In 1926, the U.S. government established its most famous stretch of highway, a roadway dubbed Route 66 which ran from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. Route 66 was removed from the U.S. Highway system in 1985, but in the years' preceding that, it captured the imagination of the nation. In 1946, songwriter Ron Troup penned his ode to "Route 66," a song which had since been covered by over 40 different artists, and from 1960-1964, CBS broadcast a "Route 66" television show about two young men exploring the titular highway. To many, it seemed like almost anything could happen along that famous stretch of road -- and it probably did.
This February, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Peter Nguyen ("Detective Comics," "Fear Itself: Black Widow") will explore the darker and more fantastic aspects of America's favorite highway when they launch "Route 666," a four-issue re-imagining of the horror-themed Crossgen series. The project was announced by Marvel Comics yesterday at their panel at the Fan Expo Canada convention in Toronto. We spoke with Aguirre-Sacasa about the project, which is set in the 1950s and chronicles the exploits of two U.S. Marshals tasked with investigating supernatural events and crimes that happen along the historic highway.
Fans of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man know Aguirre-Sacasa from his acclaimed runs on "Marvel Knights: 4" and "Sensational Spider-Man," though the writer's body of work includes its fair share of horror stories. In addition to penning Marvel's monthly adaptation of the "Stand," Aguirre-Sacasa has written a "Nightcrawler" series that focused on the supernatural and "Man-Thing" miniseries for Marvel's MAX. It was that attitude and love of horror stories that lead Marvel to approach him about taking a drive down "Route 666."
"I'm a big buff of Americana stuff. I love period pieces, and the idea was to do a series right around the time the old Route 66, which was the mother road for drive-ins, old diners, old motels and tourist attractions," Aguirre-Sacasa told CBR News. "That started to die because of things like the super highway and air travel. It seemed like it would be kind of an interesting backdrop to do an occult American Gothic type story along Route 66. It would be a story about America and the demons that it has. The first issue is set around this massacre that happens at an old drive-in just outside of Chicago. Its got a feel similar to the Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey movie 'Frailty.' There's a country-gothic feel to it. Another comparison might be the TV show 'Supernatural.'"
The original "Route 666" series took place during the 1950s on an alternate world that was very much like our own. It starred a troubled young woman named Cassie Starkweather who had a talent that allowed her to detect supernatural evil. In Aguirre-Sacasa's series, Cassie is still part of the action and she still has her ability to detect the supernatural, but the book is now set on our world during the '50s with Cassie now the co-star of the book -- she's the deputy of the book's other protagonist, U.S. Marshall Evan Cisco.
"This is set on our world in the '50s, not an alternate Earth. Even saying it's an alternate world because the supernatural exists feels too weird. So, it's set in the '50s, on our planet, in America," Aguirre-Sacasa explained. "Our protagonists are haunted characters. Both of them have dealt with personal tragedies in their lives. Cisco's marriage is sort of unravelling and Cassie has lost her family."