Writer Cullen Bunn is no stranger to crafting stories of horror and the occult. There’s classic occultism and supernatural terror in Harrow County. Before that he began with his epic western zombie saga in The Sixth Gun, which you should absolutely read if you haven’t yet. In Regression #1 out this week, Mr. Bunn, along with his cohorts Danny Luckert and Marie Enger, will introduce us to a man whose waking life is challenged by his nightmares.
To be scared kicks up your adrenaline. And the key to scaring someone else to play on elemental fears and finding something universal to frighten with. In Regression #1, we are presented with the concept of our nightmares. Everyone has them. Everyone has had moments in a nightmare where you aren’t quite sure if you’re still asleep. In Regression #1, we find Adrian, a man who sets out to resolve the torture of his nightmares through a special type of hypnotherapy: He’s going to be regressed (hence the title), to experience his past lives and see if the psychological trauma that’s threatening his life is actually from before he was born.
The journey of his consciousness through his past lives unearth horrific visions that only worsen his situation upon being brought back to his current lifetime. The solution only made the problem worse. Unable to unsee what he’s witnessed, Adrian is drawn into a darker world of debauchery, insanity, mystery, and conspiracy. When Adrian came back from his journey through his past lives, he didn’t come home alone. What if there is no escape from your nightmares? What if the only thing you can do is fall deeper into the horror?
Team books seem to be popping all over the place, especially with the plethora of new X-Men titles that have and are continuing to debut. Well, here’s one from the Inhumans side of things. Except this isn’t the cosmic team you see in the pages of something like Royals, no, these are the dirty dozen version. ROLL CALL: Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Karnak, and Inferno are led by former Nick Fury protege, Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake! They hate Hydra and are going underground to free others like them who’re being imprisoned under this Steve Rogers fronted regime.
Say hello to the good guys and gals who are ready to fight for their rights and the rights of others like them. They will kick ass by night and fight amongst themselves by day. This isn’t a team assembled by some higher up who thought they’d be the perfect mix of powers. No, they’re all here with the same purpose but not the same motivations. Will a common goal be enough to keep Quake and Ms. Marvel from constantly butting heads? Can they thumb their noses up at the not-so-Secret Empire without getting caught? Is Devil Dinosaur about to become your all-time favorite Marvel character?
Get ready for a clash of claws, powers, and ideas about what it takes to save the world as the next generation of Inhumans arrive. The secret’s out, war has to be fought, and you won’t want to miss out on the opening salvo. Get it? Got it? Good!
Matthew Rosenberg has been a steadily rising star in comics for the last few years. After acclaimed run for his work on the gorgeous We Can Never Go Home, he broke down more doors over at Marvel with his Civil War II: Kingpin mini-series. The reception of which lead to the ongoing Kingpin series he’s currently got the fourth issue of coming out. He’s a creator who’s worked on almost every side of comics. He’s as versatile and knowledgeable a comics creator as there is and with the debuting Secret Warriors #1 coming out next week, Matthew Rosenberg will shock the world with his first team book amidst the turmoil of Secret Empire.
A former Forbidden Planet comics slinger like yours truly, we talk about the series he learned to read from, when he knew comics was going to be his way in the world, and what to expect from the mix of characters he’s getting to write in Secret Warriors!
MK: Welcome to another Creative Conversation. I am joined today by THE Matthew Rosenberg. Thanks for coming in and talking with me today, sir.
MR: Thanks for having me
MK: One of the questions that’s always fun to jump in with is, do you recall the first comic or run that stuck with you?
MR: Well the first comic I remember ever holding was an issue of Fantastic Four that my brother had. I remember carrying it around with me and just staring at the art, but having no idea what was actually going on. The first run I ever read was [Chris] Claremont’s X-Men. I basically learned to read with those books.
MK: Did you ever figure out what issue of Fantastic Four it was?
MR: No, actually. I’ve gone back and tried, but once I learned to read I was a big Fantastic Four fan, so all those blurred together in my adolescent brain.
MR: Yeah. I am 99% sure it was John Byrne stuff. But who can say for sure.
MK: Well, no one can say it wasn’t John Byrne (laughs). You talked about Claremont’s X-Men run as what you learned to read on, is it safe to say that run is one that’s influenced you as a comics creator?
MR: Yeah. I think it’s safe to say that it heavily influenced me as a person. I feel like every issue I read of that book exposed me to new ideas and ways of thinking. A lot of my core beliefs go back to that run. And, obviously, my love of comics comes from there as well.
MK: That’s amazing to have that connection so early on. Did you have any other runs early on that helped you fall deeper in love with the medium?
MK: Tell me you’ve been begging Marvel to work on a Star Wars book.
MR: Begging is a strong word. But yes. I am begging.
MK: I’d love to see you on a Boba Fett or Han Solo series.
MR: Those books have been amazing though, Jordan and Heather who edit the Marvel Star Wars line do a great job of curating it. They aren’t just letting any old riff-raff in the door, which hurts me as a creator, but makes me so happy as a fan. Yeah. There is so much I want to see. I always joke about how much I want to do a podracing comic with Daniel Warren Johnson on art. But I really want to do a podracing comic with Daniel Warren Johnson on art.
MK: I’d read it! Do you remember when you decided that you weren’t just going to be a fan anymore but that working in comics was what you wanted to do? And was writing always the path you saw for yourself?
MR: Yeah. I was working in music for a while and was just getting really burned out. I love music and hate the industry. At that point in my life, the only other thing I was really passionate about besides music was comics. They were a constant for me for almost my whole life. So when I just couldn’t take doing music stuff anymore I started thinking more about making comics. I knew I couldn’t draw, but I wanted to be creative. My whole family are writers. My mom, my dad, my uncle, my brother. So, as much as it’s possible, writing is in my DNA. And I just sort of dove in from there, with no real idea what I was doing.
MK: You jumped in though! I mean one of the coolest things about your journey, knowing you as long as I do, is that you’ve seen a lot of different sides of comics that not every creator is familiar with. Can you talk a little bit about how you found your way in and the different aspects you’ve gotten to work on?
MR: Yeah. I’m sort of obsessive about stuff. I like to know how things work. So, I studied all aspects of comics I could. I was reading coloring guides and watching lettering tutorials, tracking down interviews with editors. But then I really wanted to know about things more hands on. I quit my day job and took a job at Forbidden Planet so I could really see how books were bought and sold. It’s so crucial for comic creators to understand their readers and their partners in retail. And it was eye opening. From there, I took a job at a few small publishers just doing whatever I could. Retail outreach. Publicity. Social media. Pre-production. Editing. I don’t ever like asking someone to do something for me, without really knowing what I am asking of them. So all of that was incredibly helpful. And it also helped me build relationships and open doors when I was ready to be making publishable work. Or semi-publishable work.
MK: I’d argue it’s all damn publishable! I mean you’ve been hitting home runs with characters like Kingpin and Rocket Raccoon, and now you’re getting your own team book in Secret Warriors, out on shelves May 10th! You’re really building a home at Marvel it feels like. How did this series come about? Did you go to Marvel with the idea for this team or was it a little more of meeting in the middle?
MR: Well thanks. I hope Marvel fans like what I’m doing. As for Secret Warriors, it’s a bit of a funny story. Wil Moss, who was my original editor on my Kingpin mini-series got put in charge of the Inhumans. I am a big Inhumans fan but a huge fan of Quake. I immediately emailed Wil to say that I had an idea for Quake that I wanted to pitch. I sent in the pitch and Wil was really enthusiastic, but he came back and said, “What if Quake was part of a team? We need a new team book.” And from there it all came together in bits and pieces. I feel really lucky because I love our cast. Ms. Marvel is bar none one of the best books at Marvel right now. Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur has been a favorite of mine since it began. Inferno is a great part of Charles Soule‘s Inhumans run. And obviously Karnak is one of the great Marvel characters. So getting all of these wildly different together it just felt like we had a chance to do something really different and not what folks expect. I’m pretty proud of it.
MK: It’s a very cool mix of characters. What are you excited and hope readers will take away from the first issue on May 10th and from the rest of the first arc?
MR: I really hope people like what we do with the characters. I tried to be really faithful to who they are and what they are about, but we are putting some of them in very new and tough situations. I love them all, and really believe in them, but I want to see them tested. And I hope fans do, too. This book is a little darker and crazier than I think people are expecting. Things are really scary in the Marvel Universe right now, and our Secret Warriors are figuring out the best way to fight back. And that’s not always easy.
MK: Team books like this are always so compelling because of the relationships between teammates. Who do you think would butt heads the most, who might be the wild card, what makes these characters the best fit for this team? If they are.
MR: Well the first part is easy. Quake and Ms. Marvel butt heads the most. Ms. Marvel is a hero through and through. She wants to inspire. She wants to lead by example. And Quake was a spy and a weapon trained by Nick Fury. She knows that sometimes you have to do things that don’t sit right with you because they have to get done. I think Moon Girl is a real wild card. She’s not a team player, per se. She’s smarter than everyone else. And she is really just a kid. As for why they are each the best fit for the team? They aren’t. That’s sort of a real point in the book. They are six characters who are thrust together because of awful circumstances. They each have their own reasons for being there, their own agendas, and their own way of doing things. It’s a stretch to call them a team.
MK: That’s awesome.That’s just juicy to think about and see how they can coexist, if they can.
MR: Yeah. I think people will be surprised at where things end up. Or not.
MK: I love you bringing up Quake being Nick Fury’s apprentice. I remember it was you in fact who got me to read Jonathan Hickman‘s run on Secret Warriors where that relationship developed.
MR: Yeah. Hickman’s Secret Warriors is one of my all-time favorite comics. The way he has Quake and Fury working together, this troubled family dynamic, is so beautiful and heartbreaking.
MK: Totally agree and now she’s kind of in the Nick Fury role herself.
MR: It is something we are going to go into as the series goes on. Fury is gone and Quake is still very new to all of this. She’s tough and capable, but she never had the chance to grow into it. Fury dropped her in the deep end.
MK: To bring things back around a little as we head into the home stretch. you talked about how your whole family are writers. Why write comics? What is about comics versus say film or T.V. or the stage that sets it apart for you as a creator?
MR: I love all types of writing. People in my family have written novels, essays, movies, T.V. shows, plays, you name it. But for me, comics has always been my love. Everything about it from the worlds and characters, to the the tactile feel of a comic, to comic shops and culture. I find it all energizing and inspiring. That’s what attracted me.
MK: Thank you for that. If you could go back, what advice would you give the Matthew Rosenberg who was just starting out?
MR: Save more money. Sell more of your stuff you don’t need
MK: Fair. Totally fair. Which creators are on your personal Mount Rushmore of Comics?
MK: I don’t know if it’s blasphemy. Calvin & Hobbes can be read at eight and twenty-eight and fifty-eight and mean something incredibly important and different at each age.
MR: True. I think Peanuts works on that level, too, in some ways. But Calvin & Hobbes always felt more like a narrative to me. Peanuts was much more of just moments in time. Oh, and Alan Moore. I’m bad at this
MK: You’re not bad at this, you just need a bigger mountain And last but not least, if you were working in a shop and someone came up to you saying, “I’ve never read comics before, what should I read first?” What five books would you tell them to pick up?
On the one hand it’s brilliant strategy, keeping the artists fresh and the pacing even across the series. On the other hand, it’s a challenge to divide the readers’ attention with two stories told simultaneously. That’s a bit more than one might want to keep track of. Fortunately, with Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One, we can finally see the big picture that Mr. Rucka and Mrs. Scott have been making for us.
Wonder Woman’s origin story has been told and retold and told again for seeming ever. We’re all set to see a movie depicting it in theaters everywhere next month. Why does ever creator want a crack at the beginning of Diana Prince’s path to becoming Wonder Woman? Because it’s a great story that allows for writers and artists to make it their own. It’s a tale of hope and inspiration, empowerment through the embracing of one’s journey into adulthood, facing down fear to move forward in finding one’s place in the greater world. We know some of the gist from the versions that’ve come before this one: Diana Prince’s people, the Amazons, living in seclusion in Paradise, are rudely intruded upon by a crashing pilot named Steve Trevor. Trevor’s arrival is the end of their isolation as the Amazons must choose a champion of their own…one willing to sacrifice her home among her sisters to save a world she’s only ever heard of. She will be Wonder Woman and this is her first year as the world’s greatest protector.
It’s been a difficult life for Jean Grey. Well, it might be if she doesn’t find a way to change her destiny. Trapped in our present, blocked from returning to her past, she’s about to find herself fighting off her future. Jean Grey’s never had her own solo series before. With the spotlight solely on Marvel Girl in this week’s Jean Grey #1 the big question that’s going to be raised is can she avoid becoming the Phoenix, and thus turning into the Dark Phoenix that, you know, murders a planet and almost kills all the X-Men then dies repeatedly? (Yeah, I know it’s a run on sentence, so’s her character history)
Dennis Hopeless is no stranger to Jean Grey, having written young Jean’s adventures in All-New X-Men. He’s a good fit to chronicle her destiny defying mission. With fellow X-Men franchise artist in tow, Victor Ibanez, there’s a lot of possibility for a great coming of age story about denying the inevitable by the will and actions of one person. If the preview pages are to be believed, this Jean Grey is ready to strike out a bit on her own and find her place. Except just when she think she’s found some space for change, she’s set to experience a vision of the Phoenix Force finding her and fulfilling the deadly fate we’ve read for decades. Will Jean Grey only fight the future and bring about her destiny? Can she find a way to avoid all that death and dying? We can find out together this week in Jean Grey #1 and take it from there.
A Bat-family reunion across continuity in Batman #22
We’re halfway there. “The Button” has kicked into the next gear after the events of Flash #21 last week. What began in one Batcave has traveled to another’s via cosmic treadmill. The murder of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, is taking the two greatest detectives in the DC Universe back to the timeline that kicked off the New 52 in the first place. Yup, it’s not Groundhog’s Day, it’s just Flashpoint. You’d think Barry Allen would have learned to quit tempting fate by traveling through time. You’d be have thought WRONG. Now, with Batman and Batman and Flash coming face to face to face, what secrets will be unveiled after the tantalizing final line of last week’s Flash #21?
The endgame isn’t anywhere close to clear yet. However, the journey’s been entertaining so far and we’re definitely on pace for a well executed next step as the world of Watchmen inches closer to the DC Universe. There’s no question that fans’ expectations have been high and rightfully so. There’s also little doubt that this story still has a lot in store for us, dear readers. The idea’s always been a fun one to play with since the possibilities of tying the two worlds together were inextricably linked back in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. The question is: What will Batman #22 have in store for us to keep the faith that DC’s grand plan is one we can continue to trust in? There’re no shortages of stories that promise consequences across shared universes but are we truly on the edge of such a tale? There’s really only one right way to find out: Keep reading.
It’s rare for a writer to go back-to-back for our Graphic Spotlight but Jeff Lemire’s a rarity. Last Wednesday he returned to his roots with the intimate and epic Roughneck. This week, Jeff Lemire builds to a crescendo of his two years writing Valiant’s super soldier with Bloodshot USA.
For those of you die-hard Jeff Lemire fans who haven’t been following his run on Bloodshot Reborn, you might have been missing out on the best book he’s been crafting on a monthly basis. A treatise on violence in america within an impossible redemption tale, Bloodshot Reborn has showcased an octave of Lemire’s voice unlike anything else he’s done in his prolific career. Fortunately, any reader can pick up his biggest Bloodshot story yet.
The most dangerous virus is a weapon created by Project Rising Spirit. Now this virus has been unleashed on New York City. It can turn the frailest of civilians into an army of indestructible soldiers. This end of days pathogen is meant to destroy enemy nations from the inside out and it’s turned on a city of eight million people. It’s designed to recreate Project Rising Spirit’s crowning achievement up to this point in any man, woman, or child: Bloodshot.
Who released the virus turning millions into unstoppable killing machines? Only one person can find out the answers, Bloodshot himself. He must go on the greatest mission of his life and invade native soil in order stop a pandemic that could topple governments around the world if it escapes New York.
Jeff Lemire continues his hot streak and is joined by a top-of-his-game Doug Braithwaite to tell one of the most ambitious and high stakes story since Valiant returned to comics five years ago. A couple things are for sure: there’ll be traffic on the tunnels, the L train won’t be running, and you’re in for one bloody hell of a good time.
Collecting BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1-4 and BLOODSHOT REBORN #0.
Last week, DC’s follow up to their DC Universe: Rebirth #1 special kicked off in Batman #21 with the first installment of the four-parter titled, “The Button.” The titular button came out of the speed force and lodged itself into a Batcave wall. You might recognize this button as belonging to the Comedian from Alan Moore’s seminal Watchmen. It’s rather fitting, and in no way coincidental, that it’s the murder of the Comedian that kicked off the Hugo Award-winning series decades ago and another murder is what sets this adventure by DC’s two greatest detective in motion.
Yes, they killed SPOILER. After a flash of blue lightning, SPOILER, made a final claim that could have fallen deaf on the Dark Knight’s unconscious bat-ears or perhaps it will be the “Rosebud” of this entire tale. We’ll see soon enough. Of course, SPOILER wasn’t the only pre-New 52 character that showed up last week, SPOILER also made a brief cameo and you can bet SPOILER will end up being a major player in this plot as it kicks into the next gear.
One chapter and epic lenticular cover is in the books, this week we’re going to be treated to another. Will Batman and Flash be able to figure out the multiple mysteries before them? Is SPOILER dead for keeps? Will we ever get more answers than questions in a damn comic book? Jump right in, the rumoring waters are white hot.
Yeah, I’m avoiding the names, sue me. You want to know what happened? Get the comic!
Yes, that’s right you’re reading this correctly, THE Ben Reilly is web-slinging is his way into an all-new ongoing series, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1. One of the most polarizing characters in the history of comic books is starting a new chapter where his fate will hang in a balancing act between the hero he aspires to become again versus the villain his flaws led him to recently being. Can this unhinged clone of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man find his way back onto the righteous path?
After the events of The Clone Conspiracy, most all of us readers thought that Ben Reilly has met his maker for the umpteenth time. Turns out….psych! Ben’s back but sure as heck doesn’t have it all together. Haunted by warring parts of his psyche, Ben is torn between finding his way back to the days when he wanted to be the best hero out there and falling back into his recently resurrecting ways. Far from home, this new old Scarlet Spider is going to have a lot on his plate right from the get-go.
Peter David‘s no stranger to dealing with characters that have, um, identity issues. See his entire run on X-Factor for more. Nor is he a stranger to the Spider-Man corner of the Marvel Universe (Spider-Man 2099, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Death of Jean Dewolff). Now, though, Peter David has set himself up with the task of crafting the character journey for a man who’s talking to the manifestation of his hoodied hero former self on one shoulder and the masked villain he’s running from being on the other shoulder. With all the voices he hears in his head, not all comfort him or understand, will Peter David be able to lead Ben Reilly back into the hearts of the public and the readers? Well, not if Kaine kills him first!
Adam Gorham is a rising star in comics. Don’t believe me? What else would you call someone who’s being shot straight to the stars by drawing one of Marvel’s highest profile characters with a movie coming out? Plus, the fact it’s a cosmic character with space crime overtones. Adam Gorham’s a model of work ethic and determination, not to mention humility. He gives us a rough outline of his journey thus far, what we can expect from the upcoming Rocket #1 out on May 10th and offers sage advice to artists drawing their own path in the industry.
MK: Adam, thank you so much for having a Creative Conversation with me today. One of the questions I always like to start with is, do you remember the first comic you owned or the first one that made an impression on you?
AG: the pleasure is mine! I’m excited to talk about Rocket with my pal Matt Klein!
MK: Nice rhyme.
AG: Totally unintentional. I amaze myself (laughs). The first comic I owned and really cherished, and has left an impact on me to this day, is Batman: The Cult, the graphic novel. My father got it for me, probably without even looking inside of it. This was when comics were at their height in the 90’s and the local newspaper and cigar shop sold comics. Bernie Wrightson’s work was my first major influence.
MK: I freaking love that book. I mean, Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, it’s a gem. In talking with people in shops that’s an often undiscovered gem. You mentioned Bernie Wrightson as your first major influence, who were some others at different points in your journey to today?
AG: Well, I loved comics as a kid, but rarely read them. I liked them for the art and would draw what I saw. All the mythos and lore I got loosely from 90’s cartoons like [Batman: TAS], Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. so without knowing many names at the time, I was certainly informed by the heavyweights of the 90’s. However, I fell out of comics around ten or so, about the time when kids let go of their “kids stuff”. I didn’t get back into loving comic artwork until eleventh grade, and that was after discovering Alex Ross, particularly Kingdom Come.
MK: So good!
AG: It was a revelation for me. Ross’ work was the first time for me that comic art felt like classic works of art that could be hung somewhere. When I started getting back into it, I was in love with what Bryan Hitch was doing on The Ultimates. In fact, I really liked Ultimate Marvel at the time. Leinil Yu was another favorite.
MK: There was a ton of top talent working on Marvel’s Ultimate Universe at that point. Do you have a favorite Ultimate Universe run or story?
AG: Well I really liked the Ultimate X-Men stuff for a while. The first arc was epic. I enjoyed most of Return to Weapon X. Ultimates 2 probably stands apart though as the height of those titles.it took FOREVER for it to come out, but in the end it was pretty satisfying
MK: Great art can be worth the wait. How did you come to the decision that working in comics was what you wanted to do?
AG: I drew all my life. That’s not saying much. Most kids love to draw. However, I was always applauded for how well I drew for my age, so I grew up with drawing as “my thing.” And for a long time that was enough. I didn’t have a direct application or career in mind for it, but I excelled at drawing superheroes, so comics seemed an obvious choice. The only thing is, I was a terrible student with no ambition. Drawing comics as a career was an easy thing to talk about, but pursuing it was murky and not always tangible. I did go to art school and flamed out because, as I say, terrible student. Ultimately, after a few years of working one dirty job or another, my partner dragged me to my first comic convention and really opened up my eyes to this world I’d previously only known through Wizard magazines and comic shops. I was working in a grocery warehouse. Things with my significant other were getting serious. We wanted to start a new chapter in our lives and it became clear I needed a new goal in life. Or a goal in life. So when I left the warehouse job, I went for broke and looked for a job illustrating. I found one off Craigslist (laughs).
MK: What was the job?
AG: My first ever gig drawing comics was a 128-page graphic novel, written by a Canadian film director who wanted to adapt his indie vampire movie into a comic. Before that I had drawn a few scant pages for my own ideas. And once I started there was no looking back.
MK: That sounds a bit like you jumped into the deep end with a 128 page project right off the bat!
AG: Totally. It was the first opportunity I found and I seized it. I didn’t know how or where else to find work. In the past I had sent submissions to publishers, back when most publishers still took open submissions. I have a polite and informative rejection letter from Marvel, actually.
MK: That’s freaking awesome though! You talked about going to a convention kind of blew open your mind about comics and the industry. As an artist, how do you like conventions now being on the other side of the table? because I remember that’s how we met and i bugged you for a sketch that i recently proudly showed off to io9.
AG: Going as a fan and going as part of your job are two very different experiences. Pros and cons to each side. When I went as fan all I could think about was getting comics signed and saying, “Hi” to people I admired. I put myself through crazy lines and jumped through hoops to meet creators like Alex Ross, Brian Bolland and so on. It was fun but exhausting. You really invested a part of yourself. As soon as I started tabling, that was out the window. It’s not like I made a conscious decision to regard conventions differently. It’s just that creating a book and taking it to market changes your priorities.
MK: it’s part of your business. you’re a brand now with obligations.
MK: Do you have any memorable requests from fans at conventions? Or any favorite sketches you’ve done?
AG: I’ve never had a bizarre request. Everything I’ve been asked to draw has been pretty fun, although I think I’ve only recently started drawing well at conventions. The past couple years I’ve improved, whereas drawing at a table was an uncomfortable experience. I got the hang of it though. So anything beyond a year or two ago I look back on and cringe. Your Man-Bat is a favorite of mine. I did a Frank Miller Dark Knight at NYCC that was very nice.
MK: if you could go back some years, what advice would you give yourself about being a comic book artist?
AG: With hindsight there’s so much I would impart. My problems starting out was, I thought I knew just how much work was involved with making comics. I would go back and tell myself “Nope. Work harder.” One thing I tell others is not to feel beholden to any one thing they’ve drawn. Draftsmanship is so very important. teaching yourself to draw things over and over, refining, and not being precious about something because you spend an hour on it. Your ideas and skill will always improve with every pass if you put in the effort, so it’s crazy to me to draw something once and thinking, “Well, I can see this is off, this other thing is wonky, but I just spent two hours drawing it, so good enough.” I’ve redrawn entire pages because a better idea struck me while I was driving home or at the store or on a walk.
MK: How many hours a day do you draw?
AG: I draw every day. Working constantly. Some days I work eight hours and others twelve or sixteen. Depends on where I’m at. I have two kids that, once they’re home, I can’t do anything else until they’re in bed. So I don’t always draw as much as I want to in a work day. But I try to make up with time later
MK: That’s incredibly intimidating and inspiring at the same time (laughs). Let’s pivot real quick to your ridiculously exciting new series coming up. So, congratulations on being the artist on the upcoming Rocket #1 with Al Ewing. It seems like a pretty awesome moment to be working on this character with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out so close to the release of the series. When you got the gig, how was the book described to you?
AG: It was a thrilling experience for me because of the sheer amount of suspense involved.
AG: I was worried what I’d move on to. Like, I had some options, and I had some ideas of what step to take next. I was gutted, to be honest, because i wanted The Violent to carry on. Ed [Brisson] had this great idea for the next chapter and I was ready for it. So, I was sweating it a little. Then later one afternoon while I was at the supermarket Ii got an email from Marvel asking if I was interested in working for them. That alone was very exciting, but it could’ve meant anything from a cover to a tie-in or whatever
AG: But naturally I said yes. they told me they’d have some information in a couple days. For two days my mind went WILD with possibilities
MK: Was Rocket Raccoon on that list of possibilities?
AG: Ha! No. I figured since I had just done a street level crime comic, something like Punisher or whatever would be the obvious route. I met with a good friend of mine, Michael Walsh, who was doing Rocket and Groot at the time. We were giddy over what it could be, no matter how small. When Marvel offered me a new #1 ongoing, I was intoxicated. Like, it wasn’t even that it was Rocket. At the time, we were calling it something else. The change of name was also in the cards. But the fact I’d be coming on with such a great opportunity was unreal. Anyway, when we finally got talking about what the book would be, my place as an artist began to make sense.
MK: How so? And this is an interesting pattern here, your first comic is a 128 page book, your first gig at Marvel is an ongoing for one of the most publicly recognized characters! You’re really seizing these opportunities that not everybody gets. It’s inspiring.
AG: I forget who exactly gave me the lowdown, but they said the vision for this book would be Rocket in his element pulling heists in space. In conversation we compared it to Parker graphic novels. Al [Ewing] had this idea to use prose, reinforcing the theme of a hard-boiled thriller. So right away we talked about how pages would be structured to accommodate Al’s prose. and how Rocket’s default outfit in this series would be a suit, open collar, no tie. Parker, even Daniel Ocean make good comparisons, but our Rocket has a broken heart that reminds me more of George Clooney’s Jack Foley from “Out of Sight.”
MK: You just named one of my top 10 favorite films of all time!
AG: IT’S SO GOOD! Fun story about that movie. When I was a kid I was grounded. I forget why, but I know I earned it. My parents left to get groceries one saturday afternoon. While they were out my friends called asking if I’d go to the movies with them. Somehow I thought I could sneak out, see a two hour movie, and bus it home before they ever got home. The only thing playing at the theatre was “Out of Sight” which I had seen ads for but wasn’t the type of movie I was rushing to see at the time. Man, oh man, it was the coolest thing I ever saw at that point.
MK: Uh, yeah! Seriously, anybody reading this who hasn’t seen “Out of Sight” needs to immediately go watch it!
AG: And I felt like such a smooth operator for sneaking out to see this slick flick. I was like, twelve or thirteen at the time. I can’t recall. But I walked out of the theatre like, “Look at me now, world!”
MK: Did you get busted?
AG: Oh, of course! My parents were out of the house for maybe an hour, discovered I took off, and had three hours to sit and plan my punishment. I walked into verbal cannon fire.
MK: That’s epic. Okay, we’re in the home stretch here. If someone’s been living in a bubble for the last few years and has no idea who Rocket is, how would you describe your new series to them?
AG: First off, congratulations on leaving your bubble. Let me introduce you to Rocket: he’s a scruffy outlaw, a lost soul, a space raccoonoid looking for his place in the galaxy when he’s not saving it with the Guardians. That place usually ends up being a dangerous one, where he’s risking it for, surprisingly, a chance at love lost. If that doesn’t work out, then cold revenge.
MK: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of comics?
AG: I forget how many heads are on Rushmore, but let’s say four, and my Rushmore of Comics is comprised of: Frank Quitely, Alex Ross, Bernie Wrightson, and Moebius.
MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore!
AG: Rushmore is really weird, when you think about it.
MK: Last but not least: If you meet someone that’s never read a comic before, what 5 reads would you tell them to pick up?
Now, for fans of the House of Ideas, this week is the start of a hotly debated event. There’s a lot of heat in the discussions for many reasons, but one started a while back in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, where it was revealed that “Old Reliable” himself is in fact an undercover agent of Hydra. A lot of readers were left shaking their fists while others were scratching their heads.
From there, the nature of Steve’s history having been altered by the Red Skull tweaking with a cosmic cube filled in some back story but the path to Cap and Hydra’s endgame was unclear. Like DC did with their DC Universe: Rebirth #1 one-shot, Marvel used a tentpole release to further build the foundation for this company altering event. As the dust settled on Civil War II, Steve Rogers was appointed the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and thanks to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act, he now has more authority than any director before him (sorry, Nick Fury!).
Meanwhile, Cap’s been orchestrating a Chitauri invasion of Earth which, based on the preview pages released, looks like will be a focal point in Secret Empire #0. Add in the death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, and the dispatching of the Red Skull in his series’ last issue, and Steve Rogers is set to run the table all in the name of Hydra. Who can stop, arguably, the former greatest and most beloved hero in the history of the Marvel Universe? Apparently, it’s going to take everybody!
Rumors run rampant about what Marvel’s status quo will be after the Secret Empire’s saga is done. Will Steve Rogers be returned to the good ole Captain America he once was? So soon after the casualties from Civil War II, could other beloved characters be sacrificed or terminated with extreme prejudice? Will Ulysses’ vision of Hydra’s dark reign over the world come true? Or will this lead to something even more game changing than even Secret Wars did less than two years ago? Is their Rebirth or a “New 52” style reboot?
The journey to all of our answers will begin in this special zero issue from Steve Rogers scribe Nick Spencer and artists Daniel Acuña and Rod Reiss. Marvel fans, are, you rrrrrrrrready?
DC’s two greatest detectives come together in Batman #21 as the mystery of “The Button” begins!
A good slow build is something we comic book readers don’t always appreciate nowadays. We’re becoming a culture of bingers who want the whole story on demand. It has to be on our time and oftentimes that means publishers rush through the journey. With “The Button” storyline that will take place across Batman and Flash over the next four weeks, DC Comics is looking to prove that sometimes the best things are ones we can endure waiting for.
At last, the next major step forward from the revelations of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 about the iconic smiley face button that appears in the Batcave will be explored! Will it bring the DCU that much closer to confronting the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen? Well, we’ve been marching there all along haven’t we?
Rooted from last FCBD’s DC Rebirth story, then continuing with continuity-threatening revelations from DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this story has been building across several titles in DC for a year. Think about it, Mr. Oz and the events of the recent Superman Reborn storyline, the implications about Eobawd Thawne and Flashpoint-Batman, Thomas Wayne in Flash #19, the importance of Psycho-Pirate’s ability to remember all previous DC continuities throughout Tom King’s current run on Batman, it’s all building to this next major turning point.
Thawne, Thomas Wayne, and Psycho Pirate will be part of the mystery that Batman and Flash will be investigating. Time altering implications have been promised. This is the next major step forward in the two year epic that DC’s said will carry on across their entire publishing line. It’s no secret that after this story, Batman will realize that war is imminent. But war with who or what?
A kudos to DC, it’s not easy anymore to make us wait for all the answers but based on the quality of the breadcrumbs they’ve been leaving us, it definitely feels like the answers we’re about to get could be very satisfying. Of course, everything won’t be revealed over the next four weeks. After all, where’s the fun in that? Hey, maybe I’m wrong though, maybe what a Comedian once said is true, “This is a joke. This is all a joke.” If it is, will we be laughing or cringing when it’s done?
The Crew returns as Black Panther’s world expands to Harlem in this new series!
Ta-Nehisi Coates has been building up an unstoppable force in Black Panther’s ever growing corner of the Marvel Comics Universe. After selling 300,000 copies of Black Panther #1 last year, a second book was launched by Coates, Roxann Gay, and poet Yona Harvey in Black Panther World of Wakanda. Now, Coates and Harvey are going to put a new twist on a little known but much beloved concept from Marvel’s past in Black Panther & The Crew #1 this week.
It’s a book reflecting the issues of today and connecting them also to issues from Marvel’s past. The book begins with an activist dying in police custody. T’Challa assembles his team of Luke Cage, Storm, Misty Knight, and Manifold to investigate what really happened in Harlem. Coates has made it clear that he lived in Harlem for seven years and there’s a lot of love for the neighborhood being put into this book. Now, it’s comics, so nothing will be as it first appears but what is certain are the powerhouses involved in crafting a story that showcases the bonds betweens wounds of the past creating scars in the present. We’ll see a group of heroes that have histories of saving both the streets and the world challenged in new ways they haven’t quite experienced before.
Make no bones about it, this book is a must-read first issue. Well? What are you doing still reading this? Go grab it off the shelf right now!
Marvel wants to give you the blues, but in a good way.
Last week we had something old in X-Men Gold #1, with the veterans of the currently in-continuity corner of the Marvel Universe. I dare say, if you’ve read that single issue yet that they also gave you something borrowed (e.g. the name of the central villain). This week Marvel wants to bring you something new and something blue, in X-Men Blue #1. How successful are they? That’s for you, dear readers, to decide.
The time-displaced X-Men originals are launching a new chapter of their own adventures. If you’ve been looking to see the classic X-Men team of the Lee and Kirby kicking bad guys in the face front and center here’s your opportunity. Marvel Girl leads Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel in this first issue establishing old and new threats to the original Fab Five. However, how will this team of old school X-Men deal with their new mentor, their formerly sword enemy, Magneto! If you’ve been following the Master of Magnetism’s journey over the last few years you get a sense that there’re going to be a lot of clashes right from the get-go. Will this team be broken before it can truly function together?
In the wake of Inhumans Vs. X-Men, this is going to be the team you lean on for a note of nostalgia and, Marvel seems to hope, a way to bring younger readers a taste of something that feels fresh. Since retro’s a thing that I’m told’s mostly “in” these days, this would appear to be Marvel’s way of reaching out to that demographic. Can you put a new shine on a classic line up? Will there be enough new and enough familiar in a perfect recipe of easy to digest comic adventures? We’re going to find out this New Comic Book Day when X-Men Blue #1 hits shelves.
Cullen Bunn is no stranger to Magneto or tackling complex villains and delicate group dynamics. Will he, along with explosive artists Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni, bring us the next renaissance of X-Men stories? We have to read to find out.
The most dangerous game involves dinosaurs and soccer stars in this new epic adventure!
Valiant has been on a hot streak lately with new adventures for established characters in titles like X-O Manowar #1 and with new faces in recent collections like Divinity, Britannia, and with this week’s new release, Savage. In a day and age where there’re so many titles fighting for your hard-earned dollars, quality is king. Fortunately, Valiant looks to be making another strong case with this mini-series at a $9.99 price tag.
The story’s a fun premise to begin. A famous soccer star and his wife who used be a supermodel (I’m sure in no way related to Victoria and David Beckham), disappeared nearly fifteen years ago. There’s been no sighting of them since. To the world they were fish food after taking off on a final flight on their private jet. The world doesn’t know the true story but now you will discover their fate and the fate of the child she was carrying.
On an uncharted island filled with dangers unbeknownst by modern man, they will struggle to hang on to their humanity in the face of prehistoric threats. Yeah that’s right, freakin’ dinosaurs! Of course, dinosaurs won’t be the only challenges they encounter. Their journey from stars to savages is charted in this pulse pounding chronicle.
From the scripts of B. Clay Moore (Aloha, Hawaiian Dick) and then mastery of Clayton Henry (Archer & Armstrong) and Lewis LaRosa (Bloodshot Reborn), whose goal in life is to live in Jurassic Park, you’re getting incredible depictions of dinosaur hunting, drug running, plane crashes, and survival on instinct alone. Did you want “Jurassic Park” meets “Lost” with a splash of “Castaway”? Because if you didn’t know you should have wanted that, now you do.