“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
No, that’s not it. In the upcoming slimline graphic novel Endangered, this space drama takes place in the here and now – starting with Earth and two young boys who find out there father is a laser-wielding space hero. That’s right. It’s like finding your Christmas presents a month early times…. Well, a million.
But there’s some bad news. In their dad’s space-faring adventures, he’s made an enemy out of gang of evil aliens called the Decay who have kidnapped him. With no rescue in site, the fate of their space-faring father is in the hands of two brothers named Chris and Mikey. This is all told to them by an attractive teenage alien girl that shows up in their living room. She’s the last of her kind, and the key to all the trouble, and she’s going to help them get their father back.
Endangered comes out of the mind of writer Joshua Williamson. Williamson came onto the comic scene in 2007 with the miniseries Necessary Evil. After following it up with the Dear Dracula graphic novel and several other miniseries, the writer got picked up on the Big Two’s radar where he’s done work for such titles as Superman/Batman and The Incredible Hulks. But as these creator-owned ideas brought him into the industry, he’s returning to it – and thanks to Kickstart editor Jimmy Palmiotti he’s paired with artist Juan Santacruz (X-Men, The Resistance). This graphic novel is scheduled to hit comic shops and your local Wal-mart this Spring, and Williamson is excited to launch this next big creator-owned project.
Newsarama: After some early success with work at DC, it’s good to see you returning with some new creator-owned projects Joshua. What is Endangered about?
Joshua Williamson: Thanks, Chris. I try to do a bit of everything and working with the big boys and doing creator owned at the same time is my goal. My head is usually exploding with ideas so getting back to the wonderful world of creator-owned was a long time coming.
Endangered is about two brothers, Chris and Mikey, who think their dad is this quiet guy but then find out he is an intergalactic space hero. However they only discover this after he has been kidnapped by a group of evil aliens called the Decay. Once their dad is kidnapped his space ship comes back to earth to get them and make Chris the new pilot/space hero of the Dad’s ship. But it grabs both Mikey and Chris, and they then fight over who should be in charge. Before they can rescue their Dad, they must first complete his last mission: Saving the last of an endangered race from The Decay. It just so happens the last of this endangered race is an attractive female alien who could also destroy the Decay.
Nrama: What’s life like for these two brothers before aliens enter the picture?
Williamson: They are of pair of teenage risk takers. Chris builds it and Mikey drives it…. Or at least crashes it.
They’ve always been the kids that will try to build rocket packs in their back yard, skydive off buildings with home made parachutes and when the story starts they have taken up building crash cars for demolition derbies and driving them.
They used to get along but because Chris is a few years older and starting to grow up, getting ready for college and all that… it’s caused a rift between the two brothers.
Nrama: What’s their dad like that he could be an intergalactic superhero and them not know it? Could my dad secretly be a space ace too?
Williamson:Their Dad has been pulling a “Clark Kent” for years. He has always been a strict boring father. In fact his day job cover is that of a safety inspector. His motto is “safety first” so you take that plus his two risk taking sons and you have a mix matched father and sons combo. As the story goes you learn that Chris knew a bit more about his Dad’s real life and Mikey was left in the dark… so of course this drives an even bigger wedge between Mikey and Chris.
And Yes… I hate to break it to you this way, Chris… but your dad is in fact… a space pilot.
Nrama: I knew it!
Back to Endangered, these two kids finally get clued in to their father’s extraterrestrial adventures via a young who is literally out of this world. What’s she like, Joshua?
Williamson: Caysea is a teen girl and the last of the Ximeno race. A race of beings whose sole mission in their lives was to bring hope to all life. They traveled across the universe helping planets out. Bringing a little bit of light every where they went. They were very peaceful, almost monk-like. But Caysea was always a bit of an outsider; she has a bit of rage inside her and just enough doubt that made her training difficult. When the Decay started to hunt the Ximenos down, she was hidden because she wasn’t trained enough to fight back.
The thing is now she is all that is left, and the only thing that can defeat the Decay. Which pisses her off. The only way she can ever get to her full potential is to let go of that anger. She cares less for the boys’ antics and just wants to get away from it all. She isn’t ready to be the universe’s savoir or hero. She just wants to be a teenage girl.
Nrama: Just what exactly are these two boys up against in getting their father back with these guys called the Decay?
Williamson: The Decay are lead by a dark being called Ruin. A Thanos-Darkseid like being who can create his own dark creatures to do his bidding. He’s created an army and space ships to fly across the universe and help him take over. Ruin also has an assistant named Drag, who is this female assassin who can track anything. Her job is to find the last Ximeno, Caysea, and bring her to Ruin. Drag creates quite a few problems for the boys all by herself.
But since the Ximenos are near wiped out the universe has become darker and hopeless place, making the criminal element come out and play. The boys have to navigate past a few nefarious criminal forces to get to safety. But at the end of the day they still need to take on Ruin, who is the personification of all that is evil in the universe. He is literally evil given life. And for sure two much for just two teenage boys from Earth.
Nrama: This seems like a very classic sci-fi flick from the 80s – Weird Science meets The Last Starfighter. How did this idea develop?
Williamson: Um. Well that’s a very… silly story. I’ll try to keep this quick. Batman artist Dustin Nguyen and I were talking about laser printers very late one night many years ago. We both had laser printers and started to joke that we were the “Laser Brothers.” This lead to me thinking about a cartoon featuring three brothers in space piloting “laser ships.” Eventually the book started to take shape, became a bit of an older tone in story, was cut down to two brothers and was renamed Endangered. Really I’ve always wanted to do a book that had a “Goonies in Space” feel to it and this is it. It’s that escapism, y’know? We all wish we could find out our parents were space pilots and are able to fly space ships in space. While working with Kickstart I was able to refine the idea into what we have now.
I’m a big fan of 1980’ sci-fi flicks that were this great hardcore sci-fi with a bit of humor tied into them. I was just watching Inner Space last night and thinking how much I loved that movie. I tried to go with that… it’s pretty much a buddy flick in space with two guys trying to save the universe…. Which is pretty 80s if you ask me.
Nrama: I’d ask you, but you already told me. This book follows two brothers finding out their father is an intergalactic hero on the sly. Do you have siblings, and if so, how is your relationship compared to the one you depict in the book?
Williamson: Actually I have two younger brothers and I can completely relate to not getting along with your siblings. We mouth off to each other and there is a level of competition between us that is just like Chris and Mikey in the book. My Dad was gone a lot when we were kids, so I channeled that into how the boys look at their father and how finding out he is this cool guy is a lot like what I think happens to a lot of people growing up. You think your parents are these fuddy duddys but the older you get and more you get to know then, hopefully you learn they are actually cool people.
Nrama: Speaking of buddies, for this you’re working with a favorite artist of mine, Juan Santacruz.. How did you two hook up – and hook up with Kickstart for that matter?
Williamson: Juan and I were matched up by Jimmy Palmiotti, who is working with Kickstart and Juan is just awesome. When I started getting his pencils I was blown away by his level of detail and depth. I’d be surprised… no, more like shocked if Juan didn’t blow up after this book. With each page he took what was in the script and went above and beyond what I asked for. It’s a space book that calls for a lot of elements which most artists would just skip, but Juan ran with it and turned out an amazing looking book. There are pages with so many space ships I tried counting them and just gave up.
Kickstart and I started working together after they optioned my Image book Dear Dracula. They liked working with me and what I was coming up with for Dear Dracula so they approached me about doing books for the new comic line they were planning. I liked what they had to say and jumped at the chance. I actually had Endangered picked up before my other book with them, Mirror, Mirror, but Mirror, Mirror is coming out first.
Endangered is my first book of 2011, which is going to be a very busy year and I hope people enjoy Endangered as much as we enjoyed putting it together.More from Kickstart Day: KICKSTART DAY: Burn Notice Writer Gives The Gods a HEADACHE KICKSTART DAY: Screenwriting Team Help Forge BLACKSMITH