story in comics, which is the DC Universe.
Can you talk about the stories that are in the issue? You mentioned a framing device featuring Wonder Woman and the Spectre …
The thing we're doing with Wonder Woman and the Spectre, that's written by me, Scott and James was drawn by John Timms, and that pretty much immediately picks up some of the pieces from Death Metal, and it lets us move that ball forward a little bit and show what's going on with Wonder Woman and certain parts of the DCU. They act as our POV characters, they act as our witnesses, to this new DCU — I say "new DCU," but it's the same DCU fans love, it's just time to move and to do this next stage.
There's going to be a tease in there for Justice League by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez, there's a Batman story that James is doing with Jorge Jiménez that is awesome and has humongous impacts for the Batman line. Then there's a story with Wonder Woman that has Nubia and [new character from Future State] Yara Flor, being done by Becky [Cloonan] and Michael Conrad and Joëlle [Jones] and Alitha Martinez. James is doing a story with [original 1940s Green Lantern] Alan Scott and Stephen Byrne that I think is awesome, and is going to be a really important story, and I'm really glad that we're doing it in this special.
We're doing a Teen Titans Academy preview in there with Tim Sheridan and Rafa Sandoval, that's going to tease the new character Red X. We announced Superman with new writer Phillip K. Johnson; he's doing a Superman story in there with Jon and Clark that's going to be drawn by Jamal Igle — it's so awesome. I'm doing a story in there with Alex Maleev that I can't talk about yet, because it's too much of a spoiler, but I think it'll be something it'll make a lot of fans really happy.
Geoff [Johns] is doing a Stargirl story with Todd Nauck. There's a Green Lantern story in there that Geoffrey Thorne and Dexter Soy are doing that's going to give a glimpse of what's going on with Green Lantern; I'm also doing a Flash short in there that's a really important moment for the Flash family — you know, I finished writing the Flash last year, but I felt like I had one last piece that I had to do, so I'm thankful and lucky enough that I got to do it in the special.
And then I'm writing the epilogue for the story, with art by John Romita Jr. and that epilogue will be a big piece of showing some of the stuff is going to be coming for DC in 2021. We wanted to do something that said, "Here's what's coming immediately," but also gives you teases of stuff that's going to be coming throughout the year in 2021 and into 2022, to show people that we have this plan, we have this story we want to tell.
It's really exciting; I feel like DC next year is just looking so great, and so creative. We have all this new talent coming in at the same time, so we had started talking about, "How do we do this, how we showcase this?" I keep harping on this, but it really is about showing the kind of positive and fun energy that DC's going to have and being able to move forward with that.
And this is something that you were instrumental in putting together, right? You're kind of the showrunner on this issue?
I mean, I'm a writer like everybody else. I'm just really excited about these kinds of things, possibly more than some people. You know, I worked on Dark Nights: Metal and Death Metal in a position where I was helping guide the one-shots and the specials — The Last Stories of the DCU [special issue] was something that I kind of shepherded and worked on a lot.
I love being in the writers room, I love working with editorial, you know? I feel like the stuff that [DC editor-in-chief] Marie Javins is doing, and Ben [Abernathy] and Jamie [Rich, both group editors] are doing is really, really great. I love working with them. And so with this, with this special, this is something that I had pitched doing before, a few months ago. I've been able to just lead it through and shepherding the special with editorial.
I like working on all the events. I basically have been working on almost all the events since [2016's DC Universe: Rebirth] anyway. I don't know how to not do that. (Laughs.)
You think of these characters and these books in a holistic way. Whether it's tying in to Metal, or co-writing the Batman/Flash crossover, or the Justice League/Suicide Squad crossover even before that, you have a history of making sure that these characters interrelate, that everyone exists in a shared universe.
Yeah, when I was working on The Flash, I tried to make sure that whatever was going on the DCU, that I was able to reflect it in the book. It goes back to me being a fan of DC, you know? I've been a fan of DC since as a kid, and I've always been a fan of the DC Universe — I have my favorite characters, but I've always been very much all about the DC Universe as a whole, and I love how things are connected. And so when I started working on these things, I did become obsessed with it. I've always been a part of this stuff and getting into these conversations with editorial about what they're doing, what they're planning.
I think editorial, right now, under Marie's leadership, they're planning a lot of really great stuff. So with that, when I'm in those conversations with them, I'm always trying to say, "How can I help? How can I help get some of this stuff across?"
By the sounds of it, you're very much involved in making sure that this book establishes the shared universe, but also whatever the next steps of it are. You listed the creative team for Infinite Frontier, and it certainly sounds as if you're handling the connective tissue and setting up future plans for the DCU as a whole — that has always been something that you care about.
Yeah, I do. A lot of writers are interested in that, but I might obsess about it more than others. (Laughs.) I like when DC is like this. I always like having my ear out there for what everybody's doing, and being able to talk with everyone and figure out, how do we make this a shared universe, but also involve everybody, you know?
I like shepherding this stuff, but the DC Universe is not one person. It's everyone. We're all in this together — every piece of DC: Editorial, all these creators, we're all working toward a common goal, we're all working toward making the best books possible, but also making this awesome, shared universe. We're all working toward making this a really cool thing.
I like the collaboration. I love writers rooms, and we do Zoom calls with a bunch of writers and artists just talk and share ideas. I love that. I love hearing that stuff. I love listening and seeing creators that are so passionate and excited about what they're working on.
You keep coming back to the idea of this being fun, of this being a positive experience — for the creators, as well as the fans.
One of the things we talked a lot about with this is that, there is infinite wonder in the DCU. Coming out of Death Metal, there's all these really big cool, joyous moments and celebrations, and so we wanted to find a place to showcase that, to show that infinite wonder that was coming — but also see some of the infinite terror that's out there to let everyone know that like there's still danger in the DCU. And so we were trying to find a place to do that and show all these pieces in one book.
Even just the phrase "infinite wonder" feels as if there is a positivity that's central to this, that there's something coming out of this that's additive as opposed to, for example, rebooting everything or just starting. Both listening to you and looking at the cover artwork feel as if there's an embrace of DC history and looking to do something with that, as opposed to telling new versions of old stories.
We want to just take all these cool pieces of info on the table and just move forward with it and say, all of these things happened, all those stories matter, and now we're going to go to the next level with it.
I think that's part of the journey some of the characters throughout the book go on — recognizing where they're at in their lives and accepting as time to take the next step. That's one of the running themes throughout, is showing these characters debating on what that next step is, and how they're going to change and how they're going to grow, and move past some of the things that have gone on — some of the negativity, but really take a lot of stuff to a positive place.
That's one of the things we've talked about, with what we're working on: how much fun we're having. We have these meetings with all the creators working on their books, and everyone is so excited, and everyone is so pumped up, and they're doing all of this really fun work. It was like, "Well, let's find a way to show that and to move forward." And so that's what this one-shot does; it's the beginning of this new era for DC.
I'm looking at Dan Jurgens' cover to the issue now, and it feels like there's a next-generation hint being given; there are two Batmen, two Supermen, multiple Green Lanterns and Flashes, Nubia as well as Diana … Even the cover feels like a statement about not only where DC is right now, but where it's going.
I think that DCU Rebirth was awesome. I think Rebirth is one of the best DCU comics when all is said or done — it's a really important comic for me personally as well — and I love what they did with it. I think we can take those ideas and push them to the next step. That's part of why we're doing this; it's saying, yeah, we're going into a positive place. Let's show it, let's tell people. Let's get the word out.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity. Infinite Frontier No. 0 will be released digitally and in comic book stores March 2, 2021.
by Graeme McMillan
by Graeme McMillan
by Patrick Brzeski
by Alex Weprin, Katie Kilkenny