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Interview With Ghost Rider And Dark Wolverine Writer, Rob Williams!
I was writing and directing for a small video production company and that taught me to write with visuals in mind, albeit very dull visuals. It made me think maybe I could try my hand at a comic script. This was back in ’99/2000, I think. I wrote issue one of Cla$$war without a clue what to do with it. Luckily for me I heard that a new comic company called Com.X was starting up in the UK and I gave them my script at the Bristol comic convention. A few months later they rang one evening, said they loved it and wanted to publish it. That was my break. After Cla$$war gained some positive reviews 2000AD asked me if I’d like to write for them. My comic work then grew gradually over the years. But I was a professional journalist throughout my comics career. It wasn’t my sole source of income. I was already writing for a living.
Not too long ago, it was revealed that you’ve signed an exclusive contract with Marvel. It must be a pretty exciting time for you, right?
It’s been an exciting year. I’ve been a Marvel fan since I was a child, so getting a chance to tell stories within their universe, writing some of my favourite characters, has been an absolute blast. It’s been very busy and very challenging, but I’m enjoying it hugely. Marvel editorial really do push you to create the best stories you can. It’s a different level.
One of your first ongoing series’ with Marvel was of course Daken: Dark Wolverine. What would you to say to anyone who’s not yet picked up the title, and what can current readers expect to see in store for the son of Wolverine in the coming months?
Well, we’re a good way into the run now. I took Daken to Los Angeles in order to try and become its kingpin of crime, but he hasn’t found that as straightforward as he thought it would be. There’s a serial killer in Hollywood called The Claws Killer, and all signs point towards that being Daken. The thing is, he’s become addicted to a new drug called HEAT, and that is not only giving him blackouts but it’s shutting down his healing factor. We’ve had some fun guest starring moments from Taskmaster and Moon Knight and we’ve got an arc coming up co-starring The Runaways. So, it’s been fun. Nasty, violent, psychotic fun. I wanted the book to be a ‘Kingpin Of Crime: Year One’ type book. The villain as the protagonist.
Your run on Skaar: King of the Savage Land is also well under way. How’s it been working on that character in such a setting?
Skaar was a lot of over the top fun. How can it not be in a setting like The Savage Land? Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy were the highlight. Every time they were in the script it seemed to lift the series due to the enormous silliness of the concept. That lends itself to comedy and crazy visuals. King Of The Savage Land was a hoot to write. Dinosaurs, aliens, pulp characters like Kid Colt and The Phantom Eagle, giant robots. You could really go for it.
What can you tell us about your upcoming work on the new Ghost Rider series? The recent #0.1 issue seemed to hint at a somewhat different status quo for the character.
By now you’ll have seen that Johnny Blaze is no longer the Ghost Rider. It’s passed on to a new character called Alejandra. An 18-year-old warrior girl who’s been trained her entire life to become the Ghost Rider. But there’s a huge amount of rage inside her and that’s bad news for the world. Johnny’s going to be forced into a mentor role that he’s really not best suited for. #5 & #6 focus on Alejandra and then #7 & #8 co-star Hawkeye in a crazed bike chase adventure. Like Skaar, it’s a fun series to write. The core concept begs for OTT action. #4 takes the Ghost Rider into space, which just seems perfect.
And how about Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force with Simon Bianchi?
We finished up FI: Uncanny X-Force recently. Yeah, Simone was great to work with. There was some beautiful imagery that he was able to capture and the storyline was one which, hopefully, went to the heart of what X-Force is as a group. A kill crew. I wanted to write a story about the moral question of the group’s existence. What did that say about superheroes in general. Plus lots of action and explodo, obviously.
The Iron Age recently kicked off with something of an explosive and shocking start to say the least. What can you tell us about the series and where things are going from here?
Well, due to my being appallingly late with these answers the series has now finished. But it was a huge amount of fun for several reasons. Being able to play with so many Marvel characters in classic storylines, getting to collaborate with so many top talents. Art-wise, I had Rebbekah Isaacs, Ben Oliver and Roberto De La Torre drawing my issues, and as a writing team there was people like Christos Gage, Jan Van Meter, Louise Simonson. I got to write Iron Man, Captain Britain, the classic ‘new’ Uncanny X-Men lineup – characters like Nightcrawler and Dark Phoenix. It was a bit of a dream job. The type of storyline that spoke to my inner Marvel fanboy from years gone past. Hopefully that sense of fun translated to the end product.
Did delving into the past of so many Marvel characters leave you feeling pretty pressurised to live up to the expectations of long-time fans?
Not really. I was aware of it, of course, but I weirdly felt a bit naive about that kind of pressure. I just wanted to tell the best story I could. If you let yourself get bogged down by the pressures of writing classic characters you’d never get anything done.
Talking of Captain Britain, is that a character you’d like the chance to work with again? I know a lot of people really enjoyed your work with him in Deadpool Team Up, not to mention the excitement of seeing him in The Iron Age!
Definitely. The Alan Moore/Alan Davis Cap Britain run is one of my favourite comics and I’ve got a huge soft spot for the character and his look as a result. I’d jump at the chance to write more Cap. I’m not sure there’s currently a market for a Cap Britain title right now. Paul Cornell’s MI:13 was highly praised but, despite that, the sales just weren’t there. There’s a line of thinking that U.S. comic fans aren’t interested in buying a book about British characters. That’s a shame. But maybe I can crowbar Cap in somewhere down the road.
One other thing you’ve got coming up outside of Marvel is a Robocop/Terminator series. What can you tell us about that exactly?
It’s called Kill Human and is drawn by 2000AD and Battlefield’s PJ Holden. I’m really pleased with the storyline. It starts in the far future where mankind is wiped out and Robocop finds himself re-awakened in a museum. From there he travels back to the time of T2 in an effort to try and save history. So it’s Robocop vs. the T1000. And then the timeline does change and we go in a completely new direction. I was working on the proof of the final issue last week and it’s a really strong comic, I think. The type of thing that would make a great movie.
Although you’re working on a pretty diverse range of characters right now, is there anyone else in particular you’d like to write you’ve not yet had chance to?
Got to say, I’ve written an awful lot of Marvel characters in the last year and a half and I’m pretty happy with who I’ve had the chance to get my mits on. I supposed I’ve not written Daredevil yet. That might be fun. I’m such a fan of the classic Frank Miller run.
Have you had a chance to check out any of this years big comic book movies yet? Any in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing in future?
I saw Thor and really enjoyed it. Thought it was a fun, nicely handled movie that could’ve easily been something camp. The tone was great, and the Asgard stuff, which was a difficult line to tread, was really good. Plus, the core of the story was two brothers fighting over their father’s love. That’s pretty brave for a summer blockbuster.
Didn’t get to see Cap, which was a shame. I was looking forward to it. I’ve got two young kids so cinema visits are pretty infrequent. Green Lantern, I must admit, the trailers put me off. Maybe I’ll see it on DVD.
I’m ridiculously excited about The Avengers and I’m sure Nolan’s next Batman movie will be great. Man Of Steel is an intriguing one. The casting choices have been great and Nolan’s involvement is reassuring. I can’t help but think that Zach Snyder’s a very odd choice for director. Just the wrong tone for a Superman movie. But, we’ll see. I hope I’m proved wrong. I’d love to see a bloody great Superman movie.