Talking To Kieron Gillen About Marvel, Touching Death's Head And Steampunking Mr Sinister
Joseph Glass write for Bleeding Cool at NYCC. This is the first of three interview pieces he wrote with Kieron Gillen.
At NYCC, someone said to me that Kieron Gillen is the next Alan Moore. I'd never thought of him quite like that before, but upon reflection, I find I can't disagree with the comparison. Obviously, there's a lot less hair. But he's certainly got the prolific nature of work down.
I took a couple of minutes to have a chat with Kieron at NYCC about his work and how well it's doing at NYCC, and found out a man who's more than happy and enthusiastic to talk about everything he's got on the go…at least until he needed to rush off to the karaoke bar.
We started with Marvel. It should be noted that this conversation took place before the release of this week's Young Avengers #11.
Joe Glass: At the moment, you're writing Iron Man and Young Avengers. YA is hitting the home stretch now of your story. How are things shaping up for the end of it? You've mentioned a lot that it's kind of the end of your 'season', are you carrying on with the book, or are you finishing with the characters? Have you said all you can say with them?
Well, in terms of how it's shaping up the end of the season, it's like we sort of had a plan and the plans coming together. Jamie is killing himself trying to get it done, and also with the other guys, you know the final two issues being this mix of hot creators and we're in the position now that pages are coming in from the guys. Seeing six artists who are astounding and are genuinely some of my favourite artists working today doing comics all on the same story is kind of inspiring. Like Ming [Doyle]'s roughs came in and look great.
In terms of the end of the season, we're not really in a position where we want to talk about what happens next. Y'know, what happens next will happen soon enough.
Another thing coming up with Young Avengers which may have been possibly spoiled in the NYCC panels, is obviously Loki: Agent of Asgard, which kind of suggests we're seeing the end of Kid Loki. And given the cover of YA#11-
Yes, out in a couple of weeks [actually, out now!]
Is this where we see the end of Kid Loki?
Ugh, how to phrase this…a straight 'no comment' might be my one. I'm very excited about any Al Ewing book [writer of the upcoming Loki: Agent of Asgard] but in terms of the tone of the story, I'm telling my story and don't really want to elaborate anything outside of that.
Hopefully, for Tumblr's sake, we'll at least still have the figment Kid Loki hanging around.
Going onto Iron Man, you're coming to a big new story arc after completing the true origins of Tony Stark. In terms of the Secret Origin storyline, has the reaction been what you expected it to be?
I kind of expected it to be angrier. I really wish this was two-three weeks away, 'cause it's coming out in two weeks' time and it's basically the final part of that, and I so want it to be out there. Because it's a large thing that's been constructed and the final denouement has been awesome and powerful, and what we take out of it is fundamentally useful tools for Tony and these interesting stories. And sorry, I can't talk about that. I just want to grab people and tell them, but I can't.
But yes, that's the end of year one and year two immediately picks up, in fact even by the end of issue 17, you can see where it's going. And I've talked about the idea of Iron Metropolitan in which Tony and friends make a city but then that also introduces my meta-bad guys for the arc. And it's basically me playing a game with some of the Mandarin stuff, and I think pretty much by the last two pages of issue 18 people will be going 'oh, I kinda, by implication, I kinda see where this is going'. And at the same time the specifics of the execution is so off there, we can do whatever the fuck we want with it. So that's where we are really, it feels good.
And of course it feels really nice to be back of Earth. I mean, I've enjoyed taking him [Tony Stark] out of his element but getting to use his supporting cast a bit more, that's wonderful.
It was announced that there's an Iron Man tie-in to Inhumanity but it wasn't made clear if you were writing it, is it one of yours?
Yes, and that is explicitly an essential part of Iron Metropolitan.
So it doesn't come out of the story so much, it's still within the overall story?
Inhumanity is a big world-wide event, and all these books are kind of responses to it. So yeah, it ties into the larger meta-arc, and the big baddies, of what I'm doing. Yeah, it's part of that. It's the story of a new Inhuman, and what most appeals to me about Inhumanity and the Inhumans is a sense of family. So I want to do a story about family, and frankly I've been doing more about family in Iron Man, so these themes dovetail very nicely together.
The other book that was recently announced is your link in to Revolutionary War, namely the Dark Angel one-shot…is it a one-shot or is it a mini?
Yes, one-shot. Basically, Revolutionary War will have an intro issue, all these standalone stories which form a larger…it's a 'pass the football' kind of story, and then there's an outro that rounds it all up in a big conclusion.
Is Dark Angel a character that you wanted or one you were approached to write?
Well, no, actually I never actually read her back in the day because that was the period that as you know I wasn't reading comics, at a certain age. However, I went back, I've done my research, and I must admit what first attracted me initially to the whole thing was the idea of doing this quite fun British crossover, so that sounds fun, and as a British guy, touching these characters…there's a part of me that quite enjoys touching Death's Head, for example.
I just really wanted to work with someone that was usuable and interesting, so for me Dark Angel is one of these wibbly, kind of a proto-Promethea with some Jean Grey and some Surferisms, and so what most attracted me is her link to the bad guys, the Mys-Tek (?) Corporation, the main Marvel UK villains.
Her dad did a deal with the devil and she basically got her powers through this Mys-Tek deal, so essentially her parents sold her soul and she's now incredibly powerful. And that whole idea of that, that sounds like really lax legislation. So I've kinda turned her into an austerity superhero, because of dodgy Faustian deals in the 90s which have now since collapsed, she's in essentially ethical bankruptcy if you will. It's me getting my Pat Mills on. It's incredibly unsubtle but it's a lot of fun.
Sorry, that sounded mean to Pat Mills, but you know when Pat really fucking goes for it, it's like that 2000AD style broad comedy with anger beneath it.
In terms of Revolutionary War as a whole, are many of the other characters in your one-shot?
Well, Mephisto's in it.
Oh right, okay. Gotta get your Mephisto in.
Always! He's the devil, he's actually the devil Mys-Tek sold her soul to.
Any other books coming up with Marvel you can talk about?
Well, I'm doing Origin II with Kubert, which is phenomenal. And you know, even if I wrote complete crap, people would buy it for the art. It's astonishing, there's just so much atmosphere and beauty, and the storytelling is astounding. It's a complete tour de force.
And for me, it's like my period novel in the Marvel Universe, it's me doing Jack London. Answering core questions about Logan's history, expanding the Marvel Universe, but also for people who just know Wolverine from the movies, if you just picked up this book and read it, I want you to do that.
This is a five issue short novel about Wolverine, and the idea of a man being found in the wild with claws and what happens. That could be a story; it is a story, its King Kong basically. So yeah, that's what I want to do. It's completely accessible but also completely essential, serving both masters and it's so much fun.
Obviously, Sinister is a part of this book, and Sinister is perhaps a villain who's found new levels of appreciation when you did him in Uncanny X-Men. So is this Sinister that we're going to see in Origin II very different from the Sinister we've met?
The Sinister I wrote in Uncanny, he's incredibly flamboyant and it's me playing games with Victorian and Steampunk critique. He's basically Frankenstein's Monster, he reinvented himself to become this guy. Meanwhile, this is the original Mister Sinister, this is a very cold British psychopath and I play him kind of straight; he's in human form for the whole, well, I'm not going to promise the WHOLE story, but he's in human form for the story and he's the coldest motherfucker. It's set in the colds of Canada and he's the coldest motherfucker in that tip of the ice land. There's some of the wit, there's the arrogance, and there isn't quite the flamboyance…he's everything that is wrong and fearful with science and privilege at that period personified. He's very much one of the villains of the book.
And of the core of the story is how Logan became much more like Logan we know, and some cool ideas, and also pretty much the truth behind him and his greatest enemy.
Obviously, we now know for certain what's become of Loki. But with Gillen at the helm, we still have tons to expect and look forward to for Wolverine, Iron Man and at least another couple of issues of Young Avengers.
Next, we moved on to discuss Kieron's Avatar work…be back here for more!