There's a shake-up coming to the DC universe. io9 can exclusively reveal that Catwoman writer Ann Nocenti will helm a new comic starring Klarion the Witch Boy in October — while author/io9's own Genevieve Valentine takes over Catwoman! We were able to talk to both writers about their series and what's in store.
Created by Jack Kirby in 1973, Klarion "The Witch Boy" is a young, hell-raising (sometimes literally) sorcerer perhaps best known as his role as a recurring antagonist in the recent Young Justice cartoon. Here, Nocenti explains how Klarion and his feline familiar will be on a chaotic new journey in the New 52, with help from artist Trevor McCarthy.
io9: Klarion the Witch Boy is a pretty obscure character. Why give him his own series?
Ann Nocenti: Klarion isn't naturally heroic. He's not out to save the world or rescue anyone. He's a mischievous teenager who has done some bad things, but perhaps there's more to him. So what came to mind was an occult coming-of-age story. The high school years are a strange time of questioning, searching for direction, and rebellion. Klarion's on a reluctant quest to master sorcery and, hopefully, become one of the protectors the mystical universe.
This is Klarion's New 52 debut. So what's new about him?
Nocenti: The Klarion series is a mix of sci-fi, horror and mysticism. Trevor McCarthy is a fabulous artist and he's bringing a wild, inventive style to the book. The new Klarion series explores the dynamic: Is technology saving or destroying the planet? In the 1950s and 60s, people feared nuclear power. Film, art and comics reflected that fear with radioactive mutants and monsters. What do we fear now? We all love and need our tech. New wearable and even implant tech is both wonderful and frightening. Can you really bio-hack into someone else's body? The nanobots that you can swallow to track your health, or implant near your spinal column to regulate your body's systems, have the potential to help people with crippling disease. But what other doors does this open? Would you swallow one? With genetically modified seeds and factory farming, "You are what you eat" is a more visceral concern than ever. There are cars that can drive themselves. What will that be like? This stuff creates a sense of excitement and also dread. We're all in this petri dish together. We ARE the experiment. There is a mystical dimension to this fear that we're playing with in the Klarion series. Trevor and I are developing a cast of new young witches and wizards, some learn the pagan ways and try to protect the planet; others fall under the spell of the new Tech-Wizards.
So what is Klarion planning on doing?
Nocenti: Klarion is at a crossroads in time and space. He chooses to go to Gotham, almost on a whim. So the story opens like a Western: a stranger comes to town. How is that going to change the town? Klarion begins to practice, rather than just toy with, the mystic arts, and to seek out mentors and master spells. As Klarion "wakes up," other sorcerers and techno wizards begin to notice – and attack – him.
There are two "schools" of thought that prey on young witches and wizards. Coal and the Necrots believe in the power of technology. Piper nd Noah believe in the pagan power of the planet. Coal has a heavy metal club, The Necropolitan, and techo and metal music are part of his power. There will be intense battles between these wizards, and all the characters have secrets. Deep secrets. Coal is a talented novice of Techno-Wizardry. He lives in a computer graveyard, a techno breeding ground. Coal needs technology to thrive and be powerful, just as Klarion needs the planet to be healthy in order for him to draw on his pagan powers. Coal and Klarion are in a battle for the health (or death) of the planet.
Klarion's relationship with his "familiar," his monster cat Teekl, and his power to control strange critters, is a big part of the series, an aspect of his powers that he becomes obsessed with. And eventually you'll see DC's great super-natural characters, like Spectre, The Demon, Zantana and others.
What are you most excited about doing with the character?
Nocenti: Working with [artist] Trevor McCarthy and my editors. We've all been shooting emails back and forth, talking a lot, spit-balling ideas on the new characters. Harvey has been sending us some wild art styles to inspire us. We want to play with the icons of mystical books — how Klarion and the other wizards hold their hands when casting spells, how to make and "cook" spells. Trevor is working on a Rune alphabet. We want the book to be layered in occult history. And we developed Klarion's support cast. Zell is a young girl who literally likes to let her hair down, in every way. Weed is a girl with deep pagan power who is just learning to walk. She IS a weed— a stubborn, invasive plant, and she hates how technology is strangling her world and she fights back. Rasp is from a long line of charismatic occultists going back to Rasputin, who was famously difficult to kill. Noah and Piper are powerful wizards who want to save the Earth, but if not, they are willing to lead witches and wizards to someplace better, even if that means leaving Earth and opening a new door in time and space. Where will Klarion fall in this battle for the planet? Will he accept his destiny as protector of the mystic universe or blow it off and continue his cavalier ways?
We all know Catwoman, but we're obviously super-excited to have Geneieve Valentine, author of Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Geek Wisdom and other books — and who recaps Sleepy Hollow and Penny Dreadful for us, among other things— writing the series. We tried to use all our powers of persuasion/guilt/threats to make her spill everything. Other than the news that Five Ghosts' Garry Brown will handle the interior art, with covers by Jae Lee, this is as much as we could get…. for now.
io9: What's in store for Selina in your Catwoman series?
Genevieve Valentine: After the dust settles in Batman Eternal, Selina Kyle has discovered she's part of a legacy she never knew before, and heir to the family business. She decides to accept the position, both because she sees a chance to restore a ruined Gotham and because, deep down, Selina's always played power games against herself. In this arc, she'll be coming face to face with what she's willing to do to keep her power, on a scale that could shake the whole city.
Is Catwoman going to be committing crimes this time around?
Valentine: Even when she has good intentions, she doesn't seem to be able to help it, does she? And of course, at the head of a crime family, it's not so much a matter of If as a matter of When. That said, the crimes are of a very different nature than her usual; some clandestine larceny here and there is a very different thing from having so many eyes on you and giving the kinds of orders that make the underworld run.
What do you feel motivates Catwoman to dress in a cat costume and go out and fight people?
Valentine: I think that Selina treasures her free agency; the thing that drives her to get in the suit some nights is simply that she can. She has an inherent distrust of authority (particularly when it's being misused, or in the hands of people who aren't as smart as she is, which could be practically anyone), and the suit gives her the freedom that only comes when you're not quite yourself. Giving up that freedom for a responsibility of this scale is going to affect her more than she thinks.
What are you most excited about doing with the character?
Valentine: This is my first foray into comics, so I'm excited just to have a chance to walk with her for a little while! She's a character close to my heart; I'm particularly looking forward to examining the nature of what it means to rule – particularly for her, since she's absolutely got what it takes, and it's just a matter of what happens when she reaches a line she knows she can't cross.
How much Bat-romance should we expect?
Valentine: Whether it's possible for them to be together at a specific point in time is always tricky, and something like this is absolutely going to create distance, but even in the times they're not together there's a connection between them that at this point I think they know better than to deny.