'Magic is Broken:' With Image's MYTHIC From HESTER & MCCREA

'Mythic #1' preview
Credit: Image Comics
Credit: Image Comics

In a new series coming from Image Comics, life as we know it is built on lies. The world is secretly run by magic, but that magic is broken. There’s only one team that can save the world: a group consisting of everything from Greek soothsayers to a cell phone salesman, known as Mythic. But even they might not be ready to face a threat that’s determined to bring the truth about the universe to light.

That’s the premise behind Mythic, a new Image Comics series debuting May 6 from prolific creators Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Coffin) and John McCrea (Hitman, Section 8), who last worked together on Desperado's The Atheist. We talked with Hester and McCrea about this strange new world and got an early look at the first issue of the series, which comes out in May.

Newsarama: Phil, let’s talk about Mythic. Apparently, magic is broken, and science is a lie. That’s…a problem, all right. What exactly is broken, and why is the world in trouble?

Phil Hester: The truth is, magic breaks down all the time. That’s why Mythic was formed. Instead of one rational, unified, logical, cosmos-wide system, the universe is actually governed by a jumble of folklore, old wives' tales, legends and myths.

 For example, the sun is actually pulled across the sky by a god-piloted chariot. If humans actually knew this they would lose their minds. So, if the wheel of the chariot should break, or one of the horses get dysentery, Mythic troubleshooters drop in, fix the problem, and bug out before common folk even know something went awry. 

The real trouble begins when Mythic itself comes under attack by a force that is not only aware of the illogic running the universe, but wants to end it, bringing a deathly, stilted order back to the universe.

Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: Who is the team who must protect humanity from this terror? And should we be more afraid of them?

Hester: Well, probably. There are several teams all over the globe, but we focus on a field team led by an ancient, world-weary Apache shaman named Waterson, who is alternately plagued and aided by his malevolent twin brother, Killer of Enemies.

Also on the team is Cassandra, the Greek immortal who can look into the future, but would rather look into a glass of scotch, and Nate Jayadarma, a young, unassuming cell phone salesman who has a natural, but uncanny knack for killing monsters.

We'll also meet several members of the support staff and other field teams, for example Dr. Baranski, a skeptical scientist who has died and refuses to pass on to an afterlife she doesn't believe in, leaving her a cranky, but highly intelligent ghost.

Nrama: John, tell us a bit about the design of these characters, and the look and feel of this world.

 John McCrea: I wanted the Mythic team to have a clean, sharp look - a costume that unified them but at the same time was adaptable between characters to reflect their personalities.

Also, the rest of the universe will be such a mad house that it needs that - their outfits – and them also – as the eye of the hurricane. Otherwise, it's our world on the surface, but just a scratch and the strangeness is revealed....

Nrama: What are some of the strange creatures and things we'll be encountering?

Hester: The beauty of the book is we draw from myths and legends, but don't feel chained to them. So much real detail is lost to history we can fudge wherever we want as long as its entertaining.

We can say Thor's son Magni is actually a daughter, but the poets of the Edda were too sexist to admit the strongest person in Asgard was a girl, and buried that fact. We can invent monsters and heroes to John's content. So far we've been doing a lot of giants.

McCrea: I design on the fly, as I'm drawing the pages, so it's very immediate and keeps the energy in the art- but as Phil said, the sandbox to play in is unlimited, so I have to take my mind expanding drugs to keep up...  As far as the feel of the book's look goes, it's big Jack Kirby action – I'm looking at The Eternals and The Fantastic Four –  with a seedy underbelly of exploding heads and torn fingernails... 

Nrama: Phil, what led to the initial idea for this book?  Also, curious what sort of research you've done for this, or the biggest influences?

Hester: I've loved mythology since I was a kid and wanted to draw from that well without getting bogged down in the minutiae of all the lore.

By sort of saying all the legends are true at the same time, we open up the world to a frenetic, enjoyable chaos that lends itself to comics. We can Kirby-ize everybody's heritage.

Nrama: John, what's fun about getting to draw this story and these characters?

McCrea: The big concepts and set pieces are tremendous fun, and I'm not constrained by page count and advertisement breaks- if I fancy turning a single image on a five-panel page into a full-page splash, I can do that- at the end of Mythic #1, I added a double-page spread just because it heightened the drama and just because I could.

Talk about freedom! Thanks, Image Comics! 

Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: What do you enjoy about working with each other?

Hester: John's a genius, you know, and a swell guy, so any time I get the chance to work with him I go for it. I think his attention to character and design is really unparalleled, and over the last half-dozen years or so he's found a new gear in his rendering style that is just jaw-dropping.

McCrea: Since I first saw Phil's art I've been a fan, but to discover he's a great writer too, it's so unfair yet inspiring! The man is an ideas factory and all round good guy. When Joe Pruett brought us together to work on The Atheist for Image, I was sold completely on working with Phil- and have attempted to do so as often as possible…this will be our fifth collaboration.

Nrama: And what do you enjoy about working with Image?

Hester: Freeeeedooommmmmm.

McCrea: Ditto.

Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: How long do you see this story running?

Hester: I'm building it as six-issue arcs that are all self-contained, but fit into a larger continuity. I could do it forever, but that's up to readers. Hear that, readers?

Nrama: Give us the hard sell on this.

Hester: I can safely say there isn't a book like Mythic on the stands. It's funny, exciting, scary and heartbreaking all at the same time. Like the best action-comedies, it's action-oriented first, with a kind of humanizing humor that is both irreverent and endearing. Our jokes aren't cheap gags or one-liners, but situational moments that both ratchet up tension and deflate pomposity.

Also, John draws a giant's dick in the second issue.

Nrama: What's next for both of you?

Hester; I'm currently drawing The Flash: Season Zero for DC, as well as Thrilling Adventure Hour: Beyond Belief for Image while writing a mini for Oni Press, some short stories, and a project with Mike Huddleston that as yet has no publisher. Is that enough for you animals?

McCrea: I've got two-part Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters for DC's Convergence, and a six-issue Section 8 story from DC written by long-time collaborator Garth Ennis. 

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