As Outkast once sang, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather."
And that couldn’t be truer for Image Comics’ The Weatherman, which begins a second volume this week with a new #1. Writer Jody LeHeup is back again with artist Nathan Fox and colorist Moreno Dinisio (replacing Dave Stewart), but the fact remains: Nathan Bright is a wanted man for a crime he didn’t commit; well not himself but another version of him. Might seem complicated at first, but Newsarama caught up with LeHeup recently to discuss what readers can expect from second volume of Nathan Bright’s stormy life.
Newsarama: Jody, The Weatherman made its series debut a little over a year ago, and your second series at Image. What has this year been like for you on the other side of the creative stand?
Jody LeHeup: It's been absolutely incredible. I mean I basically have my dream job. I get to write original stories and see them brought to life by the best artists in the industry. And my partners and I own the work. We've also been very fortunate that readers have responded to our books. Both The Weatherman and Shirtless Bear-Fighter have done extremely well and have fantastic fan bases. So yeah, I can't overstate what an amazing experience the last two years have been.
Nrama: Okay, so where is the titular weatherman Nathan Bright these days? The last volume ended with him and Agent Cross make an uneasy alliance as he is still very much a wanted man now.
LeHeup: Definitely. Nathan and Cross's relationship is the beating heart of this book and that continues to be the case in volume 2. Cross's hate for Nathan due to his alleged role in wiping out almost all of the population of Earth is complicated by the fact that Nathan has no memory of having done it and the fact that Nathan actually seems to be a really great guy. Obnoxious at times, no doubt, but his heart is in the right place. So she's torn about her feelings for him. Nathan, on the other hand, needs someone...anyone...to be on his team.
To see through the actions of the person he was to the person he is now. Cross - who has to protect Nathan for the time being until they find what they're looking for - is as close as he's got to a friend. But that friend might have to kill him in order to prevent another mass attack. And Cross's hands aren't exactly clean either. She's said and done some pretty horrible things to Nathan and now that they're joined at the hip, she's going to need him at some point. Question is... will he be there?
Nrama: The big arc this time around seems to be hunting down the hard drive with Nathan's stolen memories, can you dive more into that?
LeHeup: Yeah, one of the things we established in volume 1 is that yes, Nathan Bright is a weatherman, but he didn't use to be. He was a former soldier turned terrorist operative named Ian Black and he's at least partially responsible for the attack on Earth. In fact, he stole the weapon that the Sword of God terrorist group used in the attack. But for reasons we don't yet fully understand, Ian Black wiped his memory, giving himself a blank slate in the form of local weatherman Nathan Bright.
What Cross has discovered, however, is that Black's memory wasn't wiped so much as removed and stored on a special hard drive. Her mission now is to find that hard drive hoping to mine intel from it that will lead her to the rest of the Sword of God. And she has reason to believe the hard drive is on Earth.
The bad news for Nathan is that in order to access that information, Nathan's own memory will have to be overwritten with Ian Black's. Which will effectively kill him. So... not great news for Nathan Bright. On the one hand, he wants to help because he's a good guy and he'd like to at least try to make up in part for the actions of his past self, but he also doesn't want to die. Does he deserve to? Should he be made to sacrifice himself? Does he bear any responsibility for the choices another man made? Or is he still the same man? And then from Cross's standpoint...does she want justice? Or revenge? Is there a difference? And is it worth Nathan dying for?
I will also say that while Cross and Nathan are looking for the hard drive, they're going to find a lot more than they bargained for. Not all life is gone from the Earth's surface and what remains is truly horrifying. Think nightmare genetic mutations left in the wake of the attack. But there's a lot more to it than that. Stay tuned.
Nrama: Do you feel like you and Nathan Fox and colorist Moreno Dinisio, have gotten more in sync with one another? True, Moreno was a later addition to the team, but has your creative process or even the way you craft your scripts changed since last year?
LeHeup: The way I write scripts and our creative process is more or less the same but we've definitely gotten more in sync with each other as we've gone along. Just being able to read each other's minds a little more and knowing what excites the other about the book and where we're going with it. Being more in tune with what we're all trying to accomplish. And I can't say enough about Moreno. He may be a new addition but it feels like he's been with us the whole time. His colors and storytelling instincts are off the chart, he's a perfect fit over Nathan, and he's a joy to work with. We couldn't be more excited to have him.
Nrama: So we know obviously Nathan and Cross are coming back, but what can you tell us about all the new faces coming into the fold?
LeHeup: Fans are going to get to meet a number of colorful new additions to our cast including...and maybe especially...Pace and Pickles who Nathan and I have just fallen head over heels in love with. I'll leave it to readers to discover why but suffice it to say they're a lot of fun. Plenty of other super fun surprises as well. We don't put everything in the solicits.
Nrama: You have all of volume two mapped out and ready, but is there a volume three around the corner?
LeHeup: Yep, three volumes has always been the plan. I'm scripting it now as a matter of fact.
Nrama: Is there something you've really learned about yourself as a creator in the past year or so with The Weatherman and Shirtless Bear-Fighter?
LeHeup: Wow, great question. I could write a whole book about that question. The short version is yes, absolutely. I've learned so, so much about myself. In fact, both books - in different ways - have helped me work through some traumas in my life. Like stuff that I didn't even know was there until I started writing. But I've learned that writing... if you're honest with it... will take you to places you didn't intend on going but that you probably should. The Weatherman especially.
More specifically though these last few years have given me a level of confidence in my writing - or in my voice - that I didn't have before. I think for a while I was afraid of writing and editing was a way for me to be close to the arena while never having to step into it. But after Shirtless Bear Fighter and The Weatherman I don't feel that way anymore. The act of writing can still be terrifying at times. That won't ever change. But I don't fear the fear anymore. It's like Carrie Fisher said, "Stay afraid, but do it anyway." I've learned that lesson.