Sean Murphy is making a rare trip back into the core DCU for a two-part arc of the Catwoman title - and he's enlisted writer Blake Northcott and artist Cian Tormey for this adventure into the jungle.
August 14's Catwoman #24 takes Selina Kyle out of the big city and deep into the jungle to steal the world's largest diamond from a group of supervillains - including a new DC character that is described as "an Instagram queenpin gone mad."
Newsarama spoke with Northcott, who makes her DC debut with this arc, about the series, collaborating with Sean Murphy, and this new villain they're introducing.
Newsarama: Blake, how did you connect with Sean Murphy, Cian Tormey, and DC for this project?
Blake Northcott: It was a decade in the making!
After releasing my first novel I met Mark Millar, and he asked if I'd write editorials in the back of his Millarworld Comics. I've always been a huge fan of his work, and was completely obsessed with Kick-Ass and Wanted, so I jumped at the chance.
Sean was the artist on Chronoauts at the time, so we were co-workers in a sense, albeit in different countries. We clicked right away.
It wasn't until New York Comic Con in 2019 where I'd actually get to meet Sean and his wife Katana Collins in person, and they were incredible. In addition to writing seven novels at that point I had more of a comic book background from my work at Aspen and Dynamite, and some editors had taken notice. I met with some of them at the con and things progressed from there.
Nrama: What was your collaboration process like - from breaking down plot to scripting?
Northcott: Sean is this wild, creative, idea-generating machine. Because he's an artist he's so visual, and he started telling me about the jungle setting he was thinking about, how he wanted Selina to get back to her roots and interact with this massive jungle cat.
So along with our editors, we constructed an amazing framework for me to work within, and then I kind of just got to play around and make it my own.
From there it's going through the layers: getting plot approval, outlines, first draft - it goes on and on until lettering.
The level of professionalism and attention to detail was amazing. Working with Sean and the team at DC was such a wonderful experience, I tried to soak in as much as possible.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about your story - what are you most excited for fans to see with your take on Catwoman?
Northcott: For whatever reason, my vibe has always been 'retro', for lack of a better word. I grew up on '80s and '90s movies, and that informs a lot of my style.
This is my first DC story, so my goal was to show a little of everything - I wanted to take Selina on a wild adventure through the jungle and give her a few action beats, some killer dialogue, a bit of humor, and at the same time show off her heart.
I also invented a new villain, which was super exciting! Her name is Tambra Quartz, and the best way to describe her is an Instagram queenpin gone mad. She's jealous, spiteful, and vindictive, and always has a biting remark for Selina. Writing her was an absolute blast!
Nrama: This is your first time writing for DC - what's it been like playing in their sandbox?
Northcott: Literally a dream come true!
I felt like I was back in university, researching for my English Lit degree. I went a little overboard going back through all my favorite Bat books, by everyone from Gail Simone, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Frank Miller, Frank Tieri, and more recently James Tynion IV and Joëlle Jones's runs.
The key with any established character is that you want to do something a little different and put your own stamp on it - but at the same time, you have to respect the legacy, and what everyone has established before.
So, it's a very delicate balancing act, and you have to consider every side of the equation as you're handling these beloved characters. It's an awesome responsibility!
Nrama: Why were you excited to work on Catwoman in particular?
Northcott: Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is one of my all-time favorite film characters, so I've been obsessed for decades.
That particular version showcased a fascinating dichotomy. For so long Selina has been stuck between a hero and villain persona, and I started to wonder why that was; was it because she really hadn't decided for herself who she was? Was she letting others define her, Batman included? And maybe she was battling an inner darkness with even more complexities than Bruce's - which is why he's so magnetized towards her?
She's one of the most compelling DC characters, and all the layers are there to dig through.
Nrama: This is a two-part story arc - how did you make this story your own, especially as an arc transitioning to a new creative team?
Northcott: It's only loosely tied to the existing continuity, so it was easy to go outside-the-box and get a little crazy. We had a lot of freedom as far as linking characters and events to other books.
And making the story my own wasn't hard. Sean and the editors were so generous and easy to work with, and within the outline they gave me so much room to maneuver.
And it's a 13+ book, which is right in my wheelhouse, too.
Nrama: Would you like to work on more Catwoman stories in the future?
Northcott: Of course. She's one of the most complex and interesting characters in the DC universe. How could I turn that down?
The rest of my year is booked, but sometime in 2021? Who knows! I'd definitely be open to exploring possibilities.
Nrama: Sean Murphy has a whole new universe with White Knight - can you see yourself writing in that world?
Sean's universe is unbelievable, and my imagination has been running wild with possibilities right from the first issue he wrote.
He has kind of a unique style guide for the Murphyverse, too - which would be a fun creative challenge to tackle. I like to go outside my comfort zone and try new things.
Nrama: What other DC characters would you like to work on in the prime universe?
Northcott: Poison Ivy, for sure. She's always been one of my all-time favorites, right up there with Catwoman.
And this might surprise some people, but Booster Gold!
I think there is a crazy amount of untapped potential with him, and with some tweaking, he could be DC's answer to Deadpool. I can envision him becoming as popular as the Justice League roster, no question.