"Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover" Eschews DC's Superheroes for Horror Thrills

J.T. Krul isn't squeamish about hyping the horror for "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover," readily comparing his DC Comics miniseries to a Stephen King novel or even "John Carpenter's The Thing."

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Krul tells CBR News that his and artist V. Ken Marion's rebooted tale of aliens infecting everyday humans with life-changing abilities remains basically the same as the original '90s event in high concept. However, the meat of the tale is revamped and reimagined for a new generation readers, not unlike what Ronald D. Moore did for SyFy's "Battlestar Galactica" television franchise in the early aughts.

While their reaction to gaining superpowers will change, Krul confirmed that characters like Loose Cannon, Razorsharp and Sparx will feature in "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover". However, the original series' breakout star, Hitman, will not. Nor, despite the fact that the series is set squarely in current DCU continuity, will iconic superheroes like Superman, Batman Wonder Woman have roles in the six-part tale, in order to heighten the horror over superheroics approach the story has taken.

CBR News: "Bloodlines" was a major DC Comics crossover in the 1990s, and based on the solicitation for the first issue, it seems like this story shares more than just a name with the original event. What is "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover"?

J. T. Krul: "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover" is a story about a small town where some of the townspeople are being infected by aliens and it actually manifests very different abilities in very different people. It's a really dark science fiction/horror story about these townspeople struggling to cope with what's going on and, honestly, just trying to survive. It's really not a superhero book at all; it's more like a Stephen King novel. Growing up, "John Carpenter's The Thing" was one of my favorite things, and there's a little bit of that type of tone to it, or something like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." This isn't a matter of these townspeople getting bitten and then getting supercool powers and joining up with superhero teams like the Justice League. It's about people getting infected and invaded within their own bodies and the horrific nature of that. What do you do as the entire town evolves into chaos?

From the cover, I am guessing we've got Loose Cannon and Razorsharp appearing.

You're right that is Loose Cannon -- but we're not actually calling him Loose Cannon. We're not getting into codenames and superhero names. In the original "Bloodlines" story, Eddie Walker was a police officer, and he became Loose Cannon. In our story, Eddie is actually a high school student who is struggling with his own physical abilities and then gets infected, giving him an incredibly strong body.

And yes, it's Razorsharp. Some of them are very literal re-imaginings with the same types of powers, and some of them are variations. But yes, there's an allusion of a little bit of Razorsharp there. There's a little bit of Sparx there. We're not going to see all of the "Bloodline" characters -- and again, this isn't a matter of, this is awesome. This is terrifying. We're reimagining the original "Bloodlines" event. We have some of the classic characters, and we also have some new characters. The biggest difference is the tone and the overall focus. I liken it to "Battlestar Galactica." I was a big fan of the show in the '70s and '80s. It was a lot if fun and I was really engaged with it, but also I loved what Ronald D. Moore did with it. They are two very different shows with two very different tones and focus. We're really just trying to tell a different story with the overall concept. There's almost a Lovecraftian vibe to it as the town copes and deals with this, honestly, horrific event.

I do want to ask you specifically, about one more character from the original "Bloodlines" event, Hitman, who was the real breakout character from the series. Will we see you take on Tommy Monaghan?

No, we're not going to see Tommy Monaghan. I actually specifically didn't want to use Tommy Monaghan. He's a great character and a lot of fun, but he was the one breakout character and really evolved into something more than what the "Bloodlines" story initially had planned for him. I wanted to keep the focus on the core concept of the story and I thought adding him to it would be, by default, a "Hitman" book. He was the Cable or Wolverine of the whole "Bloodlines" event, and I think when you inject a character like that into the book, it can become the focus of it. The tone of that book and the tone of that character didn't really mesh with what we wanted to do for this story.

This series is set in DCU continuity. Will iconic DCU superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman appear, or perhaps some second-tier characters?

No, actually. It does take place in the DC Universe, but I guess you can imagine that this is just our own little corner of it, for this story and for the initial exposure to this little corner of the world. I love all of those characters, and bringing Superman or The Flash or Batman would have been great, but those characters, like Hitman but even more so, tend to take over the focus of the book, and I wanted to keep the focus of the "Bloodlines" characters. If you bring the Justice League in, for example, then all of a sudden it becomes a story about the Justice League trying to solve the problem. It becomes more of a superhero book and again, this is not a superhero book. This is a Stephen King-esque, Lovecraftian horror book about supernatural, science fiction event.

I assume the same goes for L.E.G.I.O.N. who, again, was featured in the original storyline.

That's right. Again, I really wanted this to be about ordinary people who are swept into an extraordinary situation. What do you when the most dangerous threat to you is living inside of your own body?

I think it's fair to say that, the popularity of Hitman aside, "Bloodlines" wasn't exactly universally adored when it was released. Did that initial reaction play into the planning of this new series? And was this your pitch, or did DC Comics come to you with the idea?

I did go to DC with it. I've worked at DC a lot on "Green Arrow" and "Teen Titans" and "Captain Atom" and "Superman Beyond," and part of me working with a company like DC is, there are so many great characters to write. But there are also a lot of little corners of the universe where you can have room to play with certain characters and tell a different story with them.

To your point, I do remember the "Bloodlines" storyline from when I was a young reader. And me, I just loved the concept. I loved the fact that these people had something thrust upon them. The DC Universe doesn't have mutants, and the thing I always loved about the X-Men, just to talk about the other half for a moment, is that notion that this is all something that you are coping with. It's a gift, but it's also a curse. That's something I really wanted to explore in "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover." For most of the other heroes in the DC Universe, he or she is actively trying to become a superhero. This is about survival.

Was DC keen about your proposal right away, or did it take some convincing?

The first time I talked about it with them was when they were getting ready to launch The New 52, and they were, I think, more focused on their established superheroes. Now that The New 52 has had success, and different stories and titles like "We Are Robin," "Batgirl" and "Gotham Academy" are taking off, they are moving a little bit away from the superhero as a genre book and telling different kinds of stories. That's the beauty of something like DC. They have all of these amazing characters. They are very compelling, and you can tell different types of stories with them. The "Bloodlines" concept really lends itself well to telling a different type of story.

Finally, V. Ken Marion is a long-time collaborator of yours from a number of projects at Aspen. What does Ken bring to "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover"?

Ken's great. I've worked with him regularly for a few years now. We did "Soulfire" and then "Jirni" literally right before we jumped on this. We were talking to DC while we were wrapping up the second volume of "Jirni." He's a fantastic artist, and obviously, you can see the influence of Michael Turner, Jim Lee and Mark Silvestri. His art jumps off the page. I think he is doing the best work of his career right now, I really do. Every project that he's done, he's taken a step forward, and this one is yet another step, in part because "Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover" is a different type of story.

"Bloodlines: Hostile Takeover" by J.T. Krul and V. Ken Marion is coming from DC Comics in April.

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