Aaron Talks With Marvel Comics Writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Published: December 7, 2010 - 11:33am
EXCLUSIVE: The writing duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (collectively known as DnA), masters of the Marvel Cosmic Universe, have taken their talents to the street with the new Heroes for Hire series, which is on comic store shelves as you read this. The duo took some time out of their insane schedules to talk with me about H4H and the Marvel Cosmos....
Aaron: As a writing team you've spent a lot of time as the architects of the Marvel Cosmic titles - does your writing process (or mindset) change for Heroes for Hire – dealing with the 'street level' heroes of Marvel?
DnA: Not really; we spent a lot of time during our run with the cosmic books taking characters readers may have forgotten or not been familiar with and 'dusting them off' to show how cool they are. We've got the opportunity with H4H to do the same thing with some of Marvel's street-level characters. The books have a lot of common ground too: They both deal with a disparate and unlikely team of heroes being brought together by a strong willed individual to achieve very specific goals and missions. It's just that one was set in the Cosmic realm and the other on the streets of the Marvel U.
Aaron: The Heroes for Hire team has had several different rosters during it's runs, what can readers expect from this crew? Is there going to be a core group of members throughout the series, or is the makeup of the team going to shift often?
DnA: Basically the line up is fluid, changing from mission to mission depending on requirements, skill set and who's available. The one constant will be Misty Knight with Paladin as her man-in-the-field and general gofer.
Aaron: Many of the characters in the line-up are heavily involved in Shadowland - how does that event relate to H4H?
DnA: H4H is born from the events in Shadowland. It's dealing directly with the aftershocks that are rippling through he underworld following the conclusion of the series. Many are using the chaotic situation to make power-plays and extend their influence in the criminal fraternity and Misty Knight sees H4H as a direct response to this 'feeding frenzy' of activity in the underworld.
Aaron: With Guardians of the Galaxy many characters that may have been forgotten pieces of the Marvel roster became fan favourites (Rocket Raccoon, Star-Lord) - any chance we'll be seeing some of the same 'revivals' with Heroes for Hire?
DnA: We'd love that to happen. As with the cosmic cast of characters we got to use in Guardians, we have a great deal of affection and respect for these 'Street-level' characters. We grew up reading them and they are some of our favourites from way back. And the fact that we've been able to generate a Rocket Raccoon/Groot mini series off the back of Guardians, leads us to hope we might one day see a Howard the Duck/Black Jack Tarr book?!
Aaron: Can you comment on the foes this team may face? Will it be street-level crime like gangs or something else entirely?
DnA: We don't want to spoil any surprises we have in store but the one thing we wanted to do with the missions the team face is make sure they have a real Marvel U twist to them. They might be breaking up a gang of drug dealers, but in the world of the H4H, the gang are Atlanteans and the drug is being synthesised from the brains of addicted humans. It's been great coming up with unique Marvel U twists on everyday criminal activity, we hope the readers will enjoy the wild and wacky felonies we've cooked up.
Aaron: Shifting a gear to some Cosmic questions....When you started writing in the Marvel Cosmic universe with Nova, were the large scale events like Annihilation: Conquest, War of Kings, and The Thanos Imperative already in the back of your minds, or have the stories been very dynamic as they've progressed?
DnA: It's been a bit of both actually. We were asked to come onboard with Nova on Annihilation and the ongoing series after that which led into Conquest, where we were able to expand the story into new areas of the Marvel cosmic U. Each series after that (Guardians, War of Kings etc) led from the events of the previous series and provided us an opportunity to include more and more elements, characters and themes from the MCU that we've loved growing up reading. We had a vague notion that we'd love the chance to bring Thanos back and we always had the idea of a universe where Life was the dominant force, these ideas crystallized over the series and issues and dovetailed neatly into the concept that became the Thanos Imperative but have changed and evolved along the way as we threw in new stuff and discharged other elements that didn't work. We've been very lucky and are grateful to Marvel that we had the opportunity to not only play with some of our all time favourite characters, but that we've been able to tell a truly epic story over the last 3 or so years which has a very real sense of completion whilst leaving the whole cosmic realm a far more interesting place now than when we started working on the books way back when.
Aaron: The Thanos Imperative has been an event with huge implications for the characters of the Cosmic Universe – from a writing perspective, was it nice to focus on just the event and not have the task of tying in the two ongoing series as well?
DnA: Yes, the previous cosmic 'events' (Annihilation: Conquest, War of Kings, Realm of Kings) had given us the opportunity to play with multi-strand, multi-issue versions of storytelling, whereas The Thanos Imperative gave us the chance to tell the story in a very focused, trimmed down way which really helped give the whole thing the flavour of a epic movie, with a beginning, middle and end.
Aaron: With all the Cosmic events and titles you've written, you've both worked with many of the Cosmic characters in the Marvel catalog....is there one in particular left that either of you would like to take a crack at?
DnA: I think we've ticked all the boxes, especially now we got to do our take on the Thanos/Captain Marvel legend. I guess if there's a character we both have a soft spot for who has cosmic origins and isn't around at the moment, it's Jack of Hearts. We'd like to see what we could do with him, then there's the Badoon- we've got ideas for the Badoon that will come into play at some point...
Aaron: Rocket Raccoon and Groot will be in their own mini-series soon, and Heroes for Hire is on the shelves – are there any other DnA titles on the horizon that we can keep a look out for?
DnA: There are a few things in the pipeline which we'd love to blab about but are not allowed to yet until they are officially announced! Feel free to catch up with us then and we'll spill the beans!