J.T. Krul is not only re-imagining DC characters and concepts in his new six-issue mini-series Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover, but he's hoping to bring a whole new genre to the modern DC Universe with the dark, horror/sci-fi story.
Launching in April, the series revives a concept from 1993 that introduced a new wave of superheroes to DC's line-up. But that's not the goal this time around, according to Krul, who calls Bloodlines "a whole different type of story for a whole different type of audience."
Krul will be working on the story with V. Ken Marion, whom he collaborated with on several projects a Aspen Comics. The two will re-imagine some of the characters from the original stories, but will be introducing new ones as well.
Newsarama talked to Krul to find out more about how he's updating the concept for a modern audience, whether the characters will have lots of '90s-type pouches, and why the writer thinks it's such a scary story.
Newsarama: J.T., this series features concepts and characters that were part of a former story, but I assume you're revamping them?
J.T. Krul: Yeah, essentially, it's about going back and mining that storyline, cutting to the core of it and re-imagining it for a whole new generation.
So the overall premise is very similar at its core, but the reason I really wanted to do this story is to tell a different kind of story.
This is not a superhero book. This is a science fiction horror story, in the vein of Stephen King or John Carpenter's The Thing. It's creepy. It's scary. It's about these people who get infected and these strange things happen to them. So it's not, "Hey I got superpowers now! This is awesome! I'm going to go fight crime!" This is, "What's going on? What's wrong with me? Am I going to die?"
Nrama: We've seen some of the characters on the covers. Can you describe any of them, whether you're picking them up from the original Bloodlines story or maybe you're creating new?
Krul: There are a few new characters, but we're definitely digging into the story for some of these. This is an idea I've been working on for a while in my spare time, talking with DC about it off and on.
On the cover, you can see Eddie being Loose Cannon. He's one of the main characters in the book, especially when we start things out — he's one of the main focuses of the book. And then there are allusions to variations of some of the Bloodlines characters, like Sparx and Razorsharp.
But this is a whole new beginning, a whole new story that re-imagines those characters in a different setting.
In the original, Eddie was a police officer, or a detective, and in this version, he's a high school student. So you can see we're tweaking things.
So yeah, we're playing with things a little, but it's still the same type of story.
Nrama: Is Tommy Monaghan going to be at all connected to this?
Krul: No, he's not. That was a character that really resonated from Bloodlines, but partially for that reason, I didn't want to use him. I knew there was a pre-conceived notion among the audience about that character, or at least a general idea and desire for him to be exactly like the character they knew.
For this, it's more about the concept than it is about the individual characters. I looked at all the characters and mined that material. But with Hitman, he had such a longevity beyond Bloodlines that he really became something of his own, and I didn't want to try to plug him into this. I wanted this story to stand on its own.
Nrama: OK, but I can't help thinking about how this really was a product of a time period in the '90s that isn't remembered fondly by many fans and comic book creators. You know what kind of generalizations people make about 1990s comic books. Can you speak to how these very '90s-influenced concepts are being brought into the present day?
Krul: Well, we're still going to — everybody's going to have a lot of pouches.
Nrama: [Laughs.] Plenty of pouches!
Krul: No, I'm kidding.
It's completely different. It really is.
Back then, DC was trying to infuse the universe with a lot of new characters and a lot of new superheroes, and some of them had way more success than others. But this is a story about a small town, and some of the townspeople are infected by these aliens, and it's all about them coping with that. This is not a capes and superhero story. This is about people fighting for survival. It almost has a Lovecraftian vibe to it. That's why I love Jill Thompson's cover for the first issue, because it has that kind of vibe to it, and that's really what we're going for in this story.
You know, I guess another way to think about it is, like, Battlestar Galactica. I grew up watching Battlestar Galactica and it was a great show — the original version.
But the new version of it was completely amazing and a very different show.
I guess that's what I would like to mention here. Anybody who remembers the Bloodlines story from the annuals and the original stories would come along for the ride to see how it's different. You'll see elements of what were there before, but it's a whole different type of story for a whole different type of audience.
Nrama: When you describe it as this sci-fi horror comic book, I assume it doesn't really interact with the rest of the DC Universe. But does it take place within the DC Universe?
Krul: It does take place in the DC Universe, but for this six issues, it's going to be in its own little corner of the DCU.
Having a story like this, if you started to bring in the heavy hitters like the Justice League or Flash or Superman, it would feel like they were forced into the book. And I wanted to keep this focused on the characters we're creating and giving them life.
Also, having the alien infection aspect be the sole science fiction or fantasy element in the book, I think, helps keep the focus there and keeps the story more grounded. So I wanted to keep it contained.
Nrama: Is the biggest threat the alien infection? Or are they going to tear each other apart? What's the biggest threat?
Krul: The big challenge initially is survival. That's what it boils down to. This isn't just that something happened to give them superpowers — there's something else going on, and it's not good for them. It really is about this alien threat that's infected them.
So they're sick, in a way. Yes, they have these abilities that are manifesting themselves and giving them these crazy and amazing powers that they never had before, but it's not because it's making them a better person. It's because there's something inside them that's killing them.
So the biggest threat is literally inside of them.
Nrama: Did you bring Ken along on this project, or get matched up with him? And can you talk about what he brings to the project?
Krul: Ken and I have been working together for a while now. We started working together through Aspen. We worked together on All New Soulfire a few years ago, and it was a great working relationship.
We recently worked together on Jirni, and when we were finishing up that project, we were talking about other things we could do together. And he's this huge, huge DC fan — if you look at any of the stuff he posts or any of his sketches when he does commissions, there's an obvious love of DC. So when I asked him if he'd like to do the Bloodlines comic for DC, he was excited about the opportunity.
He's a great talent. He's super cool. He's a great guy. He's a New Yorker, he lives in Brooklyn, and we spent some time together when I visited the East Coast a while ago.
His art's amazing, he's got a great work ethic, and we just really work well together. And he's having a blast on this. I mean, we both are. As you know, Vaneta, I've been around a little bit longer than some other people, and it's great to work with a new, younger artist who's doing his first work at DC and is so excited about being at the table. So it adds even more energy to the project.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you wanted to tell people about Bloodlines?
Krul: I just hope people give it a shot. It's a little bit of a different genre, but I'm excited that DC is finding opportunities to tell these kinds of stories. The art is fantastic, and I think people will be really surprised by it.