Lion Forge’s shared superhero universe, Catalyst Prime, has been steadily growing in characters and scope, and with the their first big origin event behind them, leaving a world that’s somewhat traumatized to find the new normal, how will our heroes adapt? Coming up, Lion Forge have been teasing a new event called Seven Days that will bring us the next chapter of cosmic challenges facing Earth and the characters we’ve gotten to know in previous stories.
When a dark threat faces the planet, humanity–including enhanced beings–are given a chance to face their own end and decide how to spend their last days. Posed with a choice of how to live as much as how to die, how will our heroes fare?
We had a chance to chat with Catalyst Prime architect, Gail Simone, at SDCC 2019 about Seven Days and what she loves about these characters, including those who have been revealed and those who have not yet been revealed to readers.
First, have a look at our Exclusive Reveal of the final trailer for Seven Days below, then read on to hear what Gail Simone has to say about this cosmic threat…
Hannah Means-Shannon: I’m aware of what’s coming up with Seven Days and why that’s important, though I’m not super knowledgeable about the Catalyst Prime Universe, so if I can approach this conversation more as a beginner, that would be great.
Gail Simone: That’s ok, sure.
HMS: The whole premise behind the Catalyst Prime shared universe, as far as I understand, is that there’s a cosmic level event that gives powers to these people, but they are all very different in terms of their walks of life. So, it’s kind of a shock to these peoples’ lives.
GS: Right. Basically, we’re saying that about two years ago, there was a cosmic event that left behind some things that caused enhancements with people on earth, and it affected everyone on earth. Catalyst Prime is a one-world universe, but it takes place all over the globe. So, we have characters from all of the United States, we have characters from Africa, we have characters rooted in New Orleans and in Southern California, along the Mexican border. They are really spread out, which I am so excited about because this universe feels modern. There’s nothing in it that doesn’t feel like it was born of today. And these people feel like they are living in our world today.
And so, when Seven Days happens, it’s a second event that comes to Earth, and it’s cataclysmic. Basically, a superior being comes to Earth, and says “My planet is dead. I’m taking your planet. I’m destroying everything on your planet down to the microbial level. There will be no life as you know it left. And then I’m making this my own planet. But I’m a complete monster. You have seven days to say your goodbyes, complete any of your last wishes. And then it’s over.”
So, the story is that the entire Earth has post-traumatic stress disorder, since this has happened on a smaller scale before, and now here it is getting real. And so, the story is huge. This huge event happens, but we focus down on human beings are responding to this event.
Do they make the choice to stay at home with their families, and not go to their jobs as a fireman, policeman, first responder, border guard, or do you go up on top of a tower and start shooting people? Do you try to help people? What happens? Out of this event, are there some people who are going to become heroic, or are there some people who are going to go off the deep end and become completely against everyone else’s best interest, to say the least. And so, we really get to watch and see what comes out of an event like that.
When Seven Days concludes, since each issue is one day of this period, the Catalyst Prime Universe books will start coming out a couple at a time, not too much too quickly to overwhelm readers. But we really want people to start exploring this universe and know it. The books will come out with amazing creative teams, some of whom are already working with us. Rondney Barnes will continue writing Quincredible. We have Amy Chu on Summit with a writing partner now, post Seven Days. There are other teams I can’t announce yet, but I’m very excited. Then I’ll be writing a new solo book with a character I’ve created, coming out of this event. There’s nothing else out there like this, and it feels very fresh, very new, very exciting. We have a superhero with Downs Syndrome, a lot of different nationalities. Some from Africa.
HMS: I was reading a little bit about the different characters. The female astronaut character, Summit, is pretty fabulous, right?
GS: Yes. That’s a good place to start. If you want to check out the Catalyst Prime Universe before Seven Days comes out, I would suggest Summit, by Amy Chu, and Quincredible, by Rodney Barnes. You can jump right in. Alex Paknadel is doing Kino, too, a very smart book.
HMS: Before this big event hits, what is the state of Catalyst Prime Universe? Were the people feeling like things were going well? Did they have a sense of security at this point?
GS: I think the characters were going on their own paths, but this is going to create some changes, because it’s a world-changing, life-changing event. So, things aren’t going to look the same after this event as they did prior. I’m really excited about the changes. I’m excited about the fact that no two books will exist for the same reason. All the books are part of the same world, but we’ve got things that are more fantasy-based, things that are more science-fiction-based, things that are horror-based. So, these things are part of the same world, but have different tones. It’s very intriguing, the way that we’re separating things out.
HMS: So, this event is kind of like a flash-point from which you’ll be able to branch out into new directions?
GS: Yes. Because the changes that occur from the event really allow us to do so.
HMS: That’s great. Regarding this alien character who comes to Earth, do you think of him as a good representation of what an evil being is, or what an evil being would do? For someone to say, “I’m going to wipe this planet clean, and do what I want to do with it.” What do you think the moral or ethical perspective is on that character?
GS: [Laughs] I’m not for it, obviously, but it’s more that if you are this superior being, who has better technology and is further developed than we are at this point, and you’re planet’s dead, you don’t really see us as important. We’re just nothing to him.
GS: Yes. He doesn’t care if we have loved ones and all that. He’s just decided, I think more or less for his amusement, to let us have seven days.
HMS: Oh, right. So, there’s even a little bit of sadism in there? Entertainment value?
GS: Things are going on in that seven days, so it’s not like he does nothing for those seven days. Let’s put it that way.
HMS: Okay, so he might be more involved than we know.
GS: Yes, he’s just not going to totally annihilate things until the seventh day.
HMS: That helps make the narrative more dramatic, then. I looked at a previous interview where you were talking about this universe, and the characters as people who were essentially trying to “do right”. To do “what’s right”. I wondered if you could talk about what that means to you, or within the context of the comic.
GS: It means from that character’s perspective, what do they think is right? Like Jonah in Superb, who happens to have Downs Syndrome, his perspective on life and what’s right is very black and white, for instance. And for Summit, who’s a female astronaut, her perspective might not be so black and white. So, we’re going to be seeing what these characters think is right, not what I, or any of the writers, think is necessarily right. We’re trying to really define the genres that the books fit into, and that means seeing the stories from these characters’ point of view.
HMS: I think it’s interesting, since genre traditions do seem to have their own definitions of these things, and what’s elastic, and what’s not. Post-apocalyptic stories, for instance, really seem to bend ideas of morality and survival comes first. If you go back even to Jack London, he’s writing stories like that.
GS: Yes, and people react differently in different situation, and that’s what we want to explore. It’s not going to be all one thing that’s right or wrong. I’m also so excited about the role that the teen characters take in Seven Days. It’s quite unexpected and I can’t wait for people to see how capable kids can be. A lot of time as adults, we just ignore what they have to say. What they feel about things. But it’s their future, too.
HMS: This kind of idea of age threshold, of responsibility, has moved later in life, I think, over the course of the 20th century. Young people used to be considered more capable at a younger age and have jobs and responsibilities, but now it’s pushed further out. But young people don’t necessarily want that or agree with that, it’s just that society has done that.
GS: Well, yeah. And when someone’s threatening your entire world, it becomes everybody’s job to try to fight to keep it. Age is just not going to be a factor at this point.
HMS: Is that appealing to you, to be able to work with characters across a wider age range, to be able to work with younger characters and older characters?
GS: Yes, I love it. I love to work with a wide variety of characters. This is why Lion Forge is great. They are not coming from a place of history where characters have been created in a more homogenous way. So, right from the beginning it’s complete diverse, with different perspectives, all across the board, from their ages, to their backgrounds, and more. It makes for a very vibrant universe, and for exciting story possibilities that I’m really loving.
HMS: Well, having characters with a wide range of ages and experiences, is just more “life as lived”, anyway.
GS: Yes, this reflects our world. It really does. People are enhanced, and these cataclysmic things are going on, but there are still modern themes going through the stories. I like how Lion Forge does not limit that. If you come to them, and ask about a character from a remote island from somewhere that no one has ever heard of, you are still going to get listened to. You’re going to get to talk about why that might be important to have a character from there.
HMS: They seem more versatile, more willing to adapt to new things, as a publisher, than some.
GS: I think they have a really large view of what the world looks like, and these stories are interesting and viable to them. That’s super exciting to me as a writer.
HMS: It’s amazing to me, that when you step outside the box, you suddenly realize that how ever-present that box has been, particularly in comics, right?
GS: [Laughs] Yes, well when things have been a certain way, and from a certain perspective for many years, you feel it. And this is just a very fresh take.
HMS: I’ll finish up with one more question: What’s one of the powers that one of these characters has that you think is most interesting or problematic?
GS: The one that I think is most interesting is one that I can’t really talk about yet, since that’s one of the new characters, and I’m super-excited about those powers, since we haven’t seen anything like it, ever. But I really like that Summit has this ability to disrupt things, and has a kind of photon blast that can disrupt molecules. And Excel is the speedster, but the way that it’s done is very different from any of the other speedsters we have in comics. He’s Hispanic, and the art and color palettes really convey his background, when he has visions doing his speedster things. He sees things that are, mythologically, from where he’s from. The art is trippy and really fast and exciting, and I got really excited about that when I saw it. He’s young and trying to find his way with his powers, trying to decide whether he’s going to do good or not.
HMS: So, a lot of the representations of the power of speedsters in comics focus on the external action and what’s happening with speed, but this sounds like it focuses on his inner perspective and experience of his own powers.
GS: It does. And I like it because it’s just really fascinating.
HMS: Awesome. Thank you. I appreciate you guiding me into the Catalyst Prime Universe a little bit.
GS: You’re welcome.
Thanks very much to Gail Simone for taking part in this interview and to Lion Forge for facilitating!
Seven Days #1 from the Catalyst Prime Universe will be arriving in comic shops on October 2nd, and is available now for pre-order.