Starting in February, writer Ethan Sacks is going back to the future – or at least a future – returning to Marvel’s “Old Man” era with Old Man Quill, a 12-issue Star-Lord-centric series that will explore more of the “Old Man” Universe than readers have ever seen.
Working alongside artist Robert Gill, Sacks will reunite Quill – now the failed emperor of Spartax – with the Guardians of the Galaxy for one last job.
Newsarama spoke to Sacks about what it’s like returning to one of Marvel’s most dystopian possible futures, what’s at stake for Peter Quill and the Guardians, and what’s to come when they arrive in the Wasteland.
Newsarama: Ethan, Old Man Quill is your second foray into the future of the Marvel Universe. What makes this time period such a compelling setting?
Ethan Sacks: We have gotten to see the saga of Logan and Hawkeye in the Wastelands, but there is literally a whole world - make that a whole galaxy - left to explore. There is so much potential in more visits to this deliciously awful place first dreamed up by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven a decade ago.
As a fan, I hope Marvel greenlights more stories there with other characters set in different time periods and with different creative teams. As a writer, it's just so intriguing because heroes are supposed to win. So how do they handle losing? How do they handle surviving when so many of their peers didn't? How do they handle being the public enemies? How do they handle hiding in the shadows? How do the villains handle being in charge and actually having to govern? They were chasing power so long...well, what happens when they finally get it? God, I want to write down a half dozen more ideas on a napkin just thinking about that place.
Nrama: Old Man Quill has the Guardians pulling Peter out of retirement for one last job. What's at stake here?
Sacks: I feel like I'm trying to pilot the Milano through an asteroid field of potential spoilers.... Let's just say that Peter Quill has been estranged from the Guardians of the Galaxy for decades, but they’re going to need to get the band back together to recover the only means of stopping a galactic force from destroying what's left of civilizations in the universe. That mission takes them to Earth...only, it's not exactly the Earth they were expecting.
Nrama: These "Old Man" stories are rarely predicated on a life of good times for their heroes. What's happened to Peter Quill in the years leading up to this tale?
Sacks: As emperor of Spartax, let's just say he failed his people and his family on an epic scale. Epic. And if anyone needs to atone for a mistake, it’s Peter.
Nrama: Peter Quill and the Guardians have a distinct sense of humor. Does that come through in Peter's old age? Who is Peter Quill as an old man?
Sacks: We find Peter in a dark place, so don't expect him to come out quipping one-liners. He's a lot more haunted than we're used to...at least at the beginning of his tale. This Star-Lord is a little bit reminiscent of the revenge-bent gunslinger that Steve Englehart first dreamed up in 1976. Though fortunately, there's always Rocket Raccoon to alleviate the tension in the room...
Nrama: Artist Robert Gill is drawing Old Man Quill. What's it like working with him on this?
Sacks: Oh man, I've been blessed to work with some amazing artists during my tourist jaunts through the Wastelands. Robert, or “Not Quite Old Man” Gill, as I call him, is such an amazing collaborator. His eye for detail is amazing, down to updated costuming and dents on the Milano.
Nrama: Can we expect to see any other "Old Man" style Marvel characters popping up in the story?
Sacks: Yes! I can't reveal too much, but there's no way I'm going to pass through 12 issues worth of a visit to the Wastelands and not find time and space for Ashley - Hawkeye's estranged daughter and Spider-Man's grand-daughter.
Nrama: Peter Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy have become unlikely superstars in recent years. What makes them so resonant right now?
Sacks: They may look like aliens, but they're so darn human. The Guardians of the Galaxy are the quintessential misfits that find belonging with each other — even if they'll rarely admit it. It's not a cynical Hollywood marketing ploy that spawned two movies that made $1.7 billion internationally at box office. Sure there were cool space battles, but the secret of success was more related to Star-Lord’s “Everyman in space” attitude and Gamora’s family issues. And that magic formula comes straight out of the comics.