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Who Are The Mystery Men?: The Operative

Written by Christian Hoffer on Monday, June 06 2011 and posted in Features

An Outhouse Exclusive!  Check out the first of a monthly feature revealing each of David Liss's and Patrick Zircher's Mystery Men.  First up: The Operative!

Mystery Men is the upcoming Marvel miniseries that starts on Wednesday, June 8th.  Each month, David Liss, the writer of Mystery Men will be stopping by the Outhouse to answer questions and reveal details about one of the new characters spotlighted in the Mystery Men.   This month, David tells us about the general premise of the series and gives us a profile of The Operative.

The Outhouse: David, for those who haven't heard to much about Mystery Men, what's the basic plot of your new series?

Exclusive art from Mystery Men #1
David Liss:
We're operating pretty firmly within a pulp aesthetic.  Dennis Piper, the Operative, is a do-gooding cat burglar during the Depression.  When his fiance, a Broadway starlet, is murdered, and Piper is set up for the crime, he puts on his costume to discover the truth behind his fiance's death.  But the truth is bigger than he ever imagined, and he ends up crossing paths with other costumed vigilantes who are being drawn into a dark conspiracy to alter the future of the country.

OH: What was your inspiration for writing Mystery Men?

DL: Obviously we were drawing from pulp sources as well as noir, but we also wanted to give the book something of a contemporary Marvel sensibility.  So, while our sources are from all over the map, I think what we've put together feels coherent and organic.
OH: It's been mentioned a few times that Mystery Men is set within Marvel continuity.  What role, if any, will that play in the book?  Will we be seeing any established Marvel characters in your series? 

Exclusive Art from Mystery Men #1
You will, but we have taken a light touch with the Marvel cameos.  One thing to think about is that this book is set in 1932, so it is almost a decade before most Marvel characters make their first appearance.  So we've brought in names and people it made sense, but this is one of those books where Marvel readers will catch the allusions, but new readers will not feel left out.

OH: What's it been like to work with Patrick Zircher on this project?  What was it like seeing his designs for your new characters? 

DL: Really, it's been a fantastic experience.  Patrick designed the characters from our early concepts, so the early scripts were written with his designs in mind.  He took the pages I wrote and genuinely made them come alive.

OH: What do you think is the #1 reason to pick up Mystery Men?  

DL: The easy answer is Patrick's art.  Anyone who flips through the issue will want to take it home.  But it's more than just visuals.  We worked hard to put together an interesting, nuanced and exciting story about complicated and emotionally believable characters who are figuring out what it means to be costumed heroes.  It's exciting, mysterious, darkly humorous, and full of that cool pulp aesthetic.  So, all that said, I think the #1 reason is that this is a cool project.

Mystery Men Profile: The Operative

Exclusive art from Mystery Men #2
:  Dennis Piper

Power/Special Ability Extremely skilled fighter, including stealth operations, high intelligence, looks good in a hat.

Character's Origin: You'll learn more about Piper's history as the story unfolds.  For now it is enough to understand that he was trained by his father to be a great fighter and thinker, but he's turned his back on his family.  When the story begins, he's a kind of urban Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to alleviate the suffering of the poor.

Inspiration for The Operative: The Operative is a composite of a lot of pulp archetypes, especially guys who come from wealth but feel the suffering of others.

Role that The Operative Plays in Mystery Men:  Piper is, in many ways, the center of the story, but he's not the main character.  It is his fiance who dies at the beginning of the first issue and that gets the ball rolling, but the other four characters all have a direct investment in the events that are unfolding.  Sometimes he's the brains and the moral center of the ensemble (not really a group), but other times he's most definitely not.  They are a complicated bunch.

Exclusive art from Mystery Men #2
Final Thoughts on The Operative
:  The Operative is the kind of character I love to write.  He is human, and so flawed.  He makes mistakes, he suffers and he does things he regrets.  But in the end, he tries to be the kind of person he knows he should be, and he takes real risks to do what he thinks is right.

Be sure to pick up Mystery Men #1 this Wednesday, June 8th and join David next month for another installment of Who are the Mystery Men?

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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