By Octavio Karbank
DC's new Legends of Tomorrow series debuted this week, further expanding the DC comic universe. Bringing back characters that have been absent for a while, Aaron Lopresti for his part, is working on the return of Metamorpho, everyone's favorite Element Man. We caught up with Lopresti to talk to him about the book.
Ocatvio Karbank: What can you say about the plot of your upcoming Metamorpho series?
Aaron Lopresti: Nothing. Sorry. Ok, I will give you a little something. This limited series explores Metamorpho's origins and his overall purpose in the DCU. It's an adventure that spans two worlds and Metamorpho is presented in a way that he has never been before. All the same characters are there, Sapphire, Java and Simon Staggm but their individual personalities are more developed and Sapphire is definitely a different character than we have seen in the past.
The story begins with Metamorpho being held captive by Simon Stagg for nefarious reasons and then moves forward (and in some instances backward) from there.
OK: How did you get on the project? What was that process like?
AL: Other than Batman, all of my favorite DC characters are the odd ball ones. I have been bugging Dan Didio about Metamorpho for a long time and he finally said "yes" to it this past year. I put together a proposal that was too small and personal in scope for Dan, so I rewrote it to be bigger and more effectual to the DCU and he gave me the green light. But it was a couple of months of phone calls and proposal writes and rewrites before I got the final "OK".
OK: While Metamorpho exists on the fringe of the DC Universe, he's also interacted with plenty of "A-list" characters and been part of teams like the Justice League and was even one of the founding members of the original Outsiders. How do you balance that fringe isolation with the mainstream DC Universe and its heroes and events? Is there a chance we'll see some familiar faces pop up from his Outsider history or otherwise?
AL: This story has definite ramifications for future events in the DCU. I joked with Dan Didio that I am providing him material for the next big cross-over event. There are no guest stars or cameos from other DC heroes but there is a villain that many will recognize who becomes a major player in this series. The main focus of this limited series is really defining Metamorpho's place in the DCU and his relationship with Sapphire Stagg.
OK: How is your interpretation of Rex Mason/Metamorpho different from others we've seen in the past?
AL: I can't say that I have read every incarnation of Metamorpho over the years but in the ones I have read there seems to always be a certain air of silliness to the character. In my version, that's gone. I also did a redesign that still maintains the look of the original character but makes more sense. His body is segmented into elements that actually exist in the human body. That's about all I can say without giving too much away.
OK: Why should readers pick up your Metamorpho?
AL: Two reasons; It is a different but still familiar treatment of the character and it is probably going to end up being a must read for future continuity and bigger things down the line in the DCU. If you are a fan of Metamorpho than this may be the series you have been waiting for. If you've never even heard of Metamorpho this genre-crossing story appeals on many levels. The Beauty and the Beast relationship he has with Sapphire is a strong selling point as well.
OK: What attracts you to a character like Rex Mason and what do you think attracts readers, or WILL attract readers, to the hero?
AL: He's a handsome successful adventurer who gets dealt a pretty bad hand. How he comes to grips with his new reality is pretty compelling character material. Can he accept what he's become and how does he forge a new life around it?
OK: With superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man, the hero and the civilian persona are essentially two different people. With Rex, he's permanently stuck in his Metamorpho form. Can you talk about what it's like for him in that regard and how you approach the subject?
AL: He's depressed and wants to be human again. But can he be? How do you have any sort of meaningful personal life when you look like he does? In many ways it harkens back to the plight of the Thing from the Fantastic Four. There's a lot of angst to be dealt with. It's especially interesting when his original persona was one of heroism and self-confidence. Can he maintain those traits in his new role in the human race? His character inherently presents Interesting questions to be answered.
OK: With other series' you've written, like Sludge, the tone was that of a creature-feature; is that the same tone you're bringing to Metamorpho and if so, can you elaborate on that decision?
AL: Dan Didio and I are both fans of monster books. Or as I like to call them, "the monster as superhero". Metamorpho sort of views himself as a monster and there are visual moments when he can't control his powers and mutations, but he is still a man on the inside. There are other worldly creatures he crosses paths with but this is in no way a traditional monster book like Swamp Thing or Sludge or Garbage Man. He's still a hero in the DCU just an ugly one. In terms of tonality for this particular mini-series you might say it has a lot more Lord of the Rings than Superman in it.
OK: Are you happy with the book?
AL: Yeah, I really am. The story is a grand adventure but it is very human and emotional at the same time. The artwork (me, Matt Banning and Chris Sotomayor) is terrific. I am really pleased with how it looks.
OK: How many issues do you have planned out so far?
AL: It was originally planned as a six-issue mini-series but now is part of an ongoing anthology called, "Legends of Tomorrow". It is still a six-part, 120 page story and will act as a limited series even though it is running with 3 other stories. If the fan interest is there, an on-going series is a possibility.
OK: What's the hardest part of writing a book like Metamorpho?
AL: The good and bad is that Metamorpho is one of Dan Didio's favorite characters. So there is a lot of back and forth on the scripts, which means a ton of rewrites for me. However, the ideas being interjected by Dan and my editor, Dave Wielgosz are usually very good and only have enhanced the stories and made them better.
The other thing is taking the existing elements of Metamoprho, especially the non-sensical original origin, and making it all work was challenging, but really rewarding once it came together. Since this is the first appearance of the character since the New 52, I am essentially re-establishing old characters that have to be familiar, engaging, believable but at the same time new and different. Yikes!
Octavio Karbank is a writer and bona fide Whovian. Living in Massachusetts, you can find him on Twitter @TymeHunter and his blog www.cozmicventures.com