Kieron Gillen first became known to comic book fans through the acclaimed Image series Phonogram, co-created by his long-time collaborator Jamie McKelvie, and combing the worlds of music and magic.
In recent years, he's become a major star at Marvel Comics, with a beloved run on Journey Into Mystery, an eventful stint on Uncanny X-Men and his two current gigs — writing the Marvel NOW! Iron Man relaunch, and bringing a new take on the Young Avengers concept, along with McKelvie.
Given that, it's not necessarily an obvious time for him to be writing a World War II horror story titled Uber at Avatar, but while it just launched this past April, it's a series that's been in the works for years. In the third and final part of our latest interview with the writer, Gillen opens up about the "gratifying" circumstances behind Uber, and provides an update on the forthcoming third volume of Phonogram, "The Immaterial Girl," first announced last year at the inaugural Image Expo.
Newsarama: Kieron, read on your blog that Uber first started percolating back in 2008, before you had written anything for Marvel. What's it been like watching it come into the world now, given that it's so clearly different from both your Marvel work and Phonogram? And does it make it all the more satisfying that it seems to have been rather warmly received so far?
Kieron Gillen: There is one piece of Marvel work that pre-dates it — the newuniversal: 1959 special I'd written. However, writing Uber #0 was happening at the exact same time as my first Marvel Universe story (an eight-page short about Dazzler).
It's certainly different to what people expect of me, which is gratifying. That it's going well is doubly so. That the first two issues have done have well as they have excites me. I think they're good comics, but I know the book only gets stronger as we progress. From #3 onwards, it's basically contemporary work, and we're building towards the climax of the first arc, which is the first actual battle between Allied and Axis-enhanced humans. The rest of the first year widens the focus, and has some beats that are basically seismic.
Nrama: Also wanted to ask about Uber artist Canaan White, as he hasn't had a lot of previous comic book credits, and obviously nailing the visuals on a project like this is vital. What's it been like partnering with him on this series?
Gillen: He's been great. He did the first two issues, and then did a whole graphic novel with Max Brooks for Avatar, before returning to Uber. There's about a three-year gap between issue #1 and #2, I think. By the time we get to issue six and the Okinawa arc, he's something else, really capable of both the moments of gentleness and the moral outrage of its body horror.
I finally met him at Phoenix Comicon, and he's also a great guy. Si Spurrier and I totally have a guy crush on him. That said, there will inevitably be a war between our two warrior tribes — the bald and the mohawked. There will be blood.
Nrama: You've got an Image book, Three, coming in October with Ryan Kelly, and you and Jamie McKelvie are clearly busy with Young Avengers, but is there an update of any kind on Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl?
Gillen: Yeah, it's annoying and embarrassing, and we apologize. The plan was to do it at the same time as Young Avengers. However, even working with Mike [Norton], that simply hasn't happened. It's all written (though will be rewritten before Jamie draws any more, because just like the Four Tops, I can't help myself), and will find its way out. Our current plans would see it coming out late summer next year.