Tuesday, 3 December 2013

More information on Rob Williams' sections of Revolutionary War.

As many of you may be aware, two of the one-shot issues of Marvel's upcoming Revolutionary War are going to be written by Rob Williams. Williams is probably better know to some as he writer of Com.X's Cla$$war and 2000 AD's Low Life. But in recent years he's been somewhat of a champion of British characters within his work over at Marvel comics. He introduced a new version of Slaymaster in Deadpool Team-up. He also gave Captain Britain a central role in his Iron Man series The Iron Age.

Well, now he's turning his hand other Marvel UK properties - Knights of Pendragon and Super Soldiers. And thanks to a new interview over at Newsarama we now know a bit more about his plans, for those.

First off, Knights of Pendragon.

I did wonder at the time that cover was unveiled in the solicits as to whether or not that was Kate McClellan standing behind Dai Thomas. I had hoped, but being quite an obscure character I wasn't getting my hopes up too far.

As it turns out, I was in luck.

Williams: Well Knights… in its original incarnation, was this kind of Vertigo-ish non-capes eco-themed book. Then later it morphed into a more spandex superteam kind of deal. I thought we should take it back to its roots. The cast is largely the originals – Dai Thomas, Kate McClellan, Gawain the Knight, Albion, Union Jack. We’ve added Pete Wisdom too, which fits. I’ve written Wisdom before and he’s great fun to write.

So, yes. Kate is back. Now as to whether that Gawain is the android version, or some kind of reincarnated Sir Gawain of legend, I cannot say. But Williams does seem to have a genuine enthusiasm for the original series ahead of the later revamp. And that's something which I feel strongly positive about. The second volume did start to lose a lot of its charm, identity and strength when it was revamped in second volume. Even Alan Davis redesigning the costumes couldn't quite spare the feeling that the change of direction didn't really work...

So it's great to see it seemingly going back to those slightly more serious, myth and legend roots.

But what about Pete Wisdom? How does he come to be with the group?
Williams: Wisdom’s kind of our tether between the books. He’s working for MI:13, as established in Paul Cornell’s fun book Captain Britain & MI:13 from a few years back. That kind makes him Britain’s Nick Fury, albeit a very sarcastic version who snarks a lot. When MYS-TECH reappear, and the scale of the threat becomes known, Wisdom is charged with recruiting the old Marvel UK heroes. Even though he seems to hate a lot of them.

Now whether that's Wisdom's long held contempt for costumed heroes he's talking about, or some kind of grudge for the old guard of British heroes I guess we'll have to wait and see. But, yes, he kind of is Britain's modern equivalent of Nick Fury. It's been some years since we last saw Lance Hunter, and Wisdom really has taken over that role in Marvel's Britain.

As for what the story will actually involve, unsurprisingly, there are limits of what Williams can tell about the overall series at the moment, but with regards to this story he says:
Williams: The underlying storyline with all these books is that MYS-TECH, the old Marvel UK bad guys, are back, and lots of underground bases are being unearthed. This brings the Knights back together, and Pete and Union Jack head for Avalon, the mystical realm, to try and recruit Albion. But Avalon is a magical mirror of Britain, and austerity cuts have had an effect. Meanwhile, Dai and Kate are breaking into a fracking mining operation, where something evil that goes to the heart of the perception of Britain is waking up. There’s lots of battles, an ending no-one will predict, I think, and a fair amount of overt subtext about the image of Britain and what Britain really is today. I had a blast writing it.

Now wherever a story concerns Captain Britain it principally gets referred to as 'Otherworld,' but for the Knights it was always 'Avalon'. Both are, to most intents and purposes, one and the same place. Or at least slightly different aspects of the same place. We're talking about that dimension between dimensions from where it is possible to traverse Marvel's many alternate universes.

Its landscape is quite literally tied to, and shaped by, the collective subconscious of Britain and its people. Some of you may have read the 'Manchester Gods' arc of Kieron Gillen's Journey into Mystery, which illustrated that principle very well. So often the Britain we see in American comics tends to be an idealised image of the Country. An overly positive 1960s image of Britain. 'Manchester Gods' kind of played out what effect a more modern invasion of ideals could have on Avalon. It's something which many British readers had been wanting to see explored for a while.

Here in Britain, right now, it is a pretty bleak place. Austerity measures are hitting everybody hard. There are some real echoes of the sombre days of the 1980s, going on. A period which after all spawned those darker Captain Britain stories of David Thorpe, Alan Moore and Jamie Delano. So Williams exploring what kind of effect that might have on Avalon is definitely welcome, in my book.

It all sounds fairly in step with environmental elements of the original Knights of Pendragon, also.
I look forward to it greatly.

Secondly we have Super Soldiers.

And this one sounds like such a brilliant premise I had to share.

This interview confirms the cast as (left to right) Guvnor, Col Joseph Hauer (Formerly 'Invincible' - though I guess Image Comics kinda claimed that identity in the past few years), Gog (at the rear) and Dalton. All of whom were original members of the team.

Super Soldiers was very much part of that early 90s, Rob Liefeld inspired, 'Roid Rage and huge guns period of comics. A period we often find quite difficult to explain and incorporate plausibly into modern comics.

Well... it sounds like Rob Williams just found a way.

Nrama: So what are they like these days then?

Williams: The Super Soldiers, in the years since we last met them, have done what any crack, black-ops military team would do, and written a ‘tell-all’ novel that’s being turned into a movie. And they’ve managed to convince the makers to cast them in supporting roles. Hauer is acting as ‘Military advisor’ on the production, and hating every minute of this.

This. Sounds. Brilliant.

Williams: The fact that no one’s seen or heard from them in 20 years pretty much sums up their feelings of having seen better days. They’re a group without purpose. There used to be straightforward wars of right and wrong, now they’re privately owned by a corporation and they don’t have a fight. The key line for me was “Super Soldiers? There’s nothing super about us.” “No, but we’re soldiers. So we fight.” It’s the story of people who’ve lost purpose but, when MYS-TECH attack in overwhelming numbers, they have to try and protect innocents. I was channelling movies like Zulu and The Wild Geese writing it. That British soldiers idea of fighting against crazy odds, trying to hold the line. Trying to find something noble.

Well, we heard that some of the Marvel UK characters might have ended up in some very different situations since the 90s. And this is pretty conclusively different. It all sounds like such a wonderful premise, I cannot wait to read it.

Revolutionary War: Knights of Pendragon is out in January and Revolutionary War: Super Soldiers in February. Watch out for them. Better still ask your comic book store to put one aside for you.