Bring on the Bad Guys: Frank Tieri & His 'Made Men'
In Marvel.com’s Made Men, which launched today as part of Marvel’s Digital Comics Unilimited, Tieri is taking Attuma, Jack O Lantern, The Gamma Corps, Spymaster and The Enforcer and looking at where they are in the Marvel Universe, or more specifically, Norman Osborn’s Marvel Universe, which falls under the heading “Dark Reign.”
Osborn has a plan for everyone.
Tieri laid it out for us.
Newsarama: Frank, you've been doing other Marvel.com projects - is Made Men the next extension of that line of stories?
Frank Tieri: I think it is. What we’ve been seeing here is a progression for Marvel.com—they’ve done stand alone stories, stories that tie into movie continuity and now they’ve gone a step further and are doing projects that tie into Marvel’s big crossover events like Dark Reign. They just keep upping the ante—doing more and more stuff in continuity, stuff that is important to the scope of the Marvel U—not only Made Men but also things like the ongoing Spider-Woman Motion Comic. More and more people are taking notice as a result and, as a guy who came from Marvel.com back in the day, I’m happy whatever role I can play in having that happen.
NRAMA: Who are your "Made Men" and how did you end up with them on your list? Was it a question of availability, or rather characters you wanted to tackle in this particular story?
FT: The characters are Attuma, Jack O Lantern, The Gamma Corps, Spymaster and The Enforcer. And Lethal Legion was actually going to be the sixth story, but we decided there was enough going on there to merit it being its own separate miniseries (look for it in June—don’t miss it!).
As for why these particular characters, after hearing about the particulars of the Dark Reign event, I immediately thought it could be a perfect opportunity to brush off some of second-tier villains that we haven’t seen in quite a while, bring them back in a big way and give them purpose again. So once the project got approved, it was just a matter of deciding who that was going to be—and that was pretty much up to the gang at Marvel.com. They--particularly Ben Morse—came up with the list of possible candidates, choosing villains they thought I’d be good with. Then it was just a matter of Tom Brevoort giving his yea or nay, and after a little back and forth, these represent our final choices. These were the characters we figured that had the best chance going forward for not only this project, but beyond in the Marvel U, as well.
FT: Marvel.com’s John Cerilli accurately pointed out to me that this is not really so much one project as much as it’s actually kind of like five little projects. We’ve got five individual stories here that tie into the main Dark Reign event with each story showing how the world is different now that Norman’s the big man on campus. And as you can guess, it’s not a pretty place.
NRAMA: Let's talk milieu - this is set during Dark Reign, so Norman Osborn's in charge. I think one of the things that's fairly impressive about the scope of Norman's plans is his reach, and that seems to be something you're playing with here. I mean - these guys aren’t major players when it comes to the power structure of the Marvel Universe, and yet, Norman has plans - either good or bad - for all of them?
FT: If we’re talking Norman’s personal plans, I’d say we’re really just talking Gamma Corps, Spymaster and Jack O’Lantern. In fact, he himself is actually only personally involved in two of the stories—Spymaster and Gamma Corps—though his presence is certainly more than felt in Jack O Lantern’s story.
But if we’re getting technical about it, I also suppose you can say his presence is felt in the Enforcer and Attuma stories as well because, even though those stories deal with two of his fellow Cabal members-- the Hood and Dr Doom -- they only exist because of the situation Norman has created.
NRAMA: Who among your Made Men has clicked with you the most so far? Dare we ask why?
FT: It’s funny, because I’d say the story that both me and my editors would choose is the one with the character I had the hardest time figuring out what to do with… and that’s Attuma. For starters, there was a little matter of coming up with a way to put the guy’s head back on, seeing as how he lost it fighting the Sentry. But then it hit me—therein lied my story. What would you do if you’re given a second chance at life? Would you continue as you were—forever unsuccessfully battling the surface world and Atlantis in Attuma’s case-- or would you take the opportunity to change everything? That’s the question Attuma is faced with after he’s brought back to life and made a “game changing” offer by Dr. Doom. He basically spends the entire story wrestling with the decision, and, though I naturally won’t give it away here, if he does accept, let’s just say that not only will his status quo drastically change but the dynamic between him and Namor will never be the same again.
NRAMA: Spymaster’s first up—and this is the original Spymaster we’re talking about, right? How’d that happen?
NRAMA: You've got new versions of Enforcer and Jack O' Lantern here - what can you tell us about them?
FT: With Jack O’ Lantern, we’re talking about a new version of the character—the brother of the original, actually. Our story mainly takes place in a police station as the cops grill this scumbag over the murder of a teenage girl. Probably what’s most important than anything about the story is it gives us a good indication as to what’s happening to criminals in the new Norman Osborn-dominated law-enforcement system.
As for the Enforcer, I always liked that character for some reason. I don’t know, I guess maybe it was the fact that he was a hit man that wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the supernatural players in the Marvel U like Ghost Rider and Werewolf by night. (And the fact that he was named after a Clint Eastwood movie didn’t hurt either) It seemed to me he lived almost in two very different worlds, and since the Marvel U didn’t really have somebody like him since he died, we figured it was time to bring the big guy back.
Well, bring the Enforcer back, anyway. As with Jack O Lantern, this is also a new model, a protégé of the original who finds himself being at odds with the Hood. This one’s got a bit more of an underworld feel to it, and hopefully we’ve created a viable new player in Marvel’s crime scene for years to come.
NRAMA: As we've commented many times before, you've got the reputation of being the "villain guy." But yet - in getting inside their heads when you write them, do the lines start to blur for you? After all, no one looks at themselves in the mirror in the morning, and says, "I'm going to be the bad guy today!"
FT: You know, I’m not so sure about that. I know people have said that, and while I think that’s true in 99.9 % of the cases, I actually think there are people who think they’re “the bad guy”—and maybe even take pride in it. Again most people don’t see themselves that way—and yeah, even a sick S.O.B. like Hitler thought in his own twisted mind his actions were for the good of his people—but then you take a look at a guy like Jeffrey Dahmer. He thought he was evil and hated himself for it. So yeah, I do think there’s some people like that in the Marvel U. I mean, you mean to tell me somebody like Sabretooth doesn’t think he’s evil? Do you think he even gives a #$%^?
So really, when writing about bad guys, it’s all about degrees. For the purposes of our project, almost none of these characters think they’re so called “bad guys”—the Gamma Corps are just misguided but not bad per se, guys like the Enforcer and Spymaster figure they’re just doing what needs to be done to make a living, Attuma’s doing what he feels is in the best interests of his people.
NRAMA: You mentioned the Gamma Corps – first Mr X is appearing in Thunderbolts, then Shiver Man resurfaces in Astonishing Tales and now these characters from your World War Hulk mini make their return. It seems like suddenly a lot of your old creations are getting some face time recently. What have these particular ones been up to?
FT: The Corps are still doing what they were doing when we last saw them—and that’s hunting down the Illuminati, having been pointed in that direction by the Hulk. They’ve gone underground and have fixed their sights on Iron Man at the moment, as he seems to be the target du jour anyway. Of course, all they’re trying to do is desperately redeem themselves for what they did while working for General Ryker, never realizing they’re more misguided than ever—and you just know somebody like Osborn is more than willing to take advantage of their situation. He ends up making them a very intriguing offer that’ll seriously change their status quo and put them in quite the interesting position from here on out.
NRAMA: Honestly, this project is all just part of your plan to pull us all into your world of gray, isn't it?
FT: The world is gray, my friend. I just make everybody take off their rose colored glasses and see it for what it is.