University of Oklahoma graduate and Tulsa native Sterling Gates is creating the stories of a Hispanic comics hero for a new generation with “Justice League of America's Vibe,” a DC Comics series.
Gates, who previously wrote “Supergirl” and co-wrote “Superman: Last Stand on New Krypton,” among others for the publisher, is bringing Vibe into DC Comics' “The New 52,” a relaunch that started in 2011.
“The pre-New 52 version of Vibe was created in the early 1980s and oftentimes was played as slightly more of a stereotype than an actual character,” Gates said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “Vibe's introductory scene started with him break-dancing and ended as he beat up some local gang members! It played differently in the '80s than it does now; now it reads as more comedic and antiquated than heroic.”
Writers Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg changed Vibe in the first two issues of the series. Cisco Ramon is a teenager from Detroit who gains vibration-based powers when the villain Darkseid attacks from another dimension. Vibe works for a secretive government agency attempting to prevent more extradimensional attacks. Meanwhile, he's also a member of the Justice League of America, a team of mostly young heroes selected by the U.S. to protect the country and world.
Gates took over as writer with issue No. 3.
“Geoff and Andrew introduced a much different version of the character, updating Cisco Ramon and playing the story straight, giving Vibe pathos and a reason he's put on the Hero's Path,” Gates said. “Cisco's family plays such a big, immediate role in his story, as well — his eldest brother was killed in the same accident that gave Vibe his powers — and the relationship he's developed with his other brother, Dante, is something I hadn't seen in a comic book recently.”
Vibe is one of a handful of minority-led characters in the DC Comics lineup, something of which Gates said he is aware.
“I think good literature reflects the world in which we live,” Gates said. “I live in Los Angeles and I spend a lot of time in New York City, so I want to create work that reflects everything I see and hear around me. The world's a diverse place, full of interesting people of all backgrounds, so why shouldn't comic book worlds be just as varied? Why shouldn't comic books offer a broad spectrum of characters? The world we live in is ever-changing, constantly evolving. I think comic books — well, and all media, really — should evolve alongside our world.”
Issue No. 4 of “Justice League of America's Vibe” went on sale this week.
“I tend to gravitate toward teenage superheroes and their supporting casts, and I really enjoy writing coming-of-age stories,” Gates said. “I think fans who read my work on DC's ‘Supergirl' will find a lot of the same voice and tone in ‘Vibe.' My M.O. for this book is ‘home, heart, heroics.' I want to focus on what makes Vibe a great hero, why he cares about people and believes in them the way he does, and what about his home life has led him to be this vibrant young man. He's not naive, though, he's just learning a lot about himself and the world around him as he takes those first steps into the DC Universe.”
The world's a diverse place, full of interesting people of all backgrounds, so why shouldn't comic book worlds be just as varied?”