Talking Comics with Tim | Dan Abnett
The writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have come back down to Earth and the streets of Marvel with the new Heroes for Hire (H4H) series, which premiered in December. After reading the first issue, which ended with a spectacular plot curve ball, I wanted to find out more about the series. This Wednesday, January 5, marks the release of issue 2–featuring Ghost Rider and Silver Sable. Despite his busy comics and prose writing schedule, Abnett was kind enough to do a brief email interview about the series–and offer readers a chance make hero hire suggestions for future issues.
Tim O’Shea: After working in space with myriad Marvel universe alien species, what’s the most enjoyable aspect to getting to also dabble in the “nitty, gritty, human vigilante street action of Heroes for Hire” as you recently described it.
Dan Abnett: The change of pace, really. Bill Rosemann, our editor, asked us if we’d like to do something that was a contrast to the cosmic stuff we’ve been doing, and the first thing Andy and I ever did for Marvel US was a year or so’s run on the Punisher in the early 1990s. So we decided to go ‘back on the streets’.
O’Shea: What makes Marvel street action different than say the streets of other comic book universes?
Abnett: Despite the fact that it’s a comic book Universe, and therefore full of fantasy elements, it’s very real. There’s is a great cast of ‘street level’ characters, mostly of the vigilante type, to play with. You can have quite realistic,, gritty character-driven stories, plus lots of Marvel Universe fun.
O’Shea: Folks should skip this question if they have not read the first issue, but I have to ask, how early in the development of Heroes for Hire did you realize you wanted to bring Puppet Master into the dynamics?
Abnett: Very early, actually. We first devised a way to have a rotating cast of heroes, so we could use as many as possible and get lots of mix and match variations. This is a ‘new’ format of Heroes for Hire: the premise is that a handler chooses and deploys different heroes for different missions, sometimes trading favors or info with them in return for their help as opposed to just paying them). We wanted there to be a murky back story behind the mack story, something we could unpick and take apart while the adventures were happening. If I remember right I think the very last thing we added was the name. We had everything else sorted out before we agreed it should re-use (and re-invent) the classic H4H brand name.
O’Shea: Part of the cast will be rotating among different heroes, but there will be recurring characters (other than Misty Knight). Is it too early to divulge who some of the recurring characters are?
Abnett: Yes, and yes. Actually, I think it’d be safe to mention that the Paladin plays a major role. And ‘guest heroes’ will return and become semi-regulars.
O’Shea: In a recent Marvel universe interview you tease that the Misty mystery is just one of the surprises laced through the series. What is the key to building mysteries and surprises without throwing off the pace of action?
Abnett: Not sure there’s a trick to it. Andy and I just like to compose stories that way, with different things happening on different levels that play out at different speeds: the immediate drama of the current adventure, the slow-burn mystery and shock twists of the back story etc .
O’Shea: Any questions for your H4H/Robot 6 readers/fans?
Abnett: I guess I could mention we’re open to suggestions. Which Marvel character would the reader like to see ‘hired’ for a mission or two?