"The Thing Is, Rory IS A Good Guy" – Peter Milligan Talks Terminal Hero

The second book from Dynamite's new Creators Unleashed line is Terminal Hero by Peter Milligan and Piotr Kowalski. Vampirella writer Nancy Collins talked with Milligan about the new series, the heroic tendencies of the lead character and the use of psychedelic drugs.

TerminalHero01-Cov-LeeNANCY COLLINS: Before we get into the interview, I'd like to take the time to tell you that I am a big fan of your run on Shade, The Changing Man, and I'm really happy to have this chance to speak to you about Terminal Hero, the title you're writing for Dynamite Comics.


NC: I take it Terminal Hero is a creator-owned property–Could you give us a little information on how it came to land at Dynamite Comics?

PM: It is creator owned. Nick Barrrucci at Dynamite and I had been talking about working on something together for a while. The moment was right, and my ideas were coalescing for Terminal Hero, which Nick and editor Joy Rybandt really liked. So here we are.

NC: What do you have to say about what artist Piotr Kowalski has done bringing your story to life?

PM: I've just been looking through some of Piotr's art on an issue. Piotr really captures an almost unnerving sense of normality, of normal people in normal lives. This is essential for a story like Terminal Hero, which is about the ABNORMAL entering normal lives. He's also great at the vulnerability of characters. And Rory Fletcher, the hero of Terminal Hero, certainly has his vulnerable moments.

TerminalHero02-Cov-LeeNC: Having a terminal cancer patient gain super-powers from experimental therapy is a unique angle—what was the inspiration behind it?

PM: People are throwing around the term "super-powers" and it always makes me feel a bit uneasy. I suppose because of the connection with superheroes. Rory most definitely does not turn into a superhero–though his treatment does change him, and allow him to do things he could not do before. A lot of these "powers" are also a curse, and he doesn't always have much control over them.

In terms to the inspiration, the start was a someone I knew (he was my guitar tutor, who'd become a friend) who had a seizure one day and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We spoke quite a bit about his treatment. As well as that, even more personally, I suffer from epilepsy and take medication for it. That medication has or could have certain side-effects so it's a subject I particularly close to.

NC: Terminal Hero's protagonist—Dr. Rory Fletcher—seems to have a definite dark side, as seen by his bursts of anger and the outward manifestations of his own guilt, but also a sense of ethics. Could you tell us more about what makes Rory tick?

PM: The dark side of this person, who at the beginning considers himself a pretty good guy, is at the core of this book. It's one of the things I was interested in exploring. The thing is, Rory IS a good guy. He became a doctor because he wanted to help people. But even this good guy has all this filth inside him. Rory must struggle to balance those sides of him. When all's done, I still like Rory. I like how he enjoys an occasional spliff while listening to Bob Marley. He feels very human. You could say, all too human.

TerminalHero03-Cov-LeeNC: You're well known for exploring the boundaries of 'reality' in your work. How trippy will Terminal Hero be? Are we talking brown acid, orange barrels, or window pane?

PM: Ha ha! What makes you believe I have any experience of psychedelic drugs? The "trippiness" in Terminal Hero won't be gratuitous, it'll be about exploring aspects of Rory's inner self, his guilt, his demons – and later on, the inner selves etc of some of the other souls who are given Treatment Q.

NC: Outside of John Constantine, I can't think of many comic book heroes who engage in a regimen of meaningless sex and indiscriminate drug use to keep themselves 'stable'. Are there other superheroes you think could benefit from this therapy?

PM: I think most mainstream superheroes could seriously benefit from a brutal regime of meaningless sex (if there is such a thing) and indiscriminate drug use.

For more on Terminal Hero, click here.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.