To Countdown: Arena
Three Batmen Walk In, One Batman Walks Out...
master of Bartertown?
night at WizardWorld, DC honcho Dan DiDio announced a new
mini-series tying into Countdown -- Countdown: Arena.
the mini-series, the megalomaniacal Monarch will gather
the greatest heroes of several alternate Earths and pit
them against each other. The purpose? To find the truly
greatest superheroes and convince them to destroy the Monitors.
most captivating of all -- in September, fans will have
a chance to vote on some of the outcomes!
sounds pretty hardcore, and let's face it, ridiculously
fun. Art chores are being handled by Scott McDaniel and
Andy Owens, a team well-suited for heroes beating up on
each other. Covers will be by Andy Kubert.
the writer? A guy we know by the name of Keith Champagne.
He took some time out of his Sunday to answer a few cogent
and a few stupid questions about this huge December event...
McCaw: How much freedom do you get dropped
in the middle of a crossover like this?
Keith Champagne: Much more than you might
imagine. Aside from a couple of "suggestions"
from DC editorial, I was given completely free reign in
choosing (or creating) the three versions of each character,
as well as the direction of the overall story and outcome
of the various battles. There were only a couple of things
that I was told 'needed' to happen over the course of the
series but overall, I was pretty much left alone to do whatever
ARENA was the opposite of World War III
in that way. WWIII was a laundry list of dots that
somehow needed to be connected to the war against Black
Adam. This was more about just going off and having fun,
while making sure ARENA still connected to the
McCaw: Do you get to sit in a room arguing
the merits of Red Rain Batman vs. Gotham By Gaslight Batman?
Keith Champagne: Only by myself, and I'm
happy to say that I won that argument. And, for the record,
the three Batmen features are Batman (Red Rain),
The Bat (Liberty Files) and Batman (Gotham
McCaw: Is it your experience as a fan
of PRIDE fighting that makes you the man for this job?
Champagne: Sakuraba will never die!!
McCaw: What's the weirdest alternate Earth
character you get to use?
only he could sneak in...
Champagne: Some of them are more strange than others.
The first couple that popped into mind were The Scarab,
the Blue Beetle of Captain Carrot's world, and Christopher
Kent, who is a Superman of a different flavor than we might
be used to seeing.
McCaw: How much research into Armageddon
2001 have you had to do to capture
the character of Monarch?
Keith Champagne: Zero percent research
into Armageddon 2001. I know who and what Monarch
is, and what his current motivations are. From there, it
was just a matter of making sure he stayed true to himself.
I actually think this is the smartest, most well-organized
and ruthless version of Monarch we'll have seen to date.
McCaw: If we could put Adam West Batman
in the Arena, how would he do?
Champagne: I love Adam West but he wouldn't even
survive the journey into the Arena, let alone five seconds
McCaw: Which characters do you think belong
in this mini-series but haven't found a place?
Keith Champagne: I think Superman (Kingdom
Come) would have been a nice fit but that version of
the character is going to be busy in Justice Society. I
always would have liked to get to play with The Dark
Knight Returns but no one wanted to disrespect Frank
Miller by using his character. Which isn't to say that maybe
another character or two from the Miller-verse didn't make
McCaw: So we get this in December, right?
Keith Champagne: Four issues. Weekly in
December. 38 story pages per issue.
ARENA is so much more than you might first imagine.
Anyone who reads the first issue is not going to be able
to skip the rest.