Frank Barbiere, writer of Dejah Thoris #3, talks with writer Genevieve Valentine about Xena: Warrior Princess #1, both on sale now from Dynamite. Covers is by Greg Land and Jenny Frison.
GENEVIEVE VALENTINE: This question makes it sound like we used to be cop partners until a Case Went Wrong, and now I’m honestly kind of sad that’s not what happened. What actually happened was that when I got to college, I had both unprecedented access to TV and downtime during the hours of the day in which reruns were airing. My chronological understanding of the show occasionally suffered weird skips, but I really loved watching this show that was totally unafraid to be goofy for 40 minutes and tragic in the final three, that was ready at the drop of a hat to make everyone slap on gold lamé and pull off a giant caper with their own secret twins, and also made its heroine face up to a ruthless past in a way that always felt very real. There are pockets in my memory (I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened with Hope, and I’m fine with it), but I will always remember the hours of homework I ditched so I could hang out with Xena and Gabrielle instead.
FB: How does this story fit into Xena canon? Were you excited to dig through and find elements to incorporate, or more interested in contributing something new?
GV: This story takes place after one of those moments that makes you realize this show will try pretty much anything: The Twilight of the Gods, in which Xena receives the power to kill gods and instantly takes down about half a dozen of them. This is also after a 25-year time jump, and after Xena and Gabrielle realize the kid who was so helpful and well-meaning 25 years ago has grown into Augustus Caesar. But there are also some new things here, including some new characters, a look at Gabrielle as her hold on the future gets a little shaky, and Rome.
FB: What are Xena’s defining qualities? Do you think there are specific elements that make “Xena: The Comic” feel specifically like “Xena: The Show”? How do you feel about translating said qualities into a new medium?
GV: The balance of lightness, character beats, and pulpy action are all part of what makes Xena so great, and I’m hoping to be able to bring some of that particular rhythm to the comic. In terms of the medium, I’ve talked before about how lovely it is that a comic book world has no budget, so I can conjure a legion of Romans at a moment’s notice, and if I need a set piece, I’ll never have to worry about availability. However, I am crushed that the “whoosh” head-turn sound will never really translate the way it does when you’re watching it on TV.
FB: Thematically, is there any specific territory you’re looking to explore in this book? How does it relate to the typical adventures of Xena?
GV: I thought this particular point in the show was a fascinating moment, and the perfect place to explore just what all those giant changes really mean: that sense of being too late, of trying to grapple with a world that’s changed so much (especially when you’re part of the change), of not knowing who to trust or where to begin helping. I wanted to talk about mentorship, which was one of the things I loved most about the show – that pattern of women exchanging knowledge and finding common ground, but how sometimes that creates emotional terrain you have to negotiate. And there’s a casino caper, which is as close to a musical issue as I could get in a comic, because it’s not Xena until there’s a gift shop.
For more on Xena: Warrior Princess #1, click here.