The Fantastic Four may be comics’ first family of superheroes, but certainly not its last.
In the Image series Noble Causes, a family of super-heroes named the Nobles are at the forefront of crime-fighting while also gracing the front of celebrity magazines worldwide. Over the course of forty issues, writer Jay Faerber crafted a unique tale of family troubles, struggles and just plain family life – all the while dealing with super0villains and even a few competing heroes on the way.
The series ended in 2008, and later this summer the final issues will be collected in a book entitled Noble Causes: Ever After released on August 25th. This book collects the final four issues, as well as a mountain of special material such as sketches from Yildiray Cinar and commentary by the creators. For more on the final pages of Noble Causes, we turned to creator Jay Faerber.Newsarama: Like a good series finale of the TV show, this final storyarc of Noble Causes really brought things to a head. What would you say is the overarching theme of Noble Causes - and did you learn anything new about the characters and story when you actually sat down to write it?
Faerber: Gah -- I never think about theme. I just try to entertain people, and if a theme emerges so be it. But I guess, looking back, if there's a theme to Noble Causes it's that you're stuck with your family. For good or bad, you're connected to these people. And it's what you do with that connection that counts. Also, if your son is nearly killed and you put his brain in a robot body, it's probably a good idea to build a robot girlfriend for him. I'm just saying.
As for what I learned about the characters in that final story ... I know that the idea of Gaia getting out of prison and making a play for Doc was not something I intended to do. That idea came to me pretty close to when I ended the series, and yet it felt so natural. So I guess that surprised me about Gaia. I wouldn't have expected it from her.
Nrama: For those who might be new to Noble Causes - or need a refresher course - what's the story on this final story arc?
Faerber: This final TPB collects the last four issues of the series, which are more or less self-contained stories rather than a 4-part arc. Issue #37 guest-stars Invincible and features Yildiray Cinar (currently drawing the hell out of Legion of Super-Heroes) drawing a knock-down, drag-out fight between Slate Blackthorne and Invincible. This is one of those stories were I just gave Yildiray a bunch of pages and told him to have Slate and Invincible beat the crap out of each other. And Yildiray delivered. It's a really fun fight scene, and gives us our last real look at the villainous Blackthorne family.
Issue #38 explains how Rusty's personality shifted so drastically after the "Five Year" jump that happened in the previous TPB.
Issue #39 is a fun flashback issue that shows how Celeste met and fell in love with Colonel Comet, who's an old, senile guy in 2009 but through the wonders of time travel, Celeste met him back in the 1950s. We had fun with that issue, incorporating all kinds of retro elements, like old-school word balloons and sound effects, and fake old-school coloring.
And then issue #40 is the grand finale, as Gaia Noble is released from prison which elicits various reactions from the Nobles. We also find out what Race and Liz have been up to.
Nrama: Noble Causes ended in comics in 2008, and now with the impending release of the final trade it really brings all that home. Now that you've had some time to process it all - what do you think of your run on Noble Causes?
Faerber: Overall, I'm very proud of it. I have a strong sentimental attachment to it, not just because I created it, but also because it represents my first venture into the creator-owned world of comics. It got the ball rolling for me, and introduced me to a whole new approach to comics. Some of it was a learning experience, sure. And I made some choices that I'm not crazy about, in retrospect. But overall I think it really holds up as a really fun series with interesting characters.
And it features work by some truly amazing artists, many of whom were just starting out on Noble Causes and have gone on to have really successful careers in comics.
Nrama: Could you foresee returning to the characters at some point?
Faerber: It's not out of the question, but it's also not something I'm planning on doing. So I kinda doubt we'll see any kind of formal revival. You're more likely to see them pop up in Dynamo 5 or something.
Nrama: Being this is the final book, are you including any extras or incidentals with the collected edition?
Faerber: There will be a good deal of extras in the collection, as well. Stuff like sketchbook material from Yildiray Cinar (including character designs, page layouts, cover roughs, etc.) and some commentary by me. Maybe even a script. We haven't put the collection together yet, so I'm not exactly sure how much room we'll have to work with.
Nrama: Noble Causes is about a family of superheroes, and the creators you had involved with this became a family of sorts - I've seen you do other work with virtually every member of the team during and after
Noble Causes. What's that camaraderie like?Faerber: I think it's great. I consider myself to be friends with pretty much everyone I've ever collaborated with. I keep in touch with some more than others, but I consider them all friends and look forward to running into them at cons, or seeing their new projects announced. And I consider myself really fortunate that we all still work together from time to time, on various projects. Even if it's just a pin-up or something. Another advantage to working with people over a long period of time is that you develop a nice shorthand for how the other person works. It means I can make my scripts less detailed (because I trust the artist to get what I'm going for) and it means the artist can take more chances and follow his instincts a little more than he might otherwise, because he knows that I trust him.
Nrama: You've been an amazing arbiter of talent - it seems like each artist you pick to work with you on a creator-owned project ends up being swooped up by DC or Marvel to work on their books. Can you talk about that?
Faerber: Well, I try to look on the bright side. Pretty much every artist I've worked with is a really good guy, so obviously I'm happy that their talent is noticed by other editors. And the simple truth is that DC and Marvel can afford to pay them a lot more than I can. So I can hardly blame them when they decide to make the jump. But I've had good runs with all of them. Mahmud Asrar drew a nice 25-issue run of Dynamo 5, and continues to be involved with the book. And Yildiray drew 13 issues of Noble Causes, plus he helped us out on a few issues of Dynamo 5.
Nrama: Now that you've put Noble Causes to rest, can you give us a rundown of what you're working on these days?
Faerber: Most of my attention is on my other Image super-hero book, Dynamo 5. We're in the middle of a new mini-series, entitled Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father, which launched in June and runs for 5 issues. We've decided that the mini-series route is the best way to proceed with this book, as it allows us to stockpile issues and release them when we can confidently hit our solicited dates. So this mini runs from June through October, and then we're planning to do a Dynamo 5 Christmas Special, although that may not be the actual title. Then, if all goes according to plan, we'll have another mini-series launching around March.
Aside from that, I've got a few other Image projects I'm working on, but those are all a ways off from being released. One of them is a new monthly series that will hopefully launch in early to mid 2011, and the other projects are all mini-series.