Tim Seeley seems to have a thing for writing about sci-fi barbarians interacting with modern worlds. At Marvel, he’s in the middle of doing a series on Shatterstar. With DC, he’s in the middle of a miniseries called Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe. Yes, even though He-Man and his ilk haven’t shown up in the actual NetherRealm Studios games, that hasn’t stopped Seeley and artist Freddie Williams II from slamming the two properties together like action figures.
At New York Comic Con, I got the opportunity to sit down with Seeley to discuss the crossover. It was a good time. You should have been there.
Oh, right! Yeah, I transcribed it. Here’s what was said.
Den of Geek: I have to get it out of my system and ask: I say, hey, what’s going on?
Seeley: It’s so weird to me that that’s the thing everyone remembers about Masters of the Universe. It was one of the first memes, really. One of the first gif memes, really.
People remember that and Skeletor saving Christmas.
Seeley: Heh! Hey, anything they remember about that is totally fine. It’s not the things I remember, but yeah. And I resisted the urge to add… I’ll never have a line where He-Man says that.
I’m a fan of the whole Injustice comic universe. I’ve seen someone describe it as DC’s answer to the Marvel Ultimate world in a way.
Seeley: Yeah! You’re right.
It’s a tie-in to a game that just exploded. What do you think makes that work?
Seeley: I think there’s a cynicism about people in power, like now. There’s always this belief that someone like Superman… A fair amount of people just can’t believe that he would be such a good guy. So when you do something like Injustice, where you have Superman as the bad guy who takes over and rules the world, a lot of people think, “That’s how it would probably go.” So you can explore that angle in a time when a vast number of people, especially Americans, don’t trust power, and you get a really passionate response out of it.
One thing I found interesting is that with the other Injustice comics, they’re prequel stories. You, rather than go as a prequel or during the story of either game, went with after the optional “Superman’s in charge again” ending from Injustice 2. What was your thought process going with that one?
Seeley: When they originally talked to me about doing the story, I felt it had to be a reflection of what Injustice had been about all around. In the first game, they send these guys to get the Justice League from another world to come save them, so that was reflected here. They need to get a champion to save them from Superman, right? But in this case, they go to an alternate world entirely, and they have to take advantage of the fact that Superman has a weakness to magic, which they set up in the video game as well.
That framework, I felt it had to come from the end. The game is so well-established and Tom Taylor has established in the comics so concretely what has gone on that I felt that there were a lot of raindrops to dance between. I felt like it had to go in the end. I think that was the right choice. The fact that I get to play with the idea that it’s still the Brainiac-bonded Superman. He’s a very high-tech, science fiction villain whereas He-Man is a magical fantasy hero and it works perfectly.
Yeah, because I remember when reading it that you suddenly see Batman sitting there with the glowing costume and being, “Oh shit, this is where we’re going with this.”
Seeley: Haha! Right, exactly. And one of the things, when putting the book out, we didn’t say a lot about that. We didn’t say when it happened. We let people figure it out for themselves. Your reaction to it is great. It’s what I wanted. “This is the end! This is the worst-case scenario in the game!”
I mean, one of the drawbacks from the first run of comics was that in the end, you knew Superman was going to win no matter what.
The second one feels a little more optimistic because certain things can’t happen and everything’s going to turn out all right. But we don’t know where THIS one is going.
Seeley: Having it set up this way where it’s the end of the game and the worst possible scenario, it gives you the hope and lets you do all those things. You get to have great moments of heroism and sacrifice and all that stuff.
Since He-Man’s more of a warrior, there’s more conflict than just Superman being a dictator. I guess the way I should ask this is: would He-Man, given the chance, kill Superman?
Seeley: That’s kind of the question. That’s the storyline that we do in issue 5 and 6. The He-Man of the story we’re doing is kind of like the He-Man from the Filmation cartoon, really. He doesn’t kill people. That’s not his thing.
But…he also has a big, magic sword.
He looks like a barbarian, though he’s actually a prince. So that’s a question you have to ask. As we’ve seen in the game, there may be no other option because they keep putting Superman away but he keeps taking over the world. So He-Man is faced with the idea that he might not have a choice.
One thing that differentiates this from the Injustice prequel comics is that the prequel comics get time to breathe. They’re a weekly, digital thing. This is six issues and you have SO MANY CHARACTERS to play with and you have to deal with that. Do you ever get into why certain characters like Cyborg and Damian are now against Superman?
Seeley: We touch on it, sort of. What was implied to me from the games and the comics and I even talked to Tom Taylor about it, was that after the games, when Superman takes back over, that’s when people start looking at it and going, “Holy shit, this is serious. We keep letting this happen.” So whatever time there was, and maybe it was just months, but it was enough that the recognition was that this is worse this time. We do have Cyborg talking about how he made a mistake with how he sided with this.
Damian’s motivation is pretty clear when he talks to his dad. He understands that if Superman would turn on his own cousin – we know that he put Supergirl in the Phantom Zone – then why would Superman not turn on him? So Damian finally recognizes that blood is important and he believes that it’s important and it’s almost too late to realize that.
I think that’s great because the first run of the prequel comic made Damian to be really hateable, but then the second run, the Injustice 2 comic, started to build him up as a better person. So I was really happy once I saw Harley refer to Batman as “Bat-Baby” and I realized, oh, this is where this is going.
Sorry, “Baby-Bats.” And I was thinking, man, I like this development.
Seeley: I think you should have little surprises throughout a story like that. Not just the big ones. You need the little moments.
Once you got this assignment, what was the crossover you just had to do? There’s this great moment of Swamp Thing just chilling out with Moss Man and that makes all the sense in the world.
Seeley: There’s tons of them and a really important one I thought would be Teela and Wonder Woman. Zatanna and Skeletor, I thought was going to be really important. I knew this Swamp Thing one—
Sorry, I have to interrupt. Does Skeletor wear fishnets at any point in this?
Seeley: Haha! They’re too big for him. He’s all frail and emaciated.
“I FEEL SEXY NOW! BWAHAHA!”
Seeley: Man, I could do a whole story based on that alone…
But yeah, I knew that there were a couple scenes that I really wanted to do. And the other ones were just like spinning the entire series, building up towards the Superman/He-Man showdown and making it hopefully really emotional and have it really make sense. Not just make it a slugfest. Not just a fight, but a real look at their philosophical differences.
Plus I really had to have Battle Bones in it. One of coolest and most ridiculous toys and you never got to see it in anything. So we GOT to see it in—
Which one was that?
Seeley: It’s a giant dinosaur skeleton that holds figures.
Is that the slime thing?
Seeley: No, that’s the Slime Pit.
Seeley: Battle Bones was a big dinosaur where they got stuck in the ribs.
Oh my God! I remember that!
Seeley: It shows up in issue 2 in the series.
Injustice Superman has fought dudes from Mortal Kombat, he’s fought Hellboy, the Ninja Turtles, and now He-Man. Let’s say He-Man’s out of the way and Superman is still in power. You can pick any property to go after him next.
Seeley: Oh man… Anything…
Okay. Here’s what I’d do. I’d go with the New Line horror universe. I’d send Freddy Krueger and Jason after him. We already know that if you have to beat Superman, magic kind of works, but what if you could take Freddy and send him into his dreams and kill him? Oh man, now I think we really should do that!
I would read the hell out of that.
Seeley: Injustice vs. New Line Slasher Cinema. That would be pretty amazing, yeah.
Last question. While I was waiting around, I noticed the display for DC’s Primal Age.
Which seems to me like the amalgam version of this crossover. Like I’m expecting that to be the final page…
Seeley: Oh, man. I should have done it… I didn’t know those were coming! Those were surprising!
I was going to ask, do you have any plans on writing the Primal Age—
Seeley: Well, you know, Marv Wolfman’s doing the one-shot.
Seeley: So it’s going to be like, treat it as a lost 1989 toy line. I’m gonna read it! If I had known it was coming, I would have been pitching like crazy to write that.
Like, Access would have shown up. “Guys, I know I haven’t been around since the 90s, but, uh…”
Seeley: Two great brothers are fighting again, and we have these Primal Age stories. We could fit Freddy and Jason in there because they made Primal Age Freddy and Jason.
Seeley: Yeah, they made He-Man-style Freddy and Jason, Leatherface, Pinhead, everything. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it exists.