What’s a guy to do when he accidentally stumbles onto a secret society of monsters living amongst regular people? That’s the question being raised in “Epoch” written by Kevin McCarthy with art by Paolo Pantalena. The book, brought to you by Heroes & Villains Entertainment and Top Cow Productions, follows homicide investigator Jonah Wright as a series of murders leads him to the realization that an entire community of supernatural creatures — from angels to vampires — not only live among people, but also have a tendency to kill one another in a tournament dubbed Epoch. The tournament is orchestrated by a ruling council comprised of members from all eight supernatural tribes to settle disputes amongst them. CBR spoke with writer Kevin McCarthy to get the low down on the monsters, Jonah Wright and how he might be related to the very monsters he’s trying to track down.
“Although our first introduction to the supernatural underworld comes in the form of a mass-murdering demon, there are actually eight supernatural races that come into play in the pages of ‘Epoch,'” McCarthy told CBR News. “Beside the demons, there are gorgons, banshees, trolls, werewolves, warlocks, angels and vampires. And there’s no love lost between any of them. But in the world of man, these monstrous minorities recognized that in order to survive, they needed to stick together and exist in secret by living among us in disguise. In order to govern themselves, and to have a venue to make group decisions and settle disputes, the supernaturals have formed a council comprised of one member of each of the eight groups, and chosen from among those eight, a council leader.”
Chasing down clues on a homicide, Jonah Wright finds himself unwittingly on the trail of a murderous demon. Not without his own demons, Wright’s past has honed him into a very effective and focused man of the law.
“Prior to the events of the first issue of ‘Epoch,’ NYC Homicide Detective Jonah Wright could’ve been described as a loner,” McCarthy said. “No real family. No girlfriend. His only friends are his investigative partner and a morgue attendant. Having lost his mother at birth, and being estranged from his father for most of his life afterward, has steered Jonah’s life into one direction: police work. It makes sense that a boy who never had much of a father would not only want to become a cop like his old man, but be beyond driven to excel at that job, like a Robbie Knievel or a Prince Fielder. Or Jack Kirby’s Orion. What happens to him in ‘Epoch’ #1 not only forever changes how he sees the world, it also offers him something that, aside from his job, has been missing from his life until now: a true sense of purpose; albeit one fueled by a desire for justice and revenge.”
The implications of this case are enormous, not just for Jonah but for the entire world. Government officials seem wrapped up in these demonic murders, but so does a member of Jonah’s family. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that he’s dealing with creatures long thought fictional by the general public.
“While working a serial murder case, Jonah discovers evidence that implicates a US Congresswoman, casts suspicion on his own father and suggests the possible existence of a supernatural underworld,” McCarthy explained. “Usually people see what they want to see, what they expect to see. It’s how the supernaturals have been able to live among us undetected for so long. As a murder police, Jonah’s been trained to look deeper, but this time he may live to regret this as he slowly begins to not only link his murders to the supernatural, but that he himself may be… a banshee. Or a troll? One of those. Jonah may, in fact, have Adonis DNA. I’ve said too much.”
The more embroiled he becomes in the case, the more Jonah and the reader learn about how the monsters govern themselves and how important the Epoch tournaments are to them.
“Much more than a ‘supernatural fight club,’ the tournament, which is called Epoch, is an ancient and sacred ritual designed to determine the leader of the council,” McCarthy said. “Because many of the creatures that make up the council are immortal, or very long-lived, this doesn’t happen very often. But when a new leader is to be chosen, each of the supernatural groups selects a champion to square off against the others in a series of one-on-one, no-holds-barred, hand-to-hand matches, sometimes to the death. When only one champion remains, they and they alone decide who will be the next leader. They can choose themselves, or someone else. In ‘Epoch’ #1, the current council leader, an archangel, is murdered, and Epoch is enacted once again — may the best monster win.”
McCarthy also revealed to CBR News that he is actually batting a bit of clean-up when it comes to “Epoch” noting that both he and artist Paolo Pantalena came in after the original creators left for various reasons.
“I wish I could take credit for having created it, but ‘Epoch’ is the creation of the partners at Heroes & Villains Entertainment,” McCarthy said. “They developed the universe, its characters and premise, and even supplied me with an outline for the five-issue series. I’m just a hired gun that was brought in to take over for the original writer, who left before the project really got underway. That said, I’ve been given lots of leeway to create new characters, kill or change existing ones, and do what I see fit to hammer HVE’s sprawling supernatural soap opera into a taut, tense, twenty-page trip. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and I think it shows in the pages. ‘Epoch’ is planned as a trilogy, and I’m looking forward to continuing the adventures of these characters and this world because we’ve all put so much of ourselves into it. Paolo and I are both replacement killers on this project. While I’ve been more of a Sammy Hagar, Paolo is definitely Brian Johnson-ing the hell out of this book; penciling at the top of his lungs, breathing life into every panel, and destroying and recreating the supernatural world in his own sexy image.”
Even though most of the main elements of the book were established as McCarthy and Pantalena began working on “Epoch,” they have both worked tirelessly to really make the project their own.
“Most of the main characters were fairly well established by the time I came on board with the project,” McCarthy said. “The previous artist had gotten as far as character designs and a page or two of sequential art before Paolo joined the team and designed his own version of the characters. I mean, he’s the one who has to draw them, right? Whenever I introduce a new character to the series, one who will recur and have some impact on the story beyond one panel or page, I’ll give a brief physical description, usually only a few sentences, because I prefer to stay out of Paolo’s way as much as possible and let him do his thing.”
“Epoch” #1 is on sale in August from Heroes & Villains and Top Cow.