Sunday, March 06, 2011

Xombi - FAQs and more

In my last session of "Ask Me Anything" Sean Cloran asked a couple of good questions that I've been asked a few times by other people as well since the announcement of the new Xombi series being published by DC Comics. The questions pertain to the connection to the previous Xombi series, which I also wrote, published by Milestone Media in the mid-1990s which ran for 22 issues, and the new series.

Sean asked:

1. When the original Xombi series had to end, you said you had stories planned well into the future, without revealing anything, Are you planning to revisit those ideas that you had but did not get to pursue? I'm curious how much of the overall storyline has changed?

2. Was there any stories you had planned but because of some factor can not use anymore? (Factors being a broad term, for example, some story that might be relevant in the 90s but won't work in 2011, or possibly a storyline you had planned you can not use because it is too similar to something that already came out and you want to avoid comparisons. Bad examples, just trying to help clarify my awkward question.) 

3. Also, are you going to get to use the "cursed" story that you referred to earlier in your blog?

My answers in order: 

1. When Dwayne McDuffie and I discussed the new Xombi series, he told me that I could essentially do what ever I wanted to, including starting over from the beginning and taking it in a new direction if I felt like it. While that had its appeal, I liked what I'd already done, and felt that while there are some things I'd fix if I could go back, overall I was happy with the original run and had always wanted the opportunity to forge ahead and tell the rest of David Kim's story.

I began work on the new series with the idea that I was just going to forge ahead from where I left off as so that if you went back and read the original series and then issue #1 of the new series it would feel like a natural progression. This plan did have a couple of flaws. The original series ends with the return of David's fiance, Dalila, a character who had been physically absent for the entire run, but whose presence in David's life was an important driving force on the overall story. The crux was that Dalila was a person who did not handle the unexpected well, and David had to find a way to break it to her that he was now essentially an immortal supernatural adventurer. The next natural story was the one where their relationship was reviewed and put to the test by David's change from being a normal person to an unkillable one. It's a hugely important story to the series as a whole and has a lot of human drama, but as an introductory story to the world of Xombi for new readers it was not a good choice. 

After looking through all of my planned plotlines for Xombi, I found that most of them needed to be told in the context of David's later character development, or were too short, or weighed too much on being dark or silly to be a perfect introduction story. Instead, what I did was think about what elements I thought would be most important in defining the series, the characters, the mood, the overall story and so on, and then I grafted a story onto that that in terms of continuity, takes place before the final two pages of issue #21 of the old series. After this introductory six issue arc, I'll probably follow with a couple stand alone issues before moving onto David's confrontation with Dalila, and from there, will more or less proceed with where I'd intended to go all along. 

The overall storyline hasn't really changed much at all, though an aspect of the the original storyline has gained a bit more weight on the series as a whole because of what's going on in the first six issues of the new series.

2. There aren't really any stories that I planned that I can't, or won't use for whatever reason. Even if someone else has told a similar story somewhere, I'm not going to change my plan. Xombi is really about character arcs and how the plots bring about change in David Kim and the other characters. Someone having told a similar tale in another comic, novel, short story, poem or movie, has not used that plot to develop David Kim as a character, and that's all I care about. 

3. The "cursed" story Sean refers to was a stand alone issue of Kobalt I wrote at the same time I was writing Xombi for Milestone. I think it may be the single best thing I've ever written. It was scheduled to be issue #18 of Kobalt, which unfortunately was cancelled with issue #16. No art was done for this story other than designs I made myself for a new villain. I then decided that the story worked really well as a Midnight, Mass. story, and reworked it so that the superhero, Kobalt and his teen sidekick were replaced by my married pair of supernatural investigators, Adam and Julia Kadmon. Very little tampering with the rest of the story was required. This was going to appear as issue #9 of Midnight, Mass. , which as fate would have it was cut short to an 8-issue series. 

I still maintain this is the best story I've written, or at least my favorite. Will it appear? Not in Xombi. This is for two reasons. First off, it's not really a great Xombi story. It just isn't. If you read it, you'd probably think it could be. The tone certainly matches the one set in Xombi, but it really wouldn't work with David Kim, or any of the supporting cast members. Second of all, I'm extremely fond of the villain in it. I think he's one of my very best creations and visually arresting to boot. Unless he's going to appear in a creator owned project, I won't use him. I've already decided to use him in an important role in a young adult novel I'm slowly assembling bits and pieces for, and if he showed up in the DC Universe, I could no longer do that. If used him in Midnight, Mass. it wouldn't make a difference. 

The next edition of "Ask Me Anything" appears here tomorrow. In the meantime, for more Xombi related material, check out Ken H's ongoing series where he revisits the original Xombi series continuing with issues #12-16. It's a great way to refresh your memory of the old series, or for you new readers to get a sense of what came before. Xombi #1 goes on sale March 16 at a comic book retailer near you and requires NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE of Xombi the series, or the characters to be enjoyed. 

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