Whenever a TV season wraps up, many actors try to find a movie they can make within their hiatus. Arrow star Stephen Amell is currently in New York filming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, portraying fan-favorite character Casey Jones just as this season of Arrow comes to a close tonight with the Season 3 finale "My Name is Oliver Queen". Producer Marc Guggenheim is hard at work on the spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow. But, as we just found out, he is also returning to the comic book world with his brand new creation The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum. The comic book series will kick off its run in September, just as fans get ready for Arrow Season 4.
Legendary Comics is publishing The Adventures of Jonas Quantum, an original sci-fi odyssey from two of the most exciting voices in superhero storytelling: Marc Guggenheim and visionary artist Freddie Williams II (Justice League America, The Flash, Robin). Jonas Quantum is a maverick hyper-genius with the power to cure death in the morning, time travel in the afternoon and unlock transdimensional wormholes at night. Blessed with the curse of infinite intelligence, there's only one thing Jonas Quantum can't do: play well with others. This thrilling 6-part action-adventure spans cosmic voyages, history-changing inventions, and delusions of grandeur. I recently had the chance to speak with Marc Guggenheim about this upcoming comic book, the Season 3 finale of Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Here's what he had to say below.
It's kind of amazing to see someone like you with so much on your plate that still has the drive to create new comic book characters. Is that something that's important to you, to keep revisiting that side of your creative process, working in comics, while you have so much else on your plate?
Marc Guggenheim: Yeah, it's incredibly important, so much so that I think I sacrifice a lot of sleep in order to pull it off. It's probably not the greatest use of my time, if you look at purely the financial thing. I always say I do comic books for the love of the game. One of my earliest memories is flipping through a Superman comic on the floor of my room. I couldn't read, but my mother came in the room and was like, 'How are you... are you reading?' I was like, 'No, I'm just looking at the pictures.' I've always loved the medium so much, and, with respect to Quantum, I've been very lucky in my career that I get to do a lot of adaptations. Certainly working on something like Arrow has been wonderful, and I've been standing on the shoulders of giants over there, but part of the reason I work in comics is to replenish myself creatively. Part of the reason I'm doing Quantum is to replenish the world of characters, creatively. I think one of the things that has been an unfortunate side effect of modern comics and modern television and modern movies, which I work in, is the fact that we're retreading a lot of old ground. We're adapting a lot of comics into new shows and movies, and obviously I think that's wonderful and we're remaking a lot of movies, and truth is, that can be wonderful. Whenever I sort of get myself too down on the state of Hollywood and the lack of originality, I always remind myself that The Godfather is an adaptation and Jaws was an adaptation. I'm not saying that adaptations are not fair game. They've certainly been very good to me, and some of the greatest movies ever made were adaptations. That said, one thing that's been lacking is brand new characters. Where's the next Indiana Jones? Where's the next James Bond? I think it's a wonderful time in comics right now, because there's been a real resurgence in creator-owned properties, non Marvel or DC properties, and I think that's terrific. There's a resurgence in the creation of new characters, and it's about replenishing the wealth of intellectual property out there, so we're not just killing off old foils. That's really the main thing, you know.
As far as this character goes, is Jonas someone you've had swirling around in your head for awhile, or is he someone fairly new that you thought up? Can you talk about your process of just crafting this character?
Marc Guggenheim: Yeah, absolutely. The character, I've been living with this character in my head for a good number of years now, over 10 years, basically, when all is said and done. I keep coming back to this character, both in my notebook and in my head, over the years. I just kept iterating it and iterating it, and I found it was an idea that I clearly could not let go of. I'm really excited to take an idea I've been living with for so long, and bring him to life.
Just going off the brief little synopsis I have, he sounds like kind of a House-type, this guy who literally knows everything. Does that make it more hard to figure out certain challenges for him then?
Marc Guggenheim: You know, a little bit. He's a little bit like House, in the sense that he's brilliant. He doesn't have quite the same personality problem that House does. House is basically cantankerous and a lousy human being. I think Jonas has a different problem. Jonas is so intellectual, so living in his own head, that it makes him very difficult to interact with other human beings. That's been a real struggle for him throughout his life. As the first issue shows, he stands apart. I wouldn't say he's a kinder, gentler House, he's just got a different set of problems and challenges, as a result of his intellect.
Can you talk about where the whole story is set? It sounds like there's definitely some outer space adventures here, but is it set completely in space, or is it on Earth as well?
Marc Guggenheim: I think, for me, one of the fun aspects of the series is it goes everywhere. As much as Jonas is my attempt to add a new character to the pop culture pantheon, the book itself is really like my love letter to comics. I'm channeling a lot of influences that are near and dear to me as someone who has literally spent his whole life reading comics. One of the things I wanted to do is imbue it with this incredible sense of fun and really capture the feeling I had of reading those early issues of Fantastic Four, where every page had a new idea and every issue was in a new location. You felt there was no preciousness in terms of notions, that each issue was going to take you on this amazing new adventures. There would be some days when you're on the top of the world, and there'd be some days where you're in a subterranean tunnel, and other days where you'd be in space. With Jonas Quantum, I want to take that and apply that idea on steroids. We'll deal with parallel universes, time travel, outer space, far away places, exotic locales. The goal with the book is to never stay stagnant. One of the rules I sort of imposed for myself, at least for the time being, so I can keep myself honest, like those early Fantastic Four issues, each story is self-contained. With each issue, you're basically getting a full, complete story, with a beginning, middle and end, and each issue should be different than the one that came before it.
Can you talk about working with artist Freddie Williams III? After figuring out the story, is that the next step in the process for you, to find the right artist to work with, or did it all come together at the same time?
Marc Guggenheim: I think it sort of came together at the same time. Like I said, I sort of had Jonas in my head for a very long time. Freddie and I first worked together four or five years ago on Justice Society of America. We had re-connected at Comic-Con last year, and we were talking about doing something together, and this just happened to coincide with me talking to the folks at Legendary about doing something with them. It was one of those things where all the stars sort of align. This idea feels very much in Freddie's wheelhouse, and feels very much in line with what Legendary wants to do. I've always wanted to get Jonas out of my head and into the world in some way, and it just made sense. When we started, we just had a series of phone calls and email exchanges. I'd say this is what I've been carrying in my head for the past 10 years, and Freddie would come back and ask questions and make suggestions. It was very collaborative and Freddie really got me to think about the character in different ways, and get me out of that self-imposed comfort zone. He also brought a lot of interesting ideas and questions to bear, like, if he is this smart, why aren't we living in the future right now? In fact, in many ways, Freddie's questions about why isn't Jonas making this technology, any invention he makes, available to the entire world? That question really ended up being the springboard for the story of issue 1. It's been really great to have Freddie to have a dialogue with me. It goes both ways. I'll get a sense of what he wants to draw, and I'll shape a story in that direction. One thing that's so critical about this particular series is the visuals are so incredibly important. You can't talk about Fantastic Four without talking about Jack Kirby. The thing with Freddie is, how do you do these big, crazy, mind-blowing ideas, without aping Jack Kirby? How do you come up with a style that is unique? That goes from the visuals to the character design to the hardware design. There are a lot of interesting bits of tech inherent in this concept, and it's so easy to ape what's come before, in terms of Jack Kirby and a lot of other artists who have drawn in this space. What's wonderful about Freddie is he brings his own unique voice as an artist to it. The folks at Legendary have been really wonderful about each issue not sticking to the standard 20 or 22-page length. We can go a little bit longer and we can really open up the panels to really sell the scope of what we're trying to achieve with the story.
I want to ask about DC's Legends of Tomorrow. It sounds like a great series, but I know a lot of people are curious about whether or not Caity Lotz is coming back as Black Canary. Is there anything you can say about who Caity Lotz actually plays?
Marc Guggenheim: That has been a very closely-guarded secret for a reason. My instinct is you'll get the answer to that question when the trailer... I'm expecting a trailer to be released, and I expect that trailer will answer that question. Unfortunately I can't spoil it here. Too many people would be very angry at me.
As far as the Arrow finale goes, the name kind of offers a very big hint, but I've heard so much about how explosive this finale is. Is there anything you can say about how this will set the table for Season 4?
Marc Guggenheim: That's a great question. It's interesting because, I don't mean to talk out of both sides of my mouth here, but I'm trying to be honest. The episode really does feel like the culmination of three seasons, and it plays a lot like a series finale. That said, we are already hard at work on Season 4, and there are some very specific ideas and characters, like Damien Dark, who are seeded in the season finale. While it should feel very much like a definitive ending, there's a lot of stuff that's going to carry over from the season finale to Season 4.
Well, I think that's my time. Thanks so much, Marc. It was a real pleasure.
Marc Guggenheim: Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Marc Guggenheim's comic book series The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum will be available this September through Legendary Comics. The Arrow season finale "My Name is Oliver Queen" airs tonight, May 13, at 8 PM ET on The CW. Stay tuned for more on Season 4 of Arrow and the upcoming spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow. While we wait for The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum to debut in September, take a look at this unique and original character in new artwork below.