INTERVIEW: Jim Starlin Returns to Marvel Cosmic with Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Studios showed how well comedy and sci-fi adventure can blend together with 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy" film, and if the trailers and buzz surrounding May's “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” are any indication, the studio is about to do it again. Yet it won't just be filmgoers who get to experience an expertly-blended cocktail of humor and wildly imaginative action -- May also sees the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy,” a five-issue new reader-friendly miniseries by Marvel legends Jim Starlin and Alan Davis, which aims to bring some of the humor from the film incarnation of the Guardians to their Marvel Comics counterparts.

The miniseries, which will be released weekly, pits the Guardians against the titular new cosmic villain designed by Starlin and Davis, and will feature appearances by some of Starlin's other popular and fan favorite Marvel Cosmic characters like Pip the Troll, and the Mad Titan Thanos.

CBR spoke with the writer about creating Mother Entropy, writing a tale that's both cosmic and comedic, how he's "sacrifice some bit of anatomy" to draw like Davis, and the dynamics between his cast of characters.

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page by Jim Starlin, Alan Davis and Matt Yackey.

CBR: Jim, "Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" is designed as an accessible series for fans of both the film and comic incarnations of the team. Does that mean in terms of tone this will be more of a humorous tale? And if so, what's it like telling a story like this compared to some of your darker toned Marvel Cosmic stories?

Jim Starlin: By the very nature of the characters involved, “Mother Entropy” is so much more a lighter tale than any of the Thanos graphic novels have been or most of my other Marvel work. To start off with, nobody in the Guardians is in love with Death. None of them are suicidal, schizophrenic or cosmically aware. Then you've got Pip the Troll thrown into the mix. Hard to find many shadows there.

Yes, it is very different scripting this kind of tale. The way I work is I plot out the story on 3" x 5" cards, write a rough draft and keep giving that as many passes as I think it needs to be right. With a humorous story there's got to be several additional passes, refining the funny lines,rethinking the visuals. It might actually be twice the work a "serious comic" is. Which is why I have always admired writers like Carl Hiaasen and Gary Shteygart. Humor is another animal entirely. I've got a warm spot in my heart for past attempts, like the “Thing/Hulk Big Change” graphic novel I did with Bernie Wrightson and the Pip the Troll/Heater Delight issue of “Warlock.”

What do you enjoy most about writing a team like the Guardians? Which dynamics between team members are you finding especially interesting and fun to write?

The interaction between the characters is what makes the Guardians tick. Throwing Pip in to play against Rocket was something I looked forward to right from the start. But I also wanted to explore a few different avenues. So later in the story Star-Lord and Groot become the focus of the yarn for quite a spell. Of all the Guardians, Quill seems to understand Groot the least. So that is where I wanted to go. Misunderstanding is an essential element in both humor and drama.

Personality and appearance is also something I wanted to play with, but I can't say much more than that about this without this interview becoming one great big spoiler. Trust me, it'll be worth the wait.

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page by Jim Starlin, Alan Davis and Matt Yackey.

You mentioned Pip the Troll earlier. What can you tell us about his working arrangement with the Guardians in this story? How does he feel about teaming up with them?

Who says Pip's working with the Guardians? Rather doubt they'd accept him into their closed little group. Plus, can you imagine Pip sharing whatever ill-gotten gains such a team-up would garner? No, this isn't “Marvel Team-Up.” This is a story of a bunch of disreputable characters trying to con their way through life and getting in each other's way.

Pip and the Guardians' adversary in "Mother Entropy" is the titular new character designed by you and Alan Davis. What inspired Mother Entropy's creation? What was it like designing her with Alan? What elements did headd to the character?

OK, to answer the character design question first: I described Mother Entropy in the script as female, mossy and a little pregnant and Alan went from there. Davis is incredible. I write out my silly little scripts and a few weeks later these emails start arriving with my story beautifully realized in comic book format. I just love working with this guy. Kind of hate him too, because he draws so damn well.

Man. I'd sacrifice some bit of anatomy to be able to draw like that guy does.

What inspired Mother Entropy's creation? Well, Thanos is based on all the dark things that reside in all of us, if we're being honest with ourselves. I wanted something different for this tale. So I decided to go for love. But normal selfless love does not make for a good villain. Mother Entropy is probably a lot like Donald Trump. If it makes Mom feel good, it must be love. If it doesn't make her feel good, it's got to get trashed.

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 interior page by Jim Starlin, Alan Davis and Matt Yackey.

What can you tell us about Mother Entropy's ultimate goal and methods? How does the way she operates compare to characters like say Thanos or Annihilus?

She's nowhere near as violent as either of those two. Seriously, she operates on her own crazy notion of what love is. All she wants is for everyone to be part of her harmonious little family. Trouble is her definition of harmonious is strikingly different from anyone else's. That's how we justify the fights.

Speaking of fights, can you talk a little bit about how the conflict between the Guardians and Mother Entropy will manifest? Is this a story with massive action set pieces where heroes and villains battle it out? Or is the conflict more of a metaphysical one?

No big massive action bits. Mom wants to recruit the Guardians and Pip into the family. But before that can happen, they've got to be tested. Read the book to find out why. Metaphysical? This is the Guardians we're talking about, not Dr. Strange. It's more about interpersonal relationships. At first the Guardians don't take to Mother Entropy. But she's the kind of character that grows on you.

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 cover
"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 cover by Alan Davis

Finally, I understand "Mother Entropy" is not connected to your recent series of Thanos stories, but the Mad Titan is in the series. What can you tell us about his role in this story?

Both Gamora and Drax have past history with Thanos. The Titan's brief appearance in the story is related to them. Actually Gladiator plays a bigger role in “Mother Entropy” than Thanos does. So does Knowhere and the cops on Knowhere. There's an alien priest, also, who hangs around longer than the Titan does. And let's not forget the alien rowdies at Starlin's Bar. Yeah, you just knew I was going to throw that joint into the story, didn't you?

"Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy" #1 is scheduled for on release on May 3, with the five-issue series shipping weekly thereafter.

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