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Review: Uncanny #5

It’s that time in this noir book where we see “behind the scenes,” so to speak, of Weaver’s enemy (who isn’t?), the mysterious organization known as CADRE.

We have it from my exclusive interview with writer Andy Diggle that much of what Deacon Styles has told us about CADRE is true. But is that ALL it is and what is the connection between it and Styles.

Speaking of “da boss,” Styles is shaping up to be quite the character. Diggle hints that #6 will be a blood bath at his hands, but Uncanny #5 shows Styles using his “Active” talents and it’s not exactly a walk in the park for his foes. Gory!

Meanwhile, back with our “heroes,” Weaver and Maggie are undergoing da woiks in CADRE’s lab as we ourselves explore that group. They not only want to know about the Actives’ powers, but how they react under specific circumstances. Very interesting.

And then there is that @#$# Wolf! Hmm …

I am loving this book, and Aaron Campbell’s compelling art is just a cherry on top of a very enjoyable Diggle-made sundae.

Noir indeed!

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Exclusive interview: Andy Diggle unveils secrets to come in Uncanny

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Writer Andy Diggle has been having a ball with his book, Uncanny, about a grifter with Rogue-like powers who cheats and steals his way from Singapore to Manhattan.

But apparently that ID isn’t all there is to our Mr. Weaver and starting with issue #5, we should be finding out more about him, his boss Deacon Styles and the mysterious organization known only as CADRE.

To get to the noir heart of the matter, our M.E. Byron Brewer met exclusively with Diggle in a dive bar somewhere near the alleyway behind the CBN offices. Here is his report.

Cosmic Book News: Andy, are you having fun writing Uncanny, because I and a bunch of others are sure having fun reading it?

Andy Diggle: That’s great to hear! Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to write, and hopefully it shows. Even though it’s a work-for-hire book, Dynamite have given me a huge amount of creative freedom, so I’m just like a kid on a candy store. Obviously I like doing tough-guy action thrillers, but with Uncanny I’m having fun undermining my own clichés a little bit. Weaver isn’t as cool as he pretends to be — he’s actually kind of damaged — and I’m having fun peeling away those layers of bullshit he’s built up around himself.

CBN: What is up with the swami in Deacon Styles’ basement?

Andy Diggle: What indeed? Yeah, Holly is Styles’ “remote viewer” and she’s kind of pivotal, although you won’t find out exactly why until issue #5. All I’ll say for now is, pay attention to the wolf …

CBN: From the looks of things, Styles is one of the Actives. Is he a telepath like Professor X?

Andy Diggle: Not quite. He is indeed an Active, but his power is a little odder and more specific than good ol‘ fashioned telepathy. I’m not going to spell it out; I think it’s more interesting to let the readers figure it out for themselves. You’ll really get to see him strut his stuff in issue #6, which is pretty much a bloodbath. You don’t want to mess with Deacon Styles.

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CBN: What can you tell us about the group CADRE that won’t be a spoiler?

Andy Diggle: Much of what Styles told us about them is true — they are indeed a global network of defense intelligence think-tanks. And they are indeed studying Actives, trying to figure out how to replicate and weaponize their talents. But this being a noir-tinged story, it doesn’t break down into traditional “good guys and bad guys.” I’m not sure there actually are any good guys in this story. At least, not yet …

CBN: Will we be learning more about Robert Howell Lowe as the series progresses?

Andy Diggle: Yes. That was Weaver’s original name, and you’ll be meeting little 4-year old Bobby Lowe in issue #7, giving us a glimpse at his place in the wider conspiracy. Weaver doesn’t know how connected he really is.

CBN: Will we be seeing other Actives soon?

Andy Diggle: You’ll meet a new Active in issue #6, and Holly will have a much bigger role in the second arc.

CBN: Can you tell us anything about the relationship between Styles and those running CADRE?

Andy Diggle: Let’s just say they’re not on each other’s Christmas lists. You’ll find out more about the connection between Styles and CADRE at the end of the first arc, including Styles’ true motivation in hiring Weaver and Maggie in the first place.

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CBN: Hopefully with CADRE and Actives, we are not headed for an Avengers vs. X-Men remix, losing the series’ noir atmosphere?

Andy Diggle: It’s not a superhero book. For one thing, these people may have powers, but that doesn’t make them heroes. For another, I’m keen to keep the powers fairly low-key. You won’t see Actives flying or shooting lasers out of their eyeballs. It’s more about what’s going on inside their heads — and what they’re putting into, and taking out of, other people’s heads. Shady people f***ing with each other, basically, like all noir, but on a grander scale.

CBN: Any comments on Aaron Campbell?

Andy Diggle: Aaron’s an absolute pleasure to work with. His characters live and breathe on the page and his storytelling is always rock solid, with the grit to give it that noir vibe and the dynamism to make the action sequences really fly. I couldn’t be happier.

CBN: Andy, any projects current or future you’d like to tell us about?

Andy Diggle: I’m having a blast working on Uncanny for Dynamite, Thief of Thieves with Robert Kirkman and Shawn Martinbrough at Skybound, and the forthcoming crime saga CONTROL, which is illustrated by the amazing Ben Oliver and which I’m co-writing with my wife Angela. I also have two new work-for-hire books in development which I can’t talk about just yet, as well as two new creator-owned books which I’m planning for 2014. I’m busier than I’ve ever been — and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Andy Diggle for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Also thanks to Nick Barrucci and Josh Green of Dynamite who helped make this interview possible.

“Uncanny” #5 hits stores Wednesday!

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Review: Uncanny #4

Whew!

I am breathless after reading Andy Diggle’s latest issue of Uncanny! After three issues of build-up, #4 grabs hold of you like the beginning of a good Bond film and does not let go. For those who are constantly complaining that writers do not get to the action fast enough in comic books anymore, no worries here. Uncanny #4 is high-octane excitement that does not stop.

We find Weaver and Maggie, both “actives” who have unexplained superpowers, in the heat of an operation trying to take a briefcase from their target, Dr. Felix de Santos, who has allegedly discovered the origins of “active” powers and plans to use them for naughty reasons. At least that is the explanation Weaver and Maggie’s mysterious employer has given them.

Speaking of whom, we find out an interesting bit of information about the man behind the sunglasses this issue as well: he himself is an “active” and seems to be possessed of a Professor X-type mental power. Why are Weaver and Maggie working under free will? We will have to wait to find out.

Car chases are extremely hard to do in comic books; not the drive or adrenaline of the spy movies. But Diggle not only manages to pull off one great action sequence after another here, with all the accompanying chaos ensuing, but we have helicopters exploding to boot. The lead vehicle of destruction? A garbage truck.

Aaron Campbell carries the ball heavily on this one, giving us realistic, gritty high views of NYC while following up on each of Diggle’s challenges in the chase, rendering with his art some nerve-wrenching moments on the highway and the most monstrous garbage truck in comic book history. Carrying action on for an extended amount of time with little scene change is not easy, I would imagine, and besides his gorgeous and humanistic facial and body expressions Campbell gets great kudos for the seamless action scenes in this mag.

If you are not reading Uncanny, you have perhaps missed one of the best heist stories in comics today. Pick it up and get on board. This one moves fast!

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Review: Uncanny #2

Writer Andy Diggle continues to weave a web of noir mystery around the man known only as Weaver, whose unique talent of taking other characters’ memories and abilities has gotten him exactly nowhere.
 
Except maybe stranded in Singapore with a target on his back.
 
Weaver, under the assumption that he is the only one with “special” abilities in the world, has been gambling and thieving his way across Europe and Asia, apparently coming to rest and growing stale in Singapore for the better part of a year.
 
Now on the run from the gambler Lee and the object of curiosity for a mysterious woman named Maggie, Weaver is dodging bullets and getting his final sources killed in an effort to make it back to the States … or at least away from Lee’s men, half of whom are wearing badges.
 
Artist Aaron Campbell does a great job with his clean lines for carrying the action and also the facial expressions. When one of Weaver’s cronies is slowly dying as he is in the process of taking information from him and Weaver experiences this, the reader feels sadness and wonders if Weaver had ever felt that before. The expression of his face is priceless.
 
We discover that Weaver does have a conscience as he returns to get a shot Maggie before making an escape, Miami Vice-like, on a boat, out of a secret exit with Lee’s men not knowing the difference.
 
We also discover Maggie’s secret this issue (sorta), one that will send Weavers world topsy-turvy.
 
I hope lovers of crime and adventure comics will pick this up and read it. It is a keeper. I’ll be back next issue!
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M.E. Byron Brewer’s CBN Andy Diggle interview appearing in June/August Dynamite comics

Dynamite Entertainment is running Cosmic Book News’ exclusive interview with writer Andy Diggle in its comics between July 10th and August 14th. The interview focuses on Diggle’s new noir ongoing, Uncanny

The interview, conducted by CBN Managing Editor Byron Brewer, is one of a series of exclusives the website has been able to garner. Brewer, along with EIC Matt McGloin and Assistant Managing Editor Chris “DOC” Bushley, has interviewed some of the top names in comics, television, movies and gaming.

Brewer is the former Managing Editor of the Georgetown (KY) News-Graphic with over 30 years of journalism and writing experience, as well as a member of the renowned International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. Brewer’s newspaper column in the News-Graphic was voted the most popular column two years in a row.

The Diggle interview is being used as part of the Dynamite books’ editorial matter. It is the second CBN interview to be wholly utilized in a comic company’s magazines. 

Uncanny introduces Weaver, a man born with an uncanny ability that allows him to steal other people’s skills – their memories, abilities, and expertise – for a limited time.  A man with a power like that could change the world; but as a professional gambler, con-man, and thief-for-hire, Weaver prefers to look out for Number One.  That is, until he finds himself drawn into a dangerous game of international intrigue where the rules keep changing, the players are hidden… and the first thing he stands to lose is his life.  And maybe, just maybe, he isn’t so unique after all. 

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Review: Uncanny #1 (Diggle and Campbell)

There are a lot of comics with the adjective “uncanny” in their titles these days. This new offering from Dynamite really is!

The protagonist in Uncanny #1 – I don’t really know if you’d call Weaver a “hero” — is a cussing, hard-assed man in a suit whom you would guess to be a spy. As far as I know, he is not.

What he is is a habitual gambler who has been making his way around the casinos of Singapore for a year. He seems to be slick but rather penniless, so he either goes for high stakes or doesn’t employ his uncanny ability well.

That ability is the superhuman talent to, by making skin contact, absorb information and/or certain talents from others. Think Rogue in a man-suit. He can only hang on to this information/talent for so long and then it’s gone.

Everything seems to be working well for a long while until along comes a gambler who is not as Weaver read him. That leads to chaos, a departure from Singapore (or at least he thinks that) and a meeting with a mad woman on a motorcycle named Maggie who, of course, offers Weaver a job right away.

Someone knows his uncanny talents, but Weaver doesn’t know who.

Writer Andy Diggle has put together a fine noir-feeling book with great mystery appeal, and it will be very interesting to see where this might lead.

Aaron Campbell’s art is good, stable and keeps your attention, carrying the action well, especially with small things like facial expressions.

Dynamite’s got itself a winner here. I will be back for more next issue!

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Exclusive interview: Writer Andy Diggle talks about his new book Uncanny, crime in comics, and more!

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It is a fact that lovers of cosmic comics are also usually lovers of crime drama, and for many of us it is the 1940s Bogie style we love: gritty, street smart and violent.

A market in comics is growing for crime mystery, and a new offering to this is Dynamite Comics’ Uncanny by writer Andy Diggle (Hellblazer, Daredevil, The Losers) and artist Aaron Campbell (Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow).

To get to the bottom of this noir concoction, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively got a booth in the back at Lefty’s and had a discussion with Diggle.

Cosmic Book News: Andy, how did this project in Dynamite’s new Crime Line come about?

Andy Diggle: It was pretty simple — they asked! I’ve enjoyed writing genre books like The Losers, Rat Catcher, Six Guns and Green Arrow: Year One (which I approached as an action thriller rather than a superhero comic), and I guess it shows.

CBN: The thrillers you mention, like The Losers and Rat Catcher, had a great feel and were well received. Can you compare Uncanny with those works?

Andy Diggle: The Losers was heavy on the action whereas Rat Catcher was more of a procedural — although it did have the requisite amount of gunfights and exploding helicopters! Uncanny is somewhere in between — gritty noir in tone, with a balance of action and drama. The difference is that Uncanny also has this slight supernatural undercurrent which allows me to zig-zag off in unexpected directions.

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CBN: Tell us about Uncanny’s character Weaver.

Andy Diggle: He’s a professional gambler, con-man and thief for hire. On the surface he seems to have it all — looks, skill, confidence, swagger — but we quickly learn that it’s all just a front. His amazing jack-of-all-trades skills are not really his own — he has this ability to steal other people’s knowledge, abilities and expertise for a limited time, and use them to execute his plan. But the clock’s always ticking. He has to complete his mission before the stolen skills fade and he goes back to being a regular Joe. He lives this completely disposable lifestyle, always moving, but there’s no safety net under him. He’s hollow inside. We join him at a point in his life where he’s forced to confront these aspects of himself that maybe aren’t so pretty.

CBN: Are there any special foes he faces? Is he the only one with paranormal powers in the stories?

Andy Diggle: He thinks he’s unique, but he quickly learns that there are other people out there with abilities even weirder than his own. He’s never really questioned where he got this power from — he figures, “Don’t mess with a winning streak.” It’s only once he starts losing that he’s forced to start finding out the truth about his own origins.

CBN: What can we expect from Uncanny as it goes forward?

Andy Diggle: After a run of bad luck, Weaver finds himself in a corner and takes a job that will lead him to team up with other players with uncanny abilities, who are trying to find the source of their own powers. Cue action, intrigue, heists, betrayals, sex and violence. All the good stuff, in other words.

CBN: Do you have any certain inspirations for your crime writing? Was there a particular work that inspired Uncanny?

Andy Diggle: My aspirations are simply to entertain with a brain. I love genre comics and movies, and I hate it when they say, “Leave your brain at the door.” I like my brain where it is, y’know? I try to spin an entertaining yarn that doesn’t insult the intelligence of the reader.

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CBN: What about the art of Aaron Campbell? Did you see his work on The Shadow?

Andy Diggle: I did, and it was great. He’s the perfect choice for this kind of book — his line work has all the grit and shadow you want for a noir book, but the action choreography is still crisp and clear. It’s the perfect combination.

CBN: Do think there is a strong place for crime drama in the comics market?

Andy Diggle: There does seem to be. I think books like 100 Bullets, Criminal and the underrated Stray Bullets really kicked the doors open and showed comics fans there’s more for them than just the monthly corporate spandex grind. Crime is hugely popular in film, TV and literature, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t be true of comics too.

CBN: Any current or future projects you would like to mention?

Andy Diggle: I’m having a blast writing Thief of Thieves with Robert Kirkman at Image, and Doctor Who at IDW. I’m also lining up a couple of new projects that I can’t talk about yet, including a possible second crime book at Dynamite. It’s fun being able to play the field.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Andy Diggle for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions, and we also thank Dynamite’s own Nick Barrucci and Josh Green who helped make this interview possible.

“Uncanny” #1 launches from Dynamite in June!

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