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Designing Marvel’s New Mosaic with Thorne & Randolph

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Designing Marvel’s New Mosaic with Thorne & Randolph

The Terrigenesis phenomenon in the Marvel Universe is turning the lives of many average citizens upside down as it awakens their dormant Inhuman DNA and transforms them, sometimes radically, into super-powered beings. The lucky ones are able to use their powers to build a new and perhaps better life, while rest are left to sort through the chaos their life has become. This fall, one new Inhuman will see his old life torn down even as he’s given a gift that allows him to change the lives of others — possibly everyone in the Marvel Universe.

RELATED: “Mosaic” Prelude Offers Introduction to Marvel’s New Body-Jumping Hero

Morris Sackett’s Inhuman power allows him to become almost anyone in the Marvel Universe, but it came at the cost of his own identity as an NBA superstar. So now he’s out to build a new life as the super powered Mosaic, a being who can possess almost anyone in the Marvel Universe and gain access to their memories. Readers met Mosaic in a recent issue of “Uncanny Inhumans” where he helped the Inhuman Royal Family target Tony Stark, but this October they’ll get to see how his new life began and what he’ll do with his new gifts as writer Geoffrey Thorne and artist Khary Randolph kick off the new ongoing “Mosaic” series.

CBR: With “Mosaic,” you’re tackling a character who can become almost anyone. A power like that allows you to tell a variety of fun stories, but it also allows you to ask some interesting questions about identity. Is that an accurate guess of your plans? And how developed was the title character when you came on board the book?

Geoffrey Thorne: That is a fair description of what the book will do. Morris is going to learn some unpleasant facts (for him, anyway) over the course of the first arc that will do some damage to his world view. Not just about other people, but about himself as well.

Also, and this is may be just me, but I don’t see Morris as having powers. Prior to the mists, he was a normal human being. After the mists he’s a normal Inhuman being. It’s not like he can turn the “powers” on an off. This is what he is, now.

There was no “Mosaic” before Axel, Nick and I started talking. They had some wants, and I pitched something I thought I could write and which would float all our boats. “Mosaic” is that something. I pitched him, and they approved. We had a lot of talk about powers, tone of the book, how, where and if the character fits into the larger MU. But, at the end of the day, this was a writer pitching concept and some editors saying, “Yes. Do that.”

Khary Randolph: As an artist, a book like this is a great opportunity to really flex my character design skills. Morris jumps from person to person, and it’s my job to make each individual unique and just interesting enough that the reader is still engaged. We spend very little time actually looking at Morris as Mosaic, so we have to make sure that his hosts still grab your eye on some level. And then there is also the prospect of jumping into other Marvel heroes (and villains), which was the part of the pitch that sold me. You mean I can potentially draw Morris taking over anyone in the Marvel Universe? Sign me up.

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As for development, the idea was fully formed when I came aboard, it was just on me to come up with a visual aesthetic for his look, how his powers work, etc. I brought on my long time collaborator Emilio [Lopez, the book’s colorist], and we brainstormed over how to make it all work visually.

One of the things that struck me about the prelude was how much fun Mosaic seemed to be having with his abilities. Is this story emblematic of Morris’ usual demeanor? What else do you want readers to know about Mosaic’s personality?

Thorne: When Nick asked us to come up with a short story for this one-shot, I asked him when in the larger story should it take place? Nick said somewhere after the end of the first arc, so the Morris we see in that isn’t the one we’ll be meeting in October. Yes, he does start to have some fun with his new state, but at first, he’s just freaking the hell out — like anyone would in his situation.

Randolph: The short story is Morris at his most comfortable. I mean, the guy is a highly paid professional athlete. He’s a Type A personality. He’s naturally a showboat and an entertainer, and I think you can get a feel for that from the Prelude. The first arc shows how he gets to that point after his transformation.

Thorne: The hard thing to whittle down about Morris is his attitude. I don’t want to give too much away, but he’s a guy who’s been raised, essentially, in a bubble. His basic nature is probably reasonably benign and generally optimistic, but it’s buried down under a LOT of bad teaching from people who want to exploit his athletic skills. The first arc is about exploding all his notions about life.

At the beginning of this, Morris is a vain, self-centered person. We shock his system pretty hard, and the rest is seeing how he puts himself back together. His relationship to the larger Inhuman community and its conflicts will always be fluid; partly due to him not always caring about those conflicts, and partly because the nature of his “power” gives him a different perspective on a lot of things.

I think one of the reasons I was surprised by Mosaic’s attitude is the fact that Terrigenesis can often turn people’s life upside down and the sort of the design of the character. In his first appearance in “Uncanny Inhumans” his normal form had this emotionally cold feel to it. What do you want readers to know about Morris’ life as a professional basketball player before his transformation? Does he miss it?

Thorne: Different artists will interpret Morris’s look differently (and I love that), but Khary and Emilio are defining/i> him, visually. The energy they bring to his look is very much in keeping with the character of a man who spent his life as an apex-level athlete.

Yeah, I’d say he misses the hell out of all the adoration, money and success. He also misses seeing his own face in the mirror, or being able to just sit and talk with someone. Terrigenesis is a brutal and abrupt shift in status for everyone who undergoes it, and this guy was on top of the world when it happened to him. Yeah, he misses it.

Randolph: It’s classic Marvel to me — he gains all of these amazing powers, but they come at a terrible price. “Mo’ powers, mo’ problems.” There are moments of levity, but under the surface there is a pain and a pathos that I’m looking forward to exploring more. It’s like listening to Drake, but not nearly as sappy.

When Mosaic uses his power to possess people, he’s literally walking in a person’s shoes. That, of course, begs the questions of how much of that person’s memory, personality and skills Morris has access too, and how all of that ultimately affects him. Is Morris’ naturally an empathetic guy?

Thorne: [Laughs] No. Morris is not naturally empathetic. Not even close.

Morris has 100% access to everything that makes up a person. Every memory. Every quirk of speech. Every poker tell. He can turn them on and off as needed. However, it’s not instant, all-access. It’s more like, when he takes over, he gets all the surface stuff about you instantly, but the deeper stuff he has to do a sort of Google search for. He doesn’t know right away what’s inside a person. For a lot of things, he has to go looking or, conversely, things will just pop up and surprise him sometimes.

There are exceptions, but giving them away would spoil the story.

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Khary what’s it like bringing to life a character who can use his super abilities to become almost anyone else? When Morris uses his powers, does he give off any tell tale signs that us readers should look for?

Randolph: It’s challenging, but I love the challenge. If you’re drawing Spider-Man, you’re mostly concerned with drawing Spidey well, but on this book, I probably create from scratch five to six characters an issue!

And yes, we’ve put a lot of thought into tell tale signs for the reader to understand, some subtle and some glaringly obvious. We are also using color heavily as a way of giving you clues as to where Morris is at any given time in a situation. Both Emilio and I are having a lot of fun with it.

Is the “Prelude” a good indication of how the “Mosaic” ongoing series will look?

Randolph: The Prelude was us getting our feet wet and getting a feel for what the visual style will be, but yes, I’d say it’s a step towards how the book will look. I’m a lot more comfortable with what I’m doing in issue #1, and as such, we push it way further, stylistically. I do humbly believe that character acting and kinetic action are some of my stronger points, and we’ll be looking to deliver plenty of both in equal measure.

What do you want to tell us about the initial supporting cast of
”Mosaic?”

Thorne: The supporting cast are Morris’ inner circle in the first arc. His father. His girlfriend. His best friend. We’ll see them and how the transformation affects them all and his relationships with them. It ain’t always pretty. A major global corporation comes into play as well, and a few of the Marvel Universe’s “Big Guns” come through to play various parts. There are some fights, some gun play, young love, comedy, tragedy.

It should be a fun ride, but, from what i’ve seen around the web already, not at all what’s expected. Cue sinister laugh.

Randolph: Oh, the Big Guns are so big. Wait’ll you see the Big Guns.

Finally, what can you tell us about Mosaic’s sort of place in both the larger Inhuman saga and the Marvel Universe? Will there be fall out from his messing with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the “Prelude?” It seems like that organization would view Mosaic as a huge threat or a potential asset to exploit.

Thorne: [Laughs] Morris is going to piss off a lot of people in the MU before this is over. He’s just not a team player, ironically. Morris is an Inhuman; that makes him part of the larger Inhuman story, I suppose, but I honestly can’t say how, where or if he’ll pop up in other books. I think the rule is, “If he catches on with fans, we’ll see more of him.”

Randolph: I love the idea that Morris is on his own team. He makes his own rules.

Thorne: I just hope people give us the space to let “Mosaic” be what it actually is instead of worrying so much about “what it means.” What it means is we’re trying to bring people something fun and interesting. No more. No less.

And thanks for the kind words about the one-shot. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Khary and Emilio are going all out on this thing.

Randolph: What Geoffrey said. I am sure some people will be analyzing this book through whatever political lenses they decide to put on it, and that’s fine. That is the world we live in. But at the end of the day, this team is looking to deliver a quality, entertaining comic book for the fans. This team loves comics, and this book is an expression of that love.

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