SDCC 09: Huston Aims for the Future with DEATHLOK
SDCC 09: Huston Knights DEATHLOK
It’s common in comics to joke about how no death is permanent in comics. But at least some characters know how to make it interesting, like bringing them back as a pissed off cyborg that is both suicidal and vengeful.
Marvel recently announced that they were resurrecting the character of Deathlok in a new seven issue series under the Marvel Knights imprint. This new miniseries has Deathlok set in a not-too-distant-future removed from the events of the Marvel U, just as in his origin back in 1974.
Deathlok is coming from writer Charlie Huston and artist Lan Medina. Huston made his name as a noir novelist, and has made a name in comics for himself with work on the recent Moon Knight series as well as various one-shots for Marvel.
“In this world, wars are being fought by proxy military armies that the government contracts with to fight their battles for them,” Huston explains. These wars also provide a spectator sport for the public at large.”
Among those fighting are soldiers Luther Manning and Mike Travers. Hardcore comics fans will recall those names as the duo of the original origin, with Manning as Deathlok and Travers as his best friend.
“Essentially, this is a reimagining of the classic Rich Buckler / Doug Moench origin from Astonishing Tales,” said the writer. “In the original books, one of the storytelling gigs was having Manning’s internal monologue talking to the Deathlok computer, and in this we have both Travers and Manning incorporated into that mix.”
Deathlok has been one of the classic characters whose returns fans have clamored after for some time. After an ill-fated miniseries got shelved several years back, unnamed Deathloks appeared as soldiers in the Black Panther title. But Huston, in keeping with the original’s futuristic setting, decided Deathlok was better on his own.
“Originally I thought I might try to integrate Deathlok into the Marvel Universe. Many years ago they added a time travel aspect to the character, bringing him back from the future to team with Captain America and the Thing at times. At first I thought it’d be fun to get his continuity in sync with Marvel U and have a usable Deathlok to add to the mix… but the more I thought about the original concept and its sci-fi/action roots, it doesn’t really blend well with a superhero universe."
"Much the same way that Marvel made Ghost Rider a horror book distinct from the Marvel Universe, Deathlok needs to be a sci-fi book. It’s a sci-fi adventure story with dark tones and a great deal of satire and black humor.”
The path to Deathlok’s return was paved by both an interest at Marvel to revisit the character, as well as Huston’s own deep-rooted affection for the cyborg.
“Around the time I was wrapping up Moon Knight, editor Axel Alonso asked me what if I’d like to try Deathlok next,” said the Deathlok scribe. “I read Deathlok when I was a kid, and he was one of my top five characters in comics.”
“I just always liked dark dystopia stories even when I was a little kid,” explained Huston. “I read the original Deathlok stories only about two or three years after they were published, and they immediate connected with me,” said Huston. “The attitude of it was amazing – Moench was doing stuff I hadn’t seen in any other place at the time, such as the way the book monologues ran. There were three aspects to Deathlok – Manning, the Deathlok computer and the “Eye in the Sky” thing that ran in narrative boxes.”
“Also the character design is great, and I’ve noticed that artists don’t really monkey with it in any of his subsequent appearances. That’s a big part of it as a kid reading comics – finding someone who looks badass.”
“I liked the darkness of it all. My problem with superhero comics when growing up is that they were wishy-washy and stakes weren’t terribly high. I liked the things off on the fringes; there, when someone died they didn’t come back. And if they did, they come back rebuild as a miserable cyborg that was on a quest to die or recover his humanity.”
This seven issue miniseries will be illustrated by artist Lan Medina, who recently turned heads with a run on Punisher: MAX. “Lan’s working on issue six right now, and I finished writing it over a year ago,” said Huston.” We wanted to hold back because to draw these hyper-realistic, ultra-detailed pages takes a lot of time. You don’t want to just shoot this stuff out, so Axel wanted to get a nice stockpile of issues in before looking for a window to announce it.
“By the time they publish the first issue, all the artwork should be done,” said Huston. “This sucker should publish like a machine.”