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JOE CASEY
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DF Interview: Joe Casey casts a contemporary eye on ‘90s superheroes in ‘Blood Squad Seven’

 

By Byron Brewer

 

Thirty years ago, they were America's premiere celebrity superhero team. Seen on television, on tabloid magazine covers, scoring million-dollar endorsement deals...they were everywhere!

 

Now, a new generation takes up the mantle – or perhaps, the poisoned chalice – fulfilling a promise made decades ago: to be the heroes that a fractured America needs!

 

From Image Comics comes Blood Squad Seven by writer Joe Casey and artist Paul Fry. Joe Casey’s credit on a book is all I ever need to jump on board! I sat down with the renowned scribe to chat up Blood Squad Seven.

 

Byron Brewer: Joe, your passion for your coming comic, Blood Squad Seven, is evident in your statement that it just may be “the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my twenty-plus years working with Image Comics.” How so?

 

Joe Casey: The bigness of it comes from the fact that we’re embracing the classic Image shared universe in a way that not even the founders have been able to (with some notable exceptions) and using it to present a massive, sprawling superhero saga set in the modern world. It’s also the first ongoing, open-ended superhero series I’ve committed to in more than a decade.

 

Byron: Wow! … The mag concerns itself with the now-popular deconstruction of superhero nostalgia, but unlike most if not all other examples Blood Squad Seven is aimed not at the Golden nor Silver Age classics but at the tropes of ‘90s heroes. Talk a little about that.

 

Joe Casey: There’s some deconstruction involved, for sure, but the main thing we have now is perspective. It’s been more than thirty years since the launch of Image Comics. Those original series… Youngblood, WildC.A.T.S., Spawn, Cyberforce, Savage Dragon, Shadowhawk… can now be looked back on -- outside of the mania that accompanied the formation of the company and the artists that formed it -- and I think their narrative merits can be accurately assessed and appreciated. There was some cutting edge stuff happening in those comics. And something they did extremely well -- at first -- was that shared universe aspect. Things were fairly tight in those first two years. And I think the first-gen Image readers truly invested in that continuity. In a way, Blood Squad Seven is being made for that generation of readers who remember the excitement of being in on the ground floor of a new, vibrant superhero universe. Our book has that same energy.

 

And I want to be clear about something, since I don’t think most readers pay attention to content ratings… this is not an all-ages book. There is some rough content here, particularly in the second issue. This is a very adult look at the superhero concept. This series goes far beyond where Marvel and DC are able to go. It deals with mature themes and adult behavior and there are moments where it really goes there. I just don’t want anyone to be blindsided when the book comes out.

 

Byron: This book spins out of your Dutch mini-series. Can you sum up that run briefly and point to any relating plot threads that readers may need to know when picking up Blood Squad Seven?

 

Joe Casey: The real connective tissue is that Dutch was a card-carrying member of Blood Squad Seven in the 90’s. Now he’s thirty years older and has been forced out of retirement for one more adventure. Quite a bit of info is revealed in the final issue of Dutch that sets up the new series.

 

Byron: What can you tell us about the cast? I take it there are the heroes of Blood Squad Seven from 30 years ago, and there are the next gen trying to take up their mantle today? Introduce us to some of the main heroes of both, if you would.

 

Joe Casey: There are a few “legacy” members, but there are some new characters, too. Almost all of them have ties to the history of Blood Squad Seven. Issue #1 will introduce you to new members like the new model Infiniti, Ripcord and Nightstriker.

 

Byron: From a modern lens through which the ‘90s comics will be viewed, can you give us a few examples of some aspects of superhero-dom that will be “roasted” – AND make those of us who read, followed and collected ‘90s comics say, “Oh yeah. Ugh. I can understand that now.” (laughs)

 

Joe Casey: Honestly, we’re not roasting anything. We’re playing it completely straight. There’s a ton of Easter eggs for those readers who are well-versed in those early Image Comics. So much so that you could probably make a drinking game out of them. Not to mention, anyone who dug my work on Wildcats Version 3.0 will probably dig this series, too. There’s a lot of shared DNA there.

 

Byron: From our Dutch interview, I know this book is not only a magnifying glass on ‘90s comics but that you are building within this book for the future. Can you tell readers anything about that future without spoilers?

 

Joe Casey: In the same way the early Marvel Comics of the 1960’s referenced -- and eventually embraced -- the Golden Age comics of the early 1940’s as having actually taken place in their continuity, that’s how we’re utilizing the established history of the Image Universe as it was presented to us in the early 90’s. We’re even doing cool flashback sequences that fill in some of that history and you’ll definitely see some classic Image characters showing up.

 

Byron: Discuss the awesome art of Paul Fry.

 

Joe Casey: Paul is relatively new to the industry, but he’s more than earned his stripes and we’re actually of the same generation, when it comes to our comic book influences and cultural references. From the moment we started designing the series and the characters, it’s been a fantastic collaboration. We’re both so committed to making this book the best it can be… and, for Paul, you can see that commitment on each and every page. And we wouldn’t want to leave out other members of the creative team, all of them carried over from Dutch: Francesco Segala is providing absolutely gorgeous colors… letterer to the stars, Rus Wooton, is doing his usual top-level work… and then there’s the overall graphic design, which makes the whole package look like pure pop candy. I’m grateful that all of these super-talented collaborators put up with my outrageous asks and are making this one of the best-looking books on the stands.

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Joe Casey for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Blood Squad Seven #1 from Image Comics is slated to be on sale May 22!

  



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