Interagents #4Dwight MacPherson has been blazing a trail all his own as a writer in the comic book industry—he’s worked for a bevy of publishers including IDW, Arcana Studio, Viper Comics, and Silent Devil Productions. He’s even produced a Harvey and Eagle Award Nominated project—The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo with Shadowline/ Image. Now he’s back again, at Chimaera Comics, with a new superhero story to tell in the form of Interagents — a superhero suspense thriller set in the U.S. during World War II.
Newsarama contacted MacPherson to talk about his latest comic book series, Interagents, and his thoughts on the bread and butter genre of the comic book industry—superheroes.
Newsarama: First off, let's talk about the premise of Interagents --the story takes place during World War II--and it's a suspense/thriller with superheroes...
Dwight MacPherson: That's correct. The setting for Interagents is a parallel universe during the Second World War. There are several differences between our realities, the most notable being the presence of superheroes and advanced technology. As the story progresses, readers will discover how these differences came to exist in the Interagents world. Making the discoveries together is just part of the adventure.
The first story arc revolves around the bombing of Pearl Harbor and a conspiracy to prevent the heroes from interfering with the Japanese attack. In their reality, there is a small group of super-villains that is able to manipulate world events from inside the White House. As the first arc comes to a close, the villains are identified and dealt with...but not entirely. This is a long form work and there will be many revelations in the stories to come. No one is to be trusted and no one is safe in the Interagents world. Mistakes and treachery will result in the deaths of heroes and civilians—just like our own
Interagents #3The second arc deals with the Interagents’ intervention during the Battle of Berlin. The decision to intervene in Russia costs the team dearly, because the United States isn't the only nation with super-powered heroes. The second arc is extremely devastating to the team, but that's all I'll say for now.
NRAMA: Give readers a brief rundown of your book's cast and their abilities.
DM: There are many, many characters in Interagents. This is a book where anyone can die, so it's a good idea to have a large cast.
I should also say that part of the fun of creating Interagents is deviating from the established hero archetypes. As the story progresses, assumptions about the characters will be dispelled. For instance, several readers have said Providence is my version of Superman and Militiaman, my Captain America. As the story unfolds, they'll discover just how wrong their suppositions are.
Having said that—and without giving too much away—the core characters in the first arc are:
Providence - The second most powerful superhero on the planet. He has the powers of flight, superhuman strength, super-sensitive hearing and near-invulnerability. Providence has other abilities that will come to light as the story progresses.
Interagents #3, page 1Pantomath - The world's foremost scientist and creator. He is responsible for the team's gadgetry, security and battle robots, and the team's advanced headquarters and aircraft. His suit is impenetrable, he is able to fly with the use of his jetpack, and he wields a laser gun that is a based upon Nikola Tesla's Teleforce technology.
Militiaman - An ex-Special Forces veteran from World War I. He is an expert marksman and highly skilled in the martial arts. Militiaman has one extraordinary ability but that will come to light in a future arc.
Dr. Danger - Possesses the ability to bring man's worst nightmares to life and take on the consistency of nightmares. This enables him to fly and teleport to any desired location. Beyond this, not much is known about Dr. Danger.
Grandstand - Runs at speeds up to 200 mph, super-fast reflexes and has the ability to fly.
Vic Cross - The third most powerful superhero on the planet, Vic is able to fly and has superhuman strength. He is also near-invulnerable and never ages.
Scarlet Whisper - The ability to emit deafening sound waves from her larynx. She uses this talent to blast villains and can also cause minor focused earthquakes. Scarlet Whisper is also a government agent operating within the Interagents. She is murdered in the first issue of the book, but much will come to light about this super songstress as the story unfolds.
NRAMA: What inspired you to create Interagents?
Interagents #3, page 2DM: Well, to be perfectly honest, I saw what was being done in superhero comic books and thought I could do a better job. No offense to the talented creators at Marvel and DC, but I realize they have editorial constraints and established continuities they are encumbered by. I'm creating my own timeline as I go and am not bound by editorial limitations. It's very exciting to make your own rules, and I think that excitement shows in Interagents.
I also thought it would be fun bending and blending the established archetypes to keep readers guessing. As I said earlier, readers are already making comparisons and drawing conclusions about the heroes. I can't wait to hear the feedback after Providence's big reveal. If you think he's my Superman archetype, wait till you read the fourth issue.
And that's just the beginning! (laughs)
Beyond that, I believed I could make a more personal comic book. What I mean is that in Marvel's and DC's books, their heroes die, but are never truly gone. In Interagents, when a hero dies, it's final. As I said in the Interagents Director's Cut: if you can't connect with a hero's death, how can you possibly connect with his or her life? I mean...if their deaths are only temporary, how can we—as mortals—possibly make any more than a superficial connection with the heroes? In Interagents, they face the same fears, temptations and realities we all face. Yes, they have super powers, but they also bleed and die just like you and me. I hope this makes their lives, struggles and deaths much more personal and meaningful.
Interagents #3, page 3NRAMA: Who else are you working on this project with?
DM: The first story arc (issues 1-3) is illustrated by sensational Italian artist Valerio Giangiordano (http://g-nomo.deviantart.com/). This is Valerio's first published project, but I'm hopeful it will lead to more work in the industry. Valerio illustrates and colors his own work, and I think you'd agree that it's pretty amazing.
My co-writer on the first arc is my good friend, Bruce Brown. Bruce was my co-writer on Image's M-Theory, and he has a book coming up from Arcana Studio (that I edited) titled Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. Lovecraft fans are not gonna want to miss this all-ages gem!
After the first arc wraps up, superteam Riccardo Latina (myspace.com/riccardo_latina) and Valentina Bianconi (http://arteinliberty.blogspot.com/) are taking over the art chores. I cannot wait for readers to check out this extremely talented Italian couple's work!
For the third arc...I will announce the art team as the second arc wraps up. Gotta leave something to talk about in a future interview, right?
Interagents #3, page 4Another indispensable member of the Interagents team is my good friend Stephen Lindsay (http://www.captionsandballoons.com/). Stephen letters each issue with panache and love. I really appreciate him taking time out of his busy writing schedule to do this for me. Much respect to Stephen L.
And last, but certainly not least, the incredibly talented artists who have taken time from their busy schedules to provide brilliant covers for the book: Justiniano, Andrew Mangum, Ben Morse, Jorge Lucas, Azim Akberali...these guys are the best!
NRAMA: What's the biggest challenge to starting a story with untried characters as if the reader is already familiar with them?
DM: I don't see it as a challenge at all. To be honest, I think it's much more exciting to jump right into the fray. To capitalize on this excitement, I cast aside the formulaic rules of storytelling, allowing us to dive into the action. Interagents is an adventure for heroes and readers alike from the moment the cover opens. Alan Moore used this same approach with Watchmen and it worked out, so I don't see character unfamiliarity as a challenge, nor do I feel obligated to waste 5 issues setting up the back-story. Let's cut to the chase, establish a conflict, and get to know these guys and gals in the heat of battle. What could possibly be more exciting?
NRAMA: Who is your favorite cast member of Interagents so far?
DM: My favorite character in the first arc is Providence. I love his inner monologue as he sees the carnage of war at Pearl Harbor. Yes, he's one of the most powerful beings on the face of the Earth, but he also knows his limitations. Though he burns with indignation, he also realizes his actions must be rational and prudent. In his reaction, I believe he's a realistic example of a leader. Sure, he wants revenge at those who have wronged his nation, but he also realizes that his decisions will affect his team—and his nation. As such, he is a level-headed, admirable patriot.
Interagents #3, page 5NRAMA: Your evildoers are called "The Trinity"--and there seems to be a lot of threes showing up in the story so far--will all be revealed in short time or is this story going to be a recurring in the comic?
DM: Nice catch, my friend! Yes, there is a definite reason for the reoccurrence of the number ‘3’ in our story. As such, you will continue to see the "number of completion" popping up in future issues. In the end, we will find out the significance of the number, but for now, I'm afraid it will have to remain a mystery.
NRAMA: What do you think makes a good superhero comic book work and stand out from the multitude of cape books?
DM: For me, a good superhero book is one that contains a well-told, interesting story with engaging characters and pleasing art. If a book doesn't meet ALL of these points, it's "just another cape book." For example, I believe everyone would agree that Watchmen is a great superhero comic book. And if you don't...what's wrong with ya? (laughs)
Anyway, what makes Watchmen a good superhero book? Is it the intricate story, the fact that it's engaging—or is it the complex characters? Dave Gibbons' masterful art? I think we can agree that it is a good superhero book because it contains all of the above.
NRAMA: What books are you reading right now?
DM: I'm currently reading Justice Society of America, 2000 AD, Invincible Iron Man, Thor, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, Jeff Smith's RASL and Top Ten Season 2. I'm a huge Astro City fan, so I pick those up whenever they hit the stands. Oh, and I've really enjoyed IDW's Star Trek books featuring the original crew and alien spotlights.
NRAMA: What other projects are you working on currently?
Dr. SteamDM: I'm currently working on a videogame adaptation for IDW. I'm having a blast! I've been a fan of this particular creator for several years, so it's a real pleasure and honor bringing his creation to the four-color page. And I would be remiss not to mention what a joy it is working with Chris (Ryall) and Tom (Waltz). Seeing their enthusiasm with what I've created has been extremely refreshing. It's always fun creating, but when the publisher and editor are enthusiastic about what you're doing, that's even better!
In addition, I'm also working on an occult superhero book titled Dr. Steam with phenomenal artist Jorge Lucas. Jorge's best known for his extensive work at Marvel, and let me assure you: this is one insanely unique superhero (mis)adventure we're working on here!
Of course, I have several other projects in various stages of production and development. I'm always working on 7 or 8 projects at a time. I find that it gives me a fresh perspective jumping from book to book, so I try to keep as many irons in the fire as possible—without going totally insane.
NRAMA: What sort of advice do you have for upcoming creators when it comes to working in the creator-owned market?
DM: Don't quit your day job! (laughs)
And never, ever give up. This is a highly competitive field and only the most tenacious, prolific writers succeed. So get writing or drawing, perfect your craft and dig in for a long fight.
For readers who are interested in getting their hands on back issues of Interagents—click here.