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DF Interview: Writer Greg Weisman takes Starbrand & Nightmask to school
By Byron Brewer
In Avengers, Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver introduced readers to the Marvel Universe incarnations of characters from the 1980s “New Universe” line -- Starbrand and Nightmask. During their tenure as some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the cosmic-powered youths traversed the universe and helped save it from a multitude of intergalactic empires and entities.
Now they are back in the post-Secret Wars Marvel U. in Starbrand & Nightmask from writer Greg Weisman and artist Dominke “Domo” Stanton, and this brave new world represents different things for each young hero.
To discover more about this unique Marvel Comics mag, Dynamic Forces sat down and chatted with Weisman about the project.
Dynamic Forces: Greg, for me this was one of the more unexpected titles to appear in All-New All-Different Marvel. Can you tell us how this title came about?
Greg Weisman: The impetus for doing a Starbrand title definitely came from Marvel. Katie Kubert called me up to discuss it. I believe the idea was that Starbrand, coming out of Avengers, had some buzz and momentum. Nightmask was going to be a supporting character, and it was my idea to give him equal billing and make him a co-lead. The two interested me more as equal partners than as hero and sidekick.
DF: So before we dig in, were you a fan of either the Jim Shooter or Warren Ellis versions of the “New Universe” or Jonathan Hickman’s 616 spin in his Avengers run?
Greg Weisman: I read the Shooter stuff back in the day. The New Universe was a really interesting experiment. Never saw Ellis’ version, I’m afraid. But I followed Hickman’s Avengers run religiously and loved all the tidbits he threw out, almost casually, that he didn’t have room to expand upon. One of my goals in this series is to pick up some of those threads and let them spool out to their shocking (but logical) conclusions.
DF: For the uninitiated, tell us who Nightmask and Starbrand are. Today, in the series.
Greg Weisman: Kevin “Starbrand” Conner is a twenty-year-old college freshman with cosmic power and nearly no life experience. The events that led up to Secret Wars – including his own death – have made him a bit cynical and reluctant to interact with other human beings. Even his pre-Starbrand history has taught him that other people are only a potential source of pain. But now, he’s being given a new opportunity to explore his options with more confidence.
Adam “Nightmask” Blackveil is a three-year-old college freshman with cosmic power and literally no life experience. But where Kevin is nervous about engaging with humanity, Adam is hungry for it. Initially, he’s Kevin’s conscience – his Jiminy Cricket – but as the series progresses we’ll see more and more of Adam’s own desires coming to the forefront.
DF: So our boys are going to college, eh? As a writer (folks who have written Thor Odinson books have coped with this for decades), how do you balance Earth adventures with cosmic opuses?
Greg Weisman: It’s in the contrast that you get most of the fun. But it’s serious too. Kevin’s very first appearance in the Marvel Universe had him receiving cosmic power at his old college and – unable to control that power – blowing his college and everyone in it to smithereens. So he’s extremely protective toward ESU and all who go there. He doesn’t want to see history repeat. Adam has already found things he likes about the human world (for example, clothes shopping), but there are other things that mystify him. (Adam is without a doubt the most fun character to write. He’s dry, witty and subversive.) We want to try and get that true college experience, everything from moving into the dorm to going to class to partying with your new best friends. But at the same time, Starbrand and Nightmask have both stepped onto the galactic stage in a big way, and they’ve attracted a LOT of attention.
DF: What can you tell us about your first arc?
Greg Weisman: Well, I’m not big on spoilers, but our two heroes will be moving onto campus, and going through those first early steps of acclimating to this new environment. We’ll see their first meal in the cafeteria, their first dorm party, etc. Meanwhile, various cosmic entities have begun to view the Starbrand of Earth as a problem, an obstacle, a threat. These entities will use existing Marvel villains as proxies to fight Starbrand on our world, while Nightmask takes the battle against Eternity’s Children into space. Then, while Starbrand and Nightmask are still in the midst of that war on two fronts, two more new threats emerge to further challenge our boys.
DF: Since there are more young Marvel stars in the AN AD MU, Greg, will there be any familiar Marvel faces the boys may encounter on campus?
Greg Weisman: Absolutely. On every front, new and longtime readers will see a nice mix of original and familiar faces among our heroes, villains and supporting cast. In issue #1 alone, you’ll see Roberto Da Costa, Doreen Green, a trio of classic Marvel villains and a couple of relatively obscure civilian characters that I’m particularly fond of.
DF: Tell us about working with Dominike Stanton. Why is he the right artist for this bold new book?
Greg Weisman: Domo’s work is so spot-on to the energy we’re trying to achieve here. I love how expressive he is with all the characters’ faces on a human level – and how he makes the cosmic stuff really pop. He and I were able to get together in Georgetown this past October and talk through all our crazy plans for the first year and beyond. His contribution to the title is invaluable.
DF: Greg, any other projects current or near-future you would like to mention?
Greg Weisman: Since you asked… There is, of course, the ongoing Star Wars Kanan title that I’m doing for Marvel and Lucasfilm with Pepe Larraz and David Curiel. I’m really proud of the book, and Pepe’s work is just gorgeous. Plus there are my novels: Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam, and the Rain of the Ghosts full-cast unabridged AudioPlay that will soon be available on Audible.com. For more information on those, check out RainoftheGhosts.com or my website AskGregWeisman.com. I can also be reached on Twitter @Greg_Weisman.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Greg Weisman for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Starbrand & Nightmask #1 hits stores December 16th!
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