Among television fans, Damon Lindelof is best known for his role as co-creator and co-executive producer of the hit ABC series, Lost. Since its debut last year, Lost has been one of the first genre shows to achieve massive crossover appeal since The X-Files. Over the weekend, Lost took home the prestigious Emmy Award for Best Dramatic Series, while the second season debuted this week. But as comic fans have recently learned, Lindelof will soon be making his comic book debut with the December release of Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine. Teaming with artist, Leinil Yu, Lindelof will chronicle the first encounter between these two characters within the Ultimate universe. Recently, Lindelof took the time to answer a few questions about his new comic and the coming season of Lost.
Blair Marnell: First off, congratulations for the Emmy Awards.
Damon Lindelof: Thank you? We?re still kind of in shock about it. It just happened a couple of days ago, so we?re all walking around with goofy smiles on our faces like we?ve been hit on the head with a stick.
BM: Starting with Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine, how did this project come together?
DL: What happened was, I was playing poker with Sam Simon, who is one of the creators of The Simpsons. A lot of the guys in the poker game are big comic book fans and we play on Wednesday nights, so we talk about whatever came out that day. What we were reading? what we liked. And I guess I just voiced out loud what a dream it would be for me to actually write a comic book. I think we were having some sort of Marvel debate about the Ultimate line, how much some of us liked it and others did not. I was pro-Ultimate. And then Sam basically said, ?You can write a comic book. You should call this guy, Joe Quesada, who?s a very good friend of mine. I?ll send him an e-mail.? The next day, Joe sent me an e-mail asking me if it was true that I?d be interested in doing a comic. We started exchanging e-mails and got on the phone together. It was pretty much entirely Joe?s idea: he said ?We want to do a limited series about how Hulk and Wolverine meet for the first time in the Ultimate universe. Would you be interested in that?? And I said, ?Would I be interested?! I?m the guy who thinks that would be the greatest thing ever!? So, that was the genesis of it.
DL: Wolverine is very appealing to me because, in the regular Marvel universe he?s been through so much that there?s a tremendous amount of history that you are not burdened with in the Ultimate universe. It seems that certain periods of his past are similar, in terms of Weapon X and all that. But all the time that he spent in Japan, his various romances and other experiences are much more open ended. I think his character in the Ultimate universe is just a little less jaded and a little more fun to play with.
As far as Hulk goes, he is also a much fresher character. I think that the only sort exploration of him has been done in The Ultimates in terms of introducing Bruce Banner as sort of a Hannibal Lector type. The Banner in the Ultimate universe really hasn?t struggled yet with the idea of being the Hulk and hasn?t really explored yet where the Hulk comes from. All that we know is that there were some sort of vague experiments with super soldier serums. But he hasn?t really hulked out that many times. Every time he has, it?s been a fairly significant disaster. It?s interesting to me, now that Banner is free, that he is going to have to deal with the monster within.
BM: Ultimate Hulk seems to be quite a bit more violent than his Marvel Universe counterpart.
DL: He also seems to be considerably more hungry. There are references to him eating people at times? But I don?t think we?ve ever seen it.
BM: Well? he did eat the alien leader at the end of Ultimates v1.
DL: True, but that?s not really a person.
BM: Anyway, what brings the Hulk and Wolverine together in this story?
DL: I don?t want to give too much away, but it?s a very basic sort of set up that gets more and more complicated as it goes on. The basic premise is that, as we learned in The Ultimates Annual, Nick Fury is now aware that Banner/Hulk somehow survived the execution attempt and is out wandering the world. Realizing that if it were made public, that the Hulk was still out there that would pretty much be the end of Shield and everything he has tried to do. It would be exposed that the execution was a complete and total failure, he would lose his job and his financing. So he needs to take care of the situation quietly. The only person he knows that could take care of it discreetly is our friend, Logan. He solicits him for his help in tracking down and eliminating Hulk.
BM: Given the Incredible Hulk # 181 connection, will Wendigo show up?
DL: Wendigo is definitely in play, in much the same way that the Ultimate universe takes certain liberties in reinventing things and surprising people. I think bringing in the actual Wendigo character might potentially complicate the simplistic beauty of Hulk and Wolverine fighting each other. So, I will not go on record as to whether Wendigo is going to make an appearance.
DL: Yeah, there are going to be a couple of surprises along the way. None of the Ultimates per say, other than Fury, but there will be a couple of cameos and we will be introducing a new Ultimate character, who obviously is well known in the Marvel universe but has yet to appear in the Ultimate universe. That will be happening around issue #4.
BM: You mentioned that you?re a fan of the Ultimate titles. What other comics do you read?
DL: Besides all the Ultimate books, I love Robert Kirkman?s Image books, The Walking Dead and Invincible. I read Y: The Last Man, Fables, Miller?s new All-Star Batman, Brubaker?s Authority, and all the House of M stuff. That?s what?s on my play list right now.
BM: Do you have any other comic projects in the works?
DL: Right now, this is it. I?m learning the format and trying to do an amazing job. I don?t want to bite off more than I can chew. My day job is obviously still writing and running Lost, but I couldn?t pass up the opportunity to play in the Marvel sandbox, especially with pairings as iconic as this one. I?m pretty psyched about it, but I?m gonna take it one step at a time.
BM: Which comic characters would you be interested in writing?
DL: Anything X-men. I?d love to take a crack at Daredevil some day, with the work that Bendis has been doing on that book for so long, I?d be very intimidated by following him. But then again, he followed Miller. And I think any writer?s dream is to have a run at Batman some time in their career. That would be pretty sweet.
BM: Do you have any plans for creator owned comics down the line?
DL: I?ve got some ideas bubbling around in my head, that at some point would be kind of trippy and cool.
BM: Let?s talk a little bit about your day job? What?s coming up on the second season of Lost?
DL: In tonight?s premiere we?re coming right of the gate and we?re going into this hatch that they?ve spent so much time trying to open up and what they find in there and what it means for them is obviously going to play throughout the entire arc of season two. The other major component of the story is the aftermath of what happens with the guys on the raft, where they wash up, what happens to them, where they are and who they meet there. We?ll be telling those two separate stories until they converge midway through the season.
BM: Tell us about some of the new characters coming to the show.
DL: We have Michelle Rodriguez playing a character named Ana-Lucia, who we introduced in the finale last year. We know that she was sitting in the back of the plane and she turns up on the island. At the very least, she survived the plane crash as well. Then we have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a very talented actor who was on Oz. We?re not really talking much about his character. It?s been reported that his character?s name is Emeka. But in fact, that is not true. We run into him on the island, so he is not a flashback character. And then Cynthia Watros plays a character named Libby, but we?re not telling anybody who or where she comes from. Those actors are our new series regulars.
BM: If the first season covered the castaways? first 40 days on the island, what time frame will the second season cover?
DL: Roughly the next 45 or 50 days. We?re sticking to the same brand of storytelling and not taking bold jumps forward. Probably by the end of season two we?ll be in the range of day 90.
BM: How far ahead do you have the series planned out?
DL: This season is planned out pretty tightly. We?ve known what our finale for season two is going to be for a while now, so we?re writing towards that. As for how far out the series is planned, that?s a question that a lot of people ask us. The answer is, we know what the end of the show is, what the nature of the island is, what the various mysteries are and what?s on the island, but the rate at which we discover those things and the story unfolds has to be a more organic process. I wish that we were working in an environment where we control over when the show would end and how many episodes we produced. As long as the show is successful, it?s going to keep going on. Chris Carter didn’t really have choice on The X-Files because the network he was working for basically said ?We?re not going to let you end the show.? So, it just kept going and going and going.
BM: I was a big X-Files fan, and I felt that the problem with Carter was that he didn?t know where the series was going. It seemed very clear that he had no answers to give and that there was no plan.
DL: At what point did you feel that way?
BM: Somewhere in season six. I mean, we supposedly had pieces of the puzzle, like modified bees spreading a black oil virus with corn? How does that work, exactly? And they promised the big answers in one of their two part episodes, but they didn?t deliver. It was just a mess? Really muddled storytelling.
DL: I think you weren?t alone in feeling that way. Now, doing the job myself, I actually feel tremendous sympathy for Chris Carter, because ultimately, it?s not his choice to make. What I didn?t understand as a fan but have come to understand as a creator is that we don?t have the freedom to go and say, ?We are going to end the series and give definitive answers here in this place.? Because the commerce of this business will not allow us to do that. The network says that ?we?re sorry you feel that way, but if that?s what you need to do then we are going to replace you with someone else. And they?ll keep doing The X-Files, or they?ll keep doing Lost. All you can do to protect your baby, as it were, is to do your best and keep coming in and producing episodes. It?s a Catch 22 in many ways.
BM: It was rumored that the season one DVDs were going to have a mini-movie that explained why the plane crashed. Obviously, that didn?t pan out. Is that going to be addressed this season?
DL: Yeah, I don?t know what the genesis of that specific rumor was. The issue of what made Flight 815 crash is going to be dealt with in season two and definitively answered by the end of season two.
BM: Did you know from the beginning of the series, that the Polar Bears on the island were going to come from Walt?s Flash comic book?
DL: Like many things on the show, I think it?s a potential explanation, but an even more interesting mystery over just what that correlation is. The fact that there is some seemingly causal relationship between Walt and the Polar Bears is pretty cool. The genesis of it being that comic book, and it being a comic book in Spanish were sort of seeded in my long time love of those characters, Flash and Green Lantern. To get a comic book where they both appeared on the cover and finding a splash page with a polar bear on it was like the greatest thing ever. We had the comic book as we were writing the show, so all of those things happened in complete and total accordance of each other as opposed to coincidentally.
BM: A while back, there was talk about Lost comic books. What?s the status of that?
DL: We?re still trying to figure out who?s going to do that. We?re ready to go and we?ve got a cool idea and Javier [Grillo-Marxuach] is probably going to write it. But, because Lost is sort of wrapped up in the vast Disney conglomerate, everything moves at a snail?s pace in terms of finding the right publisher to pull it off. We want it to be good.
BM: Any closing thoughts on the upcoming season of Lost?
DL: I know that the big criticism of the show is that we don?t give satisfactory answers to our mysteries. I would just hope that the fans exercise patience and restraint and remember that the show is primarily about the characters and what they are going through on the show. That if the fans trust us the answers will come. I think that the problem with a show like Twin Peaks, people look back on it fondly, but they say ?Once we found out who killed Laura Palmer, I wasn?t interested in the show anymore.? So, the fact is, every time we answer a mystery, we have to lay seeds for a new mystery. I think that gives the audience the illusion that we are always engaging in some sort of con game with them. But that is just the nature of the beast. Moving forward into season two, you will find out in the first five minutes of the season premiere, what?s in the hatch. Once you find out what?s in the hatch, that is going to create more questions as to how it got there and what it?s purpose is. The truth is in there? I would hope.
This Has A ?Driveshaft? Factor of Ten Out of Ten