Created by Marc Guggenheim, co-showrunner of The CW’s Arrow and writer on numerous comic books, “The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum” follows the trials and tribulations of the titular hero who just so happens to be the smartest man in the world. Among his many feats – including curing death and learning to talk ten minutes after being born – Jonas struggles with the loneliness that comes with his super intelligence and battles enemies who have acquired his immortality serum. Published by Legendary Comics, the first issue, of this six issue series, will be released on September 16th of this year.
In this interview with Mr. Guggenheim, we chat about his latest book, the upcoming fourth season of Arrow and its ties with the supernatural, and Green Arrow’s future in the DC Cinematic Universe.
Collider: Thanks so much for talking with us Marc and congratulations on “Jonas Quantum.” So tell us, what is the book about?
Marc Guggenheim: Well it’s a “safe concept”. I wanted to create a guy who was like a superhero in how he approached everyday life, but not really. Here’s the hero whose super power is that he’s the smartest man in the world. The story is about playing with the different ramifications of that of that, to have this ability to solve any problem. I wanted to use this as a launching point to explore some crazy adventures while also looking into the character of Jonas.
Indiana Jones was created as a response to James Bond, and I can’t think of an instance where someone created a response to Indiana Jones. Indiana’s intelligence was always something that interested me and I wanted to explore that further with Quantum. It’s been really fun to take that idea of super intellect to the nth degree and have adventures to play on. Jonas is an interesting character in a similar vein as a Doc Savage or Alan Moore’s Tom Strong, but the most interesting thing about Jonas, and these characters, was the idea of isolation.
Is that something you’ll be exploring more in the future in the series?
Guggenheim: It’s something that comes up in every issue in fact. It’s an element of his character that’s a tragic flaw. Everyone hears about intelligent characters like Reed Richards and Tony Stark, but for whatever reason, their intellect doesn’t stop them as much from interacting with other people. The difference between Reed Richards and Jonas Quantum is that Jonas lacks that ability to connect with others. How does someone with super intellect manage to have a first date with a “Susan Storm”? How does he fill the air? This is something we explore in the series.
It almost sounds like the birth of a super villain.
Guggenheim: We have a classic dynamic set up here, as Jonas has a great power, but that intellect comes with a great weakness. That’s one of the most interesting things about characters like Victor Von Doom and Lex Luthor in that their morality falls to the wayside with their intelligence. The series will explore parallel universe so we’ll be able to see if Jonas had went right when he should have gone left, would he have become a super villain? Ultimately, a fun thing to play with is how many stories we can get from this idea.
The most interesting characters are those that could become super villains. Frank Miller, in his legendary run on “Daredevil”, made the argument that Matt Murdock should be a super villain. With Jonas, here’s a guy who in the first issue manages to cure death; where do we go from here?
Freddie Williams is an amazing artist. There’s this scene at the beginning where Jonas is first born and he’s having his umbilical cord cut, and he just looks frustrated and impatient about it because he’s already that intelligent. How’s it been working with him?
Guggenheim: I’ve worked with Freddie on “Justice Society” and have always been a huge fan of his work. When we started talking about the idea of “Jonas Quantum”, he came to the table with so many ideas and a ton of enthusiasm. This story is meant to be a love letter to the Silver Age and Bronze Age which is dependent on the visuals. The visuals become more ambitious and widescreen and crazy. Freddie’s “acting” on the page is really good and he is thinking about all these little things.
I didn’t specify, for example, that the baby should be annoyed and it’s a wonderful part of our collaboration in setting up the idea of his intelligence in the womb. Freddie was able to add all these other little touches. He really is the best; he takes my material and elevates it. I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention Chris Ottimeyer, the colorist, handpicked by Freddie, and he’s a phenomenal talent. The combination of these two is absolutely stunning.
Arrow Season 4 is starting soon! You’ve had a hand in creating something special with the CW’s DC Television Universe. Can you tell me where you all are at in the process right now of the season?
Guggenheim: Greg Belanti gets all the credit for the CW-verse. As for Arrow, we’re in the first day of shooting episode 406 and then prepping on 407. Right now, I’m working on writing episode 408, and the (writer’s) room is breaking 410.
I notice that the characters for this season are skewing closer to the supernatural with villains like Damien Darhk and heroes like Constantine making appearances. Any other supernatural aspects from the DC universe making an appearance?
Guggenheim: Yeah, I think that with each year of Arrow, we introduce a new concept. With year two we did super powers, and year three was the League of Assassins. Mysticism and the supernatural is the thread that ties everything together in Season 4.
The DC Cinematic Universe is about to move into full gear with Batman V Superman next year, and while a lot of DC’s heroes have already been announced to get their own films at some point, I’m surprised there’s been no mention of Green Arrow appearing. Have there been any talks?
Guggenheim: No, there’s no plans at the moment in terms of bringing Green Arrow into that universe. I’ll be surprised to see how it works when a cinematic version of the Flash appears versus the CW’s version.
If the planets were to align, could you somehow see Jonas Quantum appearing in the world of Arrow and the Flash?
Guggenheim: Honestly, I never thought about it. This really goes for any of my creator-owned comic book work. I never create a series with an eye towards what this is going to be developed into, movie or television wise. The closest I think I would ever get would be putting in a Jonas Quantum Easter egg in the shows. These characters exist in separate universes and most likely, always will.
“The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum” is available on September 16th and Arrow Season 4 debuts on the CW on October 7th.