Explaining Top Cow's Alibi - Joshua Hale Fialkov

Preview: Pilot Season: Alibi

For writer Joshua Hale Fialkov, he's a decorated veteran of Top Cow's Pilot Season contest. Last year, he was one of two winners with the Cyblade, which is currently in production. This year, he goes for two-of-two with Pilot Season: Alibi with artist Jeremy Haun. As are most of this year's herd, Pilot Season: Alibi is a completely new story and characters, in this case it's some classic spy fiction.

As stated in the solicits, Pilot Season: Alibi follows an assassin with the ability to cover his tracks like no other. Every time he's a suspect for a high-profile hit, he conveniently has an alibi that places him somewhere else, scott free from being charged with the crime. Is it superpowers? Nope - it's not that easy. How he does it is the big secret, a secret someone now knows and is going to extort Stephens for all he's got.

For more, we talked with Fialkov by email.

Click here for a preview of the first five pages of Alibi.

Newsarama: So where did the idea for Pilot Season: Alibi come from?

Joshua Hale Fialkov: Rob Levin presented the idea as something they'd been developing in house, and once I heard the concept, I was totally on board. It was a great opportunity for me to come on board, and try to really twist the nugget of an idea into something I'm incredibly proud of. We live in such a strange time, that I think spy vs. spy stuff is finally really relevant again. The idea of not knowing who's on your side, and who's trying to blow you up, or, even, why the people on your side are trying to blow you up isn't so hard to believe in the ever changing world. It's really very much set in the real world, with real world politics and all of that stuff, while at the same time requiring a single leap of faith.

NRAMA: Let’s dig into the details – who's the lead in this?

JHF: The book is about John Stephens who's made quite a reputation for himself as the world's best assassin. He works for hire, does only the blackest ops, and always gets off scott free. He's uncatchable. Or rather, he was. After the first five pages of the pilot issue, he's been caught, and his secret has been revealed. But, y'see, you don't get to be the world's best assassin by wetting your pants when you get picked up by the cops. He manages to let the whole thing go upside down, and then, bring it right side up again. Or at least, he thinks he does.

NRAMA: The title is 'alibi' – what does that refer to in the book?

JHF: That would be telling. In its simplest terms, it's how John always gets away with it. Until now, that is.

NRAMA: And how would you describe this first issue?

JHF: Well, hopefully, it's a twisty turny explodey fun filled action adventure spy book with lots of ass kicking.

NRAMA: [laughs] And this is based on your own life story, isn't that right?

JHF: If you only knew!

It's got more to do with my love of ‘60s and ‘70s style action movies, specifically Three Days of the Condor. The idea of doing a spy book that's not about gadgets, but about people, just like they were in the good old days, and as we've gotten a chance to see with the Bourne movies, still stands up today. I think you can do all of the heavy political intrigue and risk losing some of your audience, but, by dressing it in strong characterization it becomes much more engrossing, and hopefully, timeless. That's what I took away from those movies, anyways.

NRAMA: You're coming in as the veteran here, having participated in and won last year's Pilot Season with the Cyblade issue. What'd you learn from the last go-around to prepare you for this one?

JHF: I'm still shocked that I somehow managed to win last year, so, really, I'm just going in hoping that I can deliver a book that not only can I be proud of, but that people really respond to. I think Jeremy's art is so kickass, and really tells the story so beautifully, that it's ours to lose. You'll notice my cocky swagger.

NRAMA: Let's talk about Jeremy Haun's work here. We won't know how good it is until the book is in stores – but what can you say about it?

JHF: When I first started to work towards a career in comics, Jeremy's work was probably one of the first times that I saw someone who drew how my brain works. I remember reading the book Paradigm that he drew back at Image and thinking, "How does he manage to make it look so real, and yet not stiff and almost expressionistic?" He reminds me a lot of Starman-era Tony Harris that way. I think there's very few guys who have a handle on characters and architecture the way that Jeremy does, and, best of all, he's incredibly collaborative. We talked frequently while we were working on the book, and things got to change and morph around based on those conversations. That really made the book much better for it.

NRAMA: Are you doing anything special to "get out the vote" so to speak for your Pilot Season: Alibi. Shaking hands, kissing babies, anything like that?

JHF: I'd love the chance to continue the book, and the idea of getting to do a series with Jeremy Haun is really about the most exciting thing I could think of, so, expect to see me screaming from rooftops and dancing in the streets to get the book noticed, and votes delivered.

NRAMA: One last question.. say Alibi wins in the voting. What have you got planned for an ongoing series?

JHF: That would be telling, my friend. Let's just say, it's not going to be what you expect. That's the modus operandi for the book. Whatever you think is going to happen, we're going to do the opposite. Unless you're expecting that. In which case, we'll do the expected, unexpectedly.

That circular logic has been known to cause lesser creative teams to cry. Thank God, I have Jeremy to make it all better.

Pilot Season: Alibi goes on sale June 25th.

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