Between the “X” titles, his own book and his frequent cameos all over the Marvel Universe, it’s been a long-standing joke that Wolverine can be in two places at once. Nowadays, with his key role in “Civil War,” Iron Man is as ubiquitous as Marvel’s resident canuckle head ever was. But those of you who long for the pre-Civil War Tony Stark have Adam Warren’s “Iron Man: Hypervelocity” to look forward to. Warren took a few minutes to chat with CBR News about the upcoming miniseries.
“Hypervelocity,” which has been in the works for quite a while, takes place before Tony is exposed to the Extremis virus in Warren Ellis’ arc in the ongoing series. The other Warren was hesitant to go into detail about the mini’s plot. “Suffice it to say that the miniseries takes place during a few hours of high-speed action over arguably the toughest night of Iron Man’s career, with a brand-new iteration of Tony Stark’s armor running an ultra-tech gauntlet posed by multiple factions of brand-new enemies,” Warren told CBR News. “No viciously obscure, deep-continuity nerd puzzles here, folks, just wild and pedal-to-the-metal ideas and action coming at you at supersonic speeds!”
The journey Warren took to bring “Iron Man: Hypervelocity” to print began practically at the beginning of his career. The industrious Warren got his start in comics in the late ’80s while he was still a student at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. He had just been exposed to Manga and Anime, and set out to acquire the American comic book rights to the anime “Dirty Pair.” “Back before the dawn of time, Toren Smith, head of pioneering Manga company Studio Proteus, and yours truly managed to snag the rights for an American comics version of Japanese SF author Haruka Takachiho’s most famous characters, the Dirty Pair,” Warren said. “First published through Eclipse, then moved over to Dark Horse, the American ‘Dirty Pair’ comic was among the first examples of what has been labeled as ‘American Manga.'”
Warren credits trading cards with his leap from Manga to mainstream. “I did a few pin-ups and trading cards for Wildstorm, then managed to get a ‘Gen 13’ pitch accepted, which led to the HK-cinema-satire ‘Grunge: The Movie’ story arc being published in ‘Gen 13 Bootleg.'”
And Warren has been working sporadically in mainstream comics ever since. His record stood at 0 for 3 until his pitch for a team of next-gen S.H.I.E.L.D. androids resulted in Marvel’s “Livewires.” “Not that this is even the slightest bit uncommon in comics, by the way; you’d be surprised at the sheer number and variety of rejected pitches from even very successful writers in the field. ”
After “Livewires” was over and done with, Tom Brevoort’s office approach Warren about pitching an Iron Man mini. Fortunately, Warren had already pitched a 12-issue Iron Man arc some years earlier, and it was a story that he still wanted to get out of his system. “So I grabbed ahold of that old pitch, tightened it up considerably, rounded off the edges, polished it into to a gleaming narrative diamond, painstakingly distilled and micro-brewed it into a briefer format, mixed the living crap out of my metaphors and behold, there proudly stood the proposal for ‘Iron Man: Hypervelocity,’ a six-issue miniseries!”
“‘Iron Man’ was one of my favorite comics back when I read Marvel books as a wee lad, so it was a bit of a childhood dream to work on the title,” Warren said. “If you lump ‘Hypervelocity’ in with that long-forgotten ‘Fantastic Four’ arc I wrote years ago, I’ll technically be 2-for-3 in terms of getting to work on childhood Marvel faves! Now, all I have to do is get that ‘Skull the Slayer’ pitch accepted, and I can go 3 for 3!”
Though accomplished as a writer and an artist both, Warren told CBR News that he prefers writing by a wide margin. “For me, [writing is] the most fun, creative and fulfilling part of the job and, furthermore, has the huge advantage of being far less time-consuming than producing artwork, which often winds up seeming like tedious gruntwork by comparison. This isn’t to wholly disparage the task of producing artwork, though. Despite the drastically longer timeframe required to draw a story as opposed to writing it, there is a certain ineffable sense of satisfaction from having done all the work yourself.”
That being said, Warren still prefers to hand off the penciling duties to others. “That’s the great part about writing for other artists: I get to see someone else’s approach to art and storytelling, a take that’s always different and often better than what I would’ve devised myself,” he said.In this case, the art for “Hypervelocity” is provided by Brian Denham, and how Denham landed the gig is an interesting story in its own right. Denham happened to see some of Warren’s early layouts, and produced ten sample pages on spec. “Don’t try this at home, young freelancers,” Warren warned. “The samples really impressed me, and, more importantly, editors Tom Brevoort and Molly Lazer, and lo, Brian was signed up to do the art for the miniseries.
“I was looking for a harsh black & white, high-contrast, heavy-on-the-shadows-and-edge-lighting approach for the miniseries’ artwork, and Brian fulfilled that request, and then some,” Warren said of his collaboration with Denham.
Warren feels his own artistic style falls in a “perceptual no man’s land”: American readers who are leery of Japanese character designs dismiss his work as Manga, and hard-core Manga fans decry his work as a Western bastardization of the form. In the case of ‘Hypervelocity’ however, Warren said, “Brian’s finished artwork for the book is scrupulously realistic and wholly free of any hint of the Manga-influenced character design that typifies my own artwork.”
“Hypervelocity” isn’t the only iron Warren has in the fire. In addition to a cartoon feature in the videogame magazine “PSM,” Warren wrote and drew an OGN called “Empowered,” which will be published by Dark Horse Comics in late February. Warren said, “‘Empowered’ is a B&W romantic comedy/superhero-satire/action-y/Manga-y/somewhat kinky dealie, delivering more than your recommended daily allowance of humor, wackiness, cheesecake and beefcake. 6″ by 9″ ‘Sin city’-ish format, 248 pulse-pounding pages, and the first volume of many.”
And look for the first issue of “Iron Man: Hypervelocity” in January 2007.
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