In April, Dynamite Entertainment presents “Miss Fury” starring the classic ’40s pulp heroine, careening back and forth through time battling futuristic undercover super Nazis. Handling the creative duties on the new series is writer Rob Williams and “Kirby: Genesis” artist Jack Herbert.
Originally created by Tarpe Mills in 1941, “Miss Fury” sometimes appeared as her alter ego — Manhattan socialite Marla Drake. Aside from recent appearances in Dynamite’s “Masks” ongoing series and J. Michael Straczynski’s “The Twelve” maxiseries from Marvel Comics, the character has seen limited print time since her series ended in 1952. In 2011 IDW Publishing collected a number Mills’ classic “Miss Fury” tales in a “Library of American Comics” oversized hardcover edition.
Williams is best known for runs on Marvel’s “Ghost Rider” and “Daken: Dark Wolverine,” as well as his surrealist “2000 AD” crime-saga “Lowlife.” The writer spoke with CBR News about how his “Miss Fury” connects to older versions of the character, the way time travel is utilized and why his Nazis are unique from other takes on the staple pulp villains.
CBR News: Rob, who exactly is Miss Fury?
Rob Williams: Created by one of the first female comic artists in Tarpe Mills, Miss Fury is one of the first ‘pulp’ superheroes of the 1940s, around the same time Catwoman appeared on the scene. In terms of her alter ego, she’s a crime fighting Manhattan socialite called Marla Drake, who may have special powers and wears a black catsuit. We’re taking her in a new direction.
In what ways is your version of Miss Fury related to the older character?
Miss Fury is still Marla Drake, Manhattan socialite, but we’ve given her a new origin story where she’s not a superhero at the beginning. Marla is bored and fairly amoral when we meet her in 1943 — she’s a thief who doesn’t need the money. When she runs across Nazi secret agents, Marla finds herself thrown into a time machine; the result is she’s fighting World War II in 2013 and beyond. This woman who believed in absolutely nothing at the start of our tale asks herself what she’s willing to fight for.
You can think of this series of “Miss Fury” as “Homeland” meets “Back To The Future.” The catch is Miss Fury is constantly shifting through time — she has no control over it. One minute she’s in the ’40s, the next it’s 2013 and then she’s into the far future. There’s cloaked, armoured Nazi super agents hiding as major political figures in our time, and Miss Fury is told to assassinate them. The question then becomes, is she being told the truth? Is she being sent to assassinate innocent people? Or is the time traveling all in her head and she’s actually gone insane?
What are your favorite classic “Miss Fury” stories?
This one. Without a doubt.
I’m sure there are classics in her past, and I obviously did some research on her before starting the project, but the whole idea of this new series is newcomers to the character can pick up #1 and immediately be onboard. Her history is told in the first issue and then in flashback moments throughout the initial arc. With the travel hook we reveal the mysteries of her past, painting a nuanced character. For instance, some of her actions in #1 are explained by the time we get to #5. Initially she appears as a nasty piece of work but all is not as it seems.
Explain the rules of time travel for Miss Fury. Can she change the future or the past? Is everything set in stone forever? Something else?
First off, she may not actually be time traveling. Her shifts through time are like the thoughts we all have, where memories pop into our heads. Miss Fury suffers a traumatic experience — there’s a war on and she may be lost in mental suffering. The time traveling shows her a terrible future where the Nazis win World War II in 2013, and it’s up to her to stop it from occurring. She can change the future, but the people advising her on what she has to do may or may not be trustworthy. She has to find her own path and direction. When we first meet her she’s lost in inertia, a rich woman living a life without meaning. This is very much a redemption tale, albeit a messed up one.
A pulp hero being thrown back and forth in time to fight Nazis is reminiscent to themes from Captain America. Do you think Miss Fury has a spiritual or thematic connection to Cap?
Not really. I didn’t want it to be just a ‘we’re bringing a 1940s superhero to modern times’ story. That’s why she keeps flashing back and forth through time throughout our initial arc, like she’s trapped in the time machine. Plus, Cap’s the shield and heroic icon. Miss Fury initially lives as a thief who could easily turn further to the dark side.
Nazi’s are common villains for old pulp heroes. What sets your take on the Third Reich apart from other incarnations?
There’s a satirical political edge here. You know those extremist political figures from your favourite news channel — the guys who make the crazy remarks in the press that make you think they have lost their minds. In “Miss Fury” there’s a reason for that. They may well be cloaked, undercover armoured super Nazi time travel agents, or Miss Fury may be insane. We’ll see.
What themes will you be playing with in this series, and what are you most looking forward to about people seeing the first issue?
For me it’s predominantly a character study, albeit one with an exploding boatload of action. The flashes back and forth in time help us paint a detailed picture of a woman who seems to have everything, but is actually hugely lost. World War II is going on but she couldn’t care less because she needs to find something worth fighting for. In the initial pitch the question I kept coming back to was, ‘What are you angry about?’
I’ve worked for Dynamite on “Robocop” and “Robocop/Terminator: Kill Human.” They’re good guys who are producing some fun comics right now, pulling in great talent. The artist on “Miss Fury,” Jack Herbert, is doing stellar work reminding me at times of Frazer Irving. The color job on the book is great, too. “Miss Fury” isn’t an easy book to draw; the script’s filled with crazy, big widescreen action sequences and a lot of reference from the ’30s and ’40s. It’s challenging and Jack’s making it look great.
What other projects are you working on?
Lots for “2000 AD.” I have a “Judge Dredd” story called “Save Him,” drawn by “B.P.R.D.’s” James Harren that’s coming out in #1819 — I love Harren’s work. Additional “Judge Dredd” stories are on the way. I’m writing a new series of my ‘human resistance fights Gods’ series “The Ten-Seconders,” with Edmund Bagwell who’s a monster on art. I’ve finished the script for “Ordinary,” my upcoming creator-owned series — it’s one of the best things I’ve written and I’m working with one of my favourite artists. There are other things I can’t talk about yet, too.
Dynamite Entertainment’s “Miss Fury” #1 by writer Rob Williams and artist Jack Herbert goes on sale April 3rd