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Interview: Believe The Hype! DnA and Brad Walker Reunite On The Hypernaturals

CBN talks to DnA, Walker exclusively about Hypernaturals

 

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In July, CBN fan favorite cosmic scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will return to galactic adventures with their own creation, The Hypernaturals, from BOOM! Studio.

Fans, practically starved for this kind of cosmic fare, got a taste on Free Comic Book Day with an original issue of Hypernaturals that will not be repeated in July’s #1.

Taking a rare trip from his cubicle at our CBN offices, Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up with both the scribes (who, as usual, answer collectively as DnA) and also Hypernaturals artist and co-creator Brad Walker for an exclusive interview to discuss the new cosmic book.

Cosmic Book News: Tell us a little about this future world you have for Hypernaturals. It is the year 100 AQ, but where does that figure into “real” time? What is the Quantinuum and how is the Earth different than it is today?

DnA: The exact date, in our terms, is deliberately being left vague. It’s the future, not far, but far enough. There are actually some plot reasons for this, which we can’t go into, but mainly it’s so we don’t lock down entirely and regret it later. The important thing is that when the Quantinuum began — a singularity moment, human culture just changed overnight, and this future began. It’s not a future that evolved. It’s a future that turned up like a light.

Cosmic Book News: Explain a little about the Hypernaturals. Is it a militaristic corps like Marvel’s Imperial Guard (X-Men) or is it more like a political post with limited terms? I noted some served three terms and some chose to serve less than that.

DnA: They’re police, champions, protectors. Not so much military, but they sign on for designated terms (the limit is three of the five year terms). The Hypernaturals are all humans with “hypernatural powers” who are detected from amongst the trillions of humans in Quantinuum space, a culture that spans many worlds, and are recruited for service. Only the best make the cut each term. They’re all unique — naturally occurring powers, unusual gifts, etc. They are the one-in-a-billion exceptional and unusual souls who are drawn upon to be heroes.

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Cosmic Book News: In this “future,” do all humans have hypernatural powers, or are they like mutant powers in that folks start to get them as they grow older?

DnA: See above — only the very few. A hyper gift is a freak occurrence. 

Cosmic Book NewsThus far, to my knowledge, it has been said that all the HNs are human or at least of Earth homo sapiens origin. Is this right? Are there other characters coming in HN that are alien non-Earthers?

DnA: There are no sentient aliens in this universe. There are alien life forms — up to the size of complex animals, but nothing sentient or civilized, no races of cultures. However, the range and diversity of human life, which has spread to many different worlds and very many different environments, along with the possibilities of bio and technological body modification means that some humans may seem very alien. 

Cosmic Book News: You see to have two casts: the Centennial Iteration (the newbies) and those who have been HNs before who are coming to the rescue. Tell us about this expansive cast and how the team may shape out in months to come.

DnA: The Quantinuum is a hundred years old, and the Centennial Iteration is the twenty-first version of the team. They’re supposed to be the best yet, and it’s supposed to be a big PR exercise, but something happens. For a while, the Quantinuum has no Hypernatural defenders … and it’s up to retired and veteran members, and some real newbies, to stand in. We’re going to focus on some of the ex-members — the super-fast Bewilder, the genius Thinkwell and the combat hero Clone 45, and look at their reactions to the disappearance of a team they used to belong to.

Cosmic Book News: While a threat has been seen for the Centennial Iteration, no real quality big-bad has stepped forward yet. Who is gonna be the team’s main villain?

DnA: The team’s faced some big villains in the past, as we’ll learn. We’re going to meet at least one of those “old foes,” and he’s really scary and cool. The Hypernaturals have their arch-foes. But this could be something new, something on a whole level beyond. This is like something they’ve never faced before.

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Cosmic Book News: You have written Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel and the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC. What are the similarities and the differences in these groups and the Hypernaturals?

DnA: If you’ve enjoyed our cosmic forays at Marvel and DC, you should love this. It’s got the huge, complex, star-spanning continuity of Legion, and the wit and invention of Guardians. But it’s also neither of those things. We’ve not only created the characters, we’ve created the galaxy. We get to do some pretty big and dramatic things. Basically these are the cosmic action stories we simply couldn’t have told in another book. These are stories that couldn’t have happened in the Marvel Universe or the DCU. These aren’t leftovers or re-fits. These are brain-frying mega SF stories we’ve never been able to tell before.

Cosmic Book News: Anything else you would like to say about the book, Dan & Andy? Do you enjoy being reunited with Brad?

DnA: Working with Brad again is fantastic, and we’re loving what he’s doing. His character designs alone are superb, but the strip work … wow! We’d also like to mention Andres (Guinaldo), our other artist on the regular book, who is also drawing it out of the park. The art on this is gorgeous!

Cosmic Book News: Let’s hear from one of those great artists. Brad, what is it like to bring these cosmic characters to life? Can you tell me the approach you took with some of the HNs in their design?

Brad Walker: It’s really wonderful, and it’s something that’s unique for me so far, in my career. The majority of my work has been at the “Big Two,” and the opportunities to create and design new characters there are few and far between, in this modern era. When I stepped into this, Dan and Andy had a story they wanted to tell with characters in mind, and my contribution was to come in and brainstorm, visually. I tried to take their ideas and not just translate them, but spin them in some other directions too, and maybe see if  anything I put on paper inspired them into areas they hadn’t thought of before. I tried to think in terms of personality, not just costumes and muscles, and I think those were the elements that really clicked for all of us, and started to flesh things out. For the costumes, we knew we wanted uniforms, but I really wanted to put individuality into everybody’s look, too. So, I looked at each character’s personality and abilities, and I tried to include visual tweaks that coincided with those things. I tried not to make any of the visuals random. Everything was pretty deliberate, and we all discussed things, as we went along.

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Cosmic Book News: Design-wise, who is your favorite among the HNs? Why?

Brad Walker: I have little things about all of them that are fun, but my favorite is probably Clone 45 because he’s got a lot of personality. And I gave him a comically v-shaped body type that almost looks like a Bruce Timm drawing, but drawn realistically, the way I do. So, that’s entertaining to me. We’ll see over time if that translates through different artists, and different motions and poses, but it’s fun, in the meantime. Looking past just the team, we have a villain coming up early on that I had a lot of fun designing because it  was all based around an abstract concept. All I had to go on was a name that, for the most part, just describes an emotion. So that was fun to work out visually, and I think the result was really cool.

Cosmic Book News: You once mentioned to me that Dave Cockrum was an influence on you. Are there any other artists who you may be channeling for the Hypernaturals’world

Brad Walker: Yeah, Cockrum really influences me a lot in all the character design stuff. He doesn’t get enough credit, especially in team design. There just weren’t many guys better. His characters were so graceful and individual and balanced. Kirby, of course, was a big influence, both in design and on the pages themselves. He’s always my favorite. There’s a laundry list really, and I could go on and on. I’m a huge fan of comics from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. As far as sci-fi worlds and landscapes, I’m trying to look around at a lot of images from great sci-fi illustrations to inspire me.

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Cosmic Book News: Anything else you would like to say about the book, Brad? Do you enjoy working with DnA?

Brad Walker: I took on this project because I feel strongly that the comic industry is in need of embracing new stories, new characters and new properties. I love and believe in Dan and Andy’s writing and ideas, and BOOM! is one of a small handful of companies that are really trying to publish exciting, new things, and all that is something that I wanted to be a part of. I had other work lined up, but because everybody involved (myself, included) was so passionate about this book, I wanted to figure out a way to contribute. The folks at BOOM! and Dan and Andy have all been extremely accommodating to work around my previous commitments, and we’re all having a great time. I really hope people will give the book a shot, and I think that it’s something cosmic fans especially will have a blast with!

Cosmic Book News: Thank you, Dan, Andy and Brad, and we are looking forward to reading The Hypernaturals #1 in July. Good luck and thanks again!

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Interview: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan On “Black Light”

(Editor’s Note: The following interview was conducted at the New York Comic Con on Saturday, October 15th, 2011)

 

Immerse Yourself In The Darkness

Interview With Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan & Stephen Romano on Black Light

 

By: Chris Bushley

 

 

black light novelBack in October, our friends at Mulholland Books sent Cosmic Book News an advanced copy of one of the most intriguing, multi-faceted books I have read as of late — Black Light.

This is the debut novel by the screenwriters of the Saw franchise, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, in conjunction with the enigmatic Stephen Romano (The Riot Act). It is a literal “bullet train ride” of a read, hitting you with every emotion. From lust, fear, sorrow and utter revulsion, you can’t help but get caught up in this whirlwind tale of a man with incredible skills, trying to find out just what really happened to his parents so long ago. 

 
Black Light is the story of Buck Carlsbad, a paranormal expert that has the unique ability to pull a “mark” (ghost) into himself in order to finally set them to rest. He is a walking amalgam of genres, ghost hunter, martial artist, reluctant lover, but mostly he is a man set off on a quest of self discovery — one that may leave him broken and dying for his efforts. The character of Buck is one of the richest characters that I have ever read. He exudes confidence yet is emotionally stunted, he is completely bad-ass and yet internally broken, he is the every man, yet so much more! He is completely fleshed out, from external shell to the subtle nuances, an original character brought together from all the coolest aspects of a thousand archetypes.
 
The novel itself is a rare find within the confines of the Horror genre. It is not bound by the shackles of the “in your face splatter fest” that is all too often relied upon in the modern Horror novel. And considering the trio of authors on this book, one would expect to constantly be immersed in gallons of gore. But the obligatory acts of violence are used sparingly, creating a sort of horrifying crescendo when they occur, making the scenes reverberate within in you so much more than they ever would have! 
 
This is a great book that bends the senses and thrills until the final page. But you don’t have to take my word for it.
 
You can hear what the authors had to say about their collaboration right here, in this CBN exclusive interview from the New York Comic Con. From Black Light, to the movie, to Stephen Romano’s new novel and more, the creators gave us some of their time to sit and chat about it all.
 
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MARCUS DUNSTAN & PATRICK MELTON
Photo Credit: John Gulager

Cosmic Book News:  Steven [Romano] is a veteran novelist, but this is a first for Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The two of you have written so many screenplays in the past, why was this the perfect time to come out with a novel?
 
Patrick Melton:  Well, Marcus and I had dinner with an editor, John Schoenfelder, who follows this sort of template that Guillermo del Toro followed with Chuck Hogan, where they collaborated their ideas to make a book. And we talked about this idea we had about this guy, a paranormal expert who has these skills, and he takes a job that takes place on a bullet train. John said, ‘Great I love it!’ and that’s the beginning. That’s when Stephen was brought in because of his literary expertise, and that’s how it all came together.
 
Cosmic Book News:  Buck Carlsbad, the main character, is such an amalgam of characters. He has many different facets, from his martial arts skills to his ghost hunting expertise. With three writers on the book, who was the quintessential “voice” of Buck?
 
Patrick Melton: It began as a screenplay that Marcus and I wrote, right after Feast actually! But when we wrote it, it was when “ghost stories” were going out of vogue and the “torture porn,” as we call it, came in. So we jumped on the band wagon!
 
Stephen Romano:  And oh, what a band wagon it was!
 
[Laughter]
 
Cosmic Book News: So, did you adapt the screenplay into the novel? Is that essentially where it came from?
 
Patrick Melton: So, we never showed anyone the screenplay. We wrote, like, a treatment and our editor shared it with Stephen who helped to “pulp” it up more than it was at the time. Which was the direction we were going. And he added a lot of the film noir elements to it.
 
Stephen Romano:  Plus expanding it a little bit, making it a little bit more epic in certain ways. Making the stakes a little higher, adding a cast of characters that was maybe a little more expanded. John Schoenfelder and I would throw these ideas at Patrick and Marcus, and they really liked them. So, to answer your question directly, I’d write stuff and show it to them and they’d say, ‘Oh wow cool’ or ‘This needs to be changed,’ and it was great! A real collaborative effort, a lot of fun!
 
Cosmic Book News: You guys are known for a lot of slaughterfest, in your face grotesque scenes. But, with Black Light, the gore is kept to a minimum. Was it intentionally pulled back to showcase Buck as a character and the things he endures, as opposed to just shock value?
 
Marcus Dunstan:  With Black Light, the ideas was to put a twist on the supernatural that would ground it a little more. Patrick and I loved the idea of taking something that isn’t confined by a 90 page format that didn’t need to hold back in any case to its concept. So, this supernatural terrain allowed us to go back to our childhoods and pepper it with visceral images and viscous entities. There is still cutting, there is still nail, claw and there is anger. But it feels more real and it doesn’t have to push as hard to get you there.
 
Stephen Romano:  It’s more along the lines of a non-stop action adventure kinda thing. But we do have the token torture sequence in there, but it’s not like we’re trying to rehabilitate our image either. We’re just trying to tell a really good story. I think when you’re known for doing certain things, it’s harder to do other stuff and I think this was, at least for me, really refreshing.
 
Cosmic Book News:  The character of Buck Carlsbad has a lot of quirks. His use of urns, his no drinking and his use of a Walkman. Who’s brilliant idea was it to use Warrant’s song Down Boys? That thing was in my head for the duration of the book!
 
Patrick Melton:  Well Stephen was in a hair band when he was young! Which is quite ironic!
 
[Laugher]
 
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STEPHEN ROMANO
Photo Credit: John Gulager

Stephen Romano: I was! I’m a big fan of hair metal! The thing with Down Boys is it’s about life worn stuff, and people don’t really think about the deep meaningful side of lyrics to songs like that. We wanted to make Buck a more interesting character in ways that were original. You don’t see a private eye listening to Motley Crue, it just ain’t gonna happen! So, anytime we could make him quirky and interesting and come up with a reason for it within the context of the character — we went for it! It made it much more fun to write! On that note, we intended to dedicate the book to Jamie Lane who died just before the book came out. But, unfortunately our publishing schedule didn’t allow for that. But in future editions it will say, “For Jamie.”
 
Cosmic Book News: The title, “Black Light,” actually refers to Buck’s ability to see what the dead see, and he can actually bring back objects to the mortal plane. How did the name come about?
 
Patrick Melton:  We always had the concept that he could go into this other plane, but at one point John said, ‘You gotta name it something cool!’ And Stephen said, ‘What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
 
Stephen Romano:  Actually that was John [Schoenfelder]. He said, ‘You have to come up with a post-modern expression that defines it. What would Andy Wharhol call it?’
 
Patrick Melton: Hmmm, Black Light? It was originally titled “Black Jack Nine.” Which, for some reason sounded too cute or cool for them [Stephen and John].
 
Stephen Romano: I think Black Light is a better title! The idea of pulling something out of the “black light” was an idea given to us by our editor, he really did drive a lot of what we were doing in terms of really pushing for originality.
 
Cosmic Book News: The book has a lot of potential for not just a sequel, but a series of books. Is there a possibility of that seeing fruition?
 
Marcus Dunstan: Buck Carlsbad has pissed off people on two realms of existence. He has set off a number of possible courses to take as he wrestles with his “gift.” 
 
Patrick Melton: We had a lot more room to set up Buck’s world, more so than when doing movies. We got the chance to set him up, his world, his past; we had the chance to set up these other characters as well. There are characters that don’t sort of play up as much as you’d think because we are leaving them to do things in the future. So, the idea was to set a full plate and then have subsequent adventures with Buck. We have discussed a sequel as a group, but a lot of it comes down to [this book’s] success and if Mulholland Books wants to do more. So we will see!
 
Cosmic Book News: Well if we have to wait for a sequel, let’s talk about the movie!
 
Patrick Melton: The book came out [with] intentions to make it into a movie. So Mike De Luca is the producer, who did Social Network and MoneyBall.
 
Stephen Romano: The great thing about De Luca is that he is not just a legendary producer, but he is also a writer. He wrote [John] Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness and the last Freddy movie before they rebooted it.
 
That’s great. He was the first guy we wanted to work with.
 
Cosmic Book News: How faithful will the movie stay to the novel? Will it be more gory?
 
Stephen Romano: The novel is pretty gory.
 
Marcus Dunstan: At the same time, whenever you can cloak it in the supernatural, I think there is a way to break fingers, tackle ghosts, ingest, regurge — whatever you have to do, but keep it within that PG-13 net that has grown quite violent in its own right.
 
Cosmic Book News: Who would you cast to play Buck? Would you bring in an unknown actor or go with someone that would draw in a crowd?
 
Stephen Romano: Who do you want to see as Buck Carlsbad?
 
Cosmic Book News: No one cares who I want as Buck!
 
[Laughter]
 
Patrick Melton:  Marcus has this deep, deep love of Manhunter. So we want William Peterson circa 1985!
 
Cosmic Book News: Well, the Back To The Future Delorian is down the hall, we could possibly make this happen!
 
[Laughter]
 
Patrick Melton: We will cast William Peterson from now, but give him the “Benjamin Buttons” treatment! 
 
[Laughter] 
 
Patrick Melton:  But in all seriousness, you guys know the names as well as we do. I mean you could say Jason Statham is tough, but he often has roles that don’t show off his charming side, not since Snatch really. But I don’t think he does an American accent, especially not a Texas one!
 
Stephen Romano: You had mentioned Matthew McConaughey.
 
Patrick Melton: He would be an interesting guy, just because he has that Southern charm and he can be tough! I heard he was great in Killer Joe, it hasn’t come out yet, I think it was at Sundance. But he’s also from Austin, Texas which would be great!
 
Stephen Romano: I think your idea was pretty good about casting a relatively unknown guy, maybe somebody that was on a show, like The Wire. Somebody who is a good actor but not yet a superstar, then surrounding them with Gary Oldman types. But don’t put me in charge of that ’cause I’ll just hire Kristen Stewart as Bethany Sin! [Laughter] But she’s not going to vomit for us!
 
Patrick Melton: We like to say regurgitate!
 
[Laughter]
 
Cosmic Book News: Before we wrap up, you guys have a lot of things going on right now. Can we here a little bit about them? 
 
Marcus Dunstan:  Next year, we will see the release of Piranha 2 3DD and The Collection, the sequel to The Collector! And Stephen has some fantastic news of his own as well!
 
(Editor’s Note: We were informed Marcus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on the sci-fi monster blockbuster, “Pacific Rim,” currently filming in Toronto, ON. However, this was deemed “top secret,” but the news has since come out.)
 
Stephen Romano: I recently signed a deal with Simon and Shuster to release my first solo thriller. Currently it’s called, “Resurrection Express.” I always refer to it as ‘Mission Impossible meets The Bourne Identity, directed by Quentin Tarantino.’ It’s going to be a wild one! It’s not Horror, but a straight up thriller like Black Light is!
 
Cosmic Book News: Thanks to Mulholland Books for contacting us, and a thousands thank to Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano for taking the time out of their insane schedules to hang out with the CBN staff! It was an amazing time and we appreciate it whole heartedly!
 
“Black Light” is currently available at Amazon.com and at fine book stores everywhere.
 
For more on Stephen Romano, head on over to his official site: http://www.stephenromanoshockfestival.com/
 
You can check out “Black Light” on Facebook as well.
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Dead Avengers Re-Assembled: Interview With Fred Van Lente

 

The Earth’s Mightiest Dead Heroes re-assemble in response to the threat imposed by the Chaos King this November from writer Fred Van Lente and artist Tom Grummet in the three-issue mini-series, Chaos War: Dead Avengers.

With the fate of all existence at stake, a protector is reborn out of the chaos — Captain Marvel! Side-by-side with his fellow Dead Avengers — the Swordsman, the Vision, Deathcry, Yellowjacket and Doctor Druid — Mar-Vell and the reluctant Re-Assemblers must face an Avengers foe of yesteryear: the Grim Reaper, one of the Chaos King’s lieutenants.

Cosmic Book News spoke with Fred Van Lente on his Dead Avengers, including Mar-vell, Deathcry, the Grim Reaper and whether or not the dead shall live again!

Cosmic Book News: First: This is the real Captain Marvel, the Mar-Vell, correct?! And these are not zombies, but the real characters?!

Fred Van Lente: Correct. They are not zombies. Just dead. Slight difference. The Chaos King has destroyed the Underworlds, so anyone who’s ever been dead has been dumped into the mortal realm. Some are good, some are evil.

And one is the real Mar-Vell, one of my favorite characters recently, having read the first Essentials volume for an unrelated project. He’s such a terrific idea for a character, an alien invader who goes native and decides to fight on our side instead. It’s like, what if Superman was sent by Krypton to conquer Earth, but changes his mind?

Cosmic Book News: Can you tell us the reasoning behind why the Dead Avengers first come together and assemble?

Fred Van Lente: That is part of the mystery of the first issue. They don’t really know. I mean, we know why they come back (see my previous answer), but that doesn’t explain why they specifically have been assembled with their living counterparts in a particular place.

But they find out by the end of #1. And it’s not necessarily a happy reason.

Cosmic Book News: Will these Dead Avengers be fighting the Chaos King alongside living comrades, beside the coming Dead X-Men or Alpha Flight members, or in a battleground all their own?

Fred Van Lente: That’s giving a little too much away. Let’s just say the Dead Avengers’ relationship to the living Avengers is the most important thing in the series.

Cosmic Book News: All the members of the Dead Avengers seem to share a similar background in that they are or were “villainous.” What was the reasoning behind assembling a group of characters such as this — other than that they were dead, of course?

(Captain Mar-Vell led an invasion of the Kree; the Vision was created by Ultron; the Swordsman infiltrated the Avengers with help from the Mandarin; Yellowjacket was a member of the Masters of Evil; Deathcry, a Shi’ar, was killed fighting Captain Universe; Doctor Druid was mind-controlled by Terminatrix and others, leading to his death.)

Fred Van Lente: That’s an excellent point. I’m not really sure how much that influenced my decision on who got picked and who didn’t … after all, Comic Book Death being what it is, there aren’t really all that many truly dead Avengers to choose from … but it is definitely contributing to my enjoyment of the series. I like rogues, rascals and rapscallions … partly, I guess, because I’ve always been something of a compulsive troublemaker myself. 

I think the one character that will surprise people will be the Swordsman. We’ve done our best to make him a total badass. He’s a classic swashbuckler, a blade for hire, but in modern times, and we’ve had great fun playing that up.

Cosmic Book News: How much of a difference will we see between their living personas and their “dead” ones? Will having been dead brought about any new powers or characteristics?  

Fred Van Lente: Not particularly. In Mar-Vell’s case, to a certain extent, powers like cosmic awareness have been heightened. This is the end of everything, or the brink of it, and every sense Mar-Vell was given by Eon is crying out. The cosmic entities are arraying in terror against the overwhelming threat of the Chaos King – who was all the multiverse was before there was a multiverse, and seeks to become once again with the only thing in existence – and so Mar-Vell, in his Protector role, is a huge part of that.

Cosmic Book News: Regarding Deathcry, how will she deal with working with all these heroes? She has never really been known as a team player; in fact, as one of Star-Lord’s team, that is how she died!

Fred Van Lente: Yes, and she is keenly aware that she died less than honorably. She is hoping to change that now that she’s apparently been given a second chance, but old habits die hard, and Deathcry’s temper is her worst quality. Will it overtake her a second time?

Cosmic Book News: Will any of these Dead Avengers attempt to rectify what happened with their past lives as now they have a second chance of sorts?

Fred Van Lente: Yes. All of the Dead Avengers in one way or another, even Mar-Vell, who died relatively peacefully, have left unfinished business. This is part of the theme of Dead Avengers – if given the opportunity, will we change our destinies, or simply fall back into old patterns? Is change possible?

Cosmic Book News: The super-villain Eric Williams, the Grim Reaper, is said to be the main foe in Dead Avengers. Countless times he has faced the Avengers and has history with two of the Dead Avengers, namely the Swordsman and the Vision. What can you tell us about his role as one of the Chaos King’s lieutenants and involvement in the Chaos War?

Fred Van Lente: Grim Reaper has dabbled in the occult more than once (and has even been brought back from the dead himself), and that connection has allowed him to give himself wholly over to the Chaos King. He’s so maddened with hatred for the Avengers, he’s going to devote his last few hours on this Earth to utterly destroying them – the living and the dead ones. And by the time he attacks, the Dead Avengers are the only Avengers team left in existence, so it’s up to them to defeat him.

Cosmic Book News: Will we be seeing any more Avengers foes alongside the Grim Reaper or past villains from the Marvel U.?

Fred Van Lente: GR’s long-time squeeze Nekra, Priestess of Hate, is back, and since she’s the one who actually killed DA member Doctor Druid, that reunion could be … awkward.

Cosmic Book News:  Post-Chaos War, if the Marvel Universe is still intact and these characters still “dead,” given they have had a small taste of life again, will they want to stay dead or return to the land of the living on a more permanent basis?

Fred Van Lente: I think it is quite possible that some of them will be resurrected. But the stakes are quite high – those who are “killed” by Grim Reaper don’t just die, they will be erased from the continuum for all time. So if the Dead Avengers don’t succeed, all will be lost to the multiverse forever.

Cosmic Book News: Anything you wish to add?

Fred Van Lente: Tom Grummett’s pencils are absolutely epic and amazing! He’s a pleasure to work with and he’s bringing the old-school Avengers action like we haven’t seen in some time. I think you’re gonna dig it.

Thanks for your time.

And thank you for your interest!

“Chaos War: Dead Avengers #1” arrives in stores November 17, 2010!  “Chaos War #1” begins next Wednesday October 6th!

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Hulk Knows Best: Interview With Greg Pak

The family of Hulks recently united with the reconciliation of father and son, Hulk and Skaar, in Incredible Hulk #611. Unbeknownst to the green-skinned Patriarch was the fact that the seed he planted on Sakaar, during Planet Hulk, not only produced two World Wars — but two sons of Hulk! 

As the more Hulk-like of the two, Skaar has come to terms with his origin. Hiro-Kala, resembling more his mother Caiera the Oldstrong, bares an inner turmoil, one that can only come with being a Hulk. This could result in the destruction of not only the Hulk family, but the Earth itself.

The Steve Rogers-led Secret Avengers have taken notice as Hiro-Kala makes his way to our world. His offer to the Hulk of assembling was turned down by the Gamma-Irradiated Green Scar which has put the two super-powered groups at odds.

Cosmic Book News caught up with Incredible Hulks writer Greg Pak to find out more about Hiro-Kala, the family that is Hulk, the Secret Avengers, his thoughts on the Red Hulk and what comes next.

CosmicBookNews: What can you tell us about Hiro-Kala? We have seen him come face to face with Galactus and shake the very foundations of worlds, just what sort of power does he wield?

Greg Pak: As we’ve just learned in Incredible Hulks #613, he’s terrified of using the Old Power — his mission is to destroy it at all costs.  But he’s amped up with the power of Planet K’ai’s Worldmind, which is essentially the cosmic/mystic power of the soul of a planet. So he’ll pack a punch.

CosmicBookNews: Would you say Hiro is a “villain” in the classic sense of the word? You could argue trying to destroy the Old Power to save the Universe is a noble cause; however he seems to go about it in a rather “aggressive” way.  Just what exactly is the Old Power?

Greg Pak: Some say the Old Power is simply the tectonically-based power that the Oldstrong of the Shadow People are able to channel from the planets they’re standing on. But Hiro-Kala is convinced that the Old Power is a corrupted version of the Power Cosmic that is destined to one day consume the entire universe.  Hence his interest in eradicating it.

So yes, if you take him at his word, Hiro-Kala seems to have heroic motivations. But there’s something about his murdering millions of innocents that puts a different spin on things, wouldn’t you say?

CosmicBookNews: While his father and brother undergo physical transformations, does Hiro undergo the same or are they more internal (and leading to his awesome power)?

Greg Pak: Can’t say anything here for fear of spoilers. Keep on reading!

CosmicBookNews: Speaking of transformations, how is the relationship between Banner and Hulk, after the recent return of the Green Scar? It seems to be one of less opposition and more mutual acceptance.

Greg Pak: Yes and no. We’ll see Banner and Hulk working together in critical ways — they both seem to share a commitment to this new family of Hulks. But we’ll also see the tension between the two — which may have shocking repercussions as the story reaches its climax.  Incredible Hulks #615 is a must-read issue for more on all of this.

CosmicBookNews: With Incredible Hulk #611, we not only saw the return of the Green Scar, but also the formation of the “family of Hulks” with the reconciliation between Banner and son, Skaar, — with Betty as Red She-Hulk present as well. These father-son (and extended family) issues will be present and continue with Hiro, I take it? How will Banner react to having another Hulk son? How will Hiro appearing affect Banner and the rest of the family’s relations?

Greg Pak: Those are exactly the key questions we’re tackling in this story. And I can’t say anything more about them without spoiling the story right now!  But yes, yes, and yes!

It’s also worth noting that Banner and the Hulk may have very different ideas about Hiro-Kala and how to deal with him…

CosmicBookNews: What can you say in regards to Betty and her role in “Dark Son?” Will we see her take on a maternal Step-Mother role or Red She-Hulk smashing?

Greg Pak: The Betty/Bruce/Red She Hulk/Hulk relationship is an absolutely key part of the extended emotional story we’re telling over the next few story arcs. Betty and Bruce are learning a huge amount about each other — not all of which they might have wanted to know. Then again, they say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… There’s a definite end game to all of this — but you’ll have to keep on reading to find out what it is!

CosmicBookNews: We see Steve Rogers and his Secret Avengers take notice of the Incredible Hulks with Incredible Hulks #614. What can you tell us about that issue?(Might take a couple of Hulks to take down the Human Rocket, Nova!)

Greg Pak: Incredible Hulks #614 is when the world learns about what’s coming their way — and the Hulks step into the middle of everything and end up in a massive throw down with the Secret Avengers. It’s a heck of a fight — on one side, you have Steve Rogers’ unmatched strategic genius and the insane might of War Machine, Valkyrie, and Nova. On the other, you have Bruce Banner’s massive intellect — and a bunch of freaking Hulks.

CosmicBookNews: Speaking of Avengers, we learned that General Thunderbolt, Red Hulk, Ross will be assembling in Avengers under the guiding hand of Brian Michael Bendis. Thoughts on that?

Greg Pak: It’s going to be awesome.  It’s always a blast when characters who have been spending most of the time in their own books get to bust out big time in a core title like the Avengers.  As an added bonus, Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman are continuing the Hulk book starting with issue #25 — add it to your pull lists, folks!

CosmicBookNews: Scott Reed, who is co-writing “Dark Son” with you, is also penning Incredible Hulks: Enigma Force. Can you tell us how that ties into “Dark Son?”

Greg Pak: Scott’s a wild worldbuilder who laid much of the groundwork for Hiro-Kala and Planet K’ai in his Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk miniseries. Now he continues the saga in the Enigma Force book as Commander Rann and his crew tackle the second front in the Dark Son war.  

CosmicBookNews: I read you were a Bill Mantlo fan, will we be seeing any more from the Bill Mantlo “Space” library?!

Greg Pak: That would be telling!

CosmicBookNews: Obviously, without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the Hulk family after “Dark Son?”

Greg Pak: Whoever survives will take on the worst the Chaos King has to throw at them in Incredible Hulks #618-620, our tie-in to the Chaos War epic. Hulk fans won’t want to miss the return of two (count ’em, two!) of the worst enemies Bruce Banner has ever faced.  And cosmic fans may be intrigued by the involvement of one of Marvel’s abstract entities.  I should also say that this may be the most brutal Hulk story I’ve written so far.  It’s supernatural super-hero horror action, and Paul Pelletier is drawing the heckity heck out of it.

CosmicBookNews: This six issue arc is being drawn by Barry Kitson, what can you tell us in regards to his Hulk?

Greg Pak: Actually, the first two issues of “Dark Son” were drawn by the phenomenal Tom Raney and Brian Ching.  Barry comes on board for #614 to #617.  I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work with all of these artists. They each have their own way of drawing the Hulk, but all of them deliver that insane smash while bringing out the emotional character moments that are so important to the book.

One thing to look out for in #614 is the sleek redesign Barry did of the Hulks costumes.  The Hulk’s sporting a slightly different look that reflects his focused mindset.

CosmicBookNews: Anything you want to add?

Greg Pak:  I just want to thank you again for all your coverage of all things Hulk and Hercules!  We really appreciate it and our doing our darnedest to deliver the crazy, epic stories you’re hungry for.

CosmicBookNews: Greg, thanks for your time! Looking forward to more of “Dark Son” and of course, Chaos War!

Be sure to look for “Incredible Hulks” #614 and #615 on sale in October; “Incredible Hulk: Enigma Force” #2 hits October 13th and “Hulk” #25, by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman, is currently in stores!

RELATED: Be sure to check out our interview on “Chaos War” with Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente!

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Out Of The Chaos King Comes Order: Interview With Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente

This October the fate of all space and time will be decided when Chaos War begins written by Grek Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Khoi Pham.

This five issue limited series described as “bigger than the Infinity Gauntlet” and “more cosmic than Annihilation” sees the re-formation of the God Squad, this time consisting of Hercules, Thor, Amadeus Cho, Sersi, Hellstorm, Venus, the cosmic heavy weights Galactus and the Silver Surfer, with the added support of the family of Hulks.

The foe they face may be the Universe’s most dangerous threat — ever. Mikaboshi, the demonic god of evil, wishes to wipe out existence using an army of enslaved space gods.

Cosmic Book News spoke with the writers behind Chaos War, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, who discussed Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Thor, Mikaboshi the Chaos King, the cast of characters involved and a tease regarding the return of a certain fan favorite cosmic character…a Starlin original? Plus more.

CosmicBookNews: Can you tell us a bit about the Chaos King? With the Silver Surfer and Galactus involved, he must pose a pretty big threat, more so than we have seen of him as Mikaboshi? (Chaos King being Mikaboshi‘s true form finally revealed?) Galactus is said to be from before the Big Bang. Does the Chaos King predate that and is that why Galactus takes notice?

Fred Van Lente: Yes, you are correct – According to Japanese mythology, Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the Void that pre-dated all existence. All existence, even the universe that Galactus originates from. In his original, Terran form, he laid waste to Olympus and killed Zeus in the ARES mini-series.

Since then, and his departure from Earth in Secret Invasion, he has taken over the realm of the Skrull gods and has been engorging himself on the pantheons of other alien races – including the Shi’ar, as seen in Assault on New Olympus. So he is more powerful than ever before – arguably, he’s the most dire threat the Marvel Universe has ever faced.

Greg Pak:  Most supervillains want to rule the world, or maybe the universe.  Not return all existence to the chaos and darkness that existed before creation itself.  The Chaos King is a whole new kind of threat.

Will the Lion Of Olympus have changed since we last saw him? At times we see Herc with a beer in one hand and a girl in the other; will this responsibility of leading the heroes give us a “different” Herc?

FVL: Yes, he will be radically changed. But I don’t want to give away the ending of the current Heroic Age: Prince of Power mini-series to say exactly how.

GP: Let’s just say the entire universe will have to reassess its opinion of Herc.

The newly-crowned Prince of Power, Amadeus Cho, is shown still holding Hercules’ Mace. What part will he take in the coming drama? Will he go back to the “sidekick” role or has he come into his own as of late?

FVL: No, Amadeus is officially the new Prince of Power. When Herc returns he’ll either be demoted to playing second fiddle to Cho … or maybe he’ll be promoted…

In regards to Thor, seeing how he has also faced Mikaboshi, what will his role be? (Judging from the cover of issue one, he and Herc still need to settle their differences.)

FVL: Yes, and you’ll need to read Chaos War #1 to see just how those differences work themselves out. Thor is second only to Herc in being Chaos War’s major character. Big things are involved with him and I’m interested to see the reaction when they’re rolled out.

The family of Hulks will be wrapping their own cosmic battle up with Hiro-Kala in “Dark Son” when they find themselves involved in the Chaos War. Will we be seeing a lot of “Hulk Smashing?”

GP: Absolutely.  Who better than a family of Hulks to throw at a bunch of insane demons and gods?  The Hulks will be fighting the critical second front in the Chaos War against the kind of enemies only the strongest ones there are have a prayer of defeating. Get ready for some mind-bendingly Marvelicious abstract entity exploration as well as a wrenching emotional rollercoaster as the fight gets more personal and brutal than the Hulks ever anticipated.

Although the Chaos War involves the Gods, it also has a Cosmic flavor in that heavy-hitters like Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Sersi will be involved. Are there any other denizens of Marvel Cosmic coming into play along the way, and will this adventure have a mythical feel or a cosmic climate (ala Bob Layton’s recent Herc work)?

FVL: Why yes, several in fact that have not been announced yet – including one whose return cosmic fans have been clamoring for for some time.

GP:  Pip the Troll!  Kidding.  Although now that I think about it…

Can you elaborate at all on any of the other characters in the Marvel Universe that might be involved in the coming Chaos War? We can see members of the Fantastic Four are present, the Avengers and even the X-Men.

GP:  It’s a big, fat story that affects everyone.  Plenty of cameos and starring roles to go around.

Will Lord Chaos and Master Order be involved in this tale or any of the other Marvel abstracts? What about the Celestials or any of the other Eternals such as Ikaris or Makkari?  

GP:  At least one Marvel abstract plays a key role in the “Incredible Hulks” tie-in.  And Sersi plays a huge role on the new God Squad, which debuts in “Chaos War” #2.

What was your inspiration for this current God Squad story arc? Was this something planned from the beginning of Incredible Hercules or did it come about recently?

GP:  Fred and I have been planning this story from the beginning.  Many of the smaller details have shifted around as we’ve developed the tale and the exact timing of everything came together fairly recently, but this is the big massive crossover event we’ve been itching to write for ages.

That being said, it’s entirely accessible to brand new readers.  If you’re hungry for epic Marvel cosmic crossover craziness, we’re ready to heap your plate.

Any connection at all between this and ongoing Thanos Imperative, since some of the same characters are involved on a cosmic stage?

GP:  For fear of spoilers, our lips are sealed.

Thanks for your time. Looking forward to the Chaos War!

Chaos War #1 and #2 hit this October! Look for it!

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It’s Not Your Fault: The DnA Interview

Marvel’s latest cosmic event, The Thanos Imperative, exploded on to the scene with two sell-out titles, The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 (Brad Walker art) andThe Thanos Imperative #1, from the stellar creative team of Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning (DnA) and artist Miguel Sepulveda.

Issue #2 hit a couple of weeks ago and fans erupted at the site of the Galactus Engine face-to-face against the Marvel Universe’s most powerful. An almost fully powered mad Titan was shown incinerating the Fault Universe’s own Defenders.

Last week, Marvel released a teaser for the upcoming Thanos Imperative #3 featuring the “Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes.” Side by side stood the Silver Surfer, Nova, Quasar, Gladiator, Ronan and one recent addition: Beta Ray Bill, the Asgard-eque Korbinite.

The San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) begins this weekend with DnA as panelists on Thursday’s Mondo Marvel panel. Cosmic Book News caught up with the Cosmic Duo as they prepared to head Stateside.

We asked a few questions regarding the recent events in The Thanos Imperative, their thoughts on Nova in Secret Avengers and because fans demanded it, Captain Marvel.

Cosmic Book News: Will we be learning how Aegis and Tenebrous came back to life and how they made their peace with Galactus?

DnA: The great “Cosmic Abstracts” move in mysterious ways. Their mortality does not operate the way ours does. We may not explicitly see how they came back to “life,” we just know that the threat of the Cancerverse is so great, any animosity between them and Galactus is shelved for the time being.

Cosmic Book News: Speaking of the Cancerverse, as Thanos gets his power back will we be seeing more of the Many-Angled Ones’ “heroes” trying to stop him?

DnA: That’s a big yes. Yes, indeed!

Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about the “Galactus Engine,” an entity (?) that seems to dwarf Galactus and the Abstracts as they dwarf us?

DnA: Essentially, as you might suspect, it’s the Cancerverse’s version of Galactus, but bio-engineered by the Many-Angled Gods of the outer dark into an even more extraordinary and apocalyptic mechanism of cosmic annihilation.

Cosmic Book News: It is thrilling that you are adding another cosmic champion, Beta Ray Bill, to the mix with this war against the forces of the Cancerverse. How will this cosmic Thor doppelganger work into the saga? What can you tell us about the “Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes?”

DnA: In the middle of the extreme frontline battle, Nova finds he needs a small but elite strike force of very heavy hitters for a very specific purpose. Those are the guys he calls up.  What happens next is pure cosmic wow.

Cosmic Book News: Have you been reading Secret Avengers?  What do you think about Nova being part of that team?

DnA: Yes, we have. It’s great, and it’s really nice to see him as part of such an illustrious team, properly recognizing his first division status.

Cosmic Book News: Lastly, anything to say regarding Mar-vell?

DnA: Mar-Vell was one of our favorite cosmic heroes, and we always wanted to have him feature in a story. However, his death was so amazing, one of the all-time best comic book deaths and one of those very few that should NEVER be undone. So it occurred to us that he would make the perfect villain: his Cancerverse self demonstrates how he and the universe itself would have altered if his life and death had run along a different course.

Cosmic Book News: Thanks for your time! Great interview!

Look for “The Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes” in The Thanos Imperative #3 in stores August 11!

 

RELATED: DnA Crank Things Up: The Thanos Imperative: Igntion

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Assembling The Gauntlet: Interview With Brian Clevinger On Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet

The year is 1991. Half the universe has been destroyed including your favorite super hero. A mad Titan is responsible. He is Thanos. He has acquired the six Infinity Gems, and is a god.

As announced at the recent Chicago comic con, C2E2, come this July writer Brian Clevinger of Atomic Robo fame gets to stand on equal ground with the mad Titan himself, and gets a chance to remake something in his own image. Clevinger gets to redo the original Infinity Gauntlet as he sees fit, alongside artist Brian Churilla (Rex Mundi, The Anchor).

The all-ages book, Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet, pits what’s left of the Avengers, described as a “ragtag” group of heroes and villains including Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Doctor Doom, against Thanos in the final battle to save the universe!

Brian Clevinger was kind enough to speak with Cosmic Book News on his thoughts and also share some details on Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet.

Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about the Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet mini that begins this August?

Brian Clevinger: I’ll tell you it’s great and you should totally buy it.

Cosmic Book News: This is a different take on the Starlin original, yes? Were you a big fan of the original Infinity Gauntlet when it came out?

Brian Clevinger: Oh, yes, a very different take. The original Infinity Gauntlet had just started to come out when I first got into comics as a kid. It was this great event in Marvel history that’s stuck with me ever since. So, yeah, when Nate (Marvel editor Nate Crosby) said he wanted me to work on my own version of Infinity Gauntlet, I was pretty excited to be given the opportunity to play around with such an iconic Marvel moment.

Cosmic Book News: Back in the day, Infinity Gauntlet was Marvel’s biggest event and crossover. How does it feel to be doing a “re-imagining?” Those are some big shoes to fill!

Brian Clevinger: I don’t mind telling you it was suffocatingly daunting at first. But Nate told me not to think of it as retelling Infinity Gauntlet. He told me, “If there had never been an Infinity Gauntlet story, how would you have written it?”

So, that helped put things into perspective. It wasn’t about living up to Starlin, Perez and Lim. It was about just doing what I do.

Cosmic Book News: Brian, you also wrote Atomic Robo. I take it you like doing the more cosmic and sci-fi type of stories?

Brian Clevinger: Oh yeah, I’m a sci-fi dork all the way. My childhood was defined by Star Wars, Robotech, Battletech, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that kind of stuff. Other kids looked up to football players, my hero was Carl Sagan.

Cosmic Book News: Have you worked with Brian Churilla before? What can we expect to see from Brian in this mini? Can you tell us a little bit about working with him?

Brian Clevinger: I’ve never worked with him, but I look forward to changing that with Infinity Gauntlet. I’ve been a fan of his since The Engineer and I think he was a great choice for this project. He’s got that clean modern economy of line going on, but there’s a strong undercurrent of classic comic aesthetics through his work too. I think that’ll line up quite nicely with the lighter track we’re taking with this version of a big cosmic story.

Cosmic Book News: And Brian, if I am not mistaken this is your first project for Marvel? Quite exciting! Can we expect to see more from you at Marvel?

Brian Clevinger: I’m working on a couple of back-up comics for 616 Marvel at this very moment! Beyond that, I’d love to do more all-ages work. There’s a tremendous amount of freedom to stories like these. You get to shed all the continuity that can bog characters down and get right to the core of what makes them fun.

Cosmic Book News: Sounds great, Brian! Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us.

Be sure to check out Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet from Brian Clevinger and Brian Churilla when it hits shops this August!

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DnA Crank Things Up – Interview: The Thanos Imperative: Ignition

He is the most malevolent of galactic villains. He killed most of his race and, if he had his way, the universe. Bottom line: He even killed his mama! He has courted Death and known rebirth. He is the Mad Titan, Thanos.

Now, cosmic creators Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have got him. Spinning out of the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy comes in May the one-shot The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 with art by Brad Walker.

DnA answer some questions from Cosmic Book News on the one-shot, the expected space opus to which it should give birth, and what plans the duo has for Jim Starlin’s most famous creation.

CosmicBookNews: Marvel just announced The Thanos Imperative: Ignition. What can you tell us about that?

DnA: The Thanos Imperative is a massive cosmic event for 2010, and Ignition is exactly what it sounds like — the place where it all kicks off. It’s not a prologue, because prologues are never this loud or galaxy-shaking! This is where we set out our stall and show the readers exactly who the main players are and what they’re playing for.

The stakes are huge!

CosmicBookNews: Have the events in Annihilation: Conquest and War of Kings been leading to this ultimate cosmic event?

DnA: Yes. We’ve been writing and steering the cosmic books for over three years, and we’ve had various schemes and plans in mind, developing, adjusting, refining. All along, we’ve had one big goal in mind, and it’s this. It’s a huge treat to be able to see so many various and distinct story threads and character lines through to such a big pay-off story…BUT… though The Thanos Imperative will deliver all sorts of goodies for the readers who’ve been with us these last three years, we’ve also built it so new readers can jump right onboard. You don’t need to know anything about what’s gone before to be able to understand the story and enjoy the ride. You’ve just got to grab on and hold tight!

CosmicBookNews: What do you think it is about the Mad Titan that makes him such a great character, particularly a villain?

DnA: Thanos just … is. He’s got a great look and a great sense of power and invincibility, and he also always feels complicated. For a being of vast physical power, he’s highly intellectual. His threat is never the same thing twice. He won’t just invade you or devour your planet: when Thanos appears, you don’t know exactly what his agenda is.

Especially this time.

CosmicBookNews: We see the Sentinel of the Spaceways, the Silver Surfer, is going to play a role. Is there anything you can say in regards to that?

DnA: With Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy we’ve done a lot to power up or spotlight some of the lesser-known, or second-string or under-powered cosmic heroes. In doing so, we’ve generally stayed away from the big guns.

Not this time. This time, we need all the power of the first division cosmic heroes, and that means the likes of Surfer, Quasar, Nova and Gladiator SIDE BY SIDE. Cosmic dream time. An awful lot of cosmic fanboy hearts just skipped a beat, didn’t they? We know ours did!

CosmicBookNews: Fan favorite Wendell Vaughn is also said to be part of The Thanos: Imperative. Seeing how he is the Protector of the Universe and the universe definitely needs protecting, will he be fighting along side Richard Rider as he has been since Annihilation?

DnA: As we just said, yes… he’s got to be there.

CosmicBookNews: How do you feel Rich has developed as a character since the early issues of Nova? He has been through a lot, from dealing with the Phalanx in Conquest to his battle with the Silver Surfer and Galactus that resulted in the Worldmind getting corrupted to losing the Nova Force and gaining it back. Will Rich be bringing these experiences to the forefront of the battle, aiding him against whatever foes there may be?

DnA: Nova is a serious big league hero now, and this story puts him front and center with the big boys. His experience — and his enhanced power — is really going to count. He is one of the key focus characters of this story.

CosmicBookNews: Star-Lord, a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is going to play a central role as well. That is pretty interesting seeing how the above mentioned are very powerful cosmic characters. What can you tell us about Star-Lord?

DnA: Star-Lord is the other key focus character. He and Nova came through the original Annihilation together, one went solo, one formed a team. They both want to save the universe, but can they agree how to do it?

You’re right — Star-Lord is nothing like as powerful as Nova, Surfer or the rest. That’s another very compelling strand to this, and it makes Star-Lord a person to watch as this unfolds.

CosmicBookNews: Anything you want to add?

DnA: We can promise you that the Marvel Cosmos will never be the same again after this!

CosmicBookNews: Thanks for your time!

Look for The Thanos Imperative: Ignition to hit May 5th!

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Spilling The Guts Interview With DnA

It is said, “Actions speak louder than words.”

With Guardians of the Galaxy #19 we saw the team get cut in half. With the Realm of Kings One Shot we saw the Evil Avengers, including an inverted version of the Quasar we know, make his way to Earth. The Guardians reside on the decapitated head of a Celestial, known as Knowhere. The mysterious cocoon has been developing for a number of issues.

So following in that special tradition, Cosmic Book News went straight to DnA for answers.

We conducted a rather straightforward interview with our old friends Dan and Andy (aka. DnA) as they talked with us about Guardians of the Galaxy.

However, this time around, these two talented writers have decided to let their upcoming issues of Guardians of the Galaxy do the talking for them. Oh sure, they answered our questions, but they left a lot blank!

We can guarantee no spoiler warnings, but a fun interview none-the-less!

Cosmic Book News: What are your thoughts on the new lineup? As we witnessed with Guardians of the Galaxy #19, half the team was essentially killed off – including fan favorite Cosmo. Is having a dozen or so Guardians a bit too much? Or was the decision based on the story to show how powerful the Magus is?

DnA: Since the first issue, we’ve enjoyed keeping readers on their toes when it comes to the team line-up and, yes, we wanted to show how powerful Magus was. But it was also a dramatic moment that seemed to ‘write itself’. We weren’t culling a team that had got too big. This was just what happened at such a dramatic instant.

Then of course, you have to
bear in mind that we ———— ————— — —- —————— ————.

Cosmic Book News: Speaking of death in comics, what are your thoughts? Particularly in regards to fan favorite, Cosmo?

DnA: Cosmo was great character, but you have to bear in mind ————- ———— —– — —– —————- —————.

Cosmic Book News: Bug reminds me a lot of Kurt Wagner in the early days of All-New, All-Different X-Men, especially his reactions to females. Any plans to play around with him, make him the “light comic character”?

DnA: He already is! Our problem is the reverse: reminding readers that he’s capable and sensible, too.

Plus, you have to bear in mind ————- ———— —– — —– —————- —————.

Cosmic Book News: Is the mantle of “Chosen One” on Jack Flag tied in at all with the Mantis/Celestial Madonna saga?

DnA: No. Oh, wait…*frantic whispering between writers*…Maybe.

Cosmic Book News: Most of the lineup is great on this team, but most are humans or meta-humans (Peter, Drax, Moondragon, Jack). We need a real cosmic titan in here with uber-powers if Warlock is to remain Magus — or even to stave off big cosmic threats. As the Magic One said, “Wood and bullets ain’t too high-tech.”

Now would seem like a good time to bring the Silver Surfer into the fold. Seeing how we have Evil Quasar, perhaps a rematch is on from Quasar #50?

Or even Thanos as he is considered Death’s champion with the Magus, life’s?

DnA: There lack of a serious cosmic big hitter is going to be a major issue through this next, epic phase of the story.

And, of course, you have to bear in mind ————- ———— —– — —– —————- —————.

Cosmic Book News: Just, who is in that cocoon, and who severed the Celestial’s head off?

DnA: That’s easy! —————————.

And the head was cut off —————- ——– ——— – – ———— —————.

Cosmic Book News: Any plans for a return of The Stranger in GotG?

DnA: It’s not a thought we haven’t had, let’s put it that way.

Cosmic Book News: Regarding The Fault, will we see the Evil Avengers again? And will their “Master” make its way to our universe?

DnA: There’s a VERY big story coming for 2010, and we don’t think it’s giving anything away to say…—–.

Cosmic Book News: What does 2010 have in store for the Guardians?

DnA: There’s a VERY big story coming for 2010, and you have to bear in mind ————- ———— —– — —– —————- —————.

Cosmic Book News: Thanks, guys!

In honor of this special interview, we at Cosmic Book News admit we _____________. So we would also like to say, _________ .

 

Look for Guardians of the Galaxy #22 to hit stores January 27th, 2010!

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Shaping The Universe: Interview With Brad Walker

At the dawning of a third mini-series endangering the intergalactic structure of the Marvel Cosmos, Guardians of the Galaxy — a book chronicling the saga of a ragtag band of proactive cosmic heroes committed to saving that universe — found itself without its regular artist.

Paul Pelletier, who introduced and visually defined the modern-day Guardians of the Galaxy, moved onto the main War of Kings event book. But his absence was not long felt as Brad Walker, an artist known for his work at DC, stepped in and started, slowly but surely, to make readers forget.

Although sometimes absent an issue or two in its monthly run, Walker has become almost as identified with GotG as has its vaunted writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Month after month, Walker puts out some of the finest work in comics today within the Guardians’ pages.

Recently, Walker spoke with Cosmic Book News about his work on Guardians of the Galaxy, his feelings about the contribution of inkers and colorists, his favorite (and least favorite) team members, those occasional non-Walker “fill-ins,” and … Spider-Man?

Cosmic Book News: It is noticeable that you like large close-ups and do well with drawing people and also like crazy (in a good sense) panel shapes. Were you at all influenced by Gene Colan or his runs on “Dr. Strange” with inker/colorist Tom Palmer?

Brad Walker: Uh… I wouldn’t say I was overly influenced by Gene the Dean, other than that I love most Silver Age art, in general. And I don’t have any of that “Doctor Strange” run, even though I’m a huge Dr. Strange fan, and Tom Palmer is, hands down, one of my favorite inkers of all time.

But I think that, as far as artists from that era go, I was influenced more from Kirby, Buscema, Romita, Neal Adams, and even some Ditko.

But I do love drawing faces, and bending the panels when the action starts, you got me there.

A lot of that comes from, when I started on the book, I didn’t want the shift from Paul Pelletier to be too jarring, so I really poured over how he was translating Dan and Andy’s scripts, and tried to incorporate little things like page structure and pacing.

I would never want to ape the way somebody draws, but I think there are little things like that you can do to help transition from one artist to the next that don’t leave people feeling like you ripped somebody off. And I actually think my art benefitted from doing that, greatly, because Paul’s such a strong storyteller.

Which Guardian do you have the most fun working with? Are there any that you think of as “your character” (e.g., Kirby with Ben Grimm, Cockrum with Nightcrawler, Romita Sr. with Spidey, Ditko with Strange)?

Brad Walker: You know, there are several that I really feel connected to.

And most that I didn’t feel that way about, or that were a pain in the ass to draw, died in issue #19.

Primarily, though, I feel really attached to Star-Lord. I think his personality is so well realized that he’s a joy to “act” with, and I put myself into him, quite a bit.

I’ve had friends say that my depiction of him looks like me (but then, people said that about my Jimmy Olsen, my Adam Warlock, and my Superman, at times, too).

Aside from him, I also feel really personal about Rocket, of course; Moondragon; Adam Warlock, though I still miss his big cape and collar; and Drax.

The giant size of the cast is a pain at times, but it’s also a big component of what makes this book so fun, for me!

Your Magus was probably the best rendition of the character. Can you describe how you came up with the design?

Brad Walker: Haha! Yeah, Magus is another one I have fun with.

I wanted him to look like a really whacked out version of Adam, and at first when he came out, when Magique from the Imperial Guard was draining Adam, he had to look really frail, and gaunt, but we’ve gotten away from that, since.

But as far as the other visual differences from Adam, I felt like I couldn’t give him an out and out afro without just making people laugh, but I do make his hair get progressively wild and frizzy (much to my inkers’ dismay, I’m sure).

And the beady eyes are a throwback to Ron Lim in the Infinity War era, which is where I first read the Magus.

Looking back, I think that was just how Ron Lim drew everybody’s pupils, but I kind of associated it with the Magus, so I made it a physical feature of his. And I think it serves to make him look crazier.

Is DnA giving you any artistic license for some of the monsters that may issue forth from The Fault? Do they give you free reign to use your imagination to construct the look of scenes and characters? Are DnA detailed in their descriptions of scenes and characters?

Brad Walker: They describe what they have in mind, but there’s still some leeway there. Sometimes when I’m out and about, I’ll see a shape, or an inanimate object that I think would make a cool feature for a monster, or something, and I’ll sketch it down in a notebook or something.

Then, when Dan and Andy call for a monster in a script, I’ll go back and look and see if I had something I wanted to throw in.

And there are also times where D or A (haha) will call me up or email me, and talk about what they thought something might look like. I feel like the process becomes increasingly collaborative between the three of us (and editorial) as we go on, and it’s making it more and more fun.

Drawing for cosmic comics, you often have to come up with designs for objects and things no one has ever seen before, save for in the mind’s eye of the writer.

How do you work out how something or someone new is going to look? Do you collaborate with the writers and editors on the design?

Brad Walker: Well, like with the monsters, I’ll pay attention all the time to things I see that I can incorporate into something else. You know, like if I see a weird looking parking meter, I’ll think, “I could make a funny looking alien head out of that”, and I’ll sketch it out, or just write the idea down. Then, when I need an idea, I’ll just go back to it. So, I have more room to play with background stuff like that.

With characters coming into the series and things like that, it’s a bit more of a submission through a committee kind of thing. For example, with Moondragon coming back, we’ve given her two new costumes, so far.

At first, when she came back, we needed an interim costume that was like her classic, so I did a bunch of sketches and everybody said, “I like this aspect of this one, that aspect of that one”, and we kinda pieced together something that everybody felt good about.

When she was put into a Guardians uniform, I did a couple sketches, and Bill (Rosemann) and I both agreed that we liked the same one. Then, Andy (Lanning) emailed and said, “Actually, I was thinking something sexier, more like this”, and what we ended up with is almost exactly what he described to me. I love it, and everybody on the boards seems to love it, too. Plus, it’s much easier to draw than the ones I first came up with! So, I’m thrilled with how that went, and Andy gets the credit for her look!

Any knowledge of who is in that cocoon? Or what decapitated the Knowhere Celestial? (Had to ask!)

Obviously, you can’t go into details, but can you give us a teaser of what is to come for the Guardians?

Brad Walker: I know exactly what’s in the cocoon, and I have for a long time, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I actually had a conversation with Bill this morning about it that made me that much more excited!

As far as what happened to Knowhere’s body, I have no idea, but I’d love to draw whatever team is off living in it! I don’t even know if Dan and Andy are working on what happened to that! I’ll have to mention it…

How much of a difference does an inker or colorist make on the quality of the art? So many times fans seem to either blame or compliment the penciler with little thought to the rest of the creative team. Does a good inker or colorist make that much of a difference?

Brad Walker: Yeah. They make a huge difference.

And people seem to understand a colorist’s input much more than an inker, for whatever reason. Sadly, a really great inker seems more overlooked than a bad one. People can tell when something’s sloppy, or rushed, but they rarely notice the inker’s contribution when something is really beautifully rendered.

They’re the unsung heroes!

Fan reaction to your work on GotG has been very positive. Besides comics, what other type of illustrations have you done? Where can we find more of your work?

Brad Walker: Professionally, I’ve just been working on comics. It takes up that much time. I may have some other stuff to do in the semi-near future, but it would hopefully be side-project type stuff that I wouldn’t have to stop doing comics, to do.

And it’s not really anything I can get into till there’s something to get into.

Guardians of the Galaxy presently has two very different artists. Some argue that back in the day guys like John Buscema and others hammered out two, three titles a month. It seems to be common with Marvel to have an artist do a few issues and then a fill in.

Any particular reason why that is?

Brad Walker: Well, I’ve read online people saying they would love for me to be on the book “full time,” and although the sentiment is flattering, the thing is, I’m very much working on the book full time, as is.

I usually work six or seven days a week, and I work all day. Luckily, I’m at home, so I’m comfortable, and I don’t feel as cut off from the world as if I was toiling away in an office building somewhere, but it’s still really constant.

The difference between today’s artists and the Buscemas and the Kirbys that were doing four books a month is that, if you looked at the pencils they were doing on those four books, they are going to look vastly different than pencils on a book, today.

For one thing, they were doing roughs, at best, and then an inker would serve as a finisher, doing a lot of the drawing, himself. That accounts for why Kirby would look so different when inked by Joe Sinnott than he would inked by Vince Colletta or Mike Royer.

I’m not putting those guys down, because they were geniuses, but the audience today demands a different level of “quality,” detail, and realism (not necessarily realistic art, but an amount of realism, even within a stylized environment).

The art from the Sixties, gorgeous as it is to those of us who love it, wouldn’t fly with a modern audience.

Most of us drawing comics these days are referencing things like crazy, and doing a ton of work that’s not on the page. So, where, in the Silver Age, guys were blowing through an issue in a week, and then drawing a different book the next week, it takes me at least four weeks (more comfortably five).

I did a couple issues of Action Comics in three weeks each once, and I’ll never do it again. It wrecked me and really took a toll on my life.

The problem with me doing more issues of Guardians is that I came along at issue # 8, where any lead time was already eaten away, and we were on a really strict four-week schedule.

So, after working seven days a week to meet that deadline for those first three issues, I was exhausted. We’ve tried several times to get caught up to where I can do a longer stretch but one thing or another (usually my fault, but a lot of other factors play in), but we haven’t really gotten to where we want with the schedule, yet.

I don’t want to hack through issues and have them looking bad, just to do six in a row.

Frankly, I don’t think I could. My stuff kinda looks how it looks, and it takes the time it takes.

But it is on everybody’s mind, and we’re always working on getting the pages turned around faster, and looking better. This is not a book that’s being produced out of habit.

I know that everybody involved has a lot of love and attachment to the material and really wants it to be amazing and exciting and entertaining. I really just couldn’t ask for a better book to work on, or a better working situation to be in. It’ll be really sad one day when I end up having to draw a book that isn’t this much fun. I just can’t say enough how much I love it.

Great talking with you, Brad! Thanks for your time!

 

Be sure to check out Guardians of the Galaxy #22 featuring art by Brad Walker when it hits stores January 27th!

 

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Read More about Shaping The Universe: Interview With Brad Walker

S.W.O.R.D At The Ready: Interview With Kieron Gillen

The latest title unsheathed from the X-Universe, S.W.O.R.D., written by Kieron Gillen with art by Steven Sanders is set to debut this November.

The secret organization known as S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), was first introduced in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. John Cassady, the artist who worked on Astonishing, is doing the art for the covers of the ongoing series.

CosmicBookNews.com’s Editor, Matt McGloin, spoke with writer Kieron Gillen on what characters fans will see, how the organization might handle some of the more powerful cosmic threats and whether or not Marvel’s “Cosmic” villains or heroes will pop in to give S.W.O.R.D. a run for their money.

CosmicBookNews: Can you tell us a little about the ongoing S.W.O.R.D series? Can you describe the organization S.W.O.R.D for us?

Kieron Gillen: S.W.O.R.D. has been around for fifty years. It’s a Sister agency to what SHIELD use to be. Where SHIELD dealt with internal security, S.W.O.R.D. looks to the stars. On this galactic scale, SHIELD are the FBI. S.W.O.R.D. are the CIA. Their mandate is a little larger than that. They’re partially border security, partially diplomatic corp and partially full-on intergalactic spies trying to head off any threat against terra firma before it exists.

In short, S.W.O.R.D. stops something like Secret Invasion happening eight times a year, without anyone knowing.

CosmicBookNews: Can you tell us about the characters involved, Henry Gyrich, Beast, Agent Brand — what are their roles in S.W.O.R.D?

Kieron Gillen: Up until Secret Invasion, Abigail Brand was commander of S.W.O.R.D.. Since then, the trans-national body which governs it has inserted Henry Gyrich as a co-commander. They’ve split the duties between them as they try to rebuild the organization. That Brand is even in co-control says a lot about how important she was in actually stopping the Skrull invasion. While there’s a floating role, Brand tends to look more outwards while Gyrich looks inwards. Brand is mainly dealing with aliens out there.

Gyrich is mainly dealing with aliens right here. Brand, being a compulsive micromanager, and he does a lot of the day-to-day running of the Peak, which is S.W.O.R.D.’s orbital headquarters. They spend 99 percent of the time there doing the day-to-day responsibilities.

The other one percent is where our stories focus, where Brand stops all the enormously hard work and starts having to take enormous risks to save the world. On those days, she’s Jack Bauer with less stubble.

Beast is only now cementing his relationship with S.W.O.R.D.. He’s Brand’s primary science officer, but is also in her “A-Team” of field agents. As in, a core team she tends to take everywhere. The empath Sydren (who you’ll have seen in Astonishing X-men) and Lockheed (who you’ll have seen in THE MIGHTY MARVEL UNIVERSE FOREVER) are the other core pair.

CosmicBookNews: The mission of S.W.O.R.D is to remove all alien beings from the earth. How are they going to go about this? Some aliens are arguably a lot more powerful than the earth based characters, how will S.W.O.R.D deal with, say a Silver Surfer class threat?

Kieron Gillen: With difficulty.

It’s tempting to leave it like that. “With difficulty” is absolutely the point, and how they approach those problems will reveal a lot about the organization.

S.W.O.R.D. has kept itself mostly secret for fifty years. It’s not the sort who generally go in with seven-hundred tanks. In this case, with those too powerful to fight, they’d try and work out an appropriate motivation for them to leave.

Of course, the Surfer isn’t on earth at the moment, so that particular one isn’t a problem.

CosmicBookNews: Furthermore, there are a lot of aliens on the earth, for instance would S.W.O.R.D look to remove a certain alien symbiote or even the “aliens” from Asgard?

Kieron Gillen: The certain alien symbiote’s an interesting one. Brand suspects that Gyrich is actually an appointee via Osborn’s political weight. As such, whether Gyrich actually goes for Venom or not will tell us a lot about what’s really going on here.

The Asgardians are another interesting one. I suspect the lawyers are still arguing over that one, but S.W.O.R.D.’s don’t really consider any of the pantheons on Earth as aliens. Intra-dimensional threats, abstractly, are under A.R.M.O.R.’s domain.

Or maybe it’s just they’ll be the last ones on the list.

CosmicBookNews: How far will S.W.O.R.D. go to achieve this? Even if it means direct conflict with their parent organization, H.A.M.M.E.R. and Director Osborn? Are they under orders from Osborn?

Kieron Gillen: As I said above, there’s a suspicion of influence. But strictly speaking, S.H.I.E.L.D. – and now H.A.M.M.E.R. – isn’t actually their parent organization. It’s a sister organization. Osborn’s influence, if any, is indirect.

Gyrich and Brand are at each other’s throats throughout the series, but there’s one thing which they both agree on. They do whatever it takes to make Earth safe. Where they differ is their belief in what it actually takes to make Earth safe.

CosmicBookNews: At the end of Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter we saw Beta Ray Bill state that he “is home.” Will Beta Ray take part in S.W.O.R.D. in any way? Do you have any other plans for using Beta Ray Bill?”

Kieron Gillen: When I wrote “Home” I was mostly referring to the idea that he’s back with what remains of his people – and thus wherever he is, he’s basically home. Secondarily, I was referring to Earth. Thirdly, more the emotional state. It was that sort of line.

Of course, I totally wrote an ongoing relationship between ’em. Ti Asha Ra is staying on the Peak. Bill owes Brand a favour. While he does appear in the first arc, I do have hopes to use him down the line. I’ve got enormous empathy for the horse-headed fella.

CosmicBookNews: Are there plans to include Marvel’s cosmic characters in this at some point?

Kieron Gillen: One of the best things about writing this series is the amount of the toys in the Marvel box that you get to play with. Anything that crosses the boundary between Earth and the Heavens is in our domain. That totally includes all the cosmic characters. I have a mad crush on several.

CosmicBookNews: Thanks so much for your time! We look forward to reading S.W.O.R.D. which is do to hit stores November 11th!

    Read More about S.W.O.R.D At The Ready: Interview With Kieron Gillen

    DnA and B Into A Realm Beyond: Interview with Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Bill Rosemann

    Recently announced at the Chicago Comic Con, Marvel unveiled their latest Cosmic storyline, Realm of Kings.

    Come November, Realm of Kings #1 will be the headliner written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, known as DnA to the rapid cosmic fans, with art by Leonardo Manco (War Machine) and a cover by Cline Langley.

    The Duo will also pen the two Realm of Kings mini series: Realm of Kings: Inhumans and Realm of Kings: Imperial Gaurd.

    Realm of Kings: Inhumans features art by Pablo Raimondi (X-Factor, Books of Doom), and covers by Stjepan Seijic. Realm of Kings: Imperial Gaurd showcases the art of the talented Kev Walker who cosmic fans should remember from Annihilation: Nova and covers by Brian Haberlain.

    Both are set to be five issues and also debut this November.

    The recent War of Kings event saw the two kings, Black Bolt of the Inhumans and Vulcan of the Shi’ar, face off and seemingly be killed.

    As witnessed in the conclusion, with the detonation of the T-Bomb, a fracture was created in time and space.

    CosmicBookNews spoke with the two cosmic grandmasters, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning along with Marvel Editor, Bill Rosemann on Realm of Kings, Darkhawk, Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    CosmicBookNews: The one shot, Realm of Kings #1, is set to go off in November, starring Wendell Vaughn, Quasar, what can you tell us about that?

    DnA: The story Realm of Kings follows Quasar as he attempts to explore and analyze the bizarre and dangerous new region of space called the Fault.

    The Fault is a rip in the fabric of space time that resulted when the Inhumans detonated their T-Bomb at the end of the War of Kings series.

    The one-shot will show how strange and extreme things inside the Fault can be, and Quasar discovers a dark secret he realizes he must do all he can to save our universe!

    CosmicBookNews: The heads of both the Inhumans and The Shi’ar have been essentially cut off with the deaths and/or disappearances of Black Bolt and Vulcan.

    What can you tell us about Realm of Kings: Inhumans and Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard?

    Who will step in to fulfill their role as leader?

    DnA: The Imperial Guard series showcases several of the most interesting members of that military force as they try to stabilize the Shi’Ar Imperium in the aftershocks of the War of Kings and establish the legitimacy of their new Majestor, Gladiator.

    What is of interest for us in writing this series this is we get to show the Imperial Guard as highly trained and very powerful military operatives rather than conventional superheroes. This is something we found particularly attractive about War of Kings as they were deployed as super-powered military assets.

    We’ll get a chance to focus on a few of them as characters too, and flesh them out, something that hasn’t been done much in all the years they’ve been around.

    We’ll also be continuing the development of Gladiator’s personal storyline in the wake of the events of War of Kings.

    The Inhumans series will focus directly on the Royal Family and their attempts to consolidate and unite the Kree Empire following their decisive but costly victory after War of Kings.

    We’ll see firsthand how Medusa is coping with the death of her husband and king, now she has taken the role of supreme monarch.

    We will also explore how this impacts upon the other members of her family, Crystal in particular and how their own courtly intrigues and personal agendas conflict with it.

    They will be facing threats from without and within.

    CosmicBookNews: Last we time we saw Darkhawk, he had promised to go after the Raptor Amulets.

    Now that the T-bomb has created the rip, will we be seeing more Raptors? Is Talon dead? What role will Darkhawk play in Realm of Kings?

    DnA: Darkhawk’s mission is to track down and stop the evil Raptors before they can establish a foothold in our universe.

    This mission is somewhat handicapped by the fact he is also the universe’s most wanted fugitive.

    This puts him in direct conflict with his old team mate, Richard Rider, the Nova Prime, whose remit is to police the galaxy.

    Darkhawk’s story will play out within the pages of Nova and other unexpected cosmic venues.

    CosmicBookNews: The space rip has generated a lot of buzz as it could be an engine for the return of many obscure or even dead characters.

    Could you share with us how you go about finding these characters or do you have some big “cosmic” library at home?

    DnA: Part of the fun of working in Marvel’s cosmic Universe is that we get to dust off and play with these great old characters, many of which haven’t seen the light of day for a good few years.

    The fact these more obscure characters haven’t got long histories of continuity and haven’t been used for a while is liberating for us as writers as we get to explore their possibilities and characters and the readers have a real sense that anything can happen to them and this has led to the Cosmic Marvel Universe being a genuinely dangerous place.

    As for unearthing these obscure and old characters, we have countless reference aids, the Marvel Handbooks, Encyclopedia etc as well as back issues and online resources.

    And Bill Rosemann, our Living Planet editor, has a bottomless pit of knowledge of bizarre and forgotten characters that he keeps digging into to throw up a hero who’s been MIA since the ’70s!

    CosmicBookNews: Will the rip be noticed by any of the Abstracts?

    We saw in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy, Oblivion. Does Oblivion have anything to do with Realm of Kings?

    Will we see other Abstracts? Maelstrom mentioned an “End War” — is that part of the overall War of Kings story?

    Is this the ultimate war of the cosmic powers referred to during the 1990s Guardians of the Galaxy series?

    DnA: The Abstracts are bound to take an interest in such a reality adjusting event, and several of them may seek to take an advantage from it.

    Like a great cosmic game of chess however, they make moves from a distance, so that their activities are not immediately obvious.

    It’s even possible that the manipulations of one or more of the Abstracts could have led to the conditions that led to the Fault in the first place.

    Their involvement may or may not become clear as the story unfolds.

    CosmicBookNews: Speaking of the Guardians of the Galaxy, what’s going on with Adam Warlock? In the last couple of issues he’s looked very Magus-like at times.

    Is this a hint of things to come?

    DnA: Quite possibly.

    Adam is tied up in the next major storyline for Guardians and if you’ve read issue # 17 you’ll have a very clear idea of where that story is going.

    CosmicBookNews: We’ve been hearing that Nova will be joining the Avengers; and a younger version of Nova will be joining Marvel Adventures Super Heroes.

    Will DnA be involved in either of these projects directly or in an advisory role for the character?

    As a fan who passionately believes Nova works best in space; can you re-assure me that the ongoing Nova series will not be turned into an Earth-based series?

    Bill: The fact that other creators and editors want to tell stories with the Human Rocket is tribute to the amazing job Dan, Andy and the rest of Team Nova have been doing for the last 28 issues.

    And, since Rich Rider is such a relatable character who supplies a grounded view of our often mind-blowing cosmic concepts, he’s a perfect fit whether he’s jetting through the stars or through the concrete canyons of Manhattan. Nova’s ties to characters both in space and on Earth make him a crucial character who can bridge both arenas and introduce readers to realms they never thought they’d ever experience or enjoy.

    CosmicBookNews: Thank you for your time, gentlemen. We appreciate you taking the time out to answer our questions.

     

    Be sure to pick up the War of Kings epilogue, Who Will Rule this September which deals with the aftermath of the events that took place in War of Kings #6!

    Read More about DnA and B Into A Realm Beyond: Interview with Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Bill Rosemann

    Interview with Brad Walker, Penciler Guardians of the Galaxy

    After Marvel’s intergalactic storyline, Annihilation, changed the cosmic landscape of their universe, Marvel Comics is following it up with War of Kings. And in that storyline, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” will play an integral roll as the alien races of Marvel are set to go to battle once more.

    And what will it take to help bring that storyline to life? How about an artist from Batman and Superman comics – Brad Walker.

    Walker is one of the hottest up and coming artists in the industry and Walker spoke with CosmicBookNews about how he got into the business and working with DC and Marvel Comics.

    CosmicBookNews: First, thank you for taking time out to be interviewed!

    Brad Walker: Anything to help me procrastinate!

    CosmicBookNews: Can you give us a little bit on your background? Where did you grow up and how early of an age did you start to draw?

    Brad Walker: My dad was in the Air Force, so I grew up all over the country. But I drew as far back as I can remember. Probably 3 or 4 years old. I lived in Chicago when I was little, and they used to show the old 60’s Spider-Man cartoon there, and I watched it religiously. So, that was one of the first things I learned to draw. I would draw him ALL the time.

    CosmicBookNews: When did you decide you wanted to pursue comic books as a career? Did you take your portfolio to conventions to get noticed or go another route?

    Brad Walker: I decided to pursue it probably sometime in middle school, when I started reading comics on a regular basis. After that, I never planned to do anything else. I’m “All-the-Eggs-in-One-Basket Brad.”

    CosmicBookNews: [Laughs]

    I see you went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Do they have a specific program or course for comic book artists?

    Brad Walker: Yeah, they have a program for Sequential Art, which I was in. I don’t know about now, because I don’t keep up with such things, but at the time, it was the only college in the country with such a specific major. “School of Visual Arts” in New York has a cartooning major (as do a few others), but the Sequential Art major is specific to comic books and story boarding. They had a bunch of really great professors who I learned a lot from and with whom I’m still friends.

    CosmicBookNews: Can you share with us a little of your experience studying there?

    Brad Walker: It was a great time! I met the majority of the friends I have to this day, and I got to draw for four years straight. And they even gave me a Bachelor’s Degree! Suckers!

    CosmicBookNews: A few years after graduating you did some work at DC. Can you explain how that came about?

    Brad Walker: That actually came about as a result of going to SCAD (see kids! It works! Give them your money!). I was living in New York at the time, and one of my old professors got in touch and said he was going to be in town with the kids from his Summer Semester. They were going to be visiting DC, and he asked if I wanted to come along. We met up with the (then) Batman Group, and they liked my stuff. I kept talking to them (read: bugging them), and they eventually gave me work.

    CosmicBookNews: What was your first published work for DC and how did it feel seeing it out on the stands?

    Brad Walker: Two back-ups stories in Detective Comics #795 and 796. Greatest feeling in the world. Followed closely by my first cover on Action Comics #848.

    CosmicBookNews: Regarding Action Comics, is this something you pursued or were you asked to do these? Must have felt pretty good being part of the Superman mythos. How was it working with Kurt Busiek?

    Brad Walker: My editors on the Batman stuff, Matt Idelson and Nachie Castro moved to the Superman books, and were drunk enough to ask me. I freaked out when they mentioned it was with Kurt. He’s easily in my top five favorite comic writers ever, and a blast to work with! He’s probably the most creative guy I’ve ever talked to. His head just seems to have a constant flow of ideas! And I learned a lot from talking to him about the pages, because he’s got such a natural grasp of storytelling. I loved every minute of it!

    CosmicBookNews: Also, with DC, you penciled some issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. What would you say was the difference between drawing the Superman titles compared to these Batman titles and which did you prefer? Was one more difficult than the other?

    Brad Walker: That was the stuff I did immediately after the Detective back-ups. My first full length work. So, it was tainted by having very little idea what I was doing, but boosted by unbridled enthusiasm. I love Batman probably right behind Superman (from the DC side of things). It’s different tonally, but to be honest, I was working so hard back then not to screw up, and get it done fast, and trying to impress my editors that it probably wasn’t as thought out as much as it should’ve been. Maybe I’ll get to go back to Batman someday, when I’m a little more confident with my work…

    CosmicBookNews: Overall, how would you rate your experience working with DC?

    Brad Walker: I’d give it an 11! But I won’t tell you out of what… No, I’ve loved working for DC, and technically still do (I’m still half way through an unsolicited project). I’ve got lots of friends there, and I would always draw anything that Matt Idelson asked me to, because I owe him my career. But, to be honest, Marvel characters have always been slightly closer to my heart, so I’m looking forward to getting a little more comfortable over there!

    CosmicBookNews: So how did you come to work for Marvel?

    Brad Walker: I met Bill Rosemann in my accountant’s office, last year.

    Seriously!

    CosmicBookNews: How is it working under Editor Bill Rosemann?

    Brad Walker: I love working for Bill!

    He’s a great guy, and smart editor and every note he’s ever given me has been spot on. He’s really supportive, and he and I share the worst tastes in television in the entire comic industry.

    And his assistant, Michael Horwitz has been fantastic, too. He just started on the book in the middle of issue 8, and from my perspective, he didn’t miss a beat.

    CosmicBookNews: Currently, you are penciling Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. You just recently did your first two complete issues with them, issues eight and ten. The art was really great. Do you enjoy drawing these space type stories?

    Brad Walker: I did all of issue 8, and [I penciled] 13 pages of issue 9. And I love drawing all the Marvel space stuff! It’s probably as exciting to me as Batman and Superman.

    And thanks. I’m glad you liked it

    CosmicBookNews: You said you only penciled part of issue 9, was there any particular reason why?

    Brad Walker: I couldn’t do it in 12 days. Hey, 13 pages in that amount of time ain’t too bad!

    CosmicBookNews: How many issues are you going to do?

    Brad Walker: I did 8 through 10, and I’m working on 13 through 15, right now. I’m hoping to do up to (at least) issue 18, but we’ll have to see how the deadline looks at 15.

    I’d draw it as long as they’d let me though, cause it’s so much fun.

    CosmicBookNews: Does it bother you when the cover is done by someone else, do you prefer to do them or doesn’t it really matter?

    Brad Walker: I don’t mind at all having somebody else do the covers. I like doing them, but they can be frustrating because so many other people need to sign off on them (understandably) than a regular page. And they can be much more time consuming.

    CosmicBookNews: What about coloring? Obviously, penciling a 22 or more page book is quite time consuming, but if you had the time and option would you prefer to color your own work?

    Brad Walker: No, I don’t really “see” in color. That’s the one step of the process I would probably never aspire to. And Wil Quintana – the artist that’s doing the colors on Guardians is a genius.

    I couldn’t even imagine pages looking as nicely as he makes them actually look.

    CosmicBookNews: Can you quickly take us through your process of penciling an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy? How much time, on average do you spend, on a page. Can you share with us what computer programs you like to use?

    Brad Walker: I read through a script and sketch my first impression of each panel right there in the margins. Then, I draw out each page really loosely about 3 x 4 inches. Once I have everything placed where I want it, I enlarge that to 400 percent and trace it onto the boards. Then, I go through and draw it all with a real, live pencil.

    I only use a computer when I need to scan stuff to show to [editors] Bill, Mike, Dan, and Andy.

    I hate computers.

    I spend about a day on each page. Some a little more, some a little less. It – kinda – evens out…

    CosmicBookNews: They say an artist is never satisfied. Would you say that is true in regards to how you feel about your work?

    And, regarding that topic, how many revisions do you make before you send it in?

    Brad Walker: Yeah, I like my work for about a day after I finish it, then I hate it. I try not to get hung up in revisions.

    You can really fall into a vortex, that way. If I notice something I did that I’m unsatisfied with, I just try to apply that lesson to the next page.

    Sometimes, Bill will ask for something to be a little different for the sake of continuity, or to make something more clear, but it’s always been small, and it makes the page better.

    CosmicBookNews: What about Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning? Are they real particular?

    Brad Walker: Well, they’re amazing. So, there’s that.

    And I couldn’t say they are particular, because I haven’t seen the need to stray from anything as written.

    I can see everything they ask for, pretty much dead on, the first time I read through a new script.

    They’re very vivid and they haven’t complained, so I can’t be that far off.

    I think all this cosmic stuff they are doing is going to be remembered for a long time and I think it’s really stellar (yes, I said that) work.

    CosmicBookNews: Were you a fan of the original Guardians of the Galaxy from 1990s? If so, any particular character a favorite?

    Brad Walker: I didn’t read it, no. I think the characters are still cool looking, though. I know a lot of people probably think they’re corny looking, but I’d love to get a flashback sequence, or something with them. I think a good artist can make just about any character look cool without some fancy redesign. I thought Paul Pelletier made them look great in issue 7!

    CosmicBookNews: I have to ask this question, are you a fan of Wendell Vaughn?

    Brad Walker: Yeah, I love him. I liked that old series that Greg Capullo drew with him.

    I just read the Nova issue of the “Annihilation series” today, where he died. I’m catching up on a lot of “Annihilation” stuff.

    It’s too bad he would be impossible to bring back from the dead.

    Sigh.

    CosmicBookNews: [Laughs]

    Seeing how we are on the topic of characters, which ones are your favorite?

    Brad Walker: Okay, number one will always be Spider-Man. Always.

    After that, here are the other contenders: The Thing, Superman, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, Green Lantern, Silver Surfer, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Green Arrow, Hercules (Marvel’s), and (Monica Rambeau) Captain Marvel.

    There are tons I’m leaving out, but that’s a short list that comes to mind, right now.

    CosmicBookNews: So Spider-Man is your favorite, which Spider-Man stories are your favorite and which artist?

    Brad Walker: Yeah, far and away my favorite. I would go so far as to say that I don’t think there was a single, bad issue of Amazing until about 1994. Even when it was silly, it was still a good Spider-Man comic, and it was fun to see where Peter Parker was going. And I think the current stories are the best it’s been since 1994.

    And yes, I’m aware that answer will have legions of Mary Jane lovers hating me.

    Forever.

    Sorry – it’s fun, these days.

    But, my favorite runs are the Lee/Ditko/Romita ones, the (enormous) Conway/Andru run, the Stern/Romita Jr. one, the DeFalco/Frenz stuff, and the Michelinie/McFarlane/Larsen/Bagley runs. Yeah, I know that’s almost the first 30 years.

    For artists, I’m partial to the guys from those runs, plus I think Marcos Martin and Mike McKone are doing really great work, right now.

    CosmicBookNews: So, I take it you wouldn’t mind be called upon to do Spider-Man?

    Brad Walker: Yep. I’d be fine, about that.

    CosmicBookNews: What artist influences you most?

    Brad Walker: Uh. The Silver Age guys, I guess. I’m a big Kirby guy. As well as Ditko, Romita, Buscema, and Neal Adams. I love Walt Simonson, Alan Davis, Frank Quitely, Carlos Pacheco, Ivan Reis, Marcos Martin, and Ron Garney, for newer guys that spring to mind.

    CosmicBookNews: What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Do you intentionally try to create your own “style?”

    Brad Walker: Uh…. do something else??

    Actually, I’d say don’t develop a “style”.

    Draw everything, and draw it from life. Try to make it look real. Your comic book influences will come through regardless, so you might as well learn fundamentals. And as far as looking at comics. Look for the storytelling. Look at the old guys, cause anybody you like from the past 20 years is aping somebody from before that. You might as well learn from the source.

    Oh, and be prepared to do it till your fingers hurt. Literally. If you don’t like it enough that that sounds appealing, then this isn’t the career for you. My hand is cramped up, as I type this.

    [But as for style] I think of new ways to render sometimes, but that’s not to form a “style” as much as it’s a different attempt to get a point across. Like I said, before, your style will come through, whether you like it, or not. I really have no idea what my work looks like. In my head, it’s a photograph and any amount that it doesn’t turn out that way on the page is just due to the restrictions of my implements, my time, and my talent.

    CosmicBookNews: How do you feel when you read those internet message boards in regards to someone remarking, good or bad, about your work?

    Brad Walker: Well, I love hearing that people like our stuff. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve pleased somebody who really loves a book, or a character.

    And I’m pretty good about criticisms because artwork is completely subjective, and not everybody is going to be into your stuff.

    I mean, name any artist, and I can go online and find somebody who hates them. So, you’ve gotta take that stuff in stride. But I really appreciate when people say specific things they’d like me to change.

    After [Guardians of the Galaxy] issue 8 came out, somebody on a board somewhere wrote that Paul Pelletier drew a better Gamora. So, I went on and asked him what he liked better about Paul’s version, and he said that she’s supposed to have heels on her boots. So, in issue 10, I was able to fix that.

    In that respect, the internet is a really great tool for comic artists! But, then there are the whiny babies on there who are venting about other things they’re missing in life. Like I do on my “Two and a Half Men” message boards.

    CosmicBookNews: [Laughs]

    What comics do you currently read?

    Brad Walker: I love Spider-Man, right now. Green Lantern [from DC Comics]. Dan and Andy’s stuff and I’m not just saying that cause I’m involved.

    I’ve just gotten into the Punisher Max trades, and I’m loving them. I’m enjoying Trinity, and everything that Ed Brubaker does. I’m really excited about the Dan Slott Mighty Avengers, and I loved the Superman books, up through New Krypton. We’ll have to see if it holds my interest without Supes in it, though.

    CosmicBookNews: Is there anything you wish to plug?

    Brad Walker: Just Guardians, and the War of Kings storyline in general. I’m going to be drawing my little heart out to try and make my chapters look great. So, hopefully that comes across.

    And, on that note, I should get back to my page…

    CosmicBookNews: Thanks for your time, Brad.

    Brad Walker: No problem! Glad to do it!

    Be sure to pick up Guardians of the Galaxy issues 8 through 10 on sale now, issue 13 hits stores April 15th and look for issues 14 and 15 soon, penciled by Brad Walker.

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