Sure, teenagers and horror stories almost always go hand-in-hand in the movies these days. But teenaged superheroes and horror?
Beginning with this week's The Ravagers #8, DC fans get to experience a teenage superhero book by a horror writer — with a tone inspired by his love of darker stories.
That's not to say new writer Michael Alan Nelson, known for his work on indie series like Fall of Cthulhu and 28 Days Later, is turning The Ravagers into a horror book.
In fact, he said he's not making The Ravagers "dark just for the sake of dark."
But he does want to push the characters into environments that "bring us to a better understanding of [the] characters," and that includes Nelson's "usual dusky atmosphere." And as recent issues and solicitations have hinted, that "dusky-ness" probably includes a confrontation from Deathstroke in coming issues.exclusive art from
Ravagers #9Intrigued? Read on. Newsarama asked Nelson about what he's starting this week in The Ravagers, and why he compared the teen heroes to soldiers and whether a Deathstroke will play a role going forward.
Newsarama: Michael, what are you hoping to do with the approach to The Ravagers as you take over writing the comic?
Michael Alan Nelson: Like most of my stories, I want to explore who these characters are and how they react to being in extreme situations. What makes them even more complex and interesting is that they're also dealing with being a teenager. That's a pretty extreme situation already. Add on everything else and you have a wealth of story potential.
So I'm hoping to explore just a fraction of that, really see who these characters are and how the unfortunate circumstances of their lives changes them, for good or ill, and how it shapes their relationships with one another.
Nrama: How would you describe the comic overall? What's the new tone and direction?
Nelson: I come from a horror background, so tonally I lean toward the darker hues of story telling. But I like that, since it makes the bright moments shine even brighter.
That said, I don't want to be dark just for the sake of being dark. It has to bring us to a better understanding of our characters, otherwise it's just gratuitous.exclusive art from
Ravagers #9The fun is seeing what characters learn about themselves (consciously or not) when put in these environments, so even though I'm bringing my usual dusky atmosphere to the story, it serves to develop the characters. At least that's my hope.
Nrama: How would you describe the team of characters? And what is it about the characters that you're hoping to highlight?
Nelson: I see them as a dysfunctional family. Everyone has issues, they all suffer from some form of PTSD, and yet they have no one else to turn to except each other. No one understands what it's like to go through what they've been through except a fellow Ravager. Much like soldiers in wartime, it's difficult to relate to someone who hasn't experienced combat. So how do they fit in to "normal" society? Can they? So, I'm hoping to highlight that internal struggle to find their place in the world and define their relationships with one another.
Nrama: Your first issue focuses on Rose Wilson and Warblade. What can you tell us about those two characters and their importance to the title going forward?
Nelson: This first issue of mine finds Rose and Warblade sort of on the wrong side of the fence: they're good guys. Well, when I say good guys, I mean they find themselves trying to help a town survive the aftermath of a rogue Ravager. But their reasons certainly aren't benevolent. They're pretty selfish. Even so, the idea of being a hero doesn't sit well with Warblade and he isn't afraid to voice his opinions on the subject. As for what follows, they certainly have a role to play in what comes next. And how they approach the coming complications is definitely informed by what they experience in these first issues.
Nrama: How would you describe issue #9 and the story you're telling as you start your run?
Nelson: Rose and Warblade are hot on the trail of a rogue Ravager who is having difficulty controlling his powers. They chase him into a small mountain town known as Hartsville where he loses control of those powers. Now the whole town is now in jeopardy. You'll have to read it from there to understand just why Rose and Warblade feel compelled to help the town, but as the story unfolds, the townspeople, led by their Sheriff, become more than hapless bystanders. They come together in a way that makes Rose and Warblade question aspects of their own lives. If they do good for selfish reasons, is it still good? They may not necessarily find the answer, but they at least start to ask the question. That, and other questions, will inform the rest of the series as we move forward.
Nrama: We got a surprise at the end of #7 with the appearance by Slade Wilson. How does that play into your upcoming run?exclusive art from Ravagers #9 Nelson: Well, if Deathstroke makes a significant appearance later on, and I'm not saying that he necessarily will, but if he does, I'm sure things would become...volatile. I will say this much. Such a confrontation would definitely leave bodies on the floor. The only questions would be how many and would his be one of them?
Nrama: It seems like the biggest challenge these kids face is that they were trained to be one way, but are fighting to become something different. How does that play into what you're doing in the book in the coming issues?
Nelson: It's everything to the story. While they're fighting to survive, they're also fighting to find their place in the world. But is there a place for them? That's got to be a pretty terrible thought. What if, through no fault of your own but by simply what was done to you, you weren't able to find a place to belong. What would that do to you emotionally? Mentally? Some of us would simply embrace what was done to us, throw the screw-it switch, and be the killer we were trained to be. While others would fight to find a more peaceful existence. Most would vacillate between the two. And it's that struggle that is the most fun to write. And each Ravager is different, with his or her own wants and desires. What Ridge wants is completely different from what Terra wants. And those individual desires color their unique responses to the world around them.Nrama: What does Ig Guara bring to the title?
Nelson: Awesomeness. I just love what he's doing. There's a spread in issue #8 where he asked if we wanted to see brains. Asking that question in and of itself is worth the price of admission as far as I'm concerned. And boy did he deliver. It's always a delight as a writer to see artists take your ideas and bring them to life in a way that's even better than you'd hoped. And Ig has been bringing page after page of awesome. I can't praise him enough.
Nrama: What does 2013 look like for the Ravagers overall?Nelson: Would you believe me if I said it was going to be all puppies and rainbows from here on out? Nah, neither would I. It's going to be tough for them and some won't fare as well as others. But there will be brighter moments, too. It may be fleeting, but happiness is there to be had. We'll just have to see who of them reaches for it.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about your work on The Ravagers and what's coming up on the title?
Nelson: Only that I've been having a great time writing the title and I hope they have as much fun reading it. Some pretty profound things are about to happen. I don't think any fan is going to want to miss it.
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