In Epoch and underground supernatural tournament that’s gone on for eons has bled – literally – into the streets of New York City. What once was something kept outside prying eyes has gotten the attention of NYPD detective Jonah Wright when bodies start popping up across the city. The first guess is a serial killer, but with the victims having nothing in common saving their deceased status, Wright finds himself at a dead end until he ends up in a firefight with a demon shooting real fire. Although burned in the process, he’s got his lead – and it leads him on the trail of this secret tournament as well as his family’s own connections with this deadly game.With this supernatural series set to debut on August 3, Epoch’s writer Kevin McCarthy sat down with us to talk about the series, the tournament, and the cop that’s tasked with getting to the bottom of the deaths on and off the arena floor.
Newsarama: What can you tell us about Epoch, Kevin?
Kevin McCarthy: When we first meet NYC Detective Jonah Wright at the beginning of Epoch, he's the primary on a serial murder case. Bodies have been turning up across the city, killed and displayed in bizarre ways, but with no obvious connection between the victims, men and women from varied ethnic and economic backgrounds. It's a stone whodunit until a break in the case leads to another body, and a maniac covered in blue fire who proceeds to kill an entire NYPD ESU/SWAT team, mortally wounding Jonah in the process. Jonah soon discovers that maniac is a DEMON, and that there are a whole host of different supernatural creatures living among us in secret, and now dying as part of some great supernatural conspiracy at the heart of Jonah's murder investigation.
Nrama: And where does the title, “Epoch”, come into play for the story itself?
McCarthy: In order for the various supernatural groups to secretly and peacefully coexist with humanity, they've formed a council that presides over all matters and disputes that arise between the eight supernatural orders, which include demons, angels, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, gorgons, banshees, and trolls. Epoch is the name of the ancient fighting tournament that has determined the council leader throughout the millennia. Since most supernatural creatures can live for a very long time, it rarely occurs, but since the last council head is among those recently murdered, the contest begins again. Each supernatural group chooses a champion who will fight the others until only one is left standing, and the winner of Epoch chooses the next council leader.
Nrama: Jonah Wright sounds like a man who knows how to do his job, but dealing with the supernatural might be something beyond his paygrade. Can you tell us about him?
McCarthy: He's a native New Yorker, a decorated and dedicated young homicide detective with a good clearance rate and a nonexistent social life. He lives for his job, and when it almost kills him, Jonah is forced to investigate himself to a degree. He's estranged from his father Gabriel, also NYPD, retired, who never got over the death of Jonah's mother during childbirth. He probably even blames Jonah for that on some level. When the grave injury Jonah suffers at the beginning of Epoch brings father and son back together, Jonah's keen detective's mind leads him to take a closer look at Gabriel, and it takes Jonah down a path to self-discovery that reveals some hard, unbelievable truths about who he really is.
Nrama: Tell us more about this murder case and why it’s so unique.
McCarthy: People from all walks of life are turning up dead, seemingly at random. These aren't Craigslist prostitutes out in a field somewhere, but a homemaker, a banker, a cable-access TV personality, a college student with no obvious connection between them. But the fact that they seem so completely disconnected, coupled with the use of various murder weapons and techniques, this too-perfect non-connection is what raises a red flag for a seasoned detective like Jonah Wright. It's as if some disciplined super-killer is purposefully randomizing victims, locations, and methods. When a break in the case finally comes from of all people a US Congresswoman, Jonah begins to understand the true scope of these killings, and suspects that his own father may somehow be involved.
Nrama: What is the big threat Jonah is up against here?
McCarthy: You mean besides the maniacal demon serial killer covered in blue fire? Perhaps the biggest threat to Jonah is what the existence of this supernatural underworld means for him personally. Over the course of his story, Jonah not only learns that everything he thought he knew about his father and himself is a lie, but with this knowledge, is forced to make choices that not only complicate his murder investigation, but embroils him in a supernatural power struggle that threatens the city he's sworn to protect and could very well bring about the downfall of humanity. A lot to ask on a cop's salary.
Nrama: Without spoiling too much, can you tell us about this heritage he doesn’t know about?
McCarthy: Jonah's investigation not only uncovers the existence of supernatural creatures like demons and gorgons, but it also begins to shed some light on the strained relationship he has with his father, who has always kept Jonah at arm's length. Could it be that Gabriel has been protecting Jonah from some terrible truth about himself by keeping his distance? In Epoch #1, a nagging detective's hunch forces Jonah to tail his father to a secret location in NYC's Chinatown, and in so doing, takes his first steps into a mysterious supernatural underworld he can never come back from.
Nrama: 7. Jonah’s name carries a biblical call-back: Jonah from the story of Jonah and the Whale. Is that just a coincidence, or is there more at work here?
McCarthy: Only in that it suggests one man's struggle against seemingly overwhelming odds. Our Jonah's "whale" comes in the shape of an uncovered secret supernatural heritage, and the burden of being the bridge between -- and unlikely protector of -- two worlds.
Nrama: Can you pick out one scene or moment in the book that turned out different from how you originally planned?
McCarthy: There IS a moment, at the beginning of the second issue, where, even though we've been given clues and caught glimpses of it, the existence of a supernatural world coexisting with our own is seen for the first time, where Paolo really knocked out it of the park. It's actually an extension of a scene from the end of the first issue, but presented as a double-page spread in Epoch #2, and Paolo perfectly captures the sense of wonder we'd hoped for when the demons and werewolves, Etc. are fully revealed to our hero. Paolo excels at detailed crowd scenes, and it's in this scene, as well as the wraparound cover for Epoch #1, where he really gets to show off his incredible drawing ability.
Nrama: That Paolo you mentioned is artist Paolo Pantalena. Since he’s the one taking your words and turning them into comics, how is he matching up with what you had in mind?
McCarthy: Paolo brings hyper-stylized energy to Epoch. No easy feat when you consider the international scope of the story and its cavalcade of creatures. If his art accompanies this article then you know what I mean. His gorgons are incredible. His vampires are exciting. Paolo brings a sexy danger to every page, making my job look easy. His artwork is the star of this book, no question, and he's captured my vision for the world of Epoch. in a way that has exceeded expectation.