Even in the dark, dystopic future of DC's 'Future State' Gotham City there's still a need to have fun and blow off some steam. Catwoman and Poison Ivy are doing just that in a gal's night out that turns into an adventure (don't they all?) in a two-part Gotham City Sirens back-up in the Future State: The Next Batman anthology.
Debuting in January's Future State: The Next Batman #2, this Gotham City Sirens story comes from former Catwoman writer Paula Sevenbergen and veteran DC artist Emanuela Lupacchino about finding the bright side of dark times, friendship, and what to do when a cyborg wants to hang out.
Newsarama: To jump right into it, Paula, what was the decision behind not having Harley as part of this Gotham City Sirens story? Is her absence mentioned?
Paula Sevenbergen: Harley was already off having her own adventure in 'Future State' Gotham, so she was unavailable to us. But Catwoman and Poison Ivy DO mention Ms. Quinn in this story, in a teasing and affectionate way.
Nrama: Where does Catwoman stand with Batman? Is she affected by his disappearance?
Sevenbergen: She holds the Bat card close to the vest here - but he, too, comes up during their 'girl talk.'
Nrama: Since the previous volume of Gotham City Sirens, we've seen both Poison Ivy and Catwoman skirt around the labels - hero and villain. What do they lean towards in this story?
Sevenbergen: They continue to skirt! While both act out against abusive figures in power for altruistic reasons, they're not above breaking the law - or breaking bones - to get what they want.
Nrama: Why do you think it was important that this was a two-part story, instead of just a one-off back-up story?
Emanuela Lupacchino: Well, first of all, we're in all-new scenery here, much has changed in Gotham City and we're introducing many new characters and situations.
So, even in a few pages, there's a lot going on. Reading even only five pages of this story gives you so many things to discover. Having the story split into two chapters is the best way to make the reader enjoy the new storyline at the best.
Also, we have got this climax at the end of the first chapter that is quite shocking, so it's nice to have this sense of waiting till we discover what's happening next. It keeps you hooked to the story, and it's part of a good entertainment cycle.
Sevenbergen: The two-parter challenge was assigned to me. Finding the right midpoint cliffhanger is fun, much like creating end-of-act cliffhangers on [the Stargirl TV show].
Nrama: Emanuela, what can you tell us about Catwoman and Poison Ivy’s 'Future State' designs?
Lupacchino: The original restyling comes from Babs Tarr, I've got it as reference for the characters when I started working on the book.
As you can see, they're much different from the costumes we're used to knowing, but I think it's a fresh casual look that suits perfectly the mood of the story. Also, in my opinion, this look gives them the sense of a hero in disguise that is exactly what we want for the story: masks are wanted and hunted here, so they're dressed like standard people plus some heroes accessories.
Nrama: And what went into designing this new Siren – Dee Dee?
Lupacchino: Dee Dee Prime is a new character and despite being a cyborg, she's got human feelings and thoughts. I took care of the design and I wanted to match Ivy and the Cat's style, since she's learning from them how to be a hero, how to act as a member of the team so I thought she may have based her style to match her new friends.
She's a rebel, and the haircut is clearly evidence of her desire to escape the cyborg series and help her establish her own personality.
Nrama: And Paula, from a writing perspective, what can you tease about this new Siren?
Sevenbergen: Dee-Dee Prime is an android created by a creepy tech mogul - who used the same tech to help create the Magistrate's violent Cybers in Gotham City. He made Dee-Dee as an experiment/companion, then sort of abandoned her. All she wants is to feel like a real woman, so when Ivy and Catwoman give her that chance with a wild night out (in exchange for dirt on Dilton), she’s elated.
Nrama: Who was your favorite character to draw, Emanuela?
Lupacchino: It was Catwoman – I'm a huge fan of the character and this new look was definitely cool to draw.
Nrama: What made you two want to work on a Gotham City Sirens story in the first place?
Lupacchino: As you know, I've been the artist of Supergirl and Wonder Woman for many years. I've also worked on Superman and the super-groups in general. They're a group of heroes that have something in common: they are positive, bright, loyal, and reliable.
So, working on a superhero group with a different drive and mood was, for me, new and thrilling. I had to work in a different way, adding the right amount of details to the pages to give the sense of a dystopic future where everything is darker and freedom has been suspended. It's heavy and dark, and the chaos winds around Gotham City. I felt this story would be challenging for me to draw, and I like this.
Sevenbergen: Editor Jessica Chen wanted a fun romp in the 'Future State' line-up, so that was the goal she gave me. We tried to balance humor, action, and heart - and with Ema Lupacchino's amazing art (plus Wade von Grawbadger's strong inks and John Kalisz's gorgeous color) hopefully we achieved that! There's a speakeasy for 'supers' in the story that turned out pretty great. And there's a jarring moment in Part Two that Ema just slayed. Seeing all of the art come in has been a delight.
Nrama: What makes this Gotham City Sirens team dynamic special?
Lupacchino: In my opinion, what makes them special in the new storyline itself, is what's happening around them. The sense of the team has completely changed, they don't fight each other, but all the heroes and villains are now joined together to fight a common enemy.
Plus, they're all wanted and they act as rebels, which is an intense turn for the team direction we were used to knowing.
The whole story is fulfilled by emotions, some of them new for the girls - like fear, worries to be caught by the enemies. They're escaping from something here, they fight for their lives, for freedom. They try to protect each other and it's a new feeling that makes the team very special - ready to run in a new direction.
Sevenbergen: Catwoman’s sophistication, sarcasm, and skepticism clash a bit with Poison Ivy's lofty ideals and (seemingly haphazard) M.O. in this story. Meanwhile, Dee-Dee's innocence and wonder both amuses and annoys them.
But by the end of their outing, they all take something away from their time together - even those who don't make it out alive.
Nrama: Would you like to work on more Gotham City Sirens in the future? Where do you see the team going?
Lupacchino: I'd love to have more stories with the team, and definitely would love to be the artist of it. At this point in the story, the Gotham City Sirens team has the possibility to grow up, and be open to a new member or more of them. I'm curious to see where the duo Cat-Ivy will go and follow their adventures.
'Future State' opens some new scenarios for the future, and can revolutionize the teams in ways we don't even imagine. It's a new start for the Gotham City Sirens and they have so many roads to follow. Aren't you curious? I am!
Sevenbergen: Absolutely. I feel honored that I was asked to work on 'Future State.' Even if I don’t end up spending more time with these characters, I'm grateful that I got this chance. They're really special.
This Gotham City Sirens two-part story begins in Future State: The Next Batman #2, which will be available in print and digitally on January 19. Check out Newsarama's list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.