Comics writer Jason Aaron has been deep in creator-owned work from 2006’s The Other Side to the current hit series Southern Bastards, and now he’s called up his friend and long-time Marvel collaborator Ron Garney for what he calls “the darkest crime story I’ve ever written.” Announced last month, Men of Wrath sees the two Marvel veterans who’ve worked together on things as varying as Wolverine to Captain America and even Thor pair up one more time in Marvel’s Icon imprint for a more personal story about an Alabama hitman and his bloody family history which goes back generations. Men of Wrath is culled from Aaron’s own family history, but Garney says the story of Ira Rath and his kin is something he personally identified with as well.
“What hooked me on Men of Wrath was the social dynamic and the history,” Garney tells Newsarama. “I can’t say too much more without revealing important points about the thrust of it, but there’s a dynamic I personally identified with as well. When he was explaining it to me I started seeing visuals right away and hearing a musical score for a movie in my head. So I 'got' it right away.”
Scheduled to launch in October, the five-issue Men of Wrath series follows the bloodline of the Rath family – beginning three generations ago when Isom Rath murdered a man because of a deal gone wrong over sheep. That dark deed cast a “black cloud” over the family according to Marvel’s solicitations, and one that the modern-day Rath, Ira, takes on in his latest gig as a hitman. Garney says it’s Ira Rath he’s drawn to most, the character Marvel describes as “coldest hitman ever to walk on Alabama soil.” The Connecticut artist says Ira’s interplay with another central character in the book hits home to relationships he has inside his own family.
Although Jason Aaron has done numerous creator-owned series over the years, Men of Wrath will mark the first time Garney, who has worked in comics since 1991, has made the leap. But according to Garney, it was a long time coming.
“I was offered at one point early on to come over to Image but decided to stay with Marvel,” the artist reveals. “That said, I have tons of ideas, unrealized, because I was always so busy working on regular books and never had the energy to get my ideas off the ground. There were also ideas and plots I had come up with doing the mainstream work that I hadn't really gotten as much credit for even though I got to draw them and I didn't want that to really happen further and wanted to own something. That’s where Jason and I started talking, as I felt it was time to move down that road in my career.”
Garney’s career has been almost exclusively at Marvel, from his debut in 1991’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #110 and on through memorable runs on Captain America, Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Daredevil. Garney has stepped outside of Marvel sparingly, doing a run on DC’s JLA in the early 2000s and spending some time in Hollywood as a costume illustrator on I Am Legend and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But for the past few years, Garney has worked exclusively for Marvel and for the most part with Aaron on titles such as Wolverine, Ultimate Comics: Captain America and Thor: God of Thunder. Garney says he and Aaron bonded during their first collaboration on Wolverine, and share a love for Clint Eastwood.
“What prompted us becoming fast friends? Well I think people who understand one another often do,” Garney says. “We also are both huge Clint Eastwood fans. I was watching Unforgiven the other day (for the thousandth time) and I was thinking about Men of Wrath and it’s the kind of stuff I love to do, so there’s a natural kinship there.”
For some time now, Garney has been doing his own inks over his pencils, and recently in Thor: God of Thunder he seemed to be pushing that further in terms of roughness. – something he plans on continuing with Men of Wrath.
“I’m always experimenting with a look--i love the subtle grayish roughness that a scanned pencil line brings, but it’s the best of times the worst of times,” Garney admits. “When it’s done right it looks great and its and astonishing thing of beauty, the colored pencil look--- but when the scan picks up too much unfinished stray pencil it can work against it and it can put off the eyes as being unfinished or too loose for some tastes. It’s a work in progress, but on Men of Wrath I'm working with scanned pencil and Inking as well. In fact issue #2 is all my own inking. And I'm fortunate to be working with a guy who handles all that well in the great Matt Milla, the colorist.”
After doing working in the superhero genre virtually non-stop since 1991, Garney began looking for a change and Aaron, as a long-time friend, collaborator and veteran of creator-owned work, offered that chance.
“I think Jason had this story in mind for me to draw it. I really wanted a break from doing superhero work and do something more akin to watching a movie unrelated to all that,” Garney explains. “To be honest, I don't know if I’d ever even want to go back to superheroes although I probably will but I'm going to give it some serious thought. I love doing these kinds of more human character studies or deconstructions of genres. I can see more psychological thrillers, westerns, murder mysteries, etc. in my future.”