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Exclusive: Jeff Lemire teams canucks and cosmic in new Justice League title

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Plot threads from Justice League of America, a new heroine from far, far up North, space-spanning action featuring some Strange space-farers, and Moose Factory.

All of these will be a part of the revamped book coming your way this month by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike McKone. Justice League United will be a cosmic property but with that slice-of-life touch taking place in VERY rural Northern Canada, their HQ.

To get more on this approaching treasure, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer took a ride to a small asteroid this side of the planet Rann and exclusively discussed the new book with Lemire himself.

Cosmic Book News: Jeff, tell us how Justice League United came into being and how much of that stems from Justice League of America, storywise.

Jeff Lemire: Well, to be honest, the first story arc is about this team coming together, so I won’t spoil that.

I will say that there is a connection to the JLA. Green Arrow, Stargirl and Martian Manhunter all clearly want to keep the team together at the end of the JLA run, so their connection is the key. But this tea will be very different.

The JLA was a government run group designed to counter the Justice League. These heroes are tired of being the pawns of political agenda. They want to return to being heroes, to inspiring others instead of fighting amongst themselves.

CBN: It’s a joy to see so many of DC’s space beings together. Can you give us just a taste of the outer space adventures in store for these heroes?

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Jeff Lemire: LOTS. This is a cosmic book in every way. Though, unlike many cosmic books, it will still maintain a strong link to what’s going on on Earth and with the rest of the DCU.

Rann and Thanagar play a big role in the first arc as does Czarnia. And the scope of the book will continue to expand as the series unfolds all building to a massive cosmic story in the book’s second arc.

CBN: Will JLU have a “point of view” character, perhaps Martian Manhunter? From whose perspective, at least at first, will we see these adventures?

Jeff Lemire: Actually, I think the new teenaged hero, Equinox, is the POV character. She is new to the superhero community and experiencing all these larger than life characters and situations for the first time, like the reader.

CBN: Speaking of … Equinox, is it? What can you tell us about this new Canadian superhero?

Jeff Lemire: Well, as I said, Equinox is our new hero. She is a Cree teenager from Moose Factory, Ontario, and her powers and history were based on various Cree legends, stories and beliefs.

CBN: Will this title hook into Green Lantern or any other DCU cosmic title?

Jeff Lemire: Not directly. I want it to have its own identity. Space is a BIG place. Not everything needs to connect.

CBN: What is the role of Adam Strange in all this? How does the New 52 Adam differ from other versions?

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Jeff Lemire: Can’t tell you that without spoiling everything. But I will say that ALANNA STRANGE plays as big or bigger role in the team as Adam does. And she is VERY different from the pre-New 52 version.

CBN: What new secrets might we discover about Canada in this series?

Jeff Lemire: I hope to shine a light on Canada’s most overlooked and misrepresented communities, meaning the aboriginal or First Nation community. The Earthbound aspect of the book primarily takes place in an isolated northern Canadian community called Moose Factory which is home to one of Canada’s First Nations, the Moose Cree First Nation.

CBN: Will most of the stories be cosmic or Earth-centric?

Jeff Lemire: I’m trying to keep a balance. The adventure aspect of the book will primarily be space bound, but the team will always have a base and a connection to Earth. So the more “slice of life” aspects will be on Earth.

CBN: Tell us about Mike McKone. What does he bring to the table here?

Jeff Lemire: Incredible sense of character. The emotion and life he infuses into each character is key to making the team dynamic and interaction work. He also brings a great sense of design to the page layouts.

CBN: Jeff, any projects current or future you would care to discuss?

Jeff Lemire: I’m also co-writing the weekly DC comic Future’s End with Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens. And in addition this November DC will be publishing the original graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth 1 written by myself and drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson. And I have a number of creator-owned projects that will be announced in the coming months.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jeff Lemire for answering our questions during his busy schedule. We would also like to thank DC’s own Steven Solomon who helped make this interview possible.

“Justice League United” #0 hits stores April 23rd!

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Exclusive: Cullen Bunn seeks no escape from Shadow #0 featuring Houdini

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Last week, Dynamite Entertainment announced it had signed writer Cullen Bunn (Sixth Gun, Magneto) to pen a new story of its perennial period protagonist, the Shadow, as he meets the elusive magician Houdini.

How do pulp and presto-chango team up? To get the answers to that question and more, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively turned into a bar and questioned Mr. Cullen about the project.

No trick photography was used during this interview.

Cosmic Book News: The Shadow is having a zero issue! Cullen, how did you become involved?

Cullen Bunn: I’ve been talking to Nick, Joe and Molly at Dynamite for a while now. We’ve wanted to work together on something, but we were all waiting for the right project. When they called me and mentioned the Shadow, I knew this would make a great first Dynamite book! I mean… The Shadow! Talk about a character with meat on the bones!

CBN: We understand that this zero issue is not all the business that Nick Barrucci and Dynamite are having with you. Care to comment on the big future mystery project?

Cullen Bunn: I can’t say much right now! I’m sworn to secrecy! But there’s definitely more in the works. In fact, there might be a few different things in the works right now.

CBN: OK, OK, back to Shadow #0, how does our Dark Master become involved with the great performer Houdini?

Cullen Bunn: Well, what we learn is that Lamont Cranston and Houdini were acquaintances long before Lamont became the Shadow.  To aid him in his quest for justice, the Shadow gathered a diverse set of skills. In this case, who better to teach him the art of escape?

CBN: Can you tell us at what point in Houdini’s career this piece takes place? He was a very different man at different points during his career.

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Cullen Bunn: In this story, Houdini is a little older, nearing those final days and his mysterious death.

CBN: And the big-bad is … ?

Cullen Bunn: Our villains in this book are members of a secret order of magicians, illusionists and escape artists. They want to know Houdini’s greatest secret—a secret he took beyond the grave—and they’re willing to kill to get it!

CBN: Are you a student of magical history or a fan of the late performer?

Cullen Bunn: I’ve always been interested in magical history and the great stage performers. Everyone thinks I’m joking when I say this, but my father was a very talented stage hypnotist for many years. So many elements of that lifestyle are fascinating to me. In this story, I try to delve into the “world” of performing magicians … and how it can seem somewhat otherworldly.

CBN: What is the difference between Cullen Bunn’s Shadow and other versions we know?

Cullen Bunn: I think every writer approaches the character a little differently while trying to be true to the pulp origins. This Shadow plays a little more mysteriously, I suppose, with an undercurrent of sardonic wit.

CBN: Where did you get your inspiration for your Shadow character and for this special story?

Cullen Bunn: Perhaps my earliest exposure to superhero stories was from The Shadow. My dad used to recount tales of the radio show he listened to when he was a boy. So, some of this story is drawn from those memories, as well as many of the pulp stories (The Shadow or otherwise) that I’ve read over the years.

CBN: Have you enjoyed working with Nick and the folks at Dynamite Entertainment?

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Cullen Bunn: No way! Those folks are awful! But they know my “true name” and if I don’t do as they command, they’ll banish me back to the underworld.

CBN: Cullen, do we know anything about the artist on this work so far?

Cullen Bunn: At this point, I don’t know who the artist for the book will be. Whoever it is, I hope he or she enjoys drawing crazy booby traps, esoteric artifacts, wild tigers, and lots and lots of gunplay! 

CBN: Is this a character that you would like to work with again?

Cullen Bunn: Absolutely! The Zero Issue really only whetted my appetite for more!

CBN: Cullen, any projects current or in the future you wish to discuss? One, say, coming up with Dynamite? (wink wink)

Cullen Bunn: I’ll give you points for trying! But I really can’t say too much about what’s in store. The projects on the horizon with Dynamite definitely play to my horror, pulp and action sensibilities, though.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Cullen Bunn, even keeping his secrets, for taking time out of his busy convention schedule to talk with us. Thanks also to Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

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Exclusive Interview: She-Devil with a Sword: Gail Simone staying on Red Sonja

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Although Dynamite Entertainment just today formally announced that writer Gail Simone was extending her critically acclaimed run on its Red Sonja comic, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer was already exclusively working behind-the-scenes during the Emerald City Con to get the scoop on this issue.

Discussing her best-selling run, Simone and Brewer talk everything from female characters (and writers!) to working for Dynamite and what makes the She-Devil with a Sword (Sonja, that is) such a great character to write.

Cosmic Book News: Gail, when we first interviewed you about doing Red Sonja for Dynamite, we discussed the seeming phenom of more women writers and more women characters in comics. Is that something that you see continuing in the industry?

Gail Simone: Oh, yeah, definitely…there was a little span of time where the female writers before me had left comics, and I felt very oddball showing up over and over again as the only female writer on superhero panels, and the only female guest at cons. I can’t even express how happy I am to not only see people like Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marjorie Liu and more coming into the industry, but some of my favorites like Devin Grayson, Christy Marx and Nancy Collins are coming back after a long absence. It’s lovely. It was a dream of mine for a long time, now it’s happening.

CBN: Why do you love doing a character like Red Sonja?

Gail Simone: I like that she’s earthy and bawdy. She wants a haunch of meat and about twenty ales and three jugs of wine and maybe a good scrap once in a while. I write a lot of characters like Batgirl, who live in their own heads a great deal. Sonja lives in the moment, in the exact spot where she’s standing. She changes history waking up in the morning. She’s just a blast, she’s in my heart now.

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CBN: What was it about this book that made you want to extend your run?

Gail Simone: Well, a lot of it is how Dynamite treats both myself and the book, to be honest. Dynamite has been open to some pretty wild ideas and we all took those risks together. It’s a joy seeing so many people discover Sonja for the first time, especially people who don’t usually buy Dynamite, or sword and sorcery comics.

But it’s also simply a matter of having one of the most charismatic and wildly entertaining lead characters in comics. Simply put, I’m not done with her yet, and she’s clearly not done with me.

CBN: Was there a certain story you felt you had left uncompleted with Sonja, or are there numerous arcs that you have waiting for our She-Devil with a Sword?

Gail Simone: We did a pretty serious first arc, the second is more fanciful. In our third arc, it’s several connected stories where I get to do the most fun part of these books … monsters! It’s full of creepy crawlies, and a real theme about forgiveness.

CBN: Are there any new foes for Sonja that you are excited about  in your extended run? Any old big-bads returning?

Gail Simone: Not telling … but yes and YES.

CBN: Why do you think your particular version of Red Sonja has caught on so well with the readership?

Gail Simone: I want to be careful here, because I don’t want to give the wrong impression, but a lot of sword and sorcery comics in the past have tended to be a bit alienating. You know, first page is a map and some dull narration about the fallen empire of Wienerstan. I wanted to try to incorporate that stuff in a more organic way.  And I want to present Sonja as a woman with bad manners and many other flaws. I think people know we are all having a blast, and it shows in the book. It’s a labor of love.

And I also have to say, SO much of the credit has to go to the art team. It’s Walter Giovani just nailing it every issue, topping himself time and again. Great colors by Adriano Lucas and perfect lettering by Simon Bowland, it’s just an amazing looking book every time.

And the covers are just a feast, we got the best female artists anywhere, all my favorites, and they have just gone wild with Sonja.

There are a ton of good comics out there, but I think people can feel the love in this book.

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CBN: In a dream scenario, is there any artist you would like to work with on a Red Sonja book or any author with whom you would like to co-write Sonja?

Gail Simone: Well, that’s the thing, I HAD all those dreams, and we went out and did them! We got covers by Colleen Doran, Amanda Conner, Becky Cloonan, just on and on and on, and then we did Legends of Red Sonja with a virtual Who’s Who of all my favorite female authors, some who had never done comics before. My dreams have already come true in a big way.

And honestly, I am so happy working with Walter that I can hardly ask for more.

CBN: When comic collectors and enthusiasts look back on your run of Red Sonja a decade from now, what would you hope they would say about it? And you?

Gail Simone: I would hope they would say, damn, that redhead is badass.

And Sonja’s pretty cool, too!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank the fantastically busy Gail Simone for taking time during the madness of the Emerald City Con to answer our questions. Thanks to Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

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Exclusive Interview: Mark Waid unlocks the world of Gold Key’s Doctor Spektor

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A new (or rather old) master of the mystic arts returns to the comic book page in May when Dynamite Entertainment presents Doctor Spektor, written by Mark Waid (Daredevil, Indestructible Hulk) with art by Neil Edwards (X-Factor, Fantastic Four).

Unlike most of the comic book magic community, Doc Spektor dwells in a world full of vampires, werewolves and mad sorcerers, true … but he does so while also taking bows in the public spotlight. For cash!

To get to the heart of this seeming narcissistic necromancer, CBN M.E.Byron Brewer spoke exclusively to Waid about his plans for this returning Gold Key book.  

Cosmic Book News: Mark, how did this Gold Key returnee happen to fall to you?

Mark Waid: Nick and I had lunch at C2E2 2013 where he revealed to me his secret Gold Key plans, and he knows how much I love to dig into and re-think “forgotten” characters.

CBN: Any experience with the character as a writer or fan?

Mark Waid: Not as a writer, but I defy you to find a Silver or Bronze Age comics character I’m NOT familiar with. (smiles)

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CBN: Who is Adam Spektor and why should I as a reader be interested in his adventures?

Mark Waid: Adam Spektor, who lives in world in which ghost, ghouls, goblins and monsters are very real, is a celebrity monster-hunter who’s made a super-fortune as the star of his own reality series. He’s half-supernatural buster, half-performer, and he loves his job. At least, until he comes across something in his world that genuinely frightens him–and you can imagine that if vampires and werewolves are old hat to this guy how horrifying that “something” must be. I challenge you to guess what it is.

CBN: Are we more Doctor Strange or more Columbo in this current iteration?

Mark Waid: Doctor Strange meets Booster Gold.

CBN: Unlike a lot of our returning heroes, Doctor Spektor is under the public spotlight, a pop culture phenom. How does that work when you’re also a monster hunter, a detective and a secret necromancer?

Mark Waid: It works very, very lucratively. As I say, he’s made a fortune many times over–which is good, because ancient spells and potions do NOT come cheap.

CBN: Tell us about the Doctor’s world. Why the globe-hopping? What is he really searching for?

Mark Waid: He asks himself the same question at the beginning of issue #1. By issue’s end, he has the answer.

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CBN: And big-bads?

Mark Waid: A robot fighter, a dinosaur hunter, and a man of the atom.

CBN: How is it working with Neil Edwards?

Mark Waid: Great.  What energy this guy has! His work will knock you over.

CBN: What’s it like playing a key — get it, “key” — part of the return of the Gold Key Universe?

Mark Waid: I don’t … OH.  OH! It’s fun and it’s a privilege–Nick and editor Nate Cosby have put together a really stellar group of creators, so I have to up my game.

CBN: Mark, any projects present or future you would like to discuss?

Mark Waid: Still doing Hulk and Daredevil at Marvel; relaunching Insufferable and another project at my digital comics website, Thrillbent.com, in April; tinkering with another Dynamite project … I’m crazy busy, but that’s a good problem to have!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Mark Waid for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Doctor Spektor” #1 hits stores May 28th!

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Exclusive Interview: Haden Blackman brings assassin Elektra into Marvel Now

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She has been murdered, reborn, spurned by her blind lover, a thief, an assassin, a hero, an anti-hero and even kidnapped and replicated by invading alien Skrulls.

In the long life of Elektra, it is safe to say no time has been dull. That is why there is excitement over a coming new treatment of the character by writer Haden Blackman and artist Mike Del Mundo which debuts in April.

To get to the heart of the matter, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer caught up with Blackman and exclusively delved into his plans for Marvel’s most misunderstood assassin.

Cosmic Book News: With Zeb Wells popularly announced to be the author of Elektra, how did Haden Blackman become involved?

Haden Blackman: After Jim Williams and I stepped away from Batwoman, Stephen Wacker was kind enough to offer us a safe place to land at Marvel with Elektra. Jim’s schedule with Sandman prevented him from collaborating on the book, but after I was assured that Zeb’s departure was based on his television commitments and nothing else, I began working up a pitch with editor Sana Amanat. The whole process took about a month, but most of that was me just making sure I had something to say about Elektra and that I could get into her head in a way that readers will hopefully find interesting. 

CBN: Tell us about your love for all things Frank Miller and how that might influence your handling of this new book?

Haden Blackman: Growing up reading comics, I didn’t really follow specific writers — I cast a wide net and read everything I could get my hands on. Over time, I kept coming back to the writers who wrote stories or created characters that I just couldn’t forget (and I would often read and reread those issues and arcs over and over again). Frank Miller is part of that list — which also includes Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, John Byrne, J.M. DeMatteis, Chris Claremont and Jim Starlin, among others — largely due to the Elektra storyline in Daredevil, which I found incredibly powerful as a kid. There’s no doubt that Frank Miller will be forever linked to the character, and any interpretation of Elektra needs to take that into account. At the same time, I am looking at that as Elektra’s starting point. So many great Elektra storylines have come since, including Zeb’s Dark Reign arc. If I am so fortunate, I’d like to be able to create a version of Elektra that outwardly resembles Zeb’s taciturn, focused, and resourceful warrior, with the inner workings of Miller’s more conflicted and edgy Elektra from Elektra Assassin.   

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CBN: So tell us about the new adventures of Elektra and what world she will be occupying in this book.

Haden Blackman: The Elektra ongoing is firmly grounded in the Marvel Universe, but we’re going to be taking her to the far corners of that world, putting Elektra into locations and conflicts that might be a bit unexpected. Along the way, we’ll be introducing new rivals and enemies, allies and eventually perhaps even a new love interest or two. The supporting cast will be a mix of exiting and new characters, but the first few issues definitely put the emphasis on “new.”

We’re not completely ignoring her past — in fact, there are a great many references to the key events that helped shape her — but we’re also not dwelling on it or rehashing hold ground. For example, while The Hand makes an appearance in the first issue, ninja are not the central threat that Elektra will be facing in the foreseeable future — we’ve seen that fight played out too many times already, and we know how it ends. Instead, I want to pit Elektra against enemies that pose a new challenge, one that she might not be able to readily overcome.

CBN: Tell us about your initial arc.

Haden Blackman: In the first arc, Elektra has realized that she’s spent most of her life letting other people define and control her, whether that’s her father, the Hand, the Kingpin, or even Daredevil. Now, she’s trying to break free of that cycle, but she doesn’t really know where to begin, so she falls back on the one thin she does know about herself — she’s a damn good assassin. Elektra takes a job to hunt down Cape Crow, a legendary contract killer who has been in hiding for years. But, the contract she accepts is one that requires her to bring him in alive. Meanwhile, other assassins are looking to put his head on a platter.

CBN: Will we be seeing any characters from Elektra’s past in the first few issues?

Haden Blackman: Absolutely. Again, we’re definitely not ignoring her past. Bullseye makes an appearance in the first issue, for example, but in a way that will hopefully be unexpected for readers.

CBN: What about big-bads? We hear there is a spectacular new villain ready to make his or her debut in this book. Tell us more.

Haden Blackman: Yes! Mike Del Mundo came up with an amazing design for a villain that feels very different from anyone Elektra has fought in the past, and I worked up a pretty dark backstory to go along with those sketches. As with Elektra, we’ll be getting into this villain’s head, hearing his thoughts and learning more about him with each issue. The character is gruesome on some level, but also hopefully a bit charismatic and fun to read. And, he’s a bit different from a standard Elektra villain in that he has actual superpowers — he’s not just a skilled combatant (though he is that too), but he has a whole lot of abilities that put her at a decided disadvantage.

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CBN: Will we be seeing any new aspects of Elektra, any new nuances to the character in these pages? How do you achieve that with a character that is popular already?

Haden Blackman: I hope so. While outwardly she remains fairly terse — she doesn’t necessarily open up and confide in others easily — we will actually be spending a fair amount of time in her head, getting a glimpse at her thoughts and feelings and memories. I feel that the way that Elektra looks at the world, the things she remembers and obsesses about, will surprise readers.

CBN: What does artist Mike Del Mundo bring to the table? How does his style compare with Miller?

Haden Blackman: Mike is an incredible talent. I really value his ability to make even bloody combat beautiful on some level. He’s also amazing with panel design, and cramming a ton of information into a single spread without making it feel crowded. In Issue #1, we have a spread drawing parallels between ballet and fighting, and then another that makes subtle comparisons between Elektra and the new villain. Mike also had to design a number of new characters, including Matchmaker, a woman who connects assassins with lucrative contracts that fit their skills. She’s an anachronism in many ways, and he designed her clothing, environment and even equipment to capture this feeling.

CBN: Any coming storylines here that might have at one time found their way into Batwoman?

Haden Blackman: Probably not. Batwoman and Elektra are two incredibly different characters. Batwoman had a very well-defined, strong moral center, and lines that we knew she absolutely would never cross. Elektra is still defining those things for herself, which to me is very interesting to explore. I also felt like our run on Batwoman was very much about family dynamics — we wanted to tear it down and build it back up. Elektra is focused on other themes, including the search for that moral center.

With all that said, one thing we always tried to champion with Batwoman that I will continue to push with Elektra is the idea that there is no status quo — Elektra needs to change over time, and things can’t just “go back to normal” after the end of each arc. There is no “normal” when it comes to Elektra.

CBN: Any other projects present or future you would like to discuss?

Haden Blackman: I’m really honored to be part of the Madefire family. Madefire produces incredibly immersive motion books that I think are going to redefine graphic storytelling.The first few episodes of my graphic novel The Irons are currently available on the platform. The story is set in the future, on an overpopulated “Ellis Island” world where the impoverished populace is being hunted by a serial killer known as the Hijacker, who hacks the planet’s system of teleporters to abduct and then mutilate his victims. A deeply-in-debt and bitter detective is chasing the murderer in the hopes that she can earn the reward for his capture and finally buy her way off-world. I’m again working with a great artist in Gary Erskine (Warheads), who has created an amazingly detailed world.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Haden Blackman for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions about his new book. Thanks also to Marvel’s own Chris D’Lando, who helped make this interview possible.

“Elektra” #1 hits stores in April!

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Exclusive: Kaare Andrews takes total control of Iron Fist in April

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Comic book and film maker Kaare Andrews will be doing something very unique in April: not only will he be taking Danny Rand out for a solo run in the new ongoing Iron Fist, the Living Weapon but he will be handling just about every creative chore on the book except printing and stapling.

Such dedication is little seen in comics, reminiscent of the days of King Kirby at DC and Jim Starlin at Marvel.

To get to the bottom of all this, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer met exclusively with Andrews somewhere between K’un-Lun and Midgard. Our own Master of Gum Chew filed this interview.

Cosmic Book News: You have been gone from the comic book scene for awhile. What does this return mean for Kaare Andrews? Will we be seeing more work in comics from you?

Kaare Andrews: I know it feels like I’ve been out of the game for a while but I never really left.  That would be like asking me to walk around without my skin on. I took a hiatus for about a year to direct another feature film and as I was wrapping that up, had a conversation with Axel about what I might do when I came back. After spending so much writing energy in film, I was excited to return to writing comics and Axel asked me to take a look at Iron Fist and see if I had any response to the character. I had painted some Iron Fist covers in the past but didn’t really understand the core of the character until I started reading those first issues in Marvel Premiere. Once I read those, I knew I had a way “in” and I knew I wanted to commit a significant amount of time to work on this book. I came up with a short paragraph about what I wanted to achieve and Axel and the others became excited. And away I went… 

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Of course by that I mean, away I went into researching the project. It’s a part of the process that I really enjoy but it also happens to be the part of the process you don’t actually get paid to participate in. So after about a month or so of hardcore research, I had put together a robust document that broke down all my characters, themes and plot for the next year. But it is the document I keep returning to, to stay on target, and stay on theme.

CBN: So Danny Rand is returning to K’un-Lun? How will this be different from other attempts to change/discover the inner hero? Will there be any former friends or foes of Rand included in this adventure?

Kaare Andrews: I had to take Danny back to K’un-Lun because that first story, for me, defines Danny’s core. And it’s a story that’s been mostly forgotten. And forgotten by Danny most of all. But as the son of two counselors, I know that if you don’t deal with your past, your past will find a way to deal with you. This story is about the consequences of a character who spends ten years training to kill a man that murdered his parents, and refuses an offer to live among the gods, so that he may return home and take his bloody vengeance. That is a dark past. That is exciting and pure martial arts story telling. 

With a return to K’un-Lun is a return to the characters that come from this world. But this isn’t a story where Danny teams up with his old friends to save the world. I have no interest in that kind of a story. For me, martial arts movies are about a singular journey. I keep saying this, but Kung Fu isn’t a team sport. It’s about the enlightenment and journey of one man. Read Siddhartha, it’s all in there. These are the origins of marital arts. One man versus another. One man versus a hundred. One man versus himself. 

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CBN: Can you tell us what you have in store for the singular Danny Rand?

Kaare Andrews: I will promise you this. Danny Rand will never have been punished the way I am punishing him now. I love to just put my characters against impossible odds and see if they survive. This is Danny’s reckoning. And there will be blood. 

CBN: This is your first long form comics work, if I recall correctly. How has that been when compared with past works?

Kaare Andrews: This is actually my second long form as a writer-artist. I had previously written and drawn Spider-Man: Reign. I’ve also written and drawn a lot of single issue stories, have written a mini for another artist, was a writer-artist on AVX and A+X. But this is the first time in a long time where I’ve put this much energy and commitment into one comic book. And it is an exhilarating, exhaustive process.  

CBN: Kaare, you will be functioning as writer and artist on Iron Fist, The Living Weapon. How is that different from being one or the other and working with a partner? Can you talk about the approach?

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Kaare Andrews: Well, the best part of a collaboration is the surprise of it all. The, “Oh, look what Jimmy wrote for me” or “look how Bill drew this story”. And by definition, that surprise comes from working with someone who is not connected to your core of creativity. There have been many great collaborations through the years and I’ve loved working with the most amazing writers around– like Mark Millar, Warren Ellis and Zeb Wells. But I found out a long time ago, and this is just my process and not a broad definition of everyone else’s situation, but FOR ME… the more aspects I take on, the better my work becomes. It’s like I’m still writing when I’m coloring and I’m plotting by pencilling. The separate processes become one singular process. And instead of trying to drive the machine or work a part of the machine, you become the machine itself. And for me, that is when I’m at my best. When there is no safety net. No one else to blame, no one else to prop you up. I’m saying, I’m not so much a master of singular aspect of comics but a disciple of the totality of comics.

And especially now, in the writer-driven era of comics, the writer-artist is a unique process. And it creates a unique result. I would even go so far as to say that if you’re goal is to create a different type of comic, you have to approach it in a different type of methodology. And it’s no coincidence that all of my heroes, all of the game changers from Steranko to Miller to Eisner, where writer-artists.

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CBN: What is your inspiration for this new ongoing? Iron Fist tales past, some other kung fu fightin’?

Kaare Andrews: Let’s be very clear. I have no interest, zero, in mocking the genre. It gives me no pleasure to give a wink to the audience. I’m approaching this book as nothing less than the examination of the soul of a human being who turned down immortality for the promise of death. I’m not saying there won’t be lighter parts to the book, a yin to the yang. But those moments will be character driven and earned. As will the darkness that follows. 

CBN: Can you compare and contrast making a good comic to making a good film?

Kaare Andrews: I can sum it up most easily like this. In film, I am leading a team of a hundred people towards a goal that I may not have originated and every day is a compromise, collaboration and negotiation. It’s a team sport. In comics, it’s me in a dark room and every single compromise is one I make with myself. It’s pure Kung Fu

I love film and comics equally and in many ways they balance my artistic make-up. They really are Yin and Yang. And I plan on keeping one foot in each medium for a very long time.

CBN: What should fans take away from this first arc when it is complete?

Kaare Andrews: My only hope is that they leave that first arc with an overwhelming desire to read the second. 

CBN: Kaare, any projects current or future you would care to discuss?

Kaare Andrews: I’m 100 percent focused on keeping Iron Fist my priority and everything else is being put in the backseat. I’m having the time of my life and this was the right time to commit to this project. Everything else falls away. I’m wrapping up issue 5 as we chat, so look forward to a monthly book on a monthly schedule.  I hope you all pick up the book and have as much fun reading it as I did creating it.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kaare Andrews for taking time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Marvel’s Chris D’Lando who helped make this interview possible.

“Iron Fist, the Living Weapon” hits stores in April!

Read More about Exclusive: Kaare Andrews takes total control of Iron Fist in April

Exclusive: Troy Brownfield gives royal life to Dynamite’s Blood Queen

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Dynamite Entertainment in June will be taking comic book readers into the world of dark fantasy with Blood Queen #1.

Put together by the team of writer Troy Brownfield (Grimm Fairy Tales) and artist Fritz Casas (Miss Fury, Red Sonja), Blood Queen is set against the fairytale backdrop of knights and magic. Inspired by the true story of the Countess Elizabeth BathoryBlood Queen imagines the Renaissance era as a colorful nightmare of  mayhem, lust and sorcery.

To get to the heart of the matter, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer and scribe Brownfield met beside the mote of an ancient castle in Scotland. There, our M.E. got this exclusive interview.

Cosmic Book News: So, Troy, is this something you pitched or …?

Troy Brownfield: I guess you could say that it’s a bit of a combination, Byron. I was approached by Blood Queen editor Molly Mahan; a basic premise existed, and she wanted to see what I could bring to it. I put together a proposal that spoke to what Dynamite wanted to accomplish with the book, and they went for it. It’s been a fun ride.

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CBN: Tell us about the world you are about to create.

Troy Brownfield: Our setting is what you might call a fantasy kingdom. There’s a feudal system with a number of adjoining regions each ruled by a king. The kings meet in a council over particular dire events, and some of those events are coming. Within this setting, magic is quite real, and it’s ordered in a number of particular disciplines. That fact becomes a plot point very quickly. In a way, it’s like a familiar fairy tale kingdom, but there’s real world rot underneath.

CBN: And your main protagonists?

Troy Brownfield: The main character is Elizabeth. She was raised by Elder Winnifred, a witch that’s tasked with teaching basic nature magic and healing to the royal daughters of the various kingdoms. As such, Elizabeth is extremely intelligent and skilled in various magic forms. A crisis in the kingdom sees Elizabeth sent to court to try to save a royal child. Other characters that we follow early are the knight Sir Ferenc, the king’s advisor Jon Hunter, and the king’s niece Helena (who arrives in issue #2).

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CBN: What is it like spinning such a story in the trappings of a “fantasy kingdom”?

Troy Brownfield: Honestly, it’s huge fun. In a fantasy setting with magic and monsters available, literally anything can  happen. My goal is to be able to use these fabulous and unbelievable trappings, but weave into characters that have realistic and understandable motivations.

CBN: Will we see any interesting supporting characters?

Troy Brownfield: I hope you find them all interesting. (laughs)  Elder Winnifred might be my favorite; she’s got an intense backstory. Keep your eye on Helena, too.

CBN: And the main big-bad?

Troy Brownfield: I’m taking the fifth on that.  There’s an element of that which might become obvious early on, but the only thing that you should expect are twists and turns.

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CBN: Where do you get inspiration for such a comic?

Troy Brownfield: My inspiration for a project never comes from one thing, exactly. In my mind, there’s a bit of a blend of the writings of Angela Carter, the Hammer Karnstein films, Disney’s Wicked Queen, the real-life Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, and metal (Dio, Ghost B.C., Slayer . . . particularly Slayer). And that’s not to say that I’m pulling some from column A and some from column B. You want to stir up those influences so that they float in a kind of storm front that makes its presence felt in the weather of the plot.

CBN: What does artist Fritz Casas bring to this fantasy stew? Are you a fan?

Troy Brownfield: Fritz Casas is awesome, period. I’d seen his work before and admired it, but the first character turns he did for this shocked me. And they shocked me because he made the cast look almost exactly like they looked in my head. There was no dissonance there at all; I literally thought they were perfect the first time that I saw them. He did a killer job on the first issue. He’s basically been asked to visualize a world from the ground up, and he’s doing a terrific job.

CBN: What do you hope a reader will come away with after reading issue #1?

Troy Brownfield: A burning desire to read issue #2. Seriously, I really hope that they enjoy the story. There’s more to it than they might anticipate, and it looks great. I hope that the readers latch on to Elizabeth and the rest of the cast and are intrigued enough by events and the last panel to keep moving along with us. And in my opinion, the ending of issue 2 will be a shock.

CBN: Troy, any projects current or future you would like to discuss?

Troy Brownfield: My webcomics Sparkshooter (drawn by the awesome Enkaru) and Solo Acoustic (art by the excellent Ben Olson) come out every Wednesday and Friday, respectively, at www.sparkshooter.com. And I’m writing Wonderland: Clash of Queens #3-5 for Zenescope beginning in April. I’m also hoping to do some more for Dynamite, as they’ve been outstanding through the process and announcement of Blood Queen.  I can’t say enough good things about Molly Mahan, my editor, and I owe continual thanks to Nick Barrucci and the hard work of Keith Davidsen, Dynamite’s Marketing Manager. Nick has assembled a solid group of people over there, and they’ve really gotten behind what we’re doing on this book. I really hope the readers get into it, because I think it has the potential to be very cool and open to a long run.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Troy Brownfield for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Also thanks to Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Keith Davidsen who helped make this interview possible.

“Blood Queen” #1 hits stores in June!

Read More about Exclusive: Troy Brownfield gives royal life to Dynamite’s Blood Queen

Exclusive Interview: Daryl Gregory gives the scoop on his novel, Afterparty

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After reading and reviewing one of the best — and frighteningly grave — science fiction novels about to publish, I just had to interview sometime-comic book writer Daryl Gregory, author of Afterparty.

Gregory is one of the nicest writers I have dealt with since coming to Cosmic Book News, and that is why we have an exclusive chance to review this book of “smart drugs,” redemption and a chase around the continent. 

Cosmic Book News: Daryl, tell us the concept behind Afterparty?

Daryl Gregory: The book’s a near-future SF thriller about designer drugs, and one drug in particular. NME 110 gives users the feeling that they’re in touch with a higher power. Overdose on the drug, and you might wake up with a permanent hallucination of a deity in your head.

NME 110 was suppressed by its creators, a group of five people in a startup, but now ten years later it’s out on the streets under the street name of Numinous. One of the creators, Lyda Rose, goes on the hunt to find out who released it.

CBN: Do you ever see such “smart drugs” coming over from science fiction to science reality? What would be the effect on the addict population, the criminal drug trade and the U.S. population as a whole?

Daryl Gregory: Smart drugs are here, now. What Afterparty suggests is that we’re teetering on the edge of a desktop drug revolution. The combination of CADD—computer assisted drug design, now in use by Big Pharma—plus the availability of chemical precursor packs, means that you could build a desktop drug printer.  In the book I call it a chemjet. Once you decentralize the creation of novel drugs, you may end up with an explosion of new mind-altering substances.

Think of the desktop publishing revolution of the 90s. Suddenly, everyone could make their own posters and newsletters—usually awful ones. Now think of everyone creating their own drugs. We might get some interesting results, but also a lot of damage.

CBN Scary! Tell us about your protagonist, Lyda Rose.

Daryl Gregory: She’s a neuroscientist who helped create Numinous, but she’s also a victim of it. Someone dosed her and her wife with a massive hit of the drug, which left Lyda’s wife dead, and left each of the survivors with their own personal “god” in their heads. Lyda’s is the angelic doctor named Dr. Gloria.

CBN: An imaginary doctor, huh?

Daryl Gregory: Lyda, as a scientist, knows that Dr. Gloria is a hallucination. But the illusion is so deeply wired into Lyda’s head that she can’t stop talking to the doctor, or stop depending on her advice when the going gets rough. The question the book asks is this: If there was a pill that could make you a better person, even if it made you believe in a being that no one else could see, would you take it?

There are several mysteries in the book. Who killed Lyda’s wife and dosed them all? Are they the same people who are making Numinous now? But the more important question for Lyda is, can she kick the habit of Dr. Gloria, and if she can, should she?

CBN: This book seems to go from noir thriller to zombie hunt to a chase across North America. One setting is hard enough, why the globetrotting?

Daryl Gregory: Well, the real zombie hunt was in my last novel, Raising Stony Mayhall, but there’s definitely a lot of chasing, from Toronto to New York to New Mexico—from snow to sand. I love driving cross country, and I’ve always loved road novels and movies. Many stories take the form of a journey—Lord of the Rings, anyone? —but there’s something built into the DNA of American storytelling, going back to westerns and gangster movies and noir classics, that likes showing tarnished heroes on the run, with the cops or bad guys (or badder bad guys) on their trail. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, orBonnie and Clyde, or Thelma and Louise.

CBN: How real is the Numinous potentially?

Daryl Gregory: I think it’s eminently doable. There’s a researcher in Canada named Michael Persinger who designed the famous “God Helmet” that, in some cases, stimulates the brains of people so that they experience the presence of another being.  There are other drugs that mimic the bliss of the numinous state. And there are plenty of studies of temporal lobe epilepsy that suggest the parts of the brain that might be responsible for generating these feelings of the divine. I think it’s only a matter of time before we find a drug that stimulates those brain areas.

CBN:  How was the process of putting this novel together for you as a writer as opposed to, say, your first novel, Pandemonium?

Daryl Gregory: It turned out that Afterparty was more similar to Pandemonium than it was to my two more recent novels. The Devil’s Alphabet and Raising Stony Mayhall  take more time, and Stony covers forty years in the un-life of a polite zombie from Iowa. This new book, like Pandemonium, was all about velocity. I’m a great lover of crime novels, and I wanted the plot to move every chapter.

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CBN: BTW, very belated congratulations on the win for the 2009 IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award. What did that honor feel like?

Daryl Gregory: I remember getting the call saying I’d won. It was very odd in two respects: I didn’t know about the award, and nobody had told me I was up for it. But then I looked at the names of the previous recipients, and it was very humbling. By far the best part of the award was getting to be on that list for years to come.

CBN: As a reader, you as the writer hope I walk away after reading Afterparty with …? What?

Daryl Gregory: The first thing I hope you say is damn, that was a fun read. But later, I hope you end up thinking about all the concepts in the book. If the book gets you musing about free will, the role of consciousness, and the subjectivity of religious feeling, then I’ve won.

CBN: Can you tell us what the next Daryl Gregory novel will be? At all?

Daryl Gregory: In August, I’ve got a short novel—a 39,000 word novella—coming out from Tachyon Publications called We Are All Completely Fine. It’s about a group of people who are all survivors of different types of horror stories, who gather together for small group therapy. They gradually realize their stories are more connected than they thought—and that they aren’t finished.

After that, I’ve got a Lovecraftian YA novel coming from Tor, and I’ve started work on the next adult SF novel. All the novel work has left me with less time for comics, but I am working on a creator-owned comic that I hope to announce more about soon.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Daryl Gregory for talking with us abiout his latest sci-fi novel.

Afterparty” comes out in April!

Read More about Exclusive Interview: Daryl Gregory gives the scoop on his novel, Afterparty

Exclusive: Hornhead hits the Left Coast in Mark Waid’s new Daredevil

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Wrapping up attorney Matt Murdock’s stay (and thus Daredevil’s) in the Big Apple in dramatic fashion in Daredevil #36, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee head west, young man, for the Conway corner of the Marvel U., San Francisco. But this isn’t your daddy’s City by the Bay.

To get the latest – from the reason for a relaunch and new #1 to what will the future holds for ol’ Hornhead, CBN M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively journeyed (coach!) to California and found writer Mark Waid at a trendy sushi bar. This is the report Brewer filed. 

Cosmic Book News: So, Mark, why a relaunch of a title after just 30-some issues? Another “jump on” gimmick?

Mark Waid: HA!  No “gimmick,” I promise–just the beginning of a whole new approach to the book and the mythology of Daredevil, so it seemed like a good demarcation. Deciding if and when to reboot numbering is, as a writer, a decision made way above my pay grade, but in this case, I think it’s a decision with integrity.

CBN: Your take on DD has certainly been popular. Beside the move to San Francisco (and longtimers have been there with Matt and Natasha before), what will be different in the All-New, All-Different Daredevil mag?

Mark Waid: Much. Where’s Foggy? Whatever happened to that guy? How does a born-and-bred blind New Yorker make his way around a city like San Francisco with ease? What’s going on with Daredevil’s powers? Who is the new woman in his life? Time has passed since the end of the previous series, and much has changed for Matt–and we’re unspooling information gradually, not immediately.

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CBN: Will we see any West Coast crimefighters? How will they feel about DD’s arrival?

Mark Waid: We will, in issues two and three.  One more obscure, half-forgotten one. And he is NOT happy with Daredevil’s arrival.

CBN: New supporting characters, or perhaps old friends from Gerry Conway’s San Fran run?

Mark Waid: No one yet specifically pulled from Gerry’s run (though eventually), but a Deputy Mayor who acts as Matt Murdock’s liaison to the local authorities–and she’s got some interesting secrets.

CBN: Tasha is hot today. Any chance of a nostalgia appearance under your pen of the Black Widow?

Mark Waid: In fact, Javier Rodriguez, who’s our colorist and who’s drawing the fiftieth anniversary issue, asked the very same–and I’m happy to oblige. (Editor’s note: Natasha will be wrestling with nostalgia in her own visit to San Francisco in issue #7 of the new “Black Widow” series!)

CBN: Who are some of the crime kings DD will face, if you can give us a hint?

Mark Waid: We’re way overdue for the return of the Owl, but Chris Samnee and I are revamping him with the same sort of grit and intensity with which Frank Miller reinvented Kingpin back in the day. And you’ll be shocked at who he brings with him.

CBN: What are the greatest new challenges that will threaten Matt Murdock?

Mark Waid: Now that his identity is public knowledge? There are threats around every corner. Seriously.

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CBN: Overall, what has been your inspiration for this series? Miller, Conway, Lee, outside noir crime novels?

Mark Waid: A little bit of everything–anyone who works on modern superhero comics certainly stands on the shoulders of giants–but I’m mostly inspired these days by the storytelling intricacies of series like House of Cards or Breaking Bad, to tell the truth–the way they maintain suspense.

CBN: Are you enthused artist Chris Samnee has followed you to this “new” title?

Mark Waid: Enthused? I wouldn’t have done it without him!  I know a good thing when I’ve got it.

CBN: Mark, are there any projects present or future you would like to discuss?

Mark Waid: Down the hall at Marvel, I’m also heading up the all-new Hulk relaunch with artist Mark Bagley. And that’s in addition to my duties as publisher/editor/guru for my own webcomics site, Thrillbent.com — free comics for the reading.  Come see!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Mark Waid for taking time out of his busy (and we mean busy!) schedule to chat with our humbled M.E. Thanks also to Marvel’s own Chris D’Lando who helped make this interview possible.

The all-new “Daredevil” #1 hits stands in March!

Read More about Exclusive: Hornhead hits the Left Coast in Mark Waid’s new Daredevil

Exclusive: Jim Starlin returns to Marvel & Ron Lim, and so do Thanos and Adam Warlock

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Many readers define graphic novels by Marvel Comic’s first, The Death of Captain Marvel. Even more readers define great cosmic comics by the man who wrote and drew that work of fiction, the magnificent genius named Jim Starlin.

Few have contributed more to our love of space adventures, and in particular Marvel Universe adventures, than Starlin. And now, three decades after killing off a noble Kree warrior, the creator returns with a tale of his greatest creation along with a character he did not create but defined.

Thanos and Adam Warlock are back, and in graphic novel format, this summer in Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, which is part of a larger overall Starlin project under wraps by the House of Ideas. We also learn that Starlin re-teams with artist Ron Lim on a new previously unannounced project.

To find out more, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively rendezvoused at the bar on Knowhere named for the creator and filed this interview with Mr. Starlin.   

Cosmic Book News: First, Jim, how does it feel to be back in the Marvel Universe?

Jim Starlin: Like all jobs, it’s a mixed bag. It’s great playing with old friends, like Thanos and Adam Warlock. Tom Brevoort’s office has been good to work with; very responsive and professional. But I am getting older and there are no seventeen page comics any longer. When I started on the one-hundred-page Thanos graphic novel, all I could think was that I might well be on Social Security by the time I finish this job. Just kidding.

CBN: Can you tell us how this graphic novel featuring Thanos, or rather a trio of interconnected graphic novels, came about?

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Jim Starlin: Well, the graphic novel came about when Marvel Comics and I decided to work together again, after a long spell of not dealing with each other. The graphic novel format was Tom Brevoort’s idea. Once I started coming to the end of that first project, I wanted to go onto another Thanos story I had in mind. A key character in the story was temporarily unavailable, so it was suggested I do a yet-to-be announced story arc that would lead into this delayed tale. I’ve still got two issues of that four-issue story arc to pencil and write. The third project was scripting a thirty-page story for an annual this summer. This sort of came out of nowhere, but it gives me the chance to work with Ron Lim again, so I couldn’t pass it up.

CBN: How does it feel to be handling characters that you either created or helped guide to their destinies?

Jim Starlin: It’s like hanging out with old friends again after a long separation.

Part of it is learning what they’ve been up to since I last saw them.

Some are doing better. Some have fallen on hard times. It came as a surprise to me to learn that Adam Warlock was dead.

CBN: Without spoilers, can you tell us how Adam Warlock works into this? Is it going to be a Warlock from another time, or the one that was featured in the Abnett/Lanning adventures of Guardians of the Galaxy?

Jim Starlin: Both. Neither. It’s complicated.

CBN: Any comments about what has happened to Drax the Destroyer in his evolution since you left Marvel?

Jim Starlin: To be honest with you, after a certain point I kind of lost interest in Drax back when. Warlock, Thanos and others I found much more interesting characters to play with. Drax and his blind hatred of Thanos was sort of a one-note pony.  Which is why I eventually brain damaged him in Infinity Watch. I’ve found I’ve enjoyed what I have read of Abnett and Lanning’s version of the character.

CBN: What can you tell us about this Thanos/Warlock story in general?

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Jim Starlin: It involves alternate realities, which is something I haven’t played with much before. The story’s very much about the dangers of acting on undefined urges and having to deal with the consequences afterwards.

The ramifications from Thanos: the Infinity Revelation will continue to reverberate long after the reader has finished that story. Thanos goes through a major change at the end of the tale. And Adam Warlock?

Can’t get into that just yet.

CBN: I saw some art with Eternity and some other concept entities in it. What will the roles of these cosmic heavy hitters be?

Jim Starlin: Foretellers to begin with and commentators who don’t know what they’re talking about near the end.  Is that obscure and confusing enough for you?

CBN: Can you tell us of some of the cosmic Marvel stars that might be in this graphic novel?

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Jim Starlin: Some of the Guardians of the Galaxy make a brief appearance and later in the story the Silver Surfer and the Annihilators stop by.

CBN: And you stated that all this connects up to current Marvel continuity, correct?

Jim Starlin: I tried to connect it up as best I could but Tom Brevoort wasn’t exactly forthcoming about what was taking place in the Infinity series. Now that it’s come to an end I realize I shouldn’t had Corvus Glaive standing in the background of one panel in the graphic novel, seeing that he gets killed at the end of the Infinity series. My story doesn’t start with Thanos having to get out of a block of amber either.

CBN: Anyway, Jim, we from Cosmic Book News welcome you back to creating great stories in the Marvel Universe. Speaking of which, any other projects current or future coming from the great mind of Starlin?

Jim Starlin: Just those I mentioned before.

Cosmic Book News and I would like to thank the great writer/illustrator Jim Starlin for taking time out of his very busy schedule to speak with us about this very special project. Thanks also to Marvel’s own Chris D’Lando, who helped make this rare interview possible.

“Thanos: The Infinity Revelation” hits stores this summer!

Read More about Exclusive: Jim Starlin returns to Marvel & Ron Lim, and so do Thanos and Adam Warlock

Exclusive: Jeff Parker celebrates 80 years of Flash Gordon in new book

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On the advent of his 80th birthday, pulp science fiction hero Flash Gordon will be zooming from the pages of Kings Watch to his own ongoing comic.

To discover the details behind this move by comic book publisher Dynamite Entertainment, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively caught the first spaceship to Mongo to talk with the writer of the new book, coming in April, Jeff Parker.

Cosmic Book News: Jeff, how exciting does it feel to be putting out a book on sci-fi hero Flash Gordon on the advent of his 80th birthday — AND Dynamite’s 10th anniversary?

Jeff Parker: It’s pretty great, what a perfect confluence of landmarks. It’s all really coming together.

CBN: Jeff, as a writer, where do you begin to search for your inspiration for such a story as Flash Gordon #1? Old comics, the early movie serials, the lampoon movie or elsewhere?

Jeff Parker: I’m not even sure, I feel like I’m synthesizing all of it then picking my favorite bits and filling in with whatever my subconscious gives up. Except for the SyFy series, that didn’t look so good to me. 

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CBN: And Jeff Parker got attached to this august project in what way?

Jeff Parker: Nate Cosby asked me once he joined Dynamite, without knowing that I’ve had an idea for how to handle Flash lodged in the back of my head for years. 

CBN: What can you tell us about the awesome story that will return the Man from Earth to comics?

Jeff Parker: It picks up right out of Kings Watch, which will make sense at the end of KW #5. But if you begin only with Flash Gordon #1, you won’t be lost, his time on Mongo begins right then.

CBN: Who of Flash’s old cast will we see? Any new supporting characters or droids?

Jeff Parker: Well of course he pulled Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov along. At first we’re going to see Prince Barin, of Arboria. And a lion fellow.

CBN: I know it might seem incredible, but for those who are unfamiliar with this hero tell us a little bit about your interpretation of Flash Gordon. How is Jeff Parker’s Flash unique?

Jeff Parker: Going back to the idea lodged in my head — my take is essentially that Flash is a jack of all-trades rich boy adventurer who almost doesn’t fit in on Earth. He’s a champ at archaic sports like polo and fencing, and excels at mountain climbing, swimming …anything that you can’t make much of a career at, Flash is the master of. It drives his father nuts, because he wanted Flash to take over his role in Gordon Enterprises. 

But once Flash gets to Mongo, suddenly he is THE MAN. Every territory is made for him, riding monster steeds with an energy-charged sword, that is what he was born to do! And his reputation precedes him fast — and enrages Ming. 

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CBN: When readers get through with this first issue of Flash Gordon, they should feel … what? 

Jeff Parker: Tired and exhilarated. 

CBN: How long into the arc will it take for Ming to rear his ugly head?

Jeff Parker: About five pages!

CBN: What does artist Evan Shaner bring to the table?

Jeff Parker: EVERYTHING! Everything about Evan’s art and what he likes to draw fits and drives this story. It is going to be one of the purest embraces of the comics medium you’ll see this year. With Evan’s first sketch of Flash, he absolutely nailed him. You love the character immediately. His sense of design is perfect for it. 

Our Flash is a really positive guy, he loves these wild experiences. To show a character that way and be convincing is harder than it looks, and Evan does it very naturally. Typically the approach is to go darker and more serious when doing a new version, but I feel it’s done to death, and it doesn’t work for every book. The danger in this book is serious enough, and our hero stands out because of it. 

CBN: Jeff, any other projects present or future would you like to discuss?

Jeff Parker: Well, when you order this, you should probably also have it put in a file with Aquaman and Batman ’66, just saying.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jeff Parker for answering our questions during his busy schedule. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s Nick Barrucci who helped make this interview possible.

“Flash Gordon” #1 hits stores in April!

Read More about Exclusive: Jeff Parker celebrates 80 years of Flash Gordon in new book

Exclusive: Arvid Nelson talks 100th issue of Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars

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On the heels of today’s announcement by Dynamite Entertainment that it will be putting out a special commemorative edition of Warlord of Mars (numbered #100) to celebrate the nearly one hundred issues which have been released to date by the comic book publisher, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer got on the horn to the Red Planet and exclusively got the skinny from the horse’s mouth: regular series writer Arvid Nelson.

As we understand, Dynamite will be releasing a special celebratory Warlord of Mars#100 as a special squarebound issue with multiple stories. Featuring a who’s who of today’s best comic artists inside, Warlord of Mars #100 features covers by Joseph Michael Linsner, Jay Anacleto, Fabiano Neves, Emanuela Lupacchino and Stephanie Buscema.  Also featuring special bonus material, this comic can be found in stores and also can be read digitally this coming April.

Now, for the real story, straight from Barsoom!

Cosmic Book News: Arvid, you have been with Warlord of Mars since the very beginning. As a writer, what does this collection of work mean to you?

Arvid Nelson: I’m surprised and pleased it’s had such a storied run. Above all, Warlord of Mars has come to mean a tremendous deal to me on a personal level. I poured my heart into every single issue, and I feel like it’s on par with any other title on the racks. I can’t claim full credit – or even most of the credit – because I owe so much to Joe, my editor, and to all the wonderful artists who’ve contributed. But yes, I’m proud of what we accomplished.

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CBN: Tell us about this very special issue of Warlord of Mars.

Arvid Nelson: It’s a big, fat, explosion of Warlord of Mars, with contributions from most of the writers who’ve worked on Warlord and its related titles. All the stories are going to focus on Woola, John Carter’s Martian “hound”. When Molly at Dynamite approached me with the idea of Woola-centric stories, I immediately punched myself in the face, because I wish I had thought of it.

CBN: What will these Woola concern? Will it involve individual stories or a continuing tale done by many writers?

Arvid Nelson: Robert Napton – he’s the writer of the Dejah Thoris series – and I are doing a two-part story. Robert’s half is set 400 years before Carter’s arrival, and my half takes place during Carter’s reign as Warlord. More than that, I dare not say!

CBN: Besides Robert and yourself, sir, tell me about the writing talent involved on this great book.

Arvid Nelson: Well, there is Robert Napton, of course. I finally met him last year, and we’ve become fast friends. It’s weird, we share a lot of interests outside of Warlord of Mars. Robert’s working on a YA novel, which he showed to me, and it’s awesome. I’m working on a novel, too, and get this – we both, independently, decided to work with the same editor! [Mark Rahner also writes for #100.]

CBN: Ha! And the art?

Arvid Nelson: The best thing about Warlord of Mars, for me personally, has been collaborating with so many talented artists from all over the globe. Brazil, the Philippines, Germany, the United States… you name it. Each artist brings their own unique set of strengths to the story. Writing to an artist’s strengths is a big part of being a good comic book writer.

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CBN: Is this part of John Carter’s regular continuity?

Arvid Nelson: Yeah, it’s part of Dynamite Warlord “canon”.

CBN: Arvid, what makes John Carter a character that you and other scribes want to write?

Arvid Nelson: For me, and I’ve said this before, it’s about finding Carter’s vulnerabilities and flaws. His shyness and clumsiness, especially around women, is what makes him interesting.

CBN: Oh yeah, who is the big-bad that is taking John Carter through this special issue?

Arvid Nelson: One of the things that occurred to Robert and me is that Woola really needs to be the “star” of our story. So Carter plays a central role, but it’s really about loveable, homely old Woola. And for our story it’s not so much a person Woola is up against – it’s a thing. A sword. Doh! Said too much.

CBN: (laughs) Don’t you think it would be nice if John Carter appeared on the cover of Warlord of Mars #100 instead of a nude Dejah Thoris? (laughs)

Arvid Nelson: Hah, yes! In fact, we do Carter covers from time to time. Steve Sadowski, the artist of the first two issues of Warlord, did some great covers featuring Carter solo. I especially love the one of Carter kneeling in chains, and the one of his son, Carthoris, being pulled at by dozens of green Martian hands.

CBN: All the die-hard fans of Warlord of Mars (like me) hope you have a lot more in store for us in the regular book?

Arvid Nelson: I really hope so, Byron! All things must come to an end, including Warlord of Mars. But we’ve got some surprises in store. All I can say is “stay tuned,” so please do!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Arvid Nelson for answer our questions during his busy schedule. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci who helped make this timely interview possible.

“Warlord of Mars” #100 hits stores in April!

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Exclusive: Jim Kuhoric celebrates 40 years of the Six Million Dollar Man

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Steve Austin.

Before there was Stone Cold, there was the Six Million Dollar Man, a bionic wonder who hit high speeds in slo-mo and threw cars that sounded like missiles as they sailed across the 1970s TV screen.

Now that cornerstone of Superhero TV, Six Million Dollar Man, will celebrate its 40th anniversary and finally have a sixth season courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment in a new comic book by writer Jim Kuhoric and artist Juan Antonio Ramirez.

To get the scoop on this anniversary milestone, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer met exclusively with Kuhoric and asked about all things Steve Austin … bottom line. 

Cosmic Book News: First, Jim, were you a fan of the original Six Million Dollar Man TV series? It’s hard to believe it’s getting ready to celebrate a 40th anniversary.

Jim Kuhoric: You know, I think I might be one of the biggest Six Million Dollar Man fans there are.  I grew up with the series and Steve Austin was a huge influence in my life (and he still is to this day).  It is hard to believe that we are celebrating 40 years of the Bionic Man.  It has been far too long since the original Six Million Dollar Man has had new adventures in comics.  I loved the old SMDM Charlton comics and magazines.  Some of those issues had art by legends like Neal Adams and Steve Ditko that were nearly perfect at conveying the adventures.  As a kid I loved when every issue came out and I’m hoping that we can capture some of that magic in the new SMDMS6 series.          

CBN: How did you get attached to this celebratory series? Is it an ongoing or a limited series?

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Jim Kuhoric: I’ve been talking with Dynamite Entertainment’s Publisher, Nick Barrucci, about my passion for The Six Million Dollar Man for several years now.  I’m sure he was tired of my constant insistence that fans really wanted adventures set during the series original run.  But in the end the timing was right for us to revisit the classic Six Million Dollar Man continuity and give fans additional stories based on the era and likenesses of those characters.  I was one of several writers that pitched for the series.  When I turned in the story outline, bible, and episode guide for my proposal, it was approved by Dynamite and Universal as the official direction for the first story arc to reintroduce the series.  Finding out that I had the honor of bringing these characters back is really one of the highlights of my career in comics and as a fan of the show.

CBN: Is this book going to be another re-imagining of Steve Austin, or are we actually going to have continuity from the TV series? Fans want to know!

Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six is a direct sequel to the original television series.  Kevin Smith did a wonderful job of reimagining Steve Austin in the Bionic Man comic book.  He was able to take these concepts that we love and update them with new technologies and motivations.  But our series is true to the original television run.  We’ve gone back to the original age of bionics and picked up our adventures right from the last weekly episode that aired in 1978. This is Steve Austin in all his groovy 70s apparel and attitude.  Can you dig it?

CBN: What characters from the TV series can we expect to see in this book? Any new supporting characters?

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Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six is rich with characters from the original television series.  We have major recurring roles, spot cameos, and new developing characters as well.  Steve Austin’s world has a lot of recognizable faces and we will be seeing the majority of them in the pages of the new comic series: from Oscar Goldman to Rudy Wells to even Barney Hiller, the “Seven Million Dollar Man.”  We want to bring a sense of familiarity to the series and pay homage to the incredible variety of characters and actors that have been a part of this pivotal sci-fi program. 

CBN: What can you tell us about the first arc without any spoilers?

Jim Kuhoric: What I love most about The Six Million Dollar Man was how much fun it was.  Every time I think about my favorite episodes and characters I get this feeling that reminds me of what it was like to be a wide-eyed kid again and drinking in the imagination of the series.  We want to bring that sense of wonder to fans today and introduce new readers to one of the most significant original series to ever air.  In our first arc we will tear Steve Austin down.  He will face betrayal, corruption, Cold War enemies, familiar foes, and an alien menace like he has never encountered.  Steve will be forced to adapt to a world that seems determined to make him suffer.  We’ll be able to watch as he begins the slow climb out from the horrors heaped upon him.  And we will have all the fun of classic Six Million Dollar Man special effects and sound effects to bring back those nostalgic days of watching the Bionic Man on television.    

CBN: New big-bads?

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Jim Kuhoric: We have a lot of recurring characters in the series but one of the most important features of our arc is to give Steve new threats to face.  Honoring the past is a big part of our presentation for nostalgia sake.  But to really challenge a bionic man, you have to continually up the ante.  He’s fought unstoppable machines, androids, and Bigfoot – but we intend to give him a few more nemesis to encounter during the run of the Season Six arc.  And I hope that a few of them become mainstays in his adventures just like the bad guys from the original television series run. 

CBN: Will we see any of those funky 1970s visual or sound effects so part of the TV series in the book? And how to your accomplish that?

Jim Kuhoric: You can’t have The Six Million Dollar Man without the special effects and sound effects.  They were such an integral part of what made the show unique and innovative for the time period of its original production run.  I can’t tell you how many times my elementary school friends and I would run around in slow motion “da-na-na-na-na-ing” pretend fights and adventures.  It is a challenge to portray those features in a comic book, but we are finding fun and unique ways to accomplish the task.  From “slow motion” bionic panel sequences to running a scene together with sound effects to express the action effectively, we are experimenting with ways to bring those important features to life in the comic book.     

CBN: Tell us about the art of Juan Antonio Ramirez?

Jim Kuhoric: Juan Ramirez’s art is nothing short of incredible.  The first pages I saw were the two page intro spread that represents the classic Six Million Dollar Man montage opening sequence.  I knew right there that he was the man for the job.  His interpretation of the script had a beautiful originality to it and was very true to what I was looking for.  It’s this beautiful loose and flowing style that just seems to express exactly the gist of what the story is calling for.  Juan is a superstar in the making and I am honored to have him on the main art duties.

But what can I say about all of the contributors?  I mean Alex Ross doing the main covers still boggles my mind.  I’ve never had the pleasure of working with Alex before but I’ve been a fan of his ever since his first published work.  And the paintings he created for the series have been phenomenal.  He so beautifully captures the essence of the series with imagery that feels like it was created during the original television run. 

And I want to give a shout out to Ken Haeser for his work on the “Lil’ Dynamites” cover line.  His alternate covers on Six Million Dollar Man Season Six have such a joy to them that they really make me smile.  He’s a tremendous talent that I hope I can work more with in the future.  

CBN: Jaime Sommers …?

Jim Kuhoric: Ahh, Jaime.  Everyone loves the Bionic Woman.  Lindsay Wagner is such a charismatic actor and she brought a very organic life to Jaime Sommers.  If you remember how her character developed, she began as a guest star on The Six Million Dollar Man and spun out into her own series a short time later.  We approached Jaime’s role in SMDMS6 in the same way.  She is in the first arc of our story as a “guest star” and our plan is to build her role up in future issues.  If fans love the series, I would be thrilled to go back and do the same follow up series to the Bionic Woman

CBN: Jim, any other projects present or future you would like to discuss?

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Jim Kuhoric: The Six Million Dollar Man Season Six has really reinvigorated my creativity and I’m enjoying where it is going right now.  I would love to do a classic Bionic Woman continuing series if fans enjoy what we are doing on SMDMS6.  For that matter, I have a bunch of short stories for supporting characters that I’d love to give some time to.  Maybe we could get Dynamite to go for a Six Million Dollar Man Annual this year that we can use to do stories on Rudy, Jaime, Sasquatch, and all the other great characters from the series.  I think that’d be a lot of fun.

We are moving forward with a sequel to Dead Irons that I’m super excited about.  I recently had an opportunity to meet fans at the Virginia Comic Con and the reaction to Dead Irons really blew me away.  My friend and special effects artist Brody Williams transformed cosplay models into Silas and Annie Belle Irons in front of me at the show for an incredible photo shoot.  I walked away from that wonderful convention determined to get the next chapter of Dead Irons out this year. 

There are still a handful of properties that I would love to revisit.  If our friends at DC ever want to go back to the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash universe, I have many more stories from those classic franchises to tell.  In fact … I have a Leatherface vs. Ash outline all done and waiting for the call.  

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jim Kuhoric for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our nosy M.E. We would also like to thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci who helped make this interview possible.

“The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Six” #1 will hit stores March 12!

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Exclusive: Writer brings Soule to Superman/Wonder Woman romance

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Many months ago, DC shocked the comics reading world when, in the New 52, Superman and Wonder Woman shared a kiss. And then more!

What was thought temporary has turned into an ongoing monthly, Superman/Wonder Woman, by the terrific team of Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel.

To investigate this new development among classic characters, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively spoke with Soule and logged this wondrous … no, this Super-Report.

Cosmic Book News: So how did it come about that you are doing this title?

Charles Soule: It’s not more complicated than this – DC asked, and I said yes! I had written a few Superman appearances in Swamp Thing that were well-received, and I was fortunate enough that they considered me to take on the Superman/Wonder Woman project. It’s a great book, and I’m thrilled to be on it.

CBN: Is this a hard book to do, given the mammoth mythos of both characters?

Charles Soule: I’ll be honest, it was a little intimidating at first, but I embraced it as not just a challenge, but a dream come true. Who doesn’t want to write Superman and Wonder Woman? I love working on the book – there are plenty of great stories to tell with those two.

CBN: How do you come up with big-bads for the two strongest entities in the New 52?

Charles Soule: You just have to think about their particular weaknesses, and ideally villains who would make for interesting reflections of the heroes. Good villains comment on their opponents (not literally, of course, although sometimes, I suppose). It’s not always easy to do, but I also think that not every villain confrontation has to end up in a slugfest. There are many ways to play it.

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CBN: How important is this romance to the future of the DCU? Any future ramifications you can hint at?

Charles Soule: It’s a big deal! I mean, these are two of the strongest characters in the entire DCU, if not THE strongest, and they’re romantically involved, with all the emotional highs and lows that go along with that. Things will get very intense very soon, especially now that the world knows they’re involved, as of the end of Issue 3. The end of Issue 6, in particular, should be a pretty huge landmark for these two, and the DCU as a whole.

CBN: Ever get any nasty mail from old Lois Lane fans (laughs)?

Charles Soule: Certainly not any more. These days, I tend to get more of the “I thought I’d hate this, but now I love it!” sort of thing. Which, frankly, I prefer.

CBN: General Zod seems to be everywhere these days. How does he figure into Supes/WW?

Charles Soule: Zod is a very clever, savvy fellow. He has a lot going on, and some of those things involved working with (or against?) Superman. In particular, he’s very concerned about another KryptonianFaora, who may or may not be making an appearance soon as well. Actually, let me just be clear on that – she will. And she is spectacular.

CBN: Do you coordinate with Geoff Johns, Brian Azzarello or any of the Superman Family writers?

Charles Soule: Of course! It’s a shared universe. I speak to the other writers quite often, just to make sure we’re parceling out character beats amongst ourselves. I love that – the writers of these books are incredibly talented, clever people, and it’s always fun to talk to them about stories and ideas.

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CBN: What character, good or evil, would you like to see in this title if possible?

Charles Soule: Beyond who’s already there? Man, I’m pretty lucky to get to work with the cast I’ve got, honestly. I’m looking forward to doing some things with some of Wonder Woman’s cast of characters, especially some of her rogues. A few hints at those folks show up in Issue 4 – they’re waiting in the wings, ready to make a more prominent appearance.

CBN: Tony S. Daniel is so creative. Besides his great art, does he ever contribute story as well?

Charles Soule: We talk a lot, and we certainly discuss story beats. Collaboration is one of the best things about comic projects, really, and Tony’s been great to collaborate with.

CBN: Any present or future projects you would like to discuss?

Charles Soule: I think some amazing things are going to be happening with the Super books over the next few months, especially into the spring and summer. That corner of the DCU is going to get much closer and crazier over the next little while – we have some killer stories lined up. Beyond that, well, I’m incredibly proud of the weird, cool, beautiful work we’re doing on Swamp Thing, and Red Lanterns is probably the most fun book about rage-addict aliens with power rings you’ll ever read. Lots of great stuff to check out!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Charles Soule for taking time during his busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank DC’s own Alex Nagorski who helped make this interview possible.

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Exclusive Interview: Al Ewing brings the magic to Loki: Agent of Asgard

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He is one of Marvel Comics’ top villains, virtually created the Avengers super team, along with Dread Dormammu set the Avengers against the Defenders, and has spent recent days among the Young Avengers.

In March, Loki, Asgardian God of Mischief (some would say “Evil”), gets his own ongoing under the team of Al Ewing and Lee Garbett.

To get the mythology of this book, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer met exclusively on Midgard with scribe Ewing to discuss the coming mag.

Cosmic Book News: Al, how do you make a longtime villain like Loki fresh? He has been a hero, an anti-villain, a woman and a kid. What is left?

Al Ewing: Frog Loki.

No, I kid. Loki’s been through more physical changes in a short time than most characters in the Marvel Universe have, but that’s how being the God Of Mischief is sometimes. In terms of emotional and mental changes – which are a lot more interesting – I don’t think he’s gone through any more than, say, Cyclops, or Captain America, or Spider-Man. In fact, I think just about everyone in the MU has been evolving rapidly in the last ten years. Come to think of it, I’ve changed almost completely myself, and I’m safe out here in the real world.

So hopefully I can just have Loki continue to exist in this fizzing landscape of possibility and he’ll stay cool, fresh and fashionable. But if that doesn’t work – Frog Loki.

CBN: Can you tell us a bit about the world that Loki will be working in?

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Al Ewing: Well, most Marvel characters see the MU through their own particular prism, and Loki’s no exception – there’s going to be a fair amount of Asgardian and magic-related stuff. But we’re looking at all of that stuff through the prism of the spy genre (and also, since it’s Loki the lying, cheating trickster god, the heist genre). It’s a weird mix, but so far we seem to be pulling it off.

And of course there’s another aspect, which is Loki’s inner world. He’s a very complicated character and in some ways his own worst enemy, and we’re going to be exploring that.

CBN: How can the All-Mother trust Asgardia’s security in the hands of the one who is supposed to start of the Ragnarok cycle … and has!

Al Ewing: Twice! If I’m counting correctly.

Loki, in his new incarnation, has earned a degree of… not trust, exactly, but something close to it. Whether he deserves any trust or trust-like substance is another matter. Or whether the All-Mother deserves his trust. Or whether it’s not even more complicated than that. Sometimes people want security enough to ally with people they really shouldn’t – and I’ll leave you to work out who the various ‘people’ are in that sentence.

CBN: Merging the myth and superspy genres will not be easy. Explain.

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Al Ewing: It is a bit easy, in places. Loki has a selection of spy-type gadgets – they just happen to work off Asgardian magic rather than Midgardian science. There’s not so much difference between seven-league boots and jetpack shoes if you think about it – just like there’s not much difference between the secretive, back-stabby world of spies and double-agents and the kind of lying, cheating and assorted naughtiness Loki gets up to before breakfast.

CBN: Will Loki have his own version of Moneypenny (lol)?

Al Ewing: It’d be truer to say he’s got his own version of the Impossible Missions Force – or Ocean’s 11.

CBN: What type of threats/foes will we see the God of Mischief tackle first?

Al Ewing: I’ll keep these quite light and spoiler-free. In issue #1 he’s taking on a certain popular super-team for a special mission that we won’t spoil – one which brings him into contact, and combat, with his beloved brother. Who suddenly seems a lot less brotherly. Hmmmm.

Then in issue #2, it’s a face-off with old flame and fellow younger sibling Lorelei, who’s stealing her way across the casinos of Europe. And in issue #3… we reach the limits of what I can keep spoiler-free. Loki does fight a giant otter in that one, though, I can tell you that.

CBN: The first few pages bring us a dead Thor??!

Al Ewing: Page one, panel one. We kill Thor. The God of Thunder is six feet under. Once he was a frog, now he’s croaked. He’s a Thorpse. Et cetera.

CBN: The next thing you will be telling us is that Loki will be fighting the Avengers …

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Al Ewing: I will tell you that! I pretty much already did. 

In fact, we decided to go extra fan-service-y and have him fight the particular six Avengers from the big film thingy that was doing the rounds not so long ago. (My idea, I’m afraid. I couldn’t resist.)

CBN: What does Lee Garbett bring to the table? Are you a fan?

Al Ewing: Oh, I’m a huge fan. Lee brings just about everything to the table if you ask me, including the table. He’s got a brilliant art style that’s both clear and evocative, and a real mastery of expression and nuance. He’s given our Loki a personality all his own, and I count getting new bits of art through from him as one of the highlights of my day.

CBN: Al, any projects present or future you would like to mention?

Al Ewing: Well, Mighty Avengers is out every month! So far, it’s making people happy and getting a lot of good reviews, which is nice. I can only promise it’ll get even wilder as the year continues – I just saw a spread today that made my eyes pop with its cosmic greatness, and in a few short months it’ll do the same to you.

There’s also two Zombo trades out from 2000 AD, available in the US and the UK, my novel The Fictional Man is still on sale, along with my other ones, and I just got done with Iron Man: Fatal Frontier for those on Comixology. There are other things going on – a few projects in various media – but I can’t talk about those just yet.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Al Ewing for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Marvel’s own Chris D’Lando who helped make this interview possible.

“Loki: Agent of Asgard” #1 hits stores next month!

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Exclusive: Founder Mike Richardson discusses direction of Dark Horse & Teases Project Black Sky

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It was expected, but that did not make its coming any less shocking. Last week came word through a press release that Walt Disney Company, new owners of Lucasfilm, would be returning the license for Star Wars comic books over to Marvel, also owned by Disney, and away from Dark Horse in 2015.

Marvel published Star Wars comics for nine years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Dark Horse Comics has held the license since 1991.

Quick to respond to the announcement, Mike Richardson, founder of Dark Horse, sent out a statement that said in part: “All things come to pass. So too do all license deals. … It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. … 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.”

To get to the heart of what is coming up for Dark Horse, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively discussed the brand with Richardson. This is that interview.

Cosmic Book News: Mike, to the comic book fan, what will be the marked difference between Dark Horse going forward and what they may have found in the past?

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Mike Richardson: Well. obviously the growing influence of digital distribution looms over the industry. Content-wise, we will follow the same formula that has been historically successful for us. That formula includes a mix of creator owned, licensed, and company owned projects. In the coming year, you might see an increased emphasis on our creator owned projects. It is interesting to note that I spoke with the executive of another comics company who served as a consultant to comics publishers for several years. He told me that he studied the industry and settled on the Dark Horse strategy as the path for success for those publishers. Looking at the “indie” comic landscape, they must have listened.

CBN: Who, in your opinion, is the diehard Dark Horse reader?

Mike Richardson: Because of the diversity of our line, I’m not sure you can categorize the typical Dark Horse reader. A Hellboy reader might be very different from a Brain Boy reader, who in turn may not read Mind Management or Axe Cop, or the Clamp books. IF I had to generalize, I think we might appeal to those who’ve tired of standard Marvel or DC fare.

CBN: What is new at Dark Horse for those readers who may be trying the brand?

Mike Richardson: Tomb Raider, Halo, Project Black Sky . . . oh, you haven’t heard of Project Black Sky? Keep your eyes peeled.

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CBN: There has been an effort to (re) establish a superhero line at Dark Horse. Tell us about some of the key books that are representative of that.

Mike Richardson: Captain Midnight aka Jim Albright is the center piece of the new launches. Ghost, Brain Boy, X, and BlackOut have all appeared and their stories will be affected by something known as Project Black Sky. Hey, that’s the second time I’ve mentioned that. New characters as well as the reappearance of classic characters will all be part of the fun.

CBN: A lot of pulp superheroes are getting the dust taken off of them with modern spins, such as Dark Horse’s Captain Midnight. Any other familiar faces debuting in the future of Dark Horse?

Mike Richardson: I think the term “pulp heroes” is getting thrown around a lot these days without any understanding of what it really means. The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, and even Tarzan and Conan can rightly be called pulp heroes, since they appeared in the “pulps.” The pulps were cheap magazines sold mainly in the first half of the 20th century and who derived their name from the type of paper they were printed on. Spicy Detective, Weird Tales, and Argosy were all prime examples and the characters named above all found their beginning in these types of magazine. Captain Midnight, on the other hand, was no more a pulp hero than Superman, Batman, or the Human Torch, all which found their origins in comic books. The Captain first appeared on radio, but become more super-heroish on his move into comics. As far as brushing the dust off old comic book characters, sure, we’ve got some ideas. A good character is a good character. Remember, Superman first appeared in 1938 and was created years prior to that date.

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CBN: So what, in your opinion, is Dark Horse’s flagship book, the one around which all hopes revolve?

Mike Richardson: I don’t think we ever count on one book to save our year. We have many stars in our line. Mike Mignola’s books, of course, continue to be very important to us. This year will see two movies based on Frank Miller’s evergreens, Sin City and 300, so sales will be strong there. Matt Kindt has new projects following his hit Mind Management series. Of course, Dark Horse Presents will continue to offer a diverse selection of established talent alone side talented newcomers.

CBN: Going forward, where is the line of comics heading?

Mike Richardson: Into the future, I guess. We just finished out most successful year in history. Our publishing line is expanding. In 2014, we have a new creator owned initiative and an ambitious company owned  project. Did I mention Project Black Sky?

CBN: As long as we are talking of the future, are there any books that are not now big sellers but have a great core readership you would like to give a little PR pump to?

Mike Richardson: I’m a fan of all of the books we publish, but one of my favorite books right now is Brain Boy. The team of Fred Van Lente, R. B. Silva, and Rob Lean is knocking it out of the park. I better mention Rob Lean on colors and Ariel Olivetti’s covers are sensational. We gave Josh Williamson a bagful of story problems to solve with Captain Midnight, and he’s doing a great job. And if I’m talking about building a faithful core readership that is building, I have to point out Matt Kindt. Mind Management has really stood out . Matt is a unique and original talent, and we’re excited that he has several new books coming out through Dark Horse.

CBN: When readers look at Dark Horse for this period, what would you like them to recall in decades ahead?

Mike Richardson: It’s very simple … I’d like comics historians to say that Dark Horse was the best comics company in the world. That we worked with the best creators in the world and our concern for quality was evident in everything we did. That was the goal in the beginning, and that remains the goal today.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Mike Richardson for answering our questions at an extremely busy time. We would also like to thank Dark Horse’s own Jeremy Atkins and Aub Driver who helped make this interview possible.

Read More about Exclusive: Founder Mike Richardson discusses direction of Dark Horse & Teases Project Black Sky

Exclusive Interview: Peter David tells us what’s all-new with X-Factor

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He’s at it again! Prolific comic book creator Peter David, better known to his fans (among whom our M.E. counts myself) as PAD, is re-re-re-relaunching his always-excellent X-Factor mag, this time as All-New X-Factor.

Part of the All-New Marvel NOW, PAD and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico will be delivering new adventures of the mutant misfits now under the command of always-a-bridesmaid daughter of Magneto, Lorne Dane AKA Polaris.

What’s new about the All-New X-Factor? Our M.E., Byron Brewer, met exclusively with PAD hours before the comic book’s release upon the masses to find that out.  

Cosmic Book News: Peter, let’s start with my most important question: how are you feeling? I was among the many fans worried after your illness.

Peter David: I’m feeling fine.  My legs are still weaker than they used to be, but otherwise I’m back to where I used to be.

CBN: Knowing PAD as a writer, you must already be well into New X-Factor. Without one of your custom flippant remarks, what’s “new”?

Peter David: The team.  The set up.  The enemies they will be facing and the situations in which they find themselves.

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CBN: Tell us a little about your cast. Can you mention anyone besides Lorna, Pietro and Gambit?

Peter David: I’d been keeping it a secret, but the advance promotion of the covers has pretty much blown that our other members will be Cypher, Warlock and Danger, three more characters who are relatively new for me.

CBN: Any threads from your previous X-Factors going to figure in here? It would make fans who have your entire run (such as yours truly) very happy.

Peter David: There’s a nod to Jamie and Layla in the first issue, and an old member shows up in issue 3 for a cameo, so hopefully that will cheer people.

CBN: Some new foes? Some old foes? (Watch those flippant remarks.)

Peter David: Some old opponents will be turning up, including Warlock’s dad, the Magus, as well as the crew from the Thieves Guild.  And we’ll be introducing some new opponents as well.

CBN: Any new cool supporting cast? Loved Pip as an officer administrator, lol.

Peter David: The supporting cast at this point are the employees of Serval Industries, who certainly bring some problems and secrets of their own.

CBN: Miss any of the old cast? Any joining Lorna’s team?

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Peter David: The old cast will be off doing their own thing for the most part, but never rule anything out.

CBN: What can you tell us about Serval Industries?

Peter David: I’ve kind of based them on Google.  They started out providing one of the best search engines in the Marvel Universe, but have since gone on to get involved in other aspects of the world.  One of those aspects is having a superhero team.

CBN: What does Carmine Di Giandomenico bring to the X-table? Do you think this incarnation of X-Factor can keep a regular artist or artists more than a couple of issues?

Peter David: He brings wonderful dedication and artistry.  And I sure hope he’ll stay around; he’s already penciling issue 4, and considering the last time we started X-Factor the artist lasted an issue and a half, I figure we’re already ahead of the game.

CBN: PAD, any other projects present or future you would like to mention? Where can fans still contribute to your medical costs?

Peter David: Without going into detail, I’m working on a Deadpool project that I’m really excited about.  More on that later.  As for fans contributing, they can buy my books being published through Crazy 8 at www.crazy8press.com or off Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Peter David for taking time during his book’s relaunch to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Marvel’s own Chris D’Lando who helped make this interview possible.

“New X-Factor” #1 hits stores Wednesday!

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Exclusive: CBN’s Kenny Porter Talks Artifacts For Top Cow

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Not too long ago, writer Kenny Porter was a reviewer and columnist for Cosmic Book News. But the talented scribe won a contest put on by Top Cow and the fruition of that effort will be in stores Tuesday: Artifacts #33.

To get to the heart of this matter, M.E. Byron Brewer exclusively discussed the book and a number of other issues with Kenny. Here is his report:

Cosmic Book News: Kenny, as a comics fan and former comics reviewer, how does it feel to finally see your own comic book in print?

Kenny Porter: It’s exciting to say the least. I’ve been a comics fan since I was a little kid and I always dreamed of creating comic books. I started reviewing comics several years ago and just started writing my own shortly after that. The medium has so much to offer and now that we’re seeing a real revolution in creator-owned as well as licensed work it’s a thrilling time to get into the industry. I’ve done some of my independent work in small print runs, but this is the first time I’ve been through a major publisher and have had distribution through Diamond. It’s all still sinking in a little bit for me.

CBN: Tell us a little bit about how it felt to win Top Cow’s talent search for 2012.

Kenny Porter: I can still remember the moment it happened. I was kind of the last person to find out about it. The news broke while I was having dinner with some friends and my phone didn’t have any service. When I walked out of the restaurant I nearly had a heart attack from all of the notifications my phone had blown up with after it was announced. The amount of competition that was involved with the Top Cow Talent Hunt made me really take a step back and think about my writing and the progress I’ve made over the past few years.

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CBN: Okay, let’s get to the meat of it: Tell us about the protagonist of your book.

Kenny Porter: The protagonist of this issue of Artifacts is Tom Judge, a former priest and bearer of the artifact known as the Rapture. Similar to the Witchblade or the Darkness it gives the user special powers and transformative abilities. Judge can use the Rapture to turn into a brimstone form with incredible strength and powers. I try to test him in this one-shot both physically and mentally so that the theme of the book can focus on his struggle with having this supernatural power and pitting it against the unknown.

CBN: Can you explain the story a little bit, Kenny, without giving too much away?

Kenny Porter: The basic premise of the story is that Tom Judge and his partner Tilly Grimes have caught up with a serial killer who has claimed over fifty victims during his career. Judge thinks that he’s got the antagonist dead to rights, but soon finds out that there’s a lot more than he’s bargained for. A young girl’s life is on the line and Judge is determined to stop the killing spree that this horrific man has been on for the last several years.

CBN: May I ask what the inspiration was for the story?

Kenny Porter: The inspiration for the story came from my interest in stories about the dangers of black magic and cautionary tales about overestimating your abilities. Tom Judge is a character with a lot of power, but can’t solve every problem that comes his way. This one-shot puts him in a situation where he can’t use brute force to solve the problems that the serial killer has caused. That being said there’s still plenty of action for readers to sink their teeth into.

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CBN: How did it feel to work with editorial at a real comic book company after years online solo? Were there any differences of opinion on creative here or is it all Kenny Porter?

Kenny Porter: My experience with the editorial department at Top Cow has been very positive. The whole goal of the process was to expand the story and make it the best it could possibly be. Top Cow is truly a publisher that puts story and art on the same level, so both -Rom- and I were given lots of attention and detail that brought the book together. I enjoyed it a lot more than working solo, because I could find weaknesses and strengths in my writing that I might not have seen otherwise. I’ve worked with other editorial influences in the past (Visionary Comics and Viper Comics), but this experience made me realize how much I appreciate the work that editors do for the comics industry.

CBN: Big one: Were you pleased with the results on your book?

Kenny Porter: Absolutely, but that’s always a loaded question. As a writer I feel like no work is ever finished. But a huge part of writing is letting it go and putting it out into the world. I’m reminded of the scene in A Scanner Darkly where Robert Downey Jr. says, “We are all WAY too close to this.” After some time had passed and I read the issue as a whole I realized that we put together an interesting story that goes from a thriller, to action, and then to horror without being too jarring. I couldn’t be happier with the issue.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:12785:]]CBN: Is this a story that you would like to carry further?

Kenny Porter: There are some underlying elements I would love to explore further. The villain and his method of murder leave the door open for a lot of plot lines down the road. That of course is completely up to Top Cow on whether or not they would like to expand upon that in their universe (or let me do it), but I’m happy to open that door for them in future stories.

CBN: Tell us your opinion of the artist “-ROM-“.

Kenny Porter: I’ve never worked with an artist like -Rom- before. She has a very dynamic painted style that stands out from a lot of other artwork. We were on the same wavelength when it came to how the story should be paced and what we should focus on when it came to the characters and the action. We’ve talked since finishing the issue and would love to work on something together in the future if our schedules align again.

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CBN: Kenny, any projects current or in the future you would care to discuss?

Kenny Porter: When it comes to comic projects I’ve always got something in the pipeline. Right now I’m working on some pitches and creator-owned work with some fantastic local artists in Michigan, as well as some very talented friends of mine who live in New Orleans. I have notebooks full of ideas and plenty of scripts backlogged, so right now it’s just a matter of finishing the projects and getting them out there into the world.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kenny Porter for granting us this interview.

Look for “Artifacts” #33 from Top Cow on Tuesday!

Read More about Exclusive: CBN’s Kenny Porter Talks Artifacts For Top Cow

Exclusive interview: Jeff Lemire takes aim at his Green Arrow run

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One of the best and most consistently entertaining (and different) books in the relaunch of DC’s New 52 has been Jeff Lemire’s interpretation of Green Arrow. (Even a TV series was spawned from the character.)

To get to the bottom of the writer’s psyche and future plans, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up exclusively during the holiday shopping season with the scribe and logged this yuletide report.

Cosmic Book News: Jeff, you have said many times you consider Green Arrow a crime book rather than a superhero book. Explain.

Jeff Lemire: I approach it as more of a NOIR than a straight superhero story. Darker, grittier, like Bendis’ Daredevil or Dennis O’Neil’s Question. So the threats and adventures Oliver would get into would be much more grounded and street level as opposed to cosmic/costumed threats. Having said that, it has evolved a bit to become more of an international action/adventure/mystery.

CBN: What is it you have against Ollie? He has been pushed to the limits physically, emotionally and spiritually thanks to face-to-face encounters with a madman (Komodo), a super-powered mercenary (Count Vertigo), a blind mystery man (Magus) and a dangerous woman (Shado).

Jeff Lemire: I’m putting Ollie through a crucible. I’m stripping him down to the bone so he can rise up and become the true hero he was destined to be. That time is coming close. “Outsiders War” will strip him down and the following arc “Green Arrow Broken” will … well, it will finally break him. It’s what he does next that I’m excited about.

CBN: What can you tell us about the origins for the current “Outsiders War” arc?

Jeff Lemire: It originally came about as a conversation with Katana writer Ann Noccenti. We were interested in exploring the various weapon clans in the DCU and building a mythology around them. To do some world building. So Ann also had a hand in developing the back story and even though Katana has been cancelled, the character will also appear in Green Arrow as part of the arc.

The idea is that there were seven ancient clans built around seven totem weapons. Originally they were supposed to stand outside any empire or government and act as a counter-measure to keep them from becoming corrupt. But over the centuries many of these clans became the very thing they were meant to fight against, while others were wiped out. Now the rogue clans are assembling and a war between the clans is about to break out.

And Green Arrow’s Father, Robert Queen, was in search of the Totem Arrow to control the Arrow Clan but Komodo killed him. And, as we saw in issue #26, Shado claims the Totem Arrow is on the island where Ollie was stranded. 

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CBN: By the solicits, I see you have some new characters coming. Can you tell us about a few?

Jeff Lemire: Some of the weapon clans are headed by new characters like Golgotha (Spear Clan), Kodiak (Shield Clan) and Komodo (Arrow Clan). While others are headed up by re-imagined versions of old DC characters like Butcher (Axe Clan) and Onyx (Fist Clan).

CBN: What is up with John Diggle in Seattle?

Jeff Lemire: Arrow has left Seattle as Richard Dragon, a new crime lord, is taking over. And Diggle has come back to stop him. He and Green Arrow have a history with Dragon. This will lead to the next arc, “Green Arrow Broken.”

CBN: Tell us what Andrea Sorrentino brings to this book? Are you a fan?

Jeff Lemire: I’m a massive fan of his. He is an equal collaborator in every way. His layouts enhance my ideas and he is truly a co-storyteller in every way. His art is so dark and distinct it really gives us a “voice” and helps us stand out from other superhero comics.

CBN: Will we ever see Roy Harper in the pages of Green Arrow under your pen?

Jeff Lemire: Yes. Roy will be featured in “Green Arrow Broken” as the history between Arrow, Diggle and Arsenal is finally revealed.

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CBN: Jeff, tell us of any current or future projects you may like to mention.

Jeff Lemire: I’m currently writing and drawing an 8-issue sci-fi series for Vertigo called Trillium. In addition, I’m writing a new weekly comic with Brian Azzarello, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen called The New 52: Future’s End and a new Justice League series as well.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Jeff Lemire for taking time out of his holiday schedule to answer our nosy M.E. We also thank Alex Nagorski who helped make this interview possible.

“Green Arrow” #27 hits stores January 8th!

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Exclusive: Justin Jordan spins a tale of revenge with Dead Body Road

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Like your comics with a bit of noir? Or are westerns your taste? Writer Justin Jordan and artist Matteo Scalera are all set to bring you the best of both worlds with the six-issue Image Comics/Skybound series, Dead Body Road.

To get to the bottom of this unique book, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer saddled up Old Paint (actually a mechanical kiddy horse in front of the CBN offices) and exclusively rode downtown, in the shadowy alleyways, to question Justin Jordan.

Cosmic Book News: Tell us about the book.

Justin Jordan: Dead Body Road is about, basically, an ex-cop whose wife gets killed during a heist and he decides to kill every last bastard involved. And he doesn’t much care who dies to accomplish that, including himself.

Of course, there are lots of other people with designs on the spoils of the heist, so it’s not exactly going to be straightforward for Gage.

CBN: How did this come about? Something you pitched?

Justin Jordan: I am a big crime fiction fan in my regular life; most of the novels I read are crime or mystery. So I’ve wanted to try and write some myself. Robert Kirkman likes Luther Strode, so he approached me about writing something for Skybound, and we kicked things around until we found one we liked.

That title, incidentally, is pure Kirkman. I think my original title was Slab, which probably illustrates why he writes one of the best-selling comics of all time and I don’t.

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CBN: Tell us about Gage. Is this a revenge story? Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

Justin Jordan: Gage used to be a good guy.  What he is now is up for debate; by the time we meet him he blames himself, maybe not with some justification, for his wife’s death and it’s turned him into something else.

So yeah, it’s a revenge story, and what revenge means for the person exacting and what it costs to get vengeance.

CBN: It sounds like a noir crime story but also a bit like a modern Western. What can we expect?

Justin Jordan: Both?

I’ve described it as Western noir, and I think that’s fairly accurate. It’s modern day, but the setting feels Western to me, out on the dry edge of civilization. Lake and Cobb, though, come straight out of a noir tradition, while Gage himself is more of a Western character, not that far removed from spaghetti western heroes.

CBN: Are we going to get to know about the end figure responsible for the murder of Gage’s wife sooner rather than later? What can you tell us about him/her/them?

Justin Jordan: Not a lot, because that is the central thing driving Gage; he wants to know, needs to know who killed her.  They’re all going to die, but not before he gets that answer. The reader will find out too, rest assured.

CBN: Where is your inspiration coming from for this comic?

Justin Jordan: Crime novels. Westerns. Watching too much Justified and Sons of Anarchy, probably. Love of books like 100 Bullets and Criminal.

CBN: Would  you like to do other stories of this ilk? Why is there a resurgence of the Western-esque tale in pop culture now?

Justin Jordan: I’d certainly love to do more crime stuff. If this is book is a success, I’m going to try and get some more off the ground. I’ve got at least four more I would like to do. Westernwise, I actually have a sort of sci-fi western book that’s been gestating for a long time now.

I’m not entirely sure why Westerns are resurging now. I know that me, Hickman and Kelly Sue are all within a couple of years of each other, so something about growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I guess. Or maybe it’s just something that comes around every so often.

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CBN: Are you enjoying Matteo Scalera and his interpretation of your script?

Justin Jordan: F**k yeah. Can I say that? We were paired up by Skybound, so when I found out it was Matteo I actually did a happy dance. Not an especially pretty sight, but hell, I’d been wanting to work with Matteo for a while.

And it’s gone even better than I could have hoped. There are artists you just work well with – you think about stories the same way and things just work. Tradd is that way for me, and so is Brad Walker and thankfully, it worked out that way with Matteo.

Having him aboard has changed, to some extent, how the scripts are written. Because I can sort of see how Matteo will approach something, I write towards that. Issue four, for instance, is basically an issue long car chase, and probably wouldn’t have been if Matteo weren’t so damn good at making things MOVE on the page.

CBN: What would you like readers to take away from this series?

Justin Jordan: Well, I’d like them to be entertained. That’s always, always priority number one. The book is about what revenge is worth and the price it exacts, but me, I’ll be happy if people look forward to reading it every month.

CBN: Any other projects you would care to discuss?

Justin Jordan: Well, I’m still writing and really enjoying New Guardians for DC. I’m doing an arc of Crossed Badlands starting next May  (I think, might be later) and at NYCC Avatar announced my creator-owned series Redshift, about a sociopathic bounty hunter in a very bad future.

Beyond that, I have another thing greenlit and in progress elsewhere that I frustratingly can’t talk about yet.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Justin Jordan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.

Dead Body Road” #1 (of 8) hits stores December 11th!

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