Yesterday, CBR brought you a first look inside the pages of Dynamite's "Project Superpowers Chapter 2" #0 -Â the prelude to the 12-issue series that drives the new superhero universe forward through the rest of 2009 and beyond -Â with some advance commentary from the series' artistic minds of Alex Ross and Edgar Salazar.
But with a story with a year to reveal its twists and turns upon the readership, plenty of questions remain, starting with what to expect from the 22-page lead feature in June's zero issue. Who better to answer those questions than "Project Superpowers" scribe Jim Krueger?
"The team attacks the pentagon in an attempt to head-off an attack on New York City," Krueger told CBR. "As a result, the team pretty much takes over the military power of the United States. The ramifications of this are wide and destructive. The Inheritors, the former side-kicks of the heroes, create an army to battle the Superpowers believing their former friends and heroes have 'gone insane.' In the midst of this, there will be more on the 'Devil's developing battle with the terrorist organization known as the Claw."
While the already expansive cast of the first "Project Superpowers" volume gaining even more heroes and more complications may seem daunting, part of Dynamite's plan for the new series centers on opening up the growing line of comics to readers who may have missed out so far. "Issue #0 is definitely an introduction to the new series, and to make it as accessible as possible for new readers and retailers," Krueger promised. "I approached it as if it were like an intro to a James Bond movie. We get some action sequences, our heroes, and the tip of the iceberg. It's not a first issue in the sense that it doesn't set up our primary conflict. It just sort of sets up chessboard and allows the characters to make their first moves."
Aside from issue #0's $1.00 introductory price, Dynamite announced a series of incentives to entice readers and retailers to climb on board with the new volume, including a guaranteed price of $2.99 for every issue of the regular series as well as a returnable issue #1, which will also be supported by deep retailer discounts.
For his part, Krueger plans to match the open nature of the sales push by focusing his story on a strong balance of "Project Superpowers'" core elements. "This series has lots of characters, lots of storylines and more. Because of this, it's utterly necessary to bring the primary characters on the stage," the writer explained. "Unlike 'Project Superpowers' Vol.1, most of the primary players are onstage right at the beginning of the story. There will be others showing up through the rest of the series, but most of the pieces will be in place right at the beginning. There's the origin sequences at the end of each issue that give a special focus to each of 12 characters over the whole of Volume 2. But, just like in something like 'Earth X,' there's a macro-plot, and then a bunch of small storylines that allow for more insights into characters."
Taking each element of the new series in its own time, Krueger gave a hint as to how the events of the three "Supepowers" spin off minis will affect the main book moving forward, starting with the team's rebellious leader the Black Terror, whose solo miniseries wraps this May. "Here is a man who was once a chemist, a student of logic and formulas. It brought him nothing but trouble. As a result, he finds himself now pushed in another direction," Krueger said. "I don't write him as if this [rebellion] were only a choice, though. Something happened to him as a result of his time in the urn. What happened to him in the urn, what happened to all the heroes in fact, is a big part of both volume 2 and beyond."
For both the Death Defying 'Devil and Masquerade, the characters' solo adventures bring more depth to their roles in "Chapter 2." However, the 'Devil will also be bringing villainous entanglements. "There's a lot of major stuff that happens with the Claw in 'Chapter 2,'" Krueger promised. "And I'm really excited about Masquerade's character. Her ability to enter other people to gather information also gives her insight into what it's like to be other people, which makes her an amazingly humanitarian character. She is certainly a way to understand and gain a viewpoint from the other characters. Her scenes and relationship with V-Man was my favorite part of Vol. 1."
Speaking of which, readers who worried about the massive number of characters crowding out more in-depth storylines can look forward to a deeper engagement with some of the secondary players. "I'm excited to dive deeper into Pyroman, Kid Terror and Kitten in the midst of this serie," Krueger said. "If Masquerade and V-Man was the relationship that I got to write in Vol. 1, Kitten and Kid Terror are a big part of the next series."
But more so than shared page time for the players involved in the Pentagon takedown, one of the big draws for "Project Superpowers Chapter 2" remains the regular origin two-pagers that will appear each and every month alongside the main feature. "Alex and I both love the 'Marvel Handbooks,' and so this was a chance to do something like those. Each features the origin of one of the characters as told by someone else," Krueger confirmed.
Telling those tales on the page will be painter Doug Klauba, who early fans of "Superpowers" will remember from his work on the zero issue for Volume 1 as well as cover work for Moonstone's "The Phantom." A Chicago-area native like Ross, Klauba's connection to the "Superpowers" mastermind has its own secret origin. "Alex and I have been friends for years," Doug Klauba told CBR. "We both attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, but I graduated before he arrived and never crossed paths until later on. We have many mutual friends, we always kept in touch and we try to get together as much as possible.
"Alex had seen my cover work for 'The Phantom' and gave me a call to see what else I was up to. I then showed him some interior sequential work that was published and he suggested that I try and get more interior work. That was always my intention but between my mainstream illustration assignments and comic book cover commitments, it has proven to be a fortunate but interesting battle with deadlines for me. So, when Alex was putting together 'Project Superpowers' with Jim Krueger and [Dynamite's] Nick Barrucci, he asked if I wanted to do the present day pages of the story and I jumped at the chance."
Klauba and Ross work hand in hand to create the origin sequences, with the former taking rough layouts from the latter and turning them into fully painted works. "Creatively, it's been a great challenge because what [Ross] hands you is pretty awesome," Klauba said. "I could just run with it because he has obviously put a lot of thought into what he hands me and it looks right on! But, he has never said to just do it his way. I'll do my own roughs over his layouts before I start gathering my references to see what will be best. So far, I haven't really strayed from his vision with the story or flow. I'm enjoying the process.
"As Dynamite begins the second phase of 'Project Superpowers,' the need for the origins will strengthen the storyline and help the fans appreciate the characters more. Kind of looking more in to the 'Empire Strikes' back is adding to 'Star Wars: A New Hope.'
"And yes, my goal is to do more sequential work. Right now, it's more of a scheduling 'thing' for me that works alongside my illustration assignments - I'm trying to work that out so that I can accept more interior work. There are only so many hours in a day and in the week -- and only so much coffee I can drink."
In the meantime, Doug Klauba feels more than happy drafting the final origin sequences for some of "Project Superpowers'" biggest stars. "So far I have illustrated the origins for The Black Terror and 'Devil. They were top on my list of whose origins I couldn't wait to paint, so that was very fulfilling to me as an artist and a Golden Age fan," he said. "I am also a fan of The Flame, so I'm really looking forward to his story. Others that I'm looking forward to illustrate are: Scarab, Cat-Man, Masquarade, Fighting Yank... I can go on and on! I can't wait to one day paint The Claw, and Mr. Face would be pretty creepy stuff."
But so far, the list will stay focused on the most recognizable characters in the stable. As Krueger revealed exclusively to CBR, the rollout plan currently stands as follows:
- #0 - Black Terror, as narrated by Tim/Kid Terror
- #1 - The Devil, as narrated by the Aborigine Huntsman
- #2 - The Giant, as narrated by Boy King (and also dealing with Boy King's origin)
- #3 - Man-Cat, as narrated by Kitten
- #4 - The Flame, as narrated by the Flame. Will probably even touch on Flame Girl and the Death of Mr. Octopus. This is going to reinforce how much he misses his wife. He'll tell his origin as she would, based on how he remembers her describing him.
- #5 - President Power, as narrated by Emperor Sing II
- #6 - The Target, as narrated by one of the Targeteers
- #7 - Mr. Face, as narrated by Marvelo
- #8 - Masquerade, as narrated by Lady Satan
- #9 - American Crusader, as narrated by Black Terror
- #10 - Pyroman, as narrated by the Twister
- #11 - Dynamic Man, as narrated by the Scarab
- #12 - The Black Owl, as narrated by the Green Lama (which will tie-into the whole mythic other-world aspect of Superpowers Vol. 3) I hope the fans enjoy the origins as much as we've enjoyed putting them together.
Doug Klauba concluded by noting that anyone interested in the original Golden Age tales won't be disappointed by the stories ahead. "Managing Editor Joe Rybandt sends us scans of the Golden Age stories to get familiar with -Â which in itself has been a real treat. So far the origin stories are all based upon the Golden Age origins and nothing has been newly added or written. At least that doesn't directly reflect the original. Jim's script comes in with Alex's layout and they work hand in hand as I fill in the visual details."
"Project Superpowers Chapter 2" #0 arrives in stores this June from Dynamite Entertainment.