Kieron Gillen, the writer behind The Wicked + The Divine, Uber and the upcoming Darth Vader and Angela, spoke to fans Friday night at New York Comic Con.
Gillen started by talking about his upcoming work with Darth Vader. "It is set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back - it's canon," Gillen said. Following the destruction of the Death Star - one of the biggest military defeats in history, Gillen says - Vader is in the political doghouse. "This is about Vader building his own power structure within the Empire to achieve his goals."
He also briefly discussed his working relationship with Jason Aaron, who will be writing Star Wars. "It's like Wolverine and the X-Men to Uncanny X-Men."
Gillen also spoke about Angela, the sister of Thor, which he is co-writing with Marguerite Bennett. Part of the challenge for him was to not make sexuality the selling point of the character - she's one of the deadliest, scariest women in the universe, he said. He added that Angela's code of honor will play a large role in the book. "It's the difference between what you want to do, and what you think you should be doing," Gillen said.
Bennett will write the story-within-a-story that frames Angela, Gillen said. "It's very Journey Into Mystery."
Avatar Editor-in-Chief William Christiansen then mentioned Gillen's work on Uber, mentioning that even Alan Moore loves the story. There will be another Avatar project launched this weekend as well, Gillen said.
Gillen said that he will have a science fiction book called The Heat, which is a police story in the vein of Judge Dredd, he said, adding that next year there will be more details. In the world of Mercury, human skills are now based on commerce, where people can buy chips with skills. Personalities are assigned, and that's how jobs are assigned. Everyone is a freelancer - and that's also the case for Mercury. The lead character, a police officer, can't get work on Earth, so this story will deal with her leaving the planet to find her fortunes.
He then discussed The Wicked + The Divine, mentioning the title of the series' second arc, which will be six issues: "Fandomonium." This features a convention that worships the gods of the series. "It's much more about what makes Laura tick," he said. One story will be told from the perspective of Laura's parents.
The third arc of the series will bring in guest artists: "I don't want to name names yet, because no one's agreed." While that happens, Jamie McKelvie will draw "The Immaterial Girl," the third Phonogram story. Chip Zdarsky was mentioned, but Gillen said "I can't say anything more about that."
Gillen also said that the series would continue to utilize alternative colors: "Until we put out a sh-t one." The trade will have two epigrams, one with a quote from Faustus, and the other from the Vengaboys. He laughed, adding that he had to pay the Vengaboys $500 to use the quote "Boom boom boom boom" in their book.
Gillen also thanked his readers for being so gracious to him. "We do appreciate it," Gillen said. "I know Jamie would say the same. If he was capable of human emotion."
The floor was opened to fans for Q&A. The first question was about what keeps bringing Gillen back to music in his stories.
Gillen hesitated to talk about "my awful band history," including his band as a 15-year-old bass player -"Phallusy." He said that the best they did was that they weren't good, but they had ideas that were their own.
Referencing the playlists he uses for his work, Gillen said that music helps him think about things - even to the point where certain songs make him "twitchy."
"[Music] kind of makes my heart beat," he said. "I'm just still obsessed about music... music moves people for no reason." Pop music, with lyrics working in conjunction with sounds, causes emotional rises in the same way that art does in comics, he said. "That line is an impressionist thing that makes you feel something."
Gillen said that he made the shift from music to writing when his bandmates dropped out, leaving him to realize that writing was his outlet. "Jamie drives me mad in exactly the same way that my bandmates made me mad," he said. "I like comics collaboration in the same way I like music collaboration."
Another fan asked about the return of Hitler in Uber, and Gillen said that the next arc will spell it out in the next few issues. "I like to respect my audience's intelligence," he said, explaining that his comics are meant to be read at least twice (sometimes, like in the case of Young Avengers, at the detriment of the first read). "Nothing comes out of the blue - I will always set up something to explain it."
A fan dressed as America Chavez from Young Avengers asked if Kate Bishop is "a little bit gay" for Miss America - "Will they hook up?" "There's a lot of pictures online now," Gillen said. "Miss America, that line, she's really trolling Kate... America's pressing her buttons a bit." Still, he said, he had no problems one way or the other if another writer picked up that ball, but "it's not my story to tell."
An audience member asked about Gillen's interest in magic and mythology. "I think I'm just fundamentally disappointed in the world I find myself," Gillen said. He added that as a child he always made up the rules to the games he and his friends would play, and that he always was into The Hobbit, both as a book and a video game. Because he was raised Catholic, Gillen said he also had much of that theology in mind. One story, for example, was about something similar to Transformers, but the robots accidentally formed a pentagram on their chests.
"I assume that comic was sent to the Black Library in Rome," he chuckled.
Another fan asked how did Gillen picked which gods he'd use in The Wicked + The Divine. He said there were some he really wanted to use, such as Baal, and he also knew certain pop stars he wanted to use, like Prince, and so some would click together naturally.
The final question of the night was a fan asking how much of an influence of Vengeance was on Young Avengers. Gillen said that he couldn't use Eli in the series, and had just read Vengeance, and fell in love with Miss America. "She's interesting, she's completely different - she hates the Avengers, you couldn't pay me enough to join the Avengers." He said that much of that book was showing that the idea of legacy is bad: "Billy shouldn't be Scarlet Witch II. He should be himself."