EXCLUSIVE: Zdarsky & Anka Trap "Star-Lord" in a Strange New World

Marvel Comics' Star-Lord (AKA Peter Quill) has always been a man with one foot in the cosmos and one on Earth. His mother was born on Earth and his father hails from the alien planet Spartax, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's comfortable on both of those worlds. Quill left Earth in his late teens and journeyed the spaceways of the Marvel Universe many years before he even met his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy. Occasionally he and his fellow Guardians will be called to Earth on matters of galactic importance, but Quill's return trips home never last long. In many ways, his birth planet is more alien to him than places like Knowhere, the strange space station built inside the severed head of an ancient Celestial.

Things might get very uncomfortable very fast if Quill suddenly found himself trapped on Earth with no means of escaping into the cosmos. How would he function? And what kind of trouble would he get into? That trouble is exactly what incoming writer Chip Zdarsky is hoping the character gets into this October in a brand new "Star-Lord" ongoing series. Forget guarding the galaxy, Quill will be forced to build a life on his birth planet.

While the series was revealed as part of the Marvel NOW! Previews Magazine, fans only learned that "Howard the Duck" writer Zdarsky would be involved with the title. Now, CBR can exclusively reveal that fan-favorite artist Kris Anka will be joining him to chronicle Star-Lord's bold new adventures. CBR News spoke with Anka and Zdarsky about the appeal of bringing Star-Lord back down to Earth, what kind of trouble their protagonist will become embroiled in, and some of the familiar faces Quill will encounter as his new series begins.

CBR News: Over the years, Peter Quill has visited his home planet, but he hasn't spent a whole lot of time on Earth since leaving for the stars. The teaser for your new "Star-Lord" series -- Peter face down on the ground being arrested by the police with the tag line "Grounded and Busted" -- suggests that's about to change. What did you find most appealing about a "Star-Lord" book that brings Peter to Earth?

Kris Anka: Peter may be from Earth, but he isn't of earth, y'know? This is really a new setting for him that's going to bring a lot of emotional resonance to the character. I love playing with character acting so it's going to really be fun to explore Peter being at a "home that isn't home" for him.

Chip Zdarsky: This felt like a really natural progression for me from "Howard the Duck," who was "trapped in a world he never made," because now I get to do a similar thing with Peter, who's "trapped in a world that made him." He has to deal with feeling like a bit of a stranger on his birth planet after everything that's happened in "Civil War II," which I'm just guessing at cause Marvel has repeatedly told me that they don't trust me with that kind of information. So, it's really a story with similar themes to my "Howard" run. I think my editors at Marvel felt like this kind of project could help me move past ducks and ease into humans.

Chip, what can you tell us about the area Peter is operating in? Is he in New York City along with a number of Marvel's other marquee heroes? Kris, what sort of look and flavor do you want to give the urban setting of "Star-Lord?" What's your sense of the city he's operating in?

Anka: In a lot of ways this'll be a world seen through the eyes of Peter. He's used to the stars. What's it like for him to be somewhere that's all concrete? How does he view that world? In a lot of ways there is a lot thats new for him, but in others this is an unfamiliar, primitive place.

Zdarsky: Oooo, that's good, Kris. [Scribbles notes down.] Our first arc takes place completely in NYC, but through the underbelly of the city, encountering all sorts of characters, all of which will be ducks.

[Laughs] How does Peter initially feel about being on Earth? And how does this new setting impact his personality? Is he still the same sort of brash and sarcastic hero?

Zdarsky: Yeah, I mean, so much of the fun in writing Peter is his demeanor, so that part definitely stays intact. But he's a little bummed out from what happened in "Civil War II," which, again, I can only assume that he murdered Rocket with his bare hands? Or maybe someone told him he was, like, "a solid 6" on Earth? So he's looking for connection, which is something a human does and I write humans now.

[Laughs] Kris, it looks like visually you're not changing Peter's look all that much since he still has his trademark guns and trench coat, correct? What's your sense of Peter Quill as a character? Which of his qualities do you especially want to make sure you convey in your depictions of Star-Lord?

Anka: Well, I wouldn't say that. [Laughs] Who knows what happens from issue to issue? But the aspect I like about Peter is his natural charisma. He's the guy that can make a bad idea sound really enticing because he genuinely believes in it himself. There is a charming confidence about him.

Zdarsky: And let me just say, if you have an amazing designer like Kris onboard, and you don't use him to redesign some things? Well, you'd be a garbage person who needs to go work on garbage books! Get out of my sight!

You've alluded to something that happens to Peter during "Civil War II" that bums him out, and him being on Earth begs the questions of why is he here and how has that impacted his relationships with other characters like Kitty Pryde and the other Guardians of the Galaxy?

Zdarsky: You'll know the answers to those questions right away when the book starts because I'm very bad with mysteries.

What can you tell us about Peter's sort of status quo on Earth? What kinds of trouble is he routinely getting into? And how is he making ends meet?

Zdarsky: Like one would expect, Peter quickly runs afoul of the law, so a lot of our first arc is him dealing with the fallout from that and from that really bad thing that happened to him in "Civil War II"(?). As far as making ends meet, I asked Marvel if I could make him a dentist, because as far as I know there aren't any major heroes operating in the Marvel U as dentists, but they wouldn't let me tell a four-year story of Peter going to dental school because they lack vision and courage. So instead I have him as a bartender.

[Laughs] What can you tell us about the book's supporting cast? Who are the people that will initially aid and oppose Star-Lord?

Zdarsky: There'll be a few familiar faces popping up as I'm a sucker for a good cameo, but the main one will be Abigail Brand, who'll be supervising his stay on Earth like an intergalactic parole officer. I'm also giving Peter a senior citizen sidekick, just like I did in "Howard" with Aunt May, because I'm "the man of a million ideas give or take a million!" And I don't want to spoil the identities of his enemies, but let's just say that his greatest enemy? Is his self-doubt about becoming a dentist.

[Laughs] Let's move from characters to the look of the series. Kris, what sort of overall feel do you envision the book as having? What's it like moving from a book like "Captain Marvel" that brought super heroes into a science fiction setting to "Star-Lord," a book with a science fiction hero in a super hero setting?

Anka: The tonal change is actually something I'm really looking forward to. In a lot of ways I've never really done a grounded book before. It's going to really be fun to spend a lot of time in Peter's head and get into the character of him. Looking back on both my time on "Captain Marvel" and "Uncanny X-men," they aren't really "quiet" books, so being able to work on a book about a guy dealing with being in a new world to him will lend itself a lot of fun character exploration for me.

What is else in store for Peter's Earthbound future during Marvel NOW!?

Anka: I'm pretty sure Peter's going to be forgetting his shirt a lot.

Zdarsky: No shirt, no shoes, no service? Well, then, Peter Quill will be taking his business elsewhere, good day to you, sir!

Marvel NOW!'s "Star-Lord" #1 is slated for release in October.

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