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The Outhouse Interview: The Return of Fred Van Lente

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Friday, September 17 2010 and posted in Features

Writer Fred Van Lente returns to The Outhouse to talk about his upcoming work, including Marvel's CHAOS WAR!

Since establishing himself as a major player in Marvel's writer's stable, Fred van Lente has kept himself very busy by working on a variety of projects. The in-demand writer has proven himself to be a reliable force whose career continues its upward trajectory. Not only is in charge of Marvel's next major event CHAOS WAR, along with his INCREDIBLE HERCULES co-writer Greg Pak, and his independent series COWBOYS & ALIENS will be adapted as a feature film by director Jon Favreau. Van Lente took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to take a seat in The Outhouse and talk about his upcoming plans for the comics world.
THE OUTHOUSE: How long has CHAOS WAR been gestating? Is this something that you and Greg have been planning since the start of INCREDIBLE HERCULES, or did this come up through the course of writing these characters?

FRED VAN LENTE: IHERC was conceived as eight story arcs once we did our SECRET INVASION tie-in. CHAOS WAR Is the eighth arc, the climactic one, and it's very exciting to have reached this point, and to have it be such a major crossover with the rest of the MU.

TOH: Is the character progression that Hercules undergoes into a more serious hero always part of the plan?

FVL: Basically, as Amadeus comes into his own as a hero, Hercules is on a parallel course to come into his own as a god. What it means to be a god has been a major theme of the sereies, and Herc is going to have to figure it out because the gods are all that stands between the
destruction of all existence and the Chaos King, which is the only thing in reality that predates them.

TOH: What kind of research did you do into Japanese mythology for this story?

FVL: Amatsu-Mikaboshi is a pretty obscure mythological figure. Other than the first battle the Kami (the Japanese gods) have with him there's not a lot to him other than his job description...Namely that he was the universe before the universe, and wants to revert all of reality just to being him again It's such a great concept for a cosmic super vilain you'd think if the Japanese didn't come up with him, Jack Kirby would have.

The name Chaos King comes from Ovid's Metamorphosis. He calls the nothingness that preceded the Greco-Roman gods Chaos, so we're showing Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the Void for all traditions, not just the Japanese.

At some point I came up with the idea, back in Secret Invasion that he should only speak in haiku. Counting syllables all the time can be kind of a pain, but I think the overall effect is unique and creepy enough to be worth it.

TOH: Without giving too much away, would you characterize CHAOS WAR as a story that is mostly about Hercules and his sphere, or does it impact the Marvel Universe on a larger level?

FVL: Hercules and Amadeus are major characters, but so are Thor, Galactus, the Surfer, Sersi and others. And it has huge ramifications for one beloved hero team in particular.

TOH: Were there any version of The God Squad v 2.0 that you wanted to use, but weren't able to get?

FVL: We really wanted Mephisto, but couldn't get him ... Hellstrom makes a
nice substitute, though.

TOH: Last time we interviewed you, you had talked to us about how the mechanics of your collaboration with Greg Pak worked. Has anything changed or been refined in that area?

FVL: Not really. We still pass drafts back and forth between each other until we unanimously agree it's right. it's really the perfect fifty-fifty collaboration. Don't tell our wives, they'll get jealous.

2_amazing_spider_man_647_02TOH: With the Brand New Day era of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN coming to a close, your association with the title appears to also be ending. How would you characterize your work on the title? Did you accomplish the things you were hoping to? Would you welcome a return to Spider-Man in the future?

FVL: Spider-Man was the character I grew up reading, so it was a great honor to get a chance to write Amazing. The Sandman and Chameleon story lines are two of my favorite storiesI've written for Marvel (and I'm also writing the last BND issue, 647 in October) but the end comes at the right time for me. In addition to AMAZING, I was doing the monthly anthology WEB too, and I was getting a tad Spider-Manned out. That said, I'll be doing something for AMAZING in early 2011, so it's not like Spidey fans have seen the last of me yet.

TOH: Is there an update on the status of ACTION PRESIDENTS, which you mentioned would be your next book with Ryan Dunlavey?

FVL: No update, primarily because we need to finish our current book, the comic book history of the comic book industry, COMIC BOOK COMICS, before can start on ActPrez. Hopefully the wheels on that will begin turning next year.

TOH: Do you have any comment on the rumors that Marvel's new Heroes For Hire series will be written by you?

FVL: I'm definitely writing POWER MAN & IRON FIST, starting in January, a continuation of the currently-running SHADOWLAND series. Anything else you may have heard is just that a rumor.

TOH: Convention season has for the most part ended, though New York Comic-Con is still ahead of us. How was your con season? What were your highlights/lowlights?

FVL: I said yes to a lot of conventions this year. I did MoCCA in New York, Florida Supercon in Miami, Project ComicCon in St Louis, C2E2 in Chicago, as well as signings in Philly, Orlando, and Montreal. It was a huge honor and pleasure to meet and chat with readers from all over North America. That's the highlight of my life. The only lowlight is when I'm not doing it.


Note: Outhouse members e_galston and Punchy contributed to this interview.

Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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