Scott Kolins: Rogues Renaissance

A comics interview article by: Keith Dallas
As an artist who reveres Jack Kirby's work, Scott Kolins was given the opportunity of his lifetime when he was assigned to draw DC Comics' Countdown to Final Crisis #2. The issue presented the prophesized death of Darkseid by the hands of his son, Orion, two characters created by Kirby in the early 1970s as part of his sprawling "Fourth World" concept.

Fresh off that (and an upcoming stint on The Brave and the Bold with writer Mark Waid), Kolins now devotes himself to the project that brought him back to DC Comics in late summer 2007 after four years working for Marvel Comics: Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, a three issue mini-series that debuts in July. Rogues' Revenge reunites Kolins with writer Geoff Johns; the two collaborated on a celebrated run on The Flash from 2001 to 2003 that featured most of the characters appearing in Rogues' Revenge.

Below, Kolins and I discuss the upcoming series, his feelings about each of the Rogues as well as working with Johns once again.

Keith Dallas (KD) : So you actually drew the death of Darkseid. Congrats! You can't top that! Your career is all downhill from here (or considering what a lot of readers thought of Countdown, maybe it's all uphill).

Scott Kolins (SK): That issue was a sweet way to end Countdown for me. Giffen had mentioned the Orion/Darkseid fight as something coming down the line and asked if I would be interested. I think I blew his eardrum out when I screamed "YES!" back at him. He was also very nice and flexible in that he laid out the book as he usually does but really let me know I could do nearly anything I wanted to do. I only wish I could've had about 20 more pages with big 2-page spreads and well, maybe a planet to blow up. That would've been nice. But even still, Time Of My Life. I smiled as I drew every page.

KD: Well, congrats again!
Moving on though, FINALLY we get to talk about the project that you hinted at in our interview last August--

SK: Yes!

KD: The project that brought you back to DC Comics: Rogues' Revenge. What a long, strange trip Rogues' Revenge has taken. Originally billed as a six issue limited series titled Flash: Rogues' Revenge, it's now a three issue series titled Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge. I want to ask you how you feel about this change.

SK: It's all good. I don't care what format or how many covers it'll have as long as Geoff and I get to tell this story and work with these characters. And it all blends into the big Flash storyline that's building. Nothing was lost or sacrificed.

KD: Now the Rogues' story as far as I understand it is that they have seemingly reached the endpoint of their careers. They're considering quitting because let's face it: they've had a rough year. They killed a Flash--

SK: They got caught and marooned on a hell planet with dozens of other DCU villains--

KD: And now they're getting pressured by the Secret Society to get involved in other activities that doesn't suit their needs. So… they've had it. But before they hang it up, they've got some payback to deliver. Time to make Inertia suffer for getting them embroiled in Bart Allen's death.
So this is still the essential premise of the series?

SK: Yes, that's the central thrust: "This sucks--We've had enough of this crap – we're quitting – oh wait… got some Revenge to dish out." [Keith laughs] There is more to the plot now since we are involved with some of the Final Crisis story. It was there in the earlier versions of the story, but Geoff had some great ideas that really needed to be shown--not just mentioned.

KD: Evidently, one of the Final Crisis elements appearing in Rogues' Revenge is Libra who appears in the background of the "sliver cover" to Rogues' Revenge #2. What role does he play in the series?

SK: That's the extra part, and it involves the Secret Society angle. And again, the Rogues are really not happy about it. Things get nasty really fast.

KD : I bet. I mean, this is a story composed completely of "bad guys." I'm wondering though if the series is centered around one of them. Is the narrative told principally by one Rogue or do all the Rogues get their moment to tell the story?

SK: Each get their moment – though Cold is at the forefront most times, I think.

KD: If you can reveal it, what's been your favorite moment to draw?

SK: Ooh, that's tough. Honestly, there were so many fun moments. The Rogues' entrance was great. They just look so horrible! There's an emotional moment by someone in the Flash family. I was almost crying as I drew the page. Drawing Chyre and Morillo was really fun again as well as Piper and his rats. Geoff and just talked about Piper and a really cool scene with him for later. And Inertia's escape was awesome. Warden Wolfe is there! They are about to transfer Inertia to Iron Heights when – Krakooom! And then Geoff lets us know what Inertia's been thinking about all while he's been immobilized.
Hmmmm, I guess the two page spread entrance of the Rogues was my favorite of issue #1.

Opening Pages to Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #1

KD: Sounds like a lot of really cool scenes!
Hey, before I forget to ask, who's coloring Rogues' Revenge? There's no colorist listed in the solicitations.

SK: Dave McCaig.

KD: Oh really!? I love his work on Northlanders and—

SK: Avengers and Action Comics!

KD: Right!
You and I have discussed previously how your open line style requires such precise coloring work. Are you liking how Dave's handling it?

SK: I haven't seen a page yet, but I've been asking for Dave to color my work for years! I'm VERY excited about what a great job he'll do on Rogues. I'm sure I'll be thrilled to no end. Back when I left The Flash is when I first really noticed Dave's coloring on Superman Birthright, and I told our Flash colorist, James Sinclair, that Dave's style and color choice was exactly what I was looking for all along. Exactly.

KD: How about we discuss the visual designs of the Rogues?

SK: Sure!

KD: Let's start with Captain Cold, the Flash villain whose costume hasn't changed by one thread since he was introduced over 50 years ago. For all the right reasons he's never going to lose that hooded parka, but on the cover to Rogues' Revenge #1 he looks more grizzled than Clint Eastwood. Is that your way of indicating what he's gone through over the past year?

SK: My Cold has always been that tough looking and even a bit older looking. A mean old man. One of those guys you'd never want to cross. Above and beyond that all the Rogues will look really torn up as issue #1 starts. There was all this talk about how rough the year has been on them, and I really wanted to show that. Costumes are ripped, burnt, bent. They've got scrapes and bruises. Just a mess. They're really about to snap.

KD: Yeah, those opening pages to Rogues' Revenge #1 make that pretty clear.
I see the "iconic cover" to Rogues' Revenge #2 features Heat Wave, a Rogue you didn't get the chance to draw during your initial run on The Flash. What do you think of his design?

SK: I like Heatwave a lot – more so now after reading Geoff's origin issue [Flash #218]. The iconic covers have been lots of fun, and I'm getting great reactions from fans already.

KD: Mirror Master. For years you've been saying that you've wanted to re-design Mirror Master's costume but Geoff wouldn't let you. Let's pretend that the Geoff Johns we've known and admired for the past 7 years is really a Durlan (I would say Skrull, but that would get me in trouble), and let's pretend the REAL Geoff Johns is all gung-ho about you re-designing Mirror Master's costume. So do it! In a nutshell how would you redesign the costume?

SK: His uniform would more directly represent his name and powers. Not sure exactly how – and I don’t mean he'd be a walking mirror or something silly. A bit more tech looking. The idea of the odd shaped wrapping on his helmet would probably lead the redesign as I think it's his best feature. Like how I took Weather Wizard's yellow and black belt and re-shaped that into the striped tornado shape on his chest. I'd want old fans to still recognize him as well as reach new fans and have his costume be a bit more self explanatory.

KD: If I remember correctly, you did that redesign of Weather Wizard's costume back in 2001 with Geoff's blessing.

SK: Not just blessing, Geoff asked for Weather Wizard’s costume updated, he really didn’t like the puffy sleeves.

KD: [laughs] I never knew that!
Now Geoff has said that Rogues' Revenge will reveal Weather Wizard's "dark secret"…which I'll go on the record and guess it's an admission that he killed his scientist brother in order to obtain the weather wand and start his criminal career.

SK: Record dully noted, but there's more. Promise.

KD: Oh, there's more to it than that? Hmmmnn.
On a final question about Weather Wizard's costume, seven years after the fact, are you still satisfied with the redesign or would you like to change it again?

SK: Still love it. Other artists have misread those tornado stripes as being level when they're angled – so there might've been a slight design weakness there. I kept drawing him at all these strong angles so I guess they thought it was the angle of the drawing and not his costume.

KD: Ah! I see what you're getting at.
I also see that despite getting the spanking he deserved by James Jesse, Axel Walker is back as the Trickster--

SK: Deserved!!!??? Why? You think a great concept like the Trickster should lay fallow? After Jesse James became a wimpy good guy? Besides, he's dead now. The young Trickster is great! He's almost like an evil Robin! He just needs some training.

KD: To paraphrase Darth Vader, I find your lack of respect for James Jesse disturbing.
Seriously though, you enjoy drawing the new Trickster obviously.

SK: You bet! I love him, but I'll confess I came up with him so I'm probably biased. Though Geoff admitted the other day that he is fun and a real addition to the Rogues. We have plans for Axel. Good stuff. I asked Dan Didio if I could draw him for the 3rd iconic cover. Dan very nicely said yes!

KD: I was going to ask you which character was slated for the issue #3 cover. Now we know.
Let's talk about a different punk: is that Inertia running around in a "Reverse-Kid Flash" costume? Who came up with that idea?

SK: Geoff, but I named him Kid Zoom. When Geoff told me how Zoom was going to influence this story, I knew this book was a home run.

KD: Oh wait. Inertia becomes Zoom's sidekick?

SK: No, not sidekick. Zoom has plans for Inertia and how he can continue to test The Flash and make the Flash a better super-hero. If you remember Zoom was a Rogue profiler – so he knew most everything there was to know about the Rogues. He's smart enough to know you can't team up with these villains – especially the psychotic ones like Inertia. But isn't Kid Zoom a better name? I like "Impulse" and "Inertia," but I think as concepts of the Flash books names like "Kid Flash" and "Kid Zoom" are stronger.

KD: Yeah, "Kid Zoom" definitely fits the mythos.
Who's left to discuss? You mentioned Pied Piper earlier. Anyone else? How about your favorite Rogue/Flash villain, Grodd? Did Geoff find a way to get Grodd into the series?

SK: Pied Piper is going to have a pivotal part in this story too. He's also had a really rough year. It's rocked him to his core. He's got a lot of things to work out, poor guy. We start off with some stuff where he’s talking with his rats. And he hears answers. Creepy.

KD: And Gorilla Grodd?

SK: Geoff may still surprise me, but no, I don't think Grodd will be in this story. Though I've been very blessed with my projects at DC, so hopefully my luck will continue and I'll be drawing a Grodd story before too long.

KD: This is the first time you've worked from a Geoff Johns script since you two collaborated on Avengers back in 2003. Has the format or style of Geoff's scripts changed in any way? Or are they just as you remember them?

SK: Same fun, same format but even better plans and thought put into it. Not to toot our horns too much, but we both really feel that much stronger as creators today. There are things we did back then – "mistakes" - that we wouldn't do today.

KD: Any particular "mistake" that you can provide as an example?

SK: Well, the most obvious answer is the Top issue [Flash #195]. Because of pressures around us, the deadline for that issue hit us and we didn’t have time to do it right. Geoff wasn't happy how the story turned out and I had to draw more loosely (I think I drew that issue in two weeks) – which is why we wound up asking for all those inkers. And even though they are all fine inkers – they each have their own style and that also distracted the story.

KD: How close are you to finishing Rogues' Revenge?

SK: Just starting the second issue, actually. I've been drawing some other stuff as Rogues finally came together.

KD: Specifically, The Brave & the Bold. It was recently announced that starting in November J. Michael Straczynski will be taking over the writing chores on the book with Jesus Saiz assuming art duties. Anything you want to say about this creative team change and/or your experience on B&B?

SK: I had a good time on Brave & Bold. I got to draw some of my DC favorites! Deadman! Green Arrow! Nightwing! And Hawkman! I never looked at Brave and Bold as my next home, and at the end of the day this is a business. If they come up with something that'll sell better, more power to them. I know my capabilities and they know them. It all works out. I'm sure there were some other guys who wanted to draw Orion versus Darkseid to the death or Rogues' Revenge. There are plenty enough great projects to go around.

Interior Pages from The Brave and the Bold #14

KD: Are you drawing Brave and Bold right up to the issue when Straczynski/Saiz take over [issue #19]?

SK: Not sure, but I don't think so. I took on Brave & Bold to give Geoff some breathing space while he works me back into his schedule – which is very busy. If he needed extra time getting a Rogues script done, I could work on some Brave & Bold. But Rogues is my top project right now so I also took Brave & Bold with the agreement that I could skip an issue or two to focus on Rogues. Now that Geoff is rolling steady with Rogues and that Brave & Bold is moving its own way – I'm not sure how many more issues I'll be drawing. I've drawn #14 and #15 and the cover to #16. We'll see.

KD: So what's next for you after Rogues' Revenge/The Brave and the Bold?

SK: Geoff and I are making our plans. This is only the beginning!

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