Immortal Men Creative Team Talks Creating New Characters And Exploring Heroism

immortal men 1 dc comics cover

The New Age of DC Heroes line of comics starting in January spotlights heroes old and new, including a group of new characters who spin out of DC Comics’ Dark Knights: Metal event, the Immortal Men.

Immortal Men brings together group of heroes who possess the powers of … immortality (among other things), pitting them against some of the most dangerous villains in the DCU as well as their own conflicting ideals.

The creative team of James Tynion IV and Jim Lee look to bring these mysterious characters to the forefront of the DCU, while also exploring the qualities and character traits that make someone a hero. We spoke with both Lee and Tynion about the book, the characters and the creative process to breathing life into this new story.

NOTE: The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Player.One: Has anything changed in the creative process since the book’s initial announcement?

Jim Lee: It went from an existing idea that we had, just a couple of ties to existing DC mythology. We had Vandal Savage, who was an immortal character that we wanted to play off of, and then we created these other Immortal characters, hence the name Immortal Men. But as Dark Knights: Metal came out, we started seeing some of the connections that could be made from what Scott Snyder was doing in that book and what we were planning on doing in Immortal Men.

It just became more cohesive and tighter knit to existing mythology and continuity, which has unlocked a lot of cool story ideas. So it kind of started off that was going to follow Metal, but is now more of a spin-off book, in that it has more direct ties to it.

James Tynion IV: A lot of the fun in working with Scott on Metal and working with Jim in developing this series is this spirit of Metal that we’re bringing in here, which is being fearless of bringing in all of the fun stuff. Bringing in everything, letting it be over-the-top, letting it be just crazy fun. Part of the idea of Immortal Men, from the very beginning, was that it was the secret hero and villains in the history of DC Comics. And there are these figures, the Immortals, who were aware of this secret history this whole time. Now we’re going to go see the main universe being hit by them, up front and center.This whole secret world spills out into the more familiar world of heroes and villains that we know.

We have Immortal Man leading the team and we saw him in Metal, but we don’t know a lot about the other characters. Can you talk more about them?

JT: Our way into the story is a young man named Caden Park, who isn’t sure of his connections to all of this. His abilities are starting to develop, and he doesn’t understand what they mean and what they are. But he’s been seeing visions of this place and… these heroes he’s never heard of before and he knows that this means something to him. He knows that he’s a part of it in some way, but he’s not sure why. The mystery of his deeply wound connections to these heroes, that’s our inciting incident to the book and what moves us forward.

The fun thing about playing with immortal characters is that you have characters from all different points of history. That was one of the first things that Jim and I started to play with. These are heroes that fill hero archetypes from different eras.

We have a character, Ghostess, who fills out that pulp heroes from the 1920s. We have Timber, who is a character out of American folktales. Reload, who is a character out of the 80s/90s mercenary style of hero. So we have these different touchstones, things that we can touch upon and play with the familiar styles in unfamiliar ways.

We can give our pulp hero these crazy energy powers, all tied to this secret form of kung fu. There’s all this cool and crazy stuff that we’re just being able to unleash upon the DC Universe.

What about designing characters and bringing them to life. Was it difficult to mix the past and present?

JL: That was the fun of it. If you look at superheroes having that distance of perspective that you’ll see in different decades, different periods of time things were more en vogue. Symbols on the chest were a big part of the original golden age. Pulp characters had a lot more real-world aesthetics to them, because there was no sense of spandex back in the day. And the more modern characters would have more pockets or pouches, so Reload evokes more of that.

It was fun going back through comic book history and picking out things that were distinctive of those different eras and to distinguish all the heroes from one another. That’s really where Caden Park joins the current team and is the most modern. Out of all these different heroes, because they are plucked from different times, there are a lot of interesting interactions and debates and confrontations, because they all come from different times with different meanings of heroism and what it means to be a hero.

JT: The question at the heart of Caden Park is “what defines a modern day hero?” What is the archetype of the modern hero? And it’s still forming. He forms into a hero who can shape the history of humanity. That is the kind of new defining trait, but that is going to weigh heavily on him.

The solicits mention the House of Conquest, who are also looking for Caden Park. Can you talk about them?

JL: Our hero starts off as a pretty unpleasant kid from a very privileged, powerful family. Then he finds out that his father is murdered and who is deeply involved in the House of Conquest. So it’s not just a character who discovers he has superpowers, but he discovers so much of his past and his life is not just a secret, but a very dark secret. As a newly inducted member into the Immortal Men, a resistance group to the people his father was a part of, how does he process that? That’s really his story and that’s the first story arc of the main character.

JT: Back in caveman times, these are contemporaries of Vandal Savage. There was the Bear Clan, which is one of the oldest families in the DC Universe. There were five siblings who became immortal at the dawn of mankind, and each one of them has a different philosophy on how to keep humanity alive and how to save the world.  [There are] two main houses, the House of Action led by Immortal Man, and the House of Conquest, which believes that the only way that humanity survives is through conflict. Conquest believes that you need to dominate another group, that’s the only way humanity will advance, and those two groups have been head-to-head for centuries.

Our book starts with the House of Conquest winning. The other house will be sprinkled in the background and we’ll expand upon in the series. But we have this whole big secret world, and it’s really fun to start exploring.

JL: It ties into Metal in that over the centuries or millennia, where there is a balance between the houses. The portal that opens the Dark Multiverse to the DCU really upends the balance of power, and that really acts as a catalyst to the first part of Immortal Men.

Immortal Men #1 will release in stores on March 14.

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