As the Thanos Imperative: Ignition one-shot hits stores, the Outhouse talks with Marvel Cosmic's Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning!Welcometo another edition of The Outhouse interview, the interview that asksthe questions that fanboys want to know the answers to. The interviewis, of course, recorded live by the Outhouse podcast team, sosometimes grammar and punctuation must be sacrificed forconversational flow.Ourguests this time are the beloved, esteemed writers behind Marvelcosmic books like Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcomingThanos Imperative, as well as a huge body of past work: DNA - DanAbnett and Andy Lanning!Andy
:Hi there, guys.Jon
:Hello, Mr. Lanning?Andy
:That's correct. Hello, you can call me 'sir'.
:You would prefer 'sir'? I can go with that. Anything you'd like, sir.Dan
:You can call me Dan.
:Ok Dan. Just so you know, we're recording and we do usually post thisas a podcast. We don't have to, that's at your gentlemens'discretion. We're doing this mostly for the interview, but if youdon't mind, we'd love to post it as an episode of the podcast. Again,that's up to you gentlemen.Dan
:That's absolutely fine. My only problem with that is that you usedthe word 'gentlemen' and 'discretion' in relation to Andy.Jude
:The other thing is we implied that people will actually be listeningto it, and that's probably not the case.
:Ah, there you go!GHERU
:Hey, my mom downloads all of these.Jon
:Just to tell you guys who we have on this. My name is Jon Salwen; I'mthe host of the podcast when we have it on. We have Jude Terror,GHERU, and SuperginraiX. Yes, I know you're wondering if these areour given names.
:Our moms hated us. All of us.Jon
:And didn't give us a chance at all in the world.Andy
:That’s funny because my name is actually 'Spankmonkey1997'. I callmyself 'Andy Lanning' when I'm online.
:We're gonna jump right into the current things you guys are doing,because I know that we might not have you guys too long, and I wantto get into the Thanos Imperative
. I know that's what theseguys want to talk about. But before we do that, I was going throughmy comic book collection recently (as us comic book geeks are wont todo) and I realized that I have a lot of your stuff, and I didn't evenrealize it for the longest time, I'm sorry to say. I love the MarvelUK stuff that you've done...Dan
:That's going back a ways.Jon
:I know you guys didn't work on all that stuff together. You didDigitech
:Andy was Digitech
, and I was working on stuff like Knightsof Pendragon
:And you did Darkguard
with Carlos Pacheco...Andy
:Yes. That was his first English language work, essentially.Dan
:That was your first English language work? Which language did youwork in first?Andy
:I was working in Eskimo.
:That's a narrow, narrow market, those frozen comics.Andy
:Yeah, Inuit Man. Enough of that...Jon
:And then you jump onto Marvel Cosmic, with Annihilation
:er, chronologically... Dan
:The start of that run on the cosmic stuff was definitely Nova.
It was when the Annihilation event was happening, which Keith Giffenwas in charge of. Andy Schmidt, the editor, asked us if we wanted todo a four-issue series to see if we could put a little life back intoNova as a character. We worked on that, we really enjoyed it. Weworked with Ted Walker on the book, and from that, we got theongoing, and that essentially led to us empire building, going up tothe Conquest event, Annihilation Conquest
; which then allowedus to move sideways into Guardians
as well. I think Andy wasabout to say: chronologically speaking, we didn't move from Marvel UKinto Cosmic.Jon
:Oh, no no, I have your Majestic
stuff from Wildstorm...Dan
:And about five years on the Legion of Superheroes
with DC. Wehave a long rap sheet of cosmic superheroes.Jon
:Yeah Legion Lost
, I have those issues as well. But to focus onsome of the more current work you're doing; when you were tapped todo Annihilation Nova
, did you guys have in the back of yourheads this plan to do what you're currently doing? I mean, were youthinking "Yeah, we're gonna hijack this from Giffen and run withit?"Andy
:Just to chip-in on that- what Dan said is Andy Schmidt tapped us todo the Nova
. But prior to that, I guess about a year beforethen, we'd been talking about revamping Nova with the artist ChrisBatista. At the time he was knocking it out of the park doing Rom:Space Knights
, doing wonderful stuff on that, so we sort of hadan aborted attempt to get Nova
going at that time. I can't forthe life
of me remember why we never got any further with it.I think Chris ended up working back at DC anyway at the time, so Ithink that's actually the reason.Jon
:Now, I'm a New Warriors
fan. I love that you guys treat thecharacter with the respect you did, but I have to ask, why Nova? Whatwas it about the character? You guys said that you were trying tolaunch something to revitalize the character even prior toAnnihilation
:We really, really, really love cosmic superheroes. And I think Iparticularly love Marvel's cosmic superheroes. One of the reasons forit, although we both have a great enthusiasm for superheroes ingeneral, and it may have something to do with British sensibility,but ... place a superhero in a science fiction conquest, andsomething is really ringing truer for us because it's not a costumeanymore. It's a uniform or a suit, it's affecting how, it's a matterof adapting to a cosmic environment. So it's an opportunity ofplaying around with science fiction ideas, which is one of the areaswe work in. So one thing to do about Marvel, loving Marvel cosmicstuff, and being huge fans of Jim Starlin (we say that a lot but wereally are), we wanted to do something with those characters.
Nova seemsto offer a lot of those opportunities. He had a long-standingtradition in Marvel, he had a lot of fans; yet he was also,comparatively speaking, a blank slate. There was room for developmentthere, room to develop the Nova Corps. There was room to developeverything about the Worldmind - the suit, the powers, the raiment ofthe corps, all of those things.Jon
:Well you guys made sure to first destroy the entire Nova corps, inone of the best single issues I've ever read of Nova
, by theway. It was amazing when you guys destroyed that.Super
:I was wondering - was that your idea to destroy the corps beforerebuilding it, or was that part of Giffen's plan?Dan
:When we were brought in, it was like Keith already had the broadbrush strokes of the bigger story lined up, including his prologueevent. But he consulted with us, basically asking us what we wantedhim to do, and where we wanted the character left for us to pick upin our miniseries, which was brilliant. He then said to us, "Andhaving done that, could you leave the character at the end of thebook here and in this situation," so it was kind of like passingthe baton around. So I think the idea was from Keith, because heneeded a nice, big, 'Pearl Harbor'-type event to kick the whole thingoff; and I believe at the time we said 'well, if you're gonna attackthem, then let's just wipe the whole thing out so that we can get ourcast down to one guy and rebuild the whole thing'. 'Cause what betterway to rebuild it than to tear it all to pieces in the first place?Andy
:It was also an opportunity, obviously, for us to upgrade Rich Rider'sraiment. It wasn't just the case of the last surviving member andhe's sort of got this terrible grudge and he’s gotta go back andavenge them all. He becomes the custodian
of something. It’snot about his personal security at all. It ups the ante very verymuch, which I think really played to his strength as a character.
I guessone of the things we wanted to do with him, and I think it's one ofthe things we did particularly when the ongoing series began, thatthe readers seemed to enjoy particularly, was to treat his characterin the universe in the same way that he as a character was beingtreated in the comics industry. That is to say that he was a second-or third-ranked character. He wasn't an A-class, premiere divisionMarvel hero. So in the context of his story, Rich Rider had this ideathat he wasn't a Captain America or a Thor, and he was aware of thepecking order; yet we had set him up with a power set that meant hereally was up there with the best of them. It was really fun toexplore that dynamic, and readers I think really responded to theidea that this guy deserved more respect than he was necessarilygetting.Jon
:I think that's what readers actually responded to. You treated thecharacter with a lot of respect - a character that hadn't beentreated with a lot of respect, certainly in recent memory. You couldtell that you guys really were fans of the character, and that camevery much through in the writing, and that's what I responded to.Finally, somebody taking the character seriously. You guys did agreat job of building his power set. I think what you said- makinghim one of the more powerful characters, but with a price to pay.
Yet evenas you scaled back his powers, some of that was left in the reader'smind- that he is this really, really powerful character now, despitehaving a more toned-down set. I would love to continue talking aboutNova all day long by the way, but I know that-Jude
:Unfortunately Jon, we have you for the entire day, but we only haveDan and Andy for a half an hour.Jon
:I know, so Guardians of the Galaxy
. I wanted to see if anyonehad any questions...Andy
:And guys, I don't know about Dan, but I can stay a little bit past ahalf-an-hour if you need me to.Dan
:Yeah, if you need us to.Jon
:I thought you guys were attached?Andy
:Only when we want to be.
:Great, because we were hoping that you could explain to us what yourplans were for the next 22 issues of Force Works
if the bookhadn't ended.Jon
:This is no joke; Super here cried when he found out the book wasending. He's probably the biggest fan of Force Works
you willfind, he really is.
I was atypical nineties kid, so anything with 'force' in it and I bought it.Cyber Force
, Strike Force
, Force Works
,I was there. I loved the play on words, the "Force Works"thing. I never got over that, I thought, "How clever."
:We were incredibly proud and smug with Force Works
. We satback, threw down our pens down and said, "That’s it, day'swork is finished now."
:I don't think they gave you the run you deserved on Force Works,
:I feel like lots of the story lines out there never went anywhere...that's what you do in an ongoing book. You throw stuff out there inhopes that you'll get to it so that you've got that material, andwhen a book finishes, there are inevitably things that you never gotto. That's how it works. You're not doing your job properly if youjust tie everything up with a very very very neat bow, unless you'reaiming for it. If it's got that ongoing feel, that's what ForceWorks
was all about.Andy
:Yeah, we didn't get to tell that story where they teamed up with araccoon and a talking tree in the head of a celestial and ended upsaving the galaxy from threats in the other universes-Dan
:-because Marvel said that was stupid and would never work.
:So with Guardians of the Galaxy
, really, some of the wilderaspects, who takes credit for it? Like Groot, the celestial head, thetalking dog (by the way, you really pissed people off when peoplethought Cosmo was dead. People freaked.)GHERU
:You guys were kidding before about Super crying, but I think I hadtears coming down my cheek when Cosmo died. I was so upset withyou...
:Thanks for not actually killing him.Andy
:Tears of anger.GHERU
:It was a mixed emotion of "What a great story," and "Theykilled my doggy!" I was so mad.Jon
:How do you guys come up with Guardians of the Galaxy
? It's avery eclectic cast that you guys have put together. So how did youput together the team?Dan
:I'm trying to remember. Andy and I work in a peculiar and arcanefashion. We get together on a regular basis and we basically...theword is brainstorming, but we talk rubbish at each other for quite aconsiderable length of time. Some of which pertains to the job inhand, and most of which has to do with things that just end up makingus laugh hysterically; and out of which you can extract strands ofideas which I suppose neither one of us would have arrived at on ourown. It's one of those transmuting things where you put two thingstogether and get a third property you didn't know you were gonna get.I'm making it sound much more exciting than it actually is. We'veboth got other jobs. I'm writing other things in the course of theother days of the week, and Andy is an inker as you know, and if wecarried on doing those things we would be driven crazy with cabinfever- like afflicts so many freelancers in the comic industry andelsewhere- so all along we've done it mainly because it's fun to doit. There are certain jobs we do together because it keeps us saneand it's a companionable thing, and its fun and it's an outlet.
So youwere asking about Guardians, and as you were asking I was thinking,"You know what, I can't remember which idea came from which oneof us". I can't remember who said 'severed celestial head' Idon't know which one of us said 'Cosmo'. It was probably I saidsomething like, "What about a dog in a spacesuit, like from theRussian space program?" and Andy said, "Let's call it Cosmoand let’s make him telepathic." I don't know if Andy's memoryis better than that?Andy
:Absolutely. I can remember absolutely everything. I've got it allwritten down.Super
:He's taking it in the divorce too.Jon
:He's taking the dog in the divorce! Who gets the raccoon?Andy
:I'm taking the dog and the decapitated ancient god from space.
But youwere asking about the lineup, and the lineup was kinda given to us.Because a lot of this stuff we were following in the huge anddaunting footsteps of Keith Giffen, who put together Starlord's teamin Annihilation Conquest
. So again a lot of the lineup and thecharacters we were running with stuff that he had set up; which hethen set up based on what we were doing in the first place, so Iguess you can’t ever trace it back to who came up with whatever. Itreally is a nice sort of collaboration, and as soon as we were ableto launch a book out of Conquest
, to have a book and we wereable to call it Guardians of the Galaxy
, then things likeadding Major Victory to the team - it almost started writing itself.Dan
:And there were some characters like Gamora and Drax who were suchfavorites. Mantis, as well, has become a real favorite. We justdidn't want to drop them. There was a time were thinking 'is ourroster too big, do we need to drop some and just have our favoritecharacters like Groot and Rocket?' and it was very difficult to letthem go, so we tried to find different roles for them. And thenagain, as the book went a long it was fun to take a character likeJack Flag, who had no business being in a cosmic book whatsoever, andput him in there to say - yet again - look, this is the kind ofdynamic where it's a cosmic book, but not a cosmic book that worksthe way you expect it to work.GHERU
:What I love about Jack Flag is the fact that he kind of has thisvoice of that non-comic book reader who you're trying to explainGuardians of the Galaxy
to. He just stands there and says,"What's wrong with you people? How does this make any sense?"He has a wonderful voice. Super
:He's also the voice of the people that have the notion that cosmicbooks just don't work. Many people in the comic book fandom, theyjust won't read a space book. Then you have Jack Flag there who says,"Yep, I don't like being in a space book."GHERU
:Now I have a question that might be the most important questionfacing Marvel cosmic books today. Where's Wraith?
:Well, I think he went out to walk the Earth.
:He had stuff to do. He had a list, uh, he took the car. He has alist, he was gonna get some milk while he was gone, but he seemsto...Jude
:In a related question, and this comes from the Outhouse: one of theposters on our message board insisted that we ask where Pip the Trollis?Dan
:I think the answer to that question is that you can adore the work ofsomebody like Jim Starlin-
:No, this isn't going where you think it is. If you slavishly takeevery single one of the members of the cast of a book like Warlock inhis era, and just introduce them back into cosmic books one at atime, all you are doing is regurgitating and going through themotions again. What we're trying to do is to take these characters-we actually both really like Pip the Troll, but if Pip was in theGuardians
, he would be overlapping the sort of roles thatRocket and Bug and Cosmo are fulfilling. Not exactly and precisely,but there would be an awful lot of overlap in that sort of Venndiagram of characters. So we thought it was much more fun to haveRocket, and Rocket be purely Rocket without that kind of dynamicthere. Particularly when we were using Gamora and Drax and thevarious Adam Warlocks, and that kind of stuff in direct relation towhat Jim Starlin has done - and Matriarch, that sort of thing. Itwas a matter of cherry-picking characters who weren’t necessarilyfavorites but who were most useful for the lineup as we had it.Super
:So going into the future and into the Thanos Imperative
storyline,you're going in with two books that are going on hiatus?Andy
:Without spoiling anything, I'll quote back to what Joe Quesada said:as long as people want to buy these books, he's prepared to publishthem; so that is the situation.Dan
:It's a really nice opportunity to get a two-or-three-year run on abunch of books and get to tell your stories out to the point wherethey deliver everything you were hoping they were gonna deliver. Youcan see this happening in the Avengers
books where they havereached, successfully, a point they were heading for, and withouttaking the books away they're dismantling them and reordering themand shuffling them around again. You get the new market to jump on,you get new ways to use these characters, so just because these booksare on haitus, doesn't mean these characters won't come back indifferent forms. It's just a matter of refreshing the way the cosmicbooks work.Super
:Speaking of how the Avengers
books are running now, I see thatNova is gonna be on the Secret Avengers
:I was just gonna say that, because with Dan mentioning the Avengers,who would have thought, if you'd told somebody three or four yearsago that Nova was gonna be a member of the Avengers and everyonewould be really pleased with that, they'd laugh at you, wouldn'tthey.Jon:
:Did you guys get consulted on that? How does it work, where they takeone of your characters and add them to the Avengers?Andy
:Well basically, because of continuity and the way that it works inthe Marvel universe, I think once you've got characters likeWolverine, Spider-Man turning up in all sorts of other books, therecomes a point where you just physically can't try to make sense of itall. You’ve got to suspend disbelief and say that this is Wolverinein the Avengers, it doesn't relate to him in the X-Men or whatever,or else you could just go mad trying to tie it all up. Sometimes it'snice to tie it up if there's a story point where they can crossover.That’s brilliant because it exposes people to the other titles andwhat other people are doing with them. So as far as Nova and theAvengers is concerned, yeah we've seen the scripts and we've madesome suggestions and stuff, and for the most part, Ed's running withthat whilst we're sorting out the Thanos stuff, because it can bevery very problematic trying to segue, and to make perfect sense inthe timeline that someone somewhere is drawing on a big graph ontheir basement wall.
:Which would be me, probably. Or RU.GHERU
:It's my mom's basement, OK? Leave me alone!Jon
:So could you sell us- well, not us because we're fans - but couldyou sell someone who might not be into the cosmic stuff yet on theThanos Imperative
? Give us a microcosm of what the event mightbe, and what can we look forward to?Dan
:Ok, well it's a six-issue series, so it’s nice, self-containedmovie-size events. It's not gonna drag on for years and confuse youcompletely. Andy and I love the cosmic superheroes because it's agood blend of superheroes and sci-fi. Which gives you a certaincredibility because they're no longer guys in tights, they'recharacters. They're aliens in uniforms. And one of things we've goneout of our way to do, I hope, is make sure this story explainseverything you need to know, so if you've never read any cosmic stuffbefore, you've never read any of our cosmic stuff, you can still pickup Thanos Imperative
issue one or the Thanos ImperativeIgnition
(which is story prologue that comes before it), and readyour way into this story without being remotely baffled even ifyou're quite intrigued. You won't be remotely baffled by the natureof these characters. It's a huge cosmic war. It's got some absolutelystupendously huge events happening in it. It's got the great biggalaxy-shattering, Asimov-scale event that you want to have there.
Yet one ofthe things Andy and I pride ourselves on really trying to do, is tomake sure absolutely bottom-line that it's character driven. It'sdriven by the personalities of the people involved. So, cast of many,but focused on principle characters. The point is that you can burnthe galaxy up once an issue for six issues, but unless you care aboutthe people
in that galaxy, it doesn't matter. It doesn’tmatter how good the art is.
Having saidthat, the art is wonderful. Really great art. The prologue issue isdone by Brad Walker, whose been the Guardians
artist, greatstuff there, and a wonderful segue book for those of you that havebeen reading Guardians
regularly. We’ve got Aleksi Briclotdoing the covers and Miguel Sepulveda penciling the series, it's justso dynamic, it really is, just amazing stuff, so there's panels wherethere's dozens of people doing dozens of things at the same time,just fantastic stuff.
I thinkit's gonna look great, and I think it's gonna be a very satisfyingstory. In relation to your other question about Pip the Troll, thereare lots of elements in this story that perhaps you’ve seen inother cosmic events. Because that's like every cosmic event, it'slike a game of chess. You see the same players with the same movesdoing different things. We've tried to play things out in slightlydifferent ways. Although characters are true to their ownpersonalities, where we end up you're not gonna be able to guess inadvance. And without giving much away, this is the first time Andyand I have utilized some of the big-hitters like Silver Surferbecause we came into focus very much on Star-Lord and Nova as ourheroes. This time we've got characters like... Quasar plays animportant role. And I think obviously Thanos is such a cool character- he's one of the coolest characters in the Marvel Universe, andwonderfully ambiguous. Though he is a villain, he's also complicatedreally. You've gotta see it. Jon
:Well you have one of Thanos's biggest fans on the podcast right now,Jude Terror. He really is.Jude
:On the Outhouse, we have "top lists" that we do all thetime where the posters will vote on their favorite characters, andThanos is one of those characters that people want to vote as bothtop hero and top villain, even though Chris Mitchell, the guy whoruns them, is dead set against that. If a character is in the top tenvillains, he can't be a hero, but people want to put him in thereanyway.
So canyou guys tell us how the Thanos Imperative
is going to end?Dan
:Yes, but we would have to shoot you.
:It's going to end badly. For everyone.
:In all seriousness, we have a respectful readership at the Outhouse,but if you compare us to like Newsarama
, I mean,nobody would even know.Super
:Your secret is safe with us.Dan
:Very last panel: Thanos grabs his ear, and rips off his mask toreveal he is none other than Pip the Troll!Super
:And it all comes full circle!Jon
:Super, you were right, you guessed it! Super:
Told you guys.Jon:
Can I just say, it's refreshing to hear you guys say that a storywill be character-driven.
Now, I'mknown as a DC criticizer.Andy
:I don't like where this is going...Jon
:No no, I mean in many of their huge events of late, they've killedmillions of people in their universe, but it’s hard to feel forthem because it keeps happening. Anyway, are there any other projectsat DC... I know you guys have passed through there, Legion Lost
...but is there anything DC-cosmic, maybe in the stuff that Johns isdoing with Green Lantern
, that you'd like to play with?Dan
:Yes, I'd certainly be happy to.Andy
:Dan and I are actually big fans of what he's done over there withGreen Lantern
and the Superman
stuff. And likewise, wespoke to him when we were doing the Legion
stuff and he wasfirst getting his start as well. He's made them really interestingcomics and characters to work on, whether you've got event fatigue ornot. If someone's done that, they've succeeded. Whether or not you'regetting bored or don't agree with certain things about the way thatthey're doing it. I think we are definitely attracted to the GreenLantern-
kinda stuff because its an area we really like anyway.But he's made it incredibly interesting, he's done a wonderful jobthere.Jon
:Oh, I wouldn't criticize the stuff he's done within Green Lantern
.I think it's the strongest stuff that DC's putting together. I'mtalking about, in every Crisis
that they’ve done, likeInfinite Crisis
, Final Crisis
, millions ofpeople die around the world and they kinda shrug it off. They killoff a Teen Titan in every event... it just kinda happens, and itstarts to become a little fatiguing. But the stuff he's done I'vebeen quite happy with.
Now, howabout on the opposite end. Suppose, hypothetically, this is going tobe the end of Guardians of the Galaxy
, butthere are obviously a ton of fans that would follow you guys on anybook that you go to, whether it be Marvel or DC; but let's sayMarvel. Are there characters that you guys are dying to play with?Dan
:Absolutely. With absolute due respect to DC, because we've workedthere very happily for many years, and would work there happily againbecause they've got some of the greatest characters in the world;Andy and I grew up reading Marvel comics, mainly because that's whatwas often available where we are in the UK. So we are Marvel fans. Wefeel an affinity to the Marvel Universe. So almost any of the greatMarvel characters has such a sort of nostalgic childhood appeal to usthat it's almost impossible to resist. Be it working on one of thebig heavy-hitting teams, or some of the classic characters. Itdoesn't really matter. We'd be very happy.Jon
:Which corner would you say...the mutant corner, the Avengers corner,just to give us an idea.Dan
:I think, given our natural inclination and skill sets, would lean ustowards characters like the mystical or magical or supernaturalcharacters. So Dr. Strange or Thor, that kind of stuff, becausethey're not a million steps away from what we do in the cosmic books.Having said that, I think we also both very much enjoy the veryhard-tech of something like the FF
or even the X-
books,where they're much more science-fictiony than super-naturally, orsomething very gritty. I'm hedging bets all over the place here.Jon
:You go in with an inclination to say 'what would you naturally pairthem up with', or would you deliberately go for a contrast to give ussomething completely different to do?Andy
:The thing there though, guys, is look at what we've already writtenat Marvel. We started out with a three-and-a-half-year run on ThePunisher
. Then we went to Force Works
, which came out ofthe West Coast Avengers
. We went over to DC and wroteResurrection Man
, which I guess was a groundbreaking titlethat nobody knows about.Jon
:I actually have Resurrection Man
:That's something we're really, really proud of. Because if you lookat when that came out, and look at the kinds of stories we're tellingnow, that's like sci-fi/horror. That's our most TV-serial comic bookwe've written, I think. So it's one of those things, it's more of achallenge. We've done this before when we've said there arecharacters we love, and Dan wrote Iron Man
for a while and WarMachine
. There are characters we love and gravitate towards,particularly on the cosmic front.
Just aquick aside here about one of the things that drew us to Nova
,for Dan and myself. When we were kids, Nova
came out and wegot it from issue number one. So it has a very special place in ourheart because it was a book we got to read from issue one, so I thinkthere's always something very special about a comic that you lovethat gets a decent run that you've got the whole [series] from issueone through.
But all ofthat said, we love the challenge of writing characters who everyonewould say, "Oh, that's just...". Look at Rocket Raccoon,Groot. Not the sort of character that you go, "I really want towrite a Spore the Living Fungus comic" or something. Super
:Well you definitely surprised me, because many times when you take acharacter- like on Guardians
, it’s the first time I actuallyenjoyed them. Like Mantis: I always kinda hated Mantis, but you gotme actually kinda caring about her, and that she died, so yeah.GHERU
:I think I'm coming in from the exact opposite point of view. Most ofthese characters are characters I've never seen before. I picked upAnnihilation
because of Nova. At the beginning of thispodcast, I was that guy you were talking about - you thought you hada Nova
miniseries, and I was like "Nova's back, finally."
And nowfor the first time I'm meeting Rocket Raccoon and Mantis and allthese other people. One time I met that stupid bug guy that you guysfinally made interesting, but most of these characters, I'm the firstintroduction, and it's amazing to me what you've done with a talkingtree who only says three words and a Russian dog...
:That, by the way, was hilarious, when you find out that there isactually an entire language in those three words.Super
:Or is there? Because Max is pretty crazy.GHERU
:But the most impressive thing, in my opinion, that you guys have doneis making Darkhawk interesting.
In my entire life- and I'm a New Warriors
fan from back in theday, I even got all that stuff where he's crossed over withSpider-Man - and I never in my life would have thought a Darkhawk
miniseries or Darkhawk and Nova would become must-read books. It'sjust, if I remember correctly, at least the week I read them, it wasGuardians of the Galaxy
#24, where we found out who was in thecocoon (Jude Terror is the only person who says he knew that, buthe's a liar). In Nova
we have The Sphinx, Nova, Darkhawk, andNamorita. In this one week, two great comics that I read at the sametime that just shocked and amazed me, and I loved both endings.
Mylong-winded question here is; how far out-of-the-way did you guys goto convince people that it was Adam Warlock in the cocoon? 'Causeagain, when Thanos popped out, I know I was not the only personshocked. It was a wonderful buildup, but how far in advance did youplan all the swerves?Andy
:Should we tell 'em Dan?Dan
:Go on, then.Andy
:The truth? Can you handle the truth guys?Jon
:Probably not, but I'd go with it anyway.Andy
:Ok, the reason that worked so well is we didn't know who was in thecocoon.
:To elaborate on that truth slightly, we knew that we wanted to setthings up from the beginning of Guardians
that wereinteresting things to play with. Not knowing how long the book wouldlast, not knowing where it would go, we wanted to deliberately seedit with interesting things, which meant that we could really buildour story as it went along, with really solid foundations that wecould at least adapt and obviously the cocoon was in there from veryearly on. It was an obvious thing to put in there because the cocoonwas part of the story, we knew it was gonna go into the stuff withthe Universal Church and the matriarch and all that kinda stuff, andessentially, what we did was we had different candidates for whowould eventually be revealed, depending on where the story went. Bythe time we got to the point where we realized that we were actuallygonna get the chance to do a big Thanos story, that's when we lockedin and said, right, that's what we're headed for. But we could keepit up to that point quite nice and flexible, which means that weweren't unnecessarily and subconsciously betraying what we were doingby overdoing it, because it's very easy to sort of accidentally giveit away.Andy
:There is a point where one of the characters touches the cocoon anda pair of eyes flash up and say something like "who daresdisturb me" or whatever, and that is actually Thanos.Jon
:So at that point you had decided.Andy
:Even then though, we still kept it slightly ambiguous if we wanted tochange it, but in our minds we'd locked it down at that point.Dan:
We’d always wanted to do a Thanos story, you see, and Keith haddone such a brilliant job of killing him in the original Annihilationevent. We knew it would be very very weak and wishy-washy if we justbrought him back too quickly, so we knew we had to leave it some timeto build up to it. When we had actually sustained the book for longenough that we felt we could do it dramatically and people wouldn'tjust complain, we had the architecture in place to deliver him. If wehadn’t got to that point, we would have done something else withit.Andy
:And again, once we'd made that decision it was gonna be Thanos, wewent out of our way to really heavily hint that it wasn't Thanos, itwas Magus or Adam Warlock, because we're evil and cruel like that.Also though, there's no word of a doubt, we toyed with the idea ofPip the Troll being in there.
:We really seriously did. Seriously.Jon
:Oh my god. The repercussions... the internet might have cracked inhalf, had the cocoon opened and Pip the Troll came out.
ButI have to ask you guys, you spoke about your writing style,especially when you're writing an ongoing, and the idea of seeding itwith these things, and that you were Marvel fans. Who would you sayare influences on your style of writing, that you've picked this upfrom? Is there any particular one, or a group of guys that you'd saythat, you know, this is what influenced the way you guys tend towork?Andy
:That's very funny actually, because I don't think we've ever beenasked what our influences are in terms of comic writing.Dan
:No, and I also don't know that I know anything about the way anyother comic writers write. Apart from Jim Starlin who I've alreadymentioned, my other big, big, big-deal comic, as far as I wasconcerned when I was growing up, was Chris Claremont and John Byrneon the X-Men.
It was fantastic.. Chris Claremont'sstorytelling, and the way he wrote stuff, I imagine writing it almostlike an ongoing soap opera, with characters moving in and out. Iimagine that his mental process is the way that Andy and I approachsomething like Guardians
. But I don't know for sure, becausewhile I've spoken to Chris, I’ve never asked him that question. Idon't know whether that's how it worked in his mind, whether heseeded stuff and see if we could use it later. I assume he did,because he was so successful at it, but maybe he had the mostbrilliant plan ever known.Jude
:Chris is a repeat guest on our podcast. We have a 2-hour interviewwith him where he talks about that actually, so you’re right aboutthat. I'll send you a link.Jon
:I was wondering when you guys said that you were Marvel fans and backin the day and about seeding stuff in your storylines. I think ChrisClaremont has to be one of the best examples of that, both with Byrneand all the other fantastic artists he got to work with. There wasalways something and then he'd refer to it two years later, 'rememberwhen I dropped that hint way back in the day? Now that character isback.' So I was wondering if he was an influence on you guys. It’snice to hear that he was. Andy
:I think any writer who's writing anything that’s got long-termdramatic possibilities, there's several tricks that they use. Thereare ones where you get to focus on a character or characters for aperiod of time and then they disappear or go to the background againand then come to the fore, and then there are big things alwayscoming on, like the murder of somebody. So there are templates. Asmuch as comic writers are fans of comics, we're also big fans ofgreat written TV. Things like West Wing
, like ER
, goingback in the day, Hill Street Blues
, stuff like that, whichwere just wonderful examples of how to do that sort of storytelling.I think you'll find most comic writers are big fans of ongoingserialized TV drama as well.Jude
:So are you guys fans of Lost
has actually lost me.Dan
:And me, unfortunately.
:What is this podcast's obsession with Lost
? May I ask this?Super
:I've never watched it.Andy
:I've watched the first five episodes and that's all I've ever watchedof Lost
. At the time, I bought, they divided the first seasonup into two DVD box sets, and rather than getting the whole one, Ibought the first one, and I ended up giving it to my friend who's nowabsolutely obsessed with it, completely hooked, whereas I driftedaway and never came back.GHERU:
This is why you shouldn't have friends. Someone is always stealingyour stuff.Jude
:That's funny, related to Jon's talk of our obsession with Lost
andmy obsession with Chris Claremont, we asked Chris that same questionafter he talked about the same thing with the episodic TVstorytelling, and he had the same experience as you guys with thatshow.
Nowspeaking of the kind of obscure, unexpected characters that you guysbring in, I have a couple of questions from readers on the Outhouseforum. Do you guys ever think about bringing back Century?Dan
:Yes, we've thought about that, yeah.Jude
:And can we ever expect to see the Sleeze Brothers brought into theMarvel universe? These are real fan questions here.Andy
:That is a very fan question. How long has it been since the SleezeBrothers? I doubt they're ever gonna make an appearance in mainstreamMarvel. But there is a link, if you go on the Sleeze Brothers wikipage, there's a thirty second animated thing that was put together afew years back that I did storyboards and character designs for, butit never went anywhere. There was a possibility of an animated showbased on it, and if I remember rightly, they may be appearing in theback of Elephantman because Richard Starkings, who was our editor onit, and funnily enough Dan was my other editor on that book, that’show Dan and I first met in the early days, he's gonna reprint some ofthat stuff in the back of Elephantman if I remember rightly about theSleeze Brothers. Jon
:There ya go.Andy
:It's gonna be recovered as well by the wonderful Greg Wright. AndCentury, we definitely toyed with trying to get him back in as far asGuardians
is concerned. It hasn't happened yet, but thatdoesn't mean it won't because we liked him, don't we Dan?Dan
:Yeah, we certainly did.Jon
:He should have been in the cocoon.Andy
:We've even got action figures of Century.Jon
:Is there some trepidation for you guys since you've been given thechance to work on this whole corner of the Marvel universe- and Iwould assume you were given a great deal of leeway to do what you'vewanted because you weren't playing with Captain America so to speak-to kill off characters, is there some trepidation that if you guyswere to move on to something like the Avengers
that editorialmight hamper the kind of stuff you might want to do?Dan
:Well, yes there would be. But we have had experiences doing that kindof stuff. You're just aware that you've gotta be respectful of thematerial and not do anything completely ridiculous with thecharacter. I don't think we'd run around blindly and break everythingand then cry.
:What would be your greatest hits from the last two years? What areyou most proud of having accomplished?Dan
:It must feel good to hear people say "Nova" and have themattribute it to you guys, given the long history of the character.Dan
:That would be high on the list, yeah.Andy
:Absolutely, absolutely. I think, like I said, the fact that Nova isbeing used in an Avengers
book and ranks high on the list ofcharacters people want to see more of... And just the whole thingwith making a talking raccoon, a talking tree, and a telepathic doginteresting, I think, you know, you couldn't be happier than that,could you.Dan
:No, not at all. No.GHERU
:Another question from the Outhouse that I'm gonna paraphrase a bit:assuming you guys do have more time on Guardians of the Galaxy
,how exactly are you gonna write Wolverine and Deadpool into the team?
:Hang on, we had one, didn't we Dan? The Guardians... a comet comestrailing through and lands on a planet, and inside it is just askeleton with claws. So that was Wolverine written.
:I think there doesn't have to be a reason for Deadpool appearing,does there?GHERU
:Not at all. He's in space right now. Guardians
and a DeadpoolCorps
crossover, that would be awesome.Jon
:I have to wonder, with something like Guardians of the Galaxy
,I know it hasn't burned up the sales charts, unfortunately, given thequality of the book from start to finish, but has there been any talkat all of animation? It seems like Guardians
would work greatwith Marvel's new partnership with Disney. It would be kind ofkid-friendly, if you take away all the people you kill, and theunbelievable violence in the books, you know, then yeah, verykid-friendly?
:I mean, you say talking raccoon to a Disney executive, and a walkingtree, I don't understand how you don't have a show yet.Dan
:He's definitely a shoe-in. That's one thing a Hollywood producer candefinitely get his head around. Trees that talk, I'm with you.
:It worked in Lord of the Rings.Jon
:Exactly, it's Lord of the Rings
with Alvin and theChipmunks
then you throw Starlord in there.. that's like printingmoney!Jude
:You guys have been very gracious and you've stayed with us for doublethe time promised...Jon
:Thank you very much.Jude
:Would you mind if I asked you one more awful fanboy question?Dan
:Go on. Jude
:These come from the forums, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty as aWebmaster if I didn't try to get them in. Have you heard this before?The 'real' Alpha Flight went into outer space at the end of theirseries and ended up on the planet Plodex, and left duplicates onEarth. Have you heard this theory?
:Ok, I'm gonna read it word for word: "At the end of their seriesa while back, the real Alpha Flight went off into outer space to dealwith something and left a version of themselves plucked from the timestream on Earth. A lot of people say this. This has been going aroundsince Alpha Flight were killed a while back in Bendis’ book. Canyou guys bring Alpha Flight back by finding them on Plodex inGuardians of the Galaxy
?" That's the question.Andy:
Yes. And then we're instantly gonna kill them again.Jude
:A perfect answer. Thank you.GHERU
:Hmm, I think I heard a rumor on the internet that Thanos is gonnablow that planet up. Have Thanos go to that planet and blow it up,and don't even reference that Alpha Flight was ever there.Jude
:That would tie up loose ends, it would.Andy
:How are we spelling Plodex?Jude
:P. L. O. D. E. X.Andy
:I think when a planet explodes; it makes a maple-leaf shape.
:Not that we've got anything against Canadian super-teams, obviously.Dan
:We're having fun.Jude
:You've set back international relations...GHERU
:Yes, because nobody wants the Canadians mad at them. They're sodangerous.Andy
:You said that, not us. We want to go to the Montreal ComicConvention.
:Now going back to your affinity for cosmic stuff and televisionprograms, I can just imagine the two of you having a great voice ordoing a really interesting Dr. Who
episode. Have you ever beenapproached for that? Have you ever done Dr. Who
:We've not worked on the TV show, but I've written a couple of novels.Three or four of what they call audio-books for the BBC, which actorslike David Tennant have read, so we're quite close to the Dr. Who
:Yes, I’ve written several dirty limericks, which involved Dr.Who
:"There once was a plucky young Dalek."Dan
:No, "there once was a Dalek who was plucky... As long as"...no I won't go there.
(giddylaughter from DNA)Jon
:I hate to say it, but I keep trying to get into Dr. Who
, but Ican't get into it. I've tried many times, over and over. I love theconcept, I dunno. Maybe if you guys wrote a comic about it. I likeChristopher Eckleson, but he only lasted a season. I'm a big fan ofhis work, think he's a pretty good actor. But it didn't grab me.
You'vebeen listening to the Outhouse Podcast. We'd like to thank our gueststoday, and my co-hosts, Jude Terror, GHERU, and SuperginraiX. Andagain our ESTEEMED guests today that we were lucky to have and talkto this long, we are really thankful guys. Dan Abnett and AndyLanning. Please, if you have anything, Marvel, whatever, that youguys are doing, Marve, DC, WildStorm, it doesn't matter, and you'dcare to push for the readers that we have on the Outhouse, we'd loveto have you back. It's been an absolute joy to have you guys on.Dan
:No problem, mate. Thank you.Jon
:Remember guys, the most important lesson learned from all this isthat if you are gonna have a writing team with somebody else, yourinitials must be cool. DNA. That's the lesson to be learned from allthis. Others try it, it just doesn't work.Andy
:I had to change my name from 'Spankmonkey' to make that work.Jon
:That's dedication to your craft, and if you don't have that, you'llnever make it in this business.
Again,thank you, please, for everyone out there who has been enjoyingMarvel cosmic, as you've heard our guests tell us today, it’s gonnabe fairly reader-friendly, though I'm sure you'll be rewarded ifyou've been reading for longer, please check out the ThanosImperative
. I can't wait to read it. I think it's gonna be great.I hope you guys all pick it up and support what's been an absolutelyfantastic run on Marvel cosmic, and hopefully, not the end of it allwith Thanos Imperative
. I'm hoping for a new number one. Ihope that's what Marvel's going for. We know those sell. With a goldfoil cover. That’s the key. Or rub on blood, where you rub it andthe blood disappears, that's gold!GHERU
:You're missing the selling point, the hologram.Andy
:We've done one of those.Jon
:So again, you've been listening to the Outhouse podcast, thanks forjoining us, and we hope to have you on again.Andy& Dan
: Thanks very much.THETHANOS IMPERATIVE: IGNITION ONE-SHOT IS IN STORES THIS WEEK!!!