We the Nerdy writer Henry Varona was lucky enough to attend Special Edition NYC this weekend as a member of the press. While there he met with emerging writer Marguerite Bennett, best known for her work on Justice League 23.2 (Villains Month Lobo) and Batman Annual 2, as well as her upcoming run on Earth 2: World’s End. What follows is an extensive interview with Bennett, who took time out of her busy convention schedule where she contributed to panels and an endearing artist alley booth (With free candy!).
We the Nerdy: How do you feel about entering into the new series Earth 2: World’s End? How do you feel working with an entire crew?
Marguerite Bennett: It is definitely right into the deep end. It has been widely publicized that I have never written an ongoing before, so it was definitely like I shot right past the goal line. But it’s really wonderful and we have a really great team together. They put us together at this summit and the ideas that came out were just bonkers. I loved them. I love Tom Taylor, and I wasn’t reading Earth 2, I’ll admit, until he came onto the book and then I caught up real quick. He was so wonderful. Tom Taylor is one of my favorite people in the world, period. I met him at San Diego Comic-Con last year and that was before I had actually published a single thing. It was two weeks before the Batman Annual came out and so it was me trotting around San-Diego Comic-Con like everybody’s uncool kid sister. No one knew who I was, I had no right to be there, and he kept me safe from creepers and took me back to the hostel and I love him. And he’s a brilliant, brilliant talented writer. So as soon as I saw his name on it, I knew I had to get involved. And then I saw it was an opportunity to work WITH him on Earth 2 and I had to be a part of this.
WTN: How much of the week-to-week is coming from you individually? Are you contributing plots or scripts or doing individual issues like Batman Eternal?
Bennett: We each focus on different groups to keep the characterization consistent. We will follow a different group or character set. I’m not allowed to say who, but I’m so excited to have the characters that I have. So excited.
WTN: Do you find it to be a different dynamic than when you were working alongside Scott Snyder on the Batman Annual?
Bennett: Yes. Scott and I had been friends for over a year before then and he’d been my teacher. So there was a level of familiarity and trust and he’s also like one of my older brothers. It was very different than these people I knew by reputation and one of them I’d been a fan of for a long time and some I had read a bunch of their stuff and others I hadn’t picked up. And it was very different but you know that you’re all coming in at the same level and they’re throwing shade at me like “This girl has written eight things” (Laughs). You know, coming in with my frills and my hairbows. So it was a lot of getting to know each other and getting to trust each other’s instincts. At first we had to break the ice and get to know each other. Especially how well you will all work together because people can write brilliant things in solitude and then doing something as a team effort is an entirely different kettle of fish. So by the end of it we were in much better harmony and getting along a lot. Now we’re texting all the time. I’ll come up with something while I’m getting groceries and be like “What if this person did this thing and this and then this” and they’re like “Oh! That’s tight! You should put it in the issue.” So it’s a lot of fun.
WTN: With Earth 2 you’re getting to play with a younger universe, since the Earth 2 universe has really only been around for a couple of years in publishing time. One of the things you’ve done a lot of is playing around with characters and establishing them, like in the Lobo issue of Justice League and the Joker’s Daughter One-Shot this past winter. Do you enjoy the creative freedom of these fresh characters over established characters?
Bennett: I do, I really enjoy it. One of the things I love about Earth 2 is the chance to have an opportunity to race-bend and gender-bend. I am a child of the internet so that’s a huge thing (Laughs). It got to the point even long before I started work on Earth 2: World’s End when I would be watching movies and it’s a bunch of dudes, so I would overlay transparencies in my mind for the story. Like as if this was a person of color now, this is a woman now. And I would just watch the rest of the movie like that. That was how I was going to get my diversity. So now on Earth 2 I have the chance to take these characters I’ve read for years and make my fan-fiction right now.
WTN: I think that it’s great to alter these characters so long as you don’t change their core. Such as with Alan Scott in Earth 2, who had changes made to him, but they didn’t change who the character was. I wanted to talk about one change in particular, which was the retooling of Lobo that you wrote. Was the retooling your idea?
Bennett: It was not. I did not write the issue with the redesign in mind. I wrote Lobo as I had seen him before and then I changed the issue to fit the necessary changes to the character that were revealed to me.
WTN: You received a lot of hate over that issue, which surprised me because Lobo is generally not a hugely popular character. Was that intimidating as a young writer for DC?
Bennett: Oh yeah, it was terrifying. I’ll go ahead and talk about it too. I put something on the internet that I wasn’t supposed to, as a retort to the hate. I woke up on a Friday with my inbox just packed with messages like this (She then proceeded to pull out her phone and show me the messages she had kept.) And it’s sort of like a milestone to say this happened to you. I made a bad judgement call and I vented my frustration and tried to defend myself and Ben Oliver (Artist on Justice League 23.2). I shouldn’t have done it and it was unprofessional. I regret it but it was a learning experience. But I stood by our story and I would never have put out an issue that I thought was bad. So I told them, I said that if you don’t like our book by the first four pages don’t buy it. And I stand by that.
WTN: He’s quite a hit with my friends. We call him Sexy Lobo and a few of my friends want to cosplay as him.
Bennett: (Laughs) That’s awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I love big, brawny Lobo too. I’m a big fan of The Rock and I tweet at him sometimes to please play Lobo. I will bake you oatmeal raisin cookies, I will bake you whatever you want. I’m trying to track down one of the Funko Pop! figures of The Rock.
WTN: Since you are newer into the industry, do you still feel starstruck by fellow creators? Do you feel like you are deserving of these big writing jobs that you are getting? Do you feel intimidated working with some of these established writers?
Bennett: Oh yeah, I just got off a panel where I was with Gail Simone. I got to sit next to Gail Simone, I’m going to be happy for a while. And I really appreciate how low on the totem pole I am. With those kinds of projects I think that it has more to do with what people can bring to the table and not how long they have been working. I think that one of the reasons that I got hired is that I am so fresh in the industry. I am a child of the internet, I am a post-modern comic critic. I have a very different perspective and yeah, I’ve only written a handful of comics, but what I can do is write these characters with a fresh voice. The whole thing with Earth 2 is that it’s different, it’s not the status quo. So to have somebody who doesn’t mind being bizarre or goofy can’t hurt. But I’m really grateful for these other creators. I wouldn’t be here without them. So even if I’m there to offer a fresh take or a fresh perspective, they’re the ones that anchor the whole story. They’re fantastic.
WTN: Are there any characters that you would want to write?
Bennett: I want to write any of the Gotham City Sirens, but I would murder to write Kate Kane (Batwoman). Not that I’m going to murder their current team because I love them. Kate Kane, Vixen, Mera. I love Vixen.
WTN: How about at Marvel?
Bennett: I think that the danger of coveting is that the thing that made me love these characters are the teams that are writing them. If I’ve fallen in love with She-Hulk because of Charles Soule, if it was then passed to me I would be like “Oh God, I’m going to ruin her.” I fell in love with them because of who wrote them. But, that said, I love Mystique, I love Kitty Pryde, I love Storm.
We the Nerdy and Henry Varona would like to say thank you once more to Marguerite Bennett for her time, as we wish her the best of luck on Earth 2: World’s End, due out in October!