This fall, Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox are killing the world's greatest superhero.
Launching in September, Plutona is a new Image Comics series by the duo following a group of kids who are the first to discover the dead superhero Plutona, and how it affects their life. Now Plutona’s death isn’t a spoiler, it’s what starts this series of events and how it affects the five kids (Mie, her brother Mike, Teddy, Ray, and Diane) who found her lifeless body . The world of Plutona is a world of superheroes that are a part of everyday life from being monitored by super-fans or talked about on the news and in chat rooms, but for these kids, still unreachable, until they find one mysteriously dead.
Plutona is a five-issue mini-series that, according to Lemire, explores the “nature of friendship, as well as good and evil” through these children’s point of view.
“Plutona was an idea Emi Lenox had,” Lemire explains. “She and I have been friends for a number of years now. We met at Comic-Con International: San Diego back when I was promoting Essex County and she was interning at Top Shelf. She showed me her work and I became an immediate fan.”
Lemire said the path to their collaboration was organic, with the lines between writer and artist blurring both in conception and in the issues when they begin shipping in September.
“We started talking about it and before we knew it we had plotted out the whole series. Having said that, I think you can see themes in Plutona that are evident in my past work: children lost in a dark world or situation, innocence lost etc. That’s probably why I connected with Emi’s idea to begin with.”
Lemire also stated that this book allows him to examine the superhero genre from a different angle in a way that readers (including himself) aren’t used to.
Discussing the kids, Lemire went into some about their back stories and how he relates to one of them.
“These are kids who grew up on the same street. That is what they have in common, otherwise they couldn't be more different from one another,” he explains. “The two legitimate friends in the book are Mie and Diane, and even they are really quite different.”
He continued with each kid’s “role” among them, starting with Mie, who is loosely based on Lenox.
“Mie is ‘the leader of the pack’. She’s pretty self-assured and pushy. Her little brother Mike is the runt of the pack, the tag along. Diane, Mie’s best friend, is sort of lost in Mie’s shadow. Ray is a dick with a troubled home life and Teddy is a nerd and a superhero fanatic (hint: He’s the most like me) and sort of a loner.”
Lemire explains that Plutona is split into two narratives; one being the story of the kids finding Plutona's body and and the other a flashback story illustrated by Lemire telling Plutona's last mission. Lemire explained that wasn’t originally part of the plan.
“To be totally honest, the back-up strip featuring Plutona’s last adventure was a very late addition to the series. I had already written the entire series when the idea to do those came up. We were looking for something extra to add to the book, some back matter and I had that idea,” he said.
Lemire wanted to contribute art in some way so the back-up filled that void for him. Though readers may see some Plutona in action, Lemire reminds us she’s not really the focus.
“But the main story is the story of the kids. That is the focus and the heart of of the book."
When talking about the landscape of this world, Lemire talked about how superheroes work and how they’re idolized. The kids of Plutona come from a suburban area outside the towering Metro City where most of the super action takes place. Teddy, a “capespotter”, is only able to observe from a far and what’s on the radio. So their first real interaction with one of these heroes is actually the case of finding Plutona’s body.
“Superheroes exists in this world, but they are usually only seen from a distance. They are as real to these kids as sports stars or movie actors are to us. Now, not only confronted with a super hero, but with a dead one, these kids lives will change forever.”
Talking about his collaboration with Lenox more, he mentioned how much he enjoyed seeing her bring these characters to life.
“She fills them each with so much personality and life,” he says. “The subject matter is pretty dark, and her more cartoony style creates a really interesting tension.”
He also had high praise for the series’ colorist, Jordie Bellaire.
“She is awesome. That’s evident with her work over both Emi and my own art. We’re lucky to have her on Plutona.”
Concerning Plutona’s superhero teammates who are briefly mentioned, Lemire didn’t want to give anything away with those characters and declined to comment, but also assured us that her death is not the thrust of the story.
“It really doesn’t matter at all,” he points out. “What matters is how the discovery of her body effects these kids, both as individuals ands as a group. The decisions they make upon discovering her is the central focus of the book.”
When asked about how Plutona is different from other superhero books he’s worked on, Lemire went on to explain how the series isn’t really a superhero comic at all.
“The book isn’t so much about the superhero as it is the kids who find her. It’s about how this discovery, and the decision they make, starts to effect their lives and their friendship. It’s a very grounded story told from these kids’ point of view.”