Action Comics’ Newest Writer and Co-Creator of Pulse on BBC3
By Teresa Jusino
Paul Cornell has a lot on his plate. Not only did he recently confirm a two-book deal with TorUK, and is nominated for two Hugo Awards this year – for Captain Britain and MI:13: Vampire State (Best Graphic Story) and One of Our Bastards is Missing (Best Novelette) – but he’s also taking on two enormous responsibilities this month. One is to comics fans, as he takes over writing duties for DC’s Action Comics. The other is to fans of genre television, as the pilot for his horror series, Pulse, is set to air in the UK on BBC3 TOMORROW. June is a big month for him indeed!
It’s a wonderful moment for fans of Cornell’s work in comics. His last foray into an ongoing title was Captain Britain and MI:13, and while the final story arc in that series is getting a lot of awards attention this year, Marvel ceased publication of the series after Issue #15 in 2009. Since then, he’s done great work mostly in limited series like Dark Reign: Young Avengers, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, and Dark X-Men, all of which were fantastic, but gollygoshdarnit, we want Cornell on an ongoing book! Well wait no longer, kids! His run on Action Comics begins with a 10-issue Lex Luthor story at Issue #890, which leads up to the return of Superman at Issue #900! And just like that he, along with artist Pete Woods, are taking the reins on one of the most iconic comics properties of all time.
But, you know, no big deal.
Teresa Jusino: We’ve read a lot about how much your take on Lex Luthor in other interviews. What is your take on Lois? How will your Lois be different from Loises past? What are you keeping the same?
Paul Cornell: Erm, she’ll be *quite* different to the Lois Lane you’ve seen before in some ways, and exactly the same in others. You can tell I’m hiding something here, can’t you? Let me talk about what I love about Lois in general. She’s incredibly brave, she says exactly what she thinks, she’s one of the best brains in the DC universe, in terms of her own speciality, which is burning away the nonsense to get to the truth. I’ve got Margot Kidder and Erica Durance in my head when I write her, and I’ve given her a big, in your face way of talking and all my best jokes. I want to be her when I grow up.
TJ: Just to clear up the “controversy” about it…Lois isn’t going to be Lex’s girlfriend, right?
PC: It’s a twist, it’s a thing. Anyone who’s outraged about that offhand comment of mine will find themselves completely not outraged about half way through the issue, which is why we decided to defuse the tension. It’s a non-controversy, and it takes away from something which I think Lois fans may find to be good fun.
TJ: Apparently Lex is going to be taking on some of the DCU’s worst (or best!) supervillains. Which face-off are you particularly proud of/should we be looking forward to?
PC: Well, there are some really cool and huge and surprising villains coming up, many of whom are way outside Lex’s genre and comfort zone. This is basically a book where he encounters nine or ten of the DCU’s most interesting villains who cross his path during this big quest of his. It’s like Supervillain Deathmatch. We can promise a couple of big surprises. But the only one to be announced so far is Deathstroke, in our third issue. That’s rather the tip of this particular iceberg.
From Metropolis, we’re off to the United Kingdom, where Cornell’s television pilot, Pulse, will be airing on BBC 3 (though it’s already available to UK viewers online). BBC 3 focuses on encouraging new voices in television and caters primarily to a young demographic, as you can tell from it being the channel where shows like Being Human, Gavin and Stacey, and The Mighty Boosh got their starts. They are shamelessly swayed by the online reaction shows get. What they started doing last year is having a “summer pilot season”, where they would air the pilots of several shows, see who watched and monitor the online reaction, then based on ratings and the online chatter, they decide what goes on to becoming a full series. That’s how Being Human came to be.
Now, there’s Pulse, a story set in a hospital and starring Claire Foy as Hannah, a young doctor who soon discovers that the goings-on at her workplace aren’t exactly on the up and up, and there’s more blood and gore and strangeness than usual. I’m very excited to see it, and yet I won’t be able to watch the show unless the UK viewing public give it their stamp of approval so it can make its way across The Pond. So, give it a whirl, UK, and tell BBC3 what you think! Those of us on the US side of The Pond can catch a glimpse of the trailer, which I linked to above, and keep up with the show at the Pulse Facebook page! You can also chat about the show on Twitter using the hashtag #pulsebbc3. To help spread the word, Cornell told me a little about the show and the fan reaction so far:
TJ: What is it about Pulse that made you want to be a part of it?
PC: It’s kind of an obvious show. There really should be a modern, relationship-based medical horror show on TV. I just looked at the format and thought there was stuff to do here, we can get this made. And the crew were a delight from the off.
TJ: Pulse is already available online in the UK. What has fan response been like so far? Has there been anything about the response to the pilot that’s surprised you?
PC: I’m loving the press reactions and the online response. I’m quite surprised by how people seem to like the idea of a horror series that takes itself seriously, without postmodernism or irony. I guess it’s been a while.
TJ: If Pulse goes to series, what can viewers expect from the show? Are there any storylines or characters in particular (without giving too much away, of course!) that you’d be excited to have the opportunity to continue in the series?
PC: It’s a dark, relationship-based conspiracy thriller about the ‘black ops’ of Britain’s National Health Service. We hope that viewers will come to love our young, brilliant cast, and wonder who they can trust, and not want to see anything bad happen to them. Then we’ll make bad things happen to them. It’s the story of Hannah’s quest, really, and I’m loving her relationships, both with the various men in her life, and her therapist, Dr. Sennet, and with Stella (who’s got a nicely complex mixture of anger and growing trust going on with her), and with her mentor, a kind of mother figure to her. We’ve got a script for episode two ready, and we know where this is going. We just need the audience figures and the online reaction to get us a series.
And I saved my most hard-hitting question for last:
TJ: WHAT WILL YOU WEAR TO THE HUGOS?!
PC: The smartest suit I can find, for the most wonderful night of the year, at which I will win nothing, but will still enjoy like crazy.
I don’t know about the “at which I will win nothing” business. With everything he’s got going on these days, it seems to be Paul Cornell’s year!
Pulse airs on BBC3 TOMORROW, JUNE 3rd at 9:00PM!
Action Comics #890 hits stands in the US on June 30th!
Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to Tor.com, a website that covers sci-fi, fantasy, “…and related subjects.” Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Fall 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.
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