Cla$$War #1In the early 21st century, superhero comics were on the edge. On the edge of what had come before with the era of 90s comics, and the edge of what was to come: the modern comics that we know today. Today's top writers were merely "on the rise", but it was works like The Authority and The Ultimates that were signaling a new way. One title that was bandied around by some as a logical continuation of the themes of those two books was the UK series Cla$$war.
Cla$$war was a series by new publisher Com.X, and written by Rob Williams and artist Trevor Hairsine. Published just after September 11th, it followed a government mandated superhero who rebels when he finds out the supersoldier program that made him weren't playing by the rules. A political thriller with superheroes, the lead character of the American was one part Superman and one part Captain America, with a modern widescreen script and art that was of mainstream comic quality.
Cla$$War #2It's high intensity story that didn't pull any punches hit a nerve for people and received quite the buzz upon it's release. So much that artist Hairsine was offered a Marvel contract, which led Cla$$war to scramble to find a replacement. And while they did find a suitable replacement in Travel Foreman, he too moved on after three issues to go to Marvel. These artist changes led to considerable delays in the publication of the title, compounded by the publisher's own issues including a burglary and a hiatus.
All in all, only six issues of Cla$$war were ever published. Would it have been more popular had it not lost steam? We'll leave it to others to speculate, but personally I can say this: it's as good as I remember it being back in 2002. But now seven years later, Com.X and Cla$$war have returned with a new collection of the six published issues, as well as a new 8 page story by Williams and Hairsine.
Already released in England, it hits U.S. shelves in early April and we talked with its creator and writer Rob Williams for more.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Rob. You've read my take on the series – but who I am to supersede the author. What would you say Cla$$war is about?
Rob Williams: It's a US political thriller featuring big, nasty, occasionally horrendously violent super people. It's kind of what you'd get if you put Noam Chomsky books, The West Wing, Bill Hicks CDs, Alan Moore's Miracleman and some Public Enemy and Rage Against The Machine tracks in a blender. And it features some of the best art of the past ten years.
Cla$$War #6NRAMA: Cla$$war has been out of the public eye for many years, but with the collection finally in stores that's water under the bridge. What all is in the book, Rob?
RW: The original six issues are included, so that's the three Trev Hairsine issues, the three Travel Foreman issues, plus there's a brand new eight page story written by me and drawn and inked by Trev (which looks stunning). Loads of other extras too. An introduction by Andy Diggle (Daredevil, Thunderbolts, posters by Ben Oliver (Ultimate X-Men) and Mick McMahon (the classic Judge Dredd artist), my original script, covers, sketches.
It's a lovely package.
NRAMA: After all this time and all those problems, how does it feel to finally have Cla$$war collected in book form?
RW: It's a great feeling to see it looking this good. There's been hardcover collected editions released in Italy and France that I've been sent over the last few years and it always seemed wrong that you couldn't get it in the UK or the US. The com.x guys could've just stapled a collection together but they've really committed to making this hardcover something special. It's a bumper collection, this, filled with great extras. And Trev Hairsine came back on board to deliver brand new pages, which felt seamless despite there being, what? Eight years between us initially working on Cla$$war together. We all talked about making this something like a Criterion DVD release and I think that's what we've ended up with. It feels really substantial. It's one of the best looking comic collections you could ever hope for.
NRAMA: When this series was originally coming out, there's was more than six issues planned. Now that you've finally made it this far – any plans to tell the full story?
Cla$$War #1, page 6RW: Cla$$war was always intended to be a 12 issue story, but with Trev and Travel both being poached by Marvel along the way and com.x having their own problems, we never got that far. We'd like to finish the story but it all depends on public interest. If this collection sells well and there's a good reaction to it then, maybe. But with the production quality and level of artist that the series has had in its different incarnations - it's really tough to sustain that over another six issues unless you're selling large numbers, and for an indie company like com.x that's tough to achieve. It's not impossible though. I know how the story ends, if anyone out there's got a large cheque.
NRAMA: Before we wrap this one up, what else are you working on, Rob?
RW: Indiana Jones And The Tomb Of The Gods #4 is in the shops this week, from Dark Horse, with art by Bart Sears. Also currently running is a Low Life story, Creation, in 2000AD. Amazing, amazing art by D'Isreali on that. I'm working on a few other things at the moment, but nothing I can speak about yet.