Writer Bryan J.L. Glass has been active in the comic book industry for a few years now. He’s won two Harvey Awards for his work on “Mice Templar” at Image Comics, and branched out into Marvel work, including the miniseries “Valkyrie” and “Thor: First Thunder.”
Yet up to this point, something has been absent from his credits: a series that’s uniquely his creation. In “Mice Templar,” he expanded on concepts originally conceived by his long-time friend Michael Avon Oeming, while “Thor: First Thunder” revisited Silver Age stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
That pattern changes with “Furious,” a new, five-issue miniseries debuting in January from Dark Horse Comics. “Furious” will be illustrated by Glass’s “Mice Templar” collaborator Victor Santos, and first glimpsed with an eight-page story in December’s “Dark Horse Presents” #31.
CBR News spoke exclusively with Glass for his first interview on the series, before its official unveiling Saturday at Baltimore Comic Con during the “Powered by Creators: Bryan J.L. Glass Comes to Dark Horse” panel.
“For years, I’ve always considered myself to be a creator, but every time I got a publishing opportunity, it would be to come aboard someone else’s existing project,” Glass said. “This is the first project I’m bringing to a major publisher that originated with me.”
“Furious,” in its earliest state, dates back to ideas Glass had around 25 years ago, though it has evolved significantly in that time.
“‘Furious’ is the story of a woman who has woken up to the fact that she is a repugnant human being, and superpowers grant her the means to redeem herself,” Glass told CBR. “But unlike the average superhero who wears a mask to protect their loved ones from all the enemies that they’re going to make, Furious wears a mask because, if you knew who she really was, you would hate her.”
Given the title character’s contemptible status, Glass said one of the biggest challenges in writing the series is presenting an unlikeable protagonist in the proper way.
“How do you ride that balance? How do you walk that tightrope between establishing that the character is repugnant, and yet you’re following this character, trying desperately to change who they were,” the writer asked. “You want to be rooting for them.”
Compared to warrior mice and Asgardian gods, “Furious” is noticeably more grounded than Glass’s past comics work. The title character is, in fact, the first superhero ever in her world — a world intended to closely resemble our own.
“I’m writing about a fantastic superpowered character, but everything that drives the character is entrenched in deep psychological motivations,” Glass said. “The world I’m going to show reacting to her is as close as I can get to our world.”
To that end, “Furious” will address the themes of fame and the media, and how one can pervert the other.
“We’re going to be playing with this balance in the new media between the corporate, conglomerate news sites, who want to shape or use what Furious is, versus how the new media portrays her,” Glass said. “How you can be a threat to the system, but new media can make you a hero of the people — or vice versa.”
More than four months away from the book’s debut, Glass is hesitant to reveal too many plot details — including how the main character gets her superpowers — but it’s clear that the psychological battles will be as important as the physical ones.
“‘I used to try to tear to people down; now I can physically tear them apart, and I’m trying to not be that person’ is a lot of the conflict of the story,” he said. “Furious, the character, is looking into a very dark mirror, and saying, ‘How do I get out of this hellish hole I dug for myself?'”
Stemming from their “Mice Templar” familiarity, Santos is not just the artist of “Furious,” but also its co-creator. Glass said Santos — who he calls one of his best friends, despite the two never having met in person — had “carte blanche” when it came to character design.
“I gave him some very minor parameters, but I really wanted him to also feel a sense of ownership beyond just co-owning it on paper,” he said. “I wanted him to be able to make his mark with this book. In issue #1 he’s doing a lot of stylistic things that I think are going to impress a lot of people.”
Though Santos is co-creator of the current version of “Furious,” he wasn’t the original artist Glass had in mind when he first planned to bring his decades-old idea to fruition. Glass discussed the project with artist Josh Medors, who wrote the foreword to the third “Mice Templar” collection, “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.” In the text piece, the artist detailed the personal impact the story had on him during his battle with cancer.
Medors started design work on the project but was curtailed by his illness, before passing away last November.
“I didn’t even want to touch this project again,” Glass said. “I can’t read that ‘Mice Templar’ forward without tearing up. This was going to be his comeback book into the industry, and he only got beyond a couple of designs, he sketched out a few pages, and the illness prevented him from being able to do any more.”
During a subsequent conversation with Oeming and Santos, talk turned to Dark Horse — who are currently publishing Oeming’s “The Victories” and the print version of Santos’ webcomic “Polar” — with the thinking that the publisher’s growing focus on superheroes might be a good fit for “Furious.” Glass was initially hesitant, unsure he could find the right artist.
“Victor just volunteered and said, ‘I would love to do this story — just don’t show me anything that Josh did, because I want to be fresh,'” Glass recalled. “I gave him the entire backstory, then one weekend he just delivered 20 pages worth of character designs.”
“Furious” is designed to stand on its own, but Glass leaves open the possibility of revisiting the title character and her world in potential future volumes, if the opportunity arises.
“We’re looking to do the five issues self-contained, but there is so much potential, not only for the character but for the world that we are creating around her,” Glass said. “It will be a world that begins to adapt to her presence, and what her presence means, and how her existence begins to change things that are happening. And we’ll get to explore that as we get to do more volumes.”
“Furious” #1 is scheduled for release from Dark Horse Comics on Jan. 29, 2014.