Milligan Returns to Spy Genre with KISS KISS BANG BANG



Peter Milligan found success at Marvel earlier this year with 5 Ronin, a miniseries starring familiar characters but well outside of the superhero realm.

He's returning to the publisher for another miniseries and another genre, this time taking on the world of espionage for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. If the name sounds familiar — and not because of the unrelated 2005 film — it's because it was the title of a short-lived CrossGen series from right before the original incarnation of the line went bankrupt.

In the new Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a four-issue miniseries announces this past weekend at Fan Expo in Toronto and scheduled to debut in December, "Charles Kiss" is the rotating identity of Britain's current top agent, with each person taking on the mantle surgically altered to resemble the original — and given the dangerous nature of the position, there's a high degree of turnaround. The star of the series is Alan McGrath, taking on a mission and hoping to avoid the grim fate that befell each of his predecessors.

Milligan, who's also writing Justice League Dark for DC Comics as part of the September "The New 52" launch, talked with Newsarama via email about what this book has in common with the original Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, how it's different, working with series artist Roman Rosanas and any similarities this series may have with Milligan's past foray into the spy genre, Human Target.


Newsarama: Peter, going into this series, how familiar were you with either the original CrossGen line of titles as a whole, or the initial Kiss Kiss Bang Bang series in particular?

Peter Milligan: Not familiar at all. I suppose I was aware of it, a noise in the background as it were.

Nrama: Unlike the other CrossGen titles revived by Marvel in recent months, which all had at least a couple of years of history to draw upon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang only ran for five issues before ending due to the company's bankruptcy. So does that equate to a large amount of creative freedom when reinterpreting the core concept?

Milligan: That equates to taking a germ of the original idea — spies, espionage, James Bond homage — and running with it. So yes, a lot of creative license to tell the story we want to tell.


Nrama: That said, the new series does sound like it has a good amount of similarities to the original, at least in the broader sense. What will fans of the original book find familiar in your take?

Milligan: I think fans of the original book will appreciate and find familiar some of the overall feel or atmosphere of the book — the action, the intense situations that the characters find themselves in. The characters are different from the original book but operate in a similar world. They probably belong to the same clubs.


: The main character of the series is Agent Alan McGrath, the latest taking on the legacy of Charles Kiss. What can you share at this point about the character? 

Milligan: When we first meet him, Alan McGrath is an idealist. He believes in Western Freedom and he believes that MI6 and the other intelligence organizations do a fine job trying to protect it. Most of all he believes in Charles Kiss, the spy who achieved legendary, heroic status.


Nrama: Of course, a spy story isn't very interesting if the threat he's tackling isn't a compelling one. What's at stake for McGrath in the series?

Milligan: Everything is at stake for Alan McGrath. His life, of course, but even more than that. Everything he believes in. The woman he loves. The man he hero worships. And perhaps, the very Western Freedom that he joined MI6 to protect.

Nrama: You've written in the spy genre before, and quite famously — how would you compare Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to your work on Human Target?

Milligan: There are some similarities , there’s a certain brutality, but though KKBB looks at the problems that arise when you assume another persona, it doesn’t explore the theme of identity to the nearly same, almost obsessive degree as Human Target.  

Nrama: And when people think about espionage stories like this, they expect a lot of exotic locales and vivid set pieces — so is it safe to assume that you're calling upon artist Roman Rosanas for a lot of dynamic visuals?


Milligan: There will be a lot of dynamic visuals, and Roman delivers on these big time. There’s also a kitchen and the stinking hold of a ship. Life — and drama — is all about contrast.

Nrama: You're writing high-profile books at both Marvel and DC right now, something that's pretty rare in the current comic industry climate. Is it important to you to have the freedom to work at multiple publishers?

Milligan: That’s not something I’ve thought about or has necessarily seemed important. It’s all about timing.

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