Beechen Unleashes Guitar Heroes in "Killapalooza"


"Killapalooza" #1 on sale now

Adam Beechen obviously isn't afraid to reach. When the former "Robin" writer was developing his latest project for WildStorm, he and editor Ben Abernathy just kept coming up with zanier and zanier ideas. What they landed on was simple.

"Rock stars by night... Hired killers by later in the night."

Give it a name, "Killapalooza," and add rising star Trevor Hairsine as the artist and what you have is a creator-driven series that is going to push the pedal to the proverbial metal every single issue.

CBR News checked in with Beechen to talk about the six-issue "Killapalozza," and also garnered some information about his upcoming fill-in issue on "The Brave and The Bold," featuring the unlikely pair of Blue Beetle and Milestone's genius inventor, Hardware.

CBR: First off, how did you come up with the idea for "Killapalooza?"

Adam Beechen: The idea for "Killapalooza" came out of a conversation Wildstorm editor Ben Abernathy and I had some time ago. We'd been wanting to work together for a while, and we were talking about ideas we could maybe apply to existing Wildstorm characters, not so much a reboot as a change of direction. The longer we talked, the goofier the ideas became, and finally we hit on, "Rock stars by night... Hired killers by later in the night."

It made us laugh out loud, and we both wanted to do something with the notion. We decided pretty quickly not to shoehorn existing WildStorm characters into it, because the concept was so whacked-out, so unlikely, so unrealistic, even for spandex-wearing superheroes, that fans of whatever characters we put in there would make the Batgirl fans who wanted to cut off my head look like attendees of a Tupperware party. So we decided I'd create original characters and give them their own story. I'd always thought "The Clap" was a funny name for a band, and so a book was born.

Are you a fan of bands like The Clap?

I'm not sure there are any bands like The Clap, what with moonlighting as assassins and all. What a blow it would be to Creed fans if they found out the awful truth. But yeah, I like music in general, and I love stories about musicians, particularly the ones that have led lives of debauchery and excess. I'm amazed that some of them are still alive, frankly. I read that Mötley Crüe book and... wow.

What can you share about the story you are going to tell?

Well, The Clap are insanely popular rock stars who, throughout their career, have moonlighted as assassins for hire. Towel off after a show, zip up the ninja suits, knock off a target, then hop on the private jet for the next tour stop. Surely, you ask, someone would notice that everywhere The Clap goes, assassinations mysteriously take place? Well, by all rights, someone should notice but, in just one of the many points of silliness that the book is all about, somehow no one's put it together. Plus, the band's super-cool manager, Slide, has a zillion tricks for covering their tracks.

Anyhow, when we meet The Clap, they're a more violent version of the Beatles circa 1969. They hate each other, they can't work together anymore, they're desperate to go their separate ways - they're literally on the verge of killing each other. But here's the rub: they can't afford to break up. Sure, they've made millions over their career, but thanks to their hard, high living, they've spent every nickel.

So when Slide brings them a lucrative opportunity to pull a kill that coincides with a giant benefit concert, they decide to stick together long enough for one last gig, as it were. But no sooner do they take the job than they discover they're not the only ones after the target, and their rivals might even be sharing the concert bill with them.

What follows is a cat-and-mouse game with The Clap try to fulfill their assignment and figure out who they're up against, all set against the backdrop of rock and roll debauchery.

What's the mood of "Killapalooza?" Is it dark? Lighter fare? An action/adventure?

It's dark comedy/action-adventure all the way, not meant to be taken seriously in the least. There's no hidden meanings, no deep statements, nothing on the agenda but blowing up stuff, telling a fast-paced and exciting story, and having some good, mean fun. If it gets to Hollywood, that should be the poster tagline: "Good, mean fun."

Are The Clap considered heroes in the book? If so, who are the villains?

They're anti-heroes, for sure. I mean, they have been hired to kill someone. And they're rude, obnoxious, selfish knuckleheads, to boot. So that makes The Clap unlikely characters to root for. But hopefully, they'll be enough fun to hang around with that they will capture the rooting interest. Working in their favor is the fact that no one around them is exactly a saint, either. The bad guys are their rivals for this particular wetworks job, and their identities remain hidden until the very end.

Are The Clap British or American?

U-S-A! U-S-A! I wouldn't inflict idiots like these on another country.

Take us around the band. Who are the members? What instruments do they play? And more importantly, what's their specialty when they are on assignment?

Well, the frontman, chief songwriter and lead guitarist is Axe, and he could have a knife-fight with Bullseye and come out on top, that's how good he is with bladed weapons. Amp, the lead singer, can convert sound to destructive energy. Ivory plays the keyboards, and she can project extreme cold, while Skin, the drummer and Ivory's ex-husband, can age anything to dust with just a touch. Finally, there's Ass, the bass player, who can make things super-heavy.

Who sends them out on assignment? Or who do they report to?

Their manager, Slide, gets them all their jobs, through his mysterious network of connections. He's been with them since the very beginning... literally. He's part manager, part businessman, part incredibly overworked babysitter.

According to the solicitations, The Clap have perpetrated some of the most elaborate murders in modern memory. Can you share some examples?

Chances are, if you remember a mysterious death of a political figure in recent history, The Clap were probably scheduled for a gig somewhere nearby. Now, that doesn't mean they did it, necessarily, but I'm just sayin'.

What can you say about the work of Trevor Hairsine?

What can't I say about Trevor's work? I jumped so high I shattered my light fixtures when Ben told me Trevor would be drawing the book. I've been a fan of his since he was drawing "Ultimate Nightmare" at Marvel. I knew he could handle kick-ass action, but where he's surpassed my wildest expectations is his handling of comedy. He nails facial expressions and staging. Fans of his work - and there are a ton of them - are going to drool over this series. And he's going to have even more fans by the time the last issue comes out, I predict. He deserves it. He's one of the most under-appreciated talents working today.

Do you have more "Killapalooza" stories to tell, if sales and acclaim warrant a second series?

Oh, sure. We hint at their origins, but don't really get into it. And since we're catching them at what they feel is the end of their career, so there's their whole history to explore. Notice I'm not saying anything about whether The Clap makes it out of this series alive.

What else are you working on these days?

Well, WildStorm and I are discussing what we can do together next. Over on the DC side, I have an issue of "The Brave and the Bold" coming out in a few months, and I just wrote my third episode of the cartoon of the same name.

In your issue of "The Brave and the Bold" you feature quite the dynamic duo of Blue Beetle and Hardware. Was that your pitch?

It came from editor Joey Cavalieri, and Hardware's creator, Dwayne McDuffie, consulted all along the way. But I was geeked up for it from the get-go. I'm a big fan of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, and a little research into Hardware and the Milestone Universe made me a fan of that character, as well.

Why do they work well together?

I think what makes them fun together is a fundamental difference in their personalities. Beetle, by nature, is very social. He loves teaming up, loves feeling like 'one of the guys.' Hardware, by contrast, is pretty much the opposite. He's a "you want it done right, do it yourself" guy all the time. Not a big fan of asking for or needing help.

Can you tease us a bit about the story?

Hardware comes west to El Paso to investigate the theft of some sensitive technology from his employer, Edwin Alva. El Paso being Blue Beetle's territory, he insists on helping out, despite Hardware's protests. The two of them have to figure out a way to work together against an updated foe from Hardware's past, and in doing so, uncover a new mystery that will stretch beyond the pages of this single issue.

"The Brave and The Bold" #25, with art by Roger Robinson and Hilary Barta, is expected in stores on July 15 from DC Comics.

The first issue of "Killapalooza" comes out May 20 from WildStorm.

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