On a run from one creator-owned project to the next, Mark Millar is looking backwards a bit for his next independent launch — specifically, the writer behind “Wanted,” “War Heroes” and “Kick-Ass” will be reviving he and Peter Gross’ 2004 series “Chosen” at Image Comics with a new trade paperback volume retitled “American Jesus Volume 1: Chosen” in January followed by two follow up mini series, the first of which holds the appropriate subhead “The Second Coming.” The announcement came during Baltimore Comic-Con Sunday morning.
“The whole thing was always planned as a nine-issue series, and it was going to be made up of three trilogies so I could get three #1s out of it,” laughed the Scottish scribe while talking with CBR News earlier this week. “I’ve always got an eye on sales, so I wanted to get three #1s. Plus, with it being a biblical thing, a trilogy seemed to make sense. We even ended the first one on a cliffhanger.”
Originally published as a three-issue series from Dark Horse as part of Millar’s initial push of creator-owned Millarworld titles, the series followed the story of 12-year-old Jodie Christianson, who while growing up a regular Midwestern kid in the mid ’80s discovers that he is, in fact, the returned Christ on earth. Millar and Gross will reteam for the two follow up volumes, as the writer explained “we own this 100% together, the same as John Romita, Jr. and I on ‘Kick-Ass’ or Tony Harris and I on ‘War Heroes’ or J.G. Jones and I on ‘Wanted.’ Anything I do on creator-owned books, we split it right down the middle, which is the only fair thing to do because they’re putting as much work into it as I am.”
Millar also explained that he’s always intended to have a unifying title for the proposed trilogy. “The series itself was always going to be called ‘American Jesus.’ My idea for it was always ‘The American Jesus Trilogy.’ That was one of the original titles I came up with. The other one was ‘Bible 2’ saying it was the sequel to the Bible, but I thought that might come off as a bit facetious. I could get shot saying that. But I looked at it as ‘The Bible sold a lot of copies, and it would be quite nice if there was a sequel.’
“So my plan was to just finish the story, and I’ve just been so busy at Marvel for three years with ‘Civil War’ and ‘Ultimates’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Old Man Logan’ and everything. Just one project after another stopped me from getting to this. And it was slightly frustrating.”
The inability to find time for “American Jesus” in his schedule was doubly frustrating for Millar as it was also lined up for a feature film adaptation around the same time as he made a deal for he and J.G. Jones’ “Wanted.”
“About three years ago, we first started talking to someone about doing the movie,” he said. “We talked to Sony Screen Gems. They wanted to make it, and they made us a nice offer and everything, but then something happened where I looked at it and it didn’t feel like a movie. Because I was trying to get as much money out of the studios as possible, I saw it as three movies like ‘Lord of the Rings’ — one big movie split over three pictures. But when I really looked at it, the three issues of ‘Chosen’ is one hour of a movie. Maybe even 50 minutes. So that’s when I pulled the plug on Sony Screen Gems, when I realized we’re better [completing the full nine issues] and it’s at the most one movie [as it stands].
“Matthew Vaughan, who’s directing ‘Kick-Ass’ right now, wanted to do ‘Chosen’ next, and I said, ‘Let’s do ‘Kick-Ass’ just now, and we’ll come back to ‘Chosen’ later once I’ve figured out the next six issues because there’s a lot of ways it could still go at the moment.'”
As for what kind of story would dictate enough plot and characterization (along with what can be assumed is a healthy amount of social commentary given Millar’s past work), Millar held back on giving too many details just yet. “I don’t want to spoil the ending of ‘Chosen’ for anybody who hasn’t read that, but the second volume is about the adult Jesus in the modern day walking around in the world of Guantanamo Bay and conservative Republicans running Americans who don’t have that much in common with a 2000-year old Judean idea of what Christianity is. It’s Jesus in the modern world, and they crucified him last time, so it’s kind of updating that for the modern world.”