Many fans know Drax as Guardians of the Galaxy’s grumpy, literal minded powerhouse. But writer Cullen Bunn, along with his tag-team partner CM Punk, and artist Scott Hepburn, is working to carve a niche for Drax in the Marvel Universe that goes beyond what readers think they know.
For starters, Bunn and Punk are taking Drax out of the Guardians and setting him off on his own adventure that brings him into conflict with all the Marvel cosmic universe has to offer, from star ships, to space pirates, to Thanos himself.
Newsarama spoke to Bunn about his plans for Drax, why the Destroyer’s first solo ongoing series might be more grounded than readers are expecting, and the new missions Drax will find in his hunt for Thanos, the mad titan who destroyed his life.
Newsarama: Cullen, let’s talk about who Drax is and how he fits into the Marvel Universe. What does Drax get up to when he’s not with the Guardians of the Galaxy?
Cullen Bunn: When Drax isn't with the rest of the Guardians, he does what he does what he was made to do - hunt Thanos. Of course, that doesn't always go as smoothly as he would like. I mean, straight away in this series he's dealing with magic-wielding aliens, space pirates, star ship crashes, and beings of cosmic power. He's this atomic bomb that gets dropped into these wild adventures. The results - in this series at least - are going to be a lot of fun, I think.
Nrama: We’ve seen a few different iterations of Drax over the years, from his time on Infinity Watch, to his current status quo. How do you see Drax’s personality in your series? Is this a more literal, rough and tumble Destroyer?
Bunn: I was just thinking about how often Drax has changed over the years. I always loved the childlike powerhouse Drax in Warlock and the Infinity Watch. The version in this comic, though, is the more dour and brooding character we've seen most recently. That's the starting point, I suppose, but he really grows from there. I think we'll be seeing Drax come into his own in this book. He's always been defined by his mission, but what happens when that mission starts to shift for him?
Nrama: You’re co-writing Drax with CM Punk. As a brawler himself, what does he bring to a story about a guy called “The Destroyer?”
Bunn: I guess the speculation is that CM Punk would want a comic that is all fight-fight-fight! But that's not the case at all. I think this book is going to surprise people. There are fights. Of course, there are fights. It's Drax! But I think there is so much more going on here. There's a vision for where this series will lead and the incredibly broad range of stories that will be told.
Nrama: This will be Punk’s first extended comic book work. Are you acting as something of a mentor to him? What’s the working relationship like between the two of you?
Bunn: I would hesitate to call myself a "mentor" to anyone. We're definitely partners in this. When I came onto the book, Punk already had a storyline in mind. My job was to help massage it into arcs and individual issues within the arcs. I write up pretty detailed outlines for everything I do, and that's what I do here. Then, Punk and I break the outlines up, each of us taking 10 pages to write. We avoid the "I write the first half and you write the second" trap. Instead, we break it up into various scenes throughout each issue. I'll say this, Punk's pages are so great - full of energy and action and humor and outrageousness. It keeps me on my toes and makes me want to up my game.
Nrama: What kind of scrapes is Drax going to get into in his first solo ongoing? He’s got a long history with some of the bigger cosmic elements of the Marvel universe. How epic is Drax going to get?
Bunn: There's definitely potential for some cosmic level conflict here. The key for us, though, is seeing everything through Drax's eyes, whether he's embroiled in a mystery on some half-dead moon, duking it out with a gigantic adversary, or striking at Thanos. No matter how big the story gets, we're going to keep it personal for Drax. Something that I think the first arc shows off is that these characters live in this cosmic universe 24-7. So some of these cosmic threats and allies just kind of view the universe around them as same old, same old. That's a feeling that surfaces in the first arc, even though there are a couple of real heavy hitters showing up along the way.
Nrama: Will Drax’s daughter Moondragon make an appearance in his book? How about any of the Infinity Watch or Guardians of the Galaxy?
Bunn: Listen, there is no bigger fan of the Infinity Watch than me. If I can figure a way to get them into the series, I'll do it. There are no immediate plans for them, but Drax's adventures can take him anywhere. I think the first arc will show readers that anything can happen and we could meet any number of wild and unexpected characters. As for the Guardians, they show up in the first issue. They'll definitely be seen again, but this is Drax's book and we'll keep the focus on him.
Nrama: How inspired by Bautista’s performance in the Guardians of the Galaxy film is your take on Drax?
Bunn: Hmm. Maybe a little. There are definitely moments from the movie that I have in mind - bits that exemplify this version of Drax. I like the grumpiness Bautista portrayed, and that's here in this book, I believe. But there was also such a wonderful sense of fun and humor in the movie, and we wanted to capture some of that, too. There's a bit in the movie where Star Lord's ship is crashing, and Drax is sitting back laughing his head off. I think that speaks to the spirit of this comic.
Nrama: Let’s talk about what Scott Hepburn brings to the table. Drax is a cosmic story with a ton of grit and violence. How does Scott balance those elements, and what does he bring to the table that isn’t in the script?
Bunn: Scott draws raining entrails like nobody's business. That said, this is a book that requires a bit of versatility, because the gut geysers only take up a few panels. Scott is able to pull off a lot of emotion and "acting" with the expressions on these characters. He's able to convey a lot of heart and humor, which are key components of the series. And - lest I forget - he's helping to populate the Marvel Universe with a cast of amazing alien creatures.
Nrama: What’s in the cards for Drax’s future? What can readers expect as the series continues?
Bunn: Well, Thanos is definitely looming out there. Along the way, though, Drax will be embarking on a series of adventures (or misadventures) that will take him into some unexplored areas of the Marvel Universe and put him in some situations unlike any he's found himself in before. Drax is a man with tunnel vision when it comes to Thanos, but in this book I think he'll find some new missions that are worth pursuing.