SPOILER WARNING: The following interview contains major spoilers for "Monsters Unleashed" #1, on sale now
Though many of the Marvel Universe's NYC denizens have become used to massive battles between super-powered individuals, what happens when conflicts between superheroes and massive monsters suddenly break out all over the world? Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Steve McNiven began to answer those two questions this week in “Monsters Unleashed” #1, the kick-off to a five issue miniseries that finds the Marvel Universe suddenly under siege by a horde of rampaging kaiju-style monstrosities.
In the debut issue, Bunn and McNiven pitted an all-star roster of Marvel heroes against several new and wildly imaginative behemoths, while also seeding clues to the larger mystery behind the monsters' attacks -- clues hinting that a young boy and one of the Marvel Universe’s legendary monster hunters will have a prominent role to play in the series. CBR spoke with Bunn about the major players and events of “Monsters Unleashed” #1, the themes and elements that will come into play in future issues, and what readers can expect from the Greg Land-illustrated “Monsters Unleashed” #2.
CBR: In "Monsters Unleashed" #1, readers met a seemingly important figure in the form of a young monster drawer named Kei Kawade. We know he'll eventually adopt the heroic moniker of Kid Kaiju, but what inspired his creation?
Cullen Bunn: The initial idea for the story that would become “Monsters Unleashed” has been kicked around for a while now, and the seeds of this character have been around all along. An early version of the character appeared on a panel or two of “Totally Awesome Hulk.” At that time, he didn’t even have a name, and he’s gone through quite a few changes since then. When I started working on this series, I took the character in some new directions, and I think fans are gonna love him.
In issue #1 we saw Kei draw at least one of the monsters attacking the Earth. Are the monsters that rampaged in issue #1 all new creations? Or are there some established classic Marvel monsters in there as well?
Most of the monsters you saw in issue #1 are new creations. We’re going to use this series to introduce many new monstrous threats. Toward the end of first issue, there are some classic monsters who show up, and we’ll be seeing more of a mix of new and classic beasts in the next issue!
Kei's presence and the role of Moon Girl in analyzing the monster attacks in issue #1 suggests that there might be a strong youthful element to "Monsters Unleashed." Is that correct?
The book has a pretty huge cast, and I want the book to showcase many different characters from the Marvel Universe. Certainly, youthful characters will play a big role in the story with Kei and Moon Girl, because they’re a big part of Marvel’s cast.
One of the most prominent adult characters in “Monsters Unleashed” #1 was a character I know you have great fondness for, Elsa Bloodstone. You've written her before, but what's it like writing her on such a big stage? What do you enjoy most about the character?
I’m really excited for Elsa to have such a big spotlight on her. I knew I wanted her to play a role in the series. Of course, I did! The book’s about monsters, so Marvel’s greatest monster hunter must be a key player! One of the interesting things about Elsa, though, is that she’s the resident monster expert, but she’s a little out of her depth, too. She doesn’t usually deal with giant monsters. She’s not going to let that stop her from approaching this crisis with her signature moxie and attitude.
The moments with Elsa involved an ancient mystery that had an almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror vibe.
While many elements of this series were inspired by traditional giant monster movies and comics, the addition of the Marvel heroes allows me to explore some different angles. Elsa, for example, opened the door to some Lovecraftian overtones. As the series progresses, we’ll see that these elements of “cosmic horror” may be more appropriate than we might expect.
What was it like leading off things with Steve McNiven for "Monsters Unleashed" #1? What were some of your favorite scenes that he brought to life?
Every artist for this series has a deep appreciation for Marvel’s classic monsters. It was when I saw Steve’s first few pages--the initial monster attack—that the series became real for me. That initial scene blew me away and made me feel like I was in the middle of a kaiju flick.
Also, he draws a terrific Hercules and a mean Fin Fang Foom.
Your "Uncanny X-Men" collaborator Greg Land takes over art duties for "Monsters Unleashed" #2. What made Greg the right artist for this particular issue?
I didn’t necessarily write any one issue for a particular artist. During some of the early discussions, though, Greg sent me a list of some of his favorite classic monsters, and I did make sure those creatures were in the issue. He really knocked it out of the park.
In this issue, we also get a good look at Kei’s collection of monster memorabilia, and Greg was excited to draw that, because it reminded him of his own collection. I believe he might have used his own studio for inspiration.
There’s also a wonderful (mildly meta) moment that Greg introduced when we see Kei’s favorite monster magazine.
Can you leave us with any final hints or teases about “Monsters Unleashed” #2? How much off panel story time passes between issue #1 and #2?
Very little time passes between issues #1 and #2. It’s only a matter of hours. This monster invasion is happening very rapidly. As we jump into the second issue, we’re jumping into outer space to get a slightly different angle on this monster incursion. We’ll be seeing a lot more of Kei, exploring his life and abilities a little more, and Elsa will be continuing her investigation, leading her to a significant breakthrough. And we’re going to be seeing many, many more monsters, new and classic.
There’s a big threat coming in the series, something that the Marvel heroes cannot defeat on their own. They’ll need quite a bit of help, and it will come from a very unexpected place. Get ready for one of the most wild team-ups of all.