Now that the Marvel Universe has been reduced to the patchwork planet called Battleworld thanks to "Secret Wars," its strangeness is even more concentrated. The various realms that make up Battleworld and exist side by side include everything from high-tech cities, demon-haunted metropolises, and villain-dominated wastelands. The most surreal domain of the world created by Doctor Doom is one that certainly lives up to its name: Weirdworld.
Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo Take a "Secret Wars" Trip to "Weirdworld"â€¨This June, writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Del Mundo will take readers deep inside the mysterious realm in "Weirdworld," a new "Secret Wars" series that finds the interdimensional barbarian Arkon the Imperion traversing the strange domain in search of a way home.
CBR News spoke with Aaron about his inspirations for the Weirdworld realm, its connection to Marvel's original "Weirdworld" stories, and the characters and creatures Arkon may encounter as he searches for a way home.
CBR News: Jason one of the most interesting facets of "Weirdworld" is the titular domain itself, so let's start off by talking about it. What can you tell us about Weirdworld? It sounds like a place that's really going to let you stretch your fantasy writing muscles.
Jason Aaron: Yes, I'm getting to do stuff in this book that I never expected to be able to do in a Marvel comic. There's certainly a lot of fantasy elements to it, but Weirdworld is not a place that's just all swords and sandals.
I describe it as a mix of all your favorite 1970s genre movies sort of crammed into one location. So Weirdworld is a place where you can do all sorts of stories. You get this sort of weird mix of genres, locations, and obscure characters from throughout Marvel's history.
And might we see some characters that never fit into the larger Marvel Universe?
Yes, and those characters come from all kinds of different places and series.
How much of this domain is inspired by the original "Weirdworld" series from the late '70s that many modern readers likely aren't familiar with?
Yes, the original "Weirdworld" stories are probably not well known by most Marvel fans. They appeared in a couple of magazine format books and some comics here and there, but those were pretty straight forward fantasy stories; sort of Marvel's version of "Lord of the Rings" with elves, evil wizards, and dragons.
We'll have a little bit of that, but again this new version of "Weirdworld" is more than that. The fantasy elements are just one ingredient in the stew that we're mixing up.
You're building this world with artist Mike Del Mundo who is coming off a beautiful looking run on "Elektra" where he brought to life some fantastic looking and strange locales like Monster Island and an underwater city.
Yes, Mike is amazing. Most people may know him from the covers he's done over the last few years. I think most people would agree that he's one of, if not the, best cover artists working today. The books I've seen also show that he's got a ton of skill and inventiveness with his interiors as well. So "Weirdworld" is one of the best looking books I've ever been a part of. Every time I get pages in from him I'm amazed by them and send them around to everybody I know. They all freak out and agree that this book looks amazing.
I couldn't be happier with what Mike is doing on this and being able to build this new world with him has a been a huge thrill.
You and Mike are plunging a fairly obscure Marvel character, Arkon the Imperion, into the strangeness of Weirdworld. What made Arkon an interesting protagonist for this series?
Arkon was [editor] Tom Brevoort's idea. Coming into this Tom already had the basic premise. He knew he wanted to do a "Weirdworld" book that mixed together some different characters and elements. He was first talking about that at one of the retreats where we were discussing these different corners and domains of Battleworld and the books we could do as a part of "Secret Wars."
It was exciting because we were talking about a lot of types of books that we don't normally talk about. We've got Gerry Duggan doing a western comic and Garth Ennis doing a book about airplanes and dinosaurs. Those are normally not the kinds of books we talk about at retreats. You don't normally get to do, certainly so many of, those kinds of books at the same time. So that was all really exciting.
Tom said he had ideas for something called "Weirdworld" and I pulled him aside during a break and said, "I really want to write that." So then one of the first e-mails I got from Tom was a list of, "Here are all the odd ball fantasy characters from throughout Marvel history use any of these that you want." So putting together all of these weird pieces has been a lot of fun.
I love working with Tom. I've worked with him before; mostly on big event books, but he's one of my favorite editors there to work with. A lot of the ideas for this just came from Tom.
How is Arkon's story in "Weirdworld" structured? Is this about him just exploring different areas of the titular domain? Or is there a longer narrative that spans the entire series?
Yes to both of those, actually. He's a guy trying to get back home. That's his central quest. He's also a guy who has no idea where he is now, let alone how to get to the home he's lost. So this story is Arkon traversing the insane terrain of Weirdworld and meeting all sorts of different creatures and people along the way. So he's the one we follow, but as he goes he starts to get embroiled in a bigger story as we see who's running Weirdworld and everything starts to come crashing down by the end of the series.
So Arkon is sort of a Conan style figure in this story traveling across "Weirdworld" and having adventures as he searches for his way home?
Yes, and he meets all these different characters in his journey. He teams up with a character in issue #2 that is very important. Then he crosses paths with another character in issue #3 that becomes very important. He comes across some other characters in issue#4 and then it all comes together.
He's the one we're following though. When we first meet Arkon he's lost and he's been through hell in his travels across Weirdworld and finally starts to get an idea of the colossal task he's facing by trying to traverse this world.
â€¨Maps will be a big part of that. Any great fantasy story has to have a map at some point. One of the things I always hate about those kinds of stories, though, about hidden mysterious lands is when they do maps that fill in every corner of it. I don't want to do that. I don't want to ruin the mystery and the unknown of "Weirdworld." So you'll see multiple maps over the course of the story, but none of them will ever be comprehensive as far as I'm concerned. I don't think there should ever be a comprehensive map of "Weirdworld." I always want to leave things open for something even weirder and more insane that we haven't seen before and could be just around the corner.
Let's move from exploring "Weirdworld" to exploring your protagonist. Which of Arkon's traits do you find most interesting and which will be front and center in this story?
He's kind of a blank slate in that all you really know about him is he's sort of an interdimensional conqueror. That's what we know based on his appearances so far. He's not always the worst villain. He can almost be a begrudging good guy every once in a while.
So in this story we've got a clean slate to do whatever we want to do with him, and you'll have to make up your own mind in regards to what you think about him. We are going for something in the Conan vein though, where he's heroic at times but he can also be a pretty scary figure.
Will Arkon be armed with his trademark lightning bolts in "Weirdworld?"
Those lightning bolts are pretty awesome. Tom initially said we could ditch the lightning bolts if we wanted to and I was like, "No! We don't want to ignore the fact that the guy has a quiver full of battle bolts! We don't want to lose that."
Can you leave us with a final tease about some of the characters that might have those bolts used against them? Or see them in action as they fight by Arkon's side?
The solicits mention the phrase "Crystal Warriors," so that ought to give you a tease if you're about my age and you remember some obscure Marvel comics from the '80s. I don't want to say a whole lot else. There will be a weird mix of characters going forward though, some you would expect like Skull the Slayer. Given the nature of Weirdworld you should expect to see Skull the Slayer if you even know who the hell Skull the Slayer is. [Laughs] The fact that there is a Marvel character called Skull the Slayer though should tell you that, yes, he's going to be in "Weirdworld" at some point. [Laughs]
There will be some other characters who are a bit of a surprise, too; some you might not expect. In the first issue we talk about how Weirdworld is a place where lost things go. So there are characters out there in the Marvel Universe who maybe never fit in where they were. They never seemed to find a place. Maybe Weirdworld is that place for them.
"Weirdworld" #1 arrives June 10, 2015 from Marvel Comics.