Longtime superhero readers probably recognized at least a few of the Golden Age characters who launched back into consciousness last year in Dynamite Entertainment's "Project Superpowers." But when it comes to the major villains of Alex Ross and Jim Kreuger's fledgling universe, things look to be a bit less recognizable.
Debuting in August, "Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys" is a new four-issue miniseries that will introduce a brand new supervillain with each standalone installment. "These villains were created - mainly by Alex Ross - to inject some new facets to the 'Project Superpowers' universe. They're nothing like what the readers have seen before in these books," co-writer Joe Casey told CBR.
Joined by Ross and interior artist Jonathan Lau, Casey comes to the book off a stint in the new universe with "The Death-Defying 'Devil" three-issue mini that preceded July's "Project Superpowers Chapter 2," and has a wealth of experience writing villains with projects like "Black Plague" and "Dark Reign: Zodiac." But for this gig, Casey's more than happy to follow Ross' lead. "My sensibility, when it comes to super-villains, is a much more nihilistic one, where it's all about pure anarchy. But that didn't quite match up to the purpose of these stories," Casey explained. "No worries, though. I can hang. What I'm digging on is seeing Alex come up with new concepts, ones that aren't simply public domain characters given a new coat of paint. He's a pretty creative guy so these new villains already have a lot going for them, just in the design alone."
First out the gate in "Meet The Bad Guys" comes Bloodlust, a razor sharp villainess who faces off against the mystic Green Lama. "If you've seen her, you pretty much get the idea of who and what she is," said Casey of the baddie who debuted on the cover to issue #1. "A picture's worth a thousand words, especially when Alex is providing the picture. Needless to say, her name is well chosen. She's very driven and her origin is definitely tied in to the past of one of the original Project Superpowers characters.
"There is kind of a cracked mirror thing going on between Bloodlust and the Green Lama, especially in their approach," Casey added of the hero Bloodlust will face in issue #1. "The Green Lama's got a chilled out, shamanistic approach to life. Bloodlust is pretty much the opposite of that."
Beyond Bloodlust's violent slashing and hacking, Casey played mum on the three other villains that would be appearing to threaten the rest of the "Project Superpowers" pantheon, but said that overall, a connective theme of the series would be the ways in which the returned heroes would inspire new methods of villainy. "It's more of a comment on how the existence of heroes - even ones that haven't been around for decades - will somehow facilitate the creation of villains to balance the scales.
"We approached these villains as though each of them had a specific agenda. Some of them are out for revenge, others are out to make a name for themselves. It really does run the gamut of motivations. I think villains are always trying to up the ante. They are the chaos to the heroes' order. Alex has come up with some cool stuff ranging from the brutal (in a character like Bloodlust) to the twisted mirror reflection of the hero (as you'll see in upcoming issues)."
Most attractive to Joe Casey about the series was the chance to explore villains in a quick, one-and-done story style not often seen in the age of mega arcs and trade collections. "I'm more focused on making each issue a satisfying, fulfilling experience. Alex really drives the wider universe so I've relied on him to make sure everything fits together," said Casey. "There's so much that I can't give away right now, but I can tell you that this series will ultimately be a nice companion piece to the second 'Project Superpowers' series that's just begun.
"Other than that, each issue is a standalone story, with different artists on each one. It's been a fun ride, writing in this format, since the 22-page done-in-one is kind of a lost art form these days."
"Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys" #1 goes on sale in August from Dynamite Entertainment.