Fans of James Patterson’s “Max Ride” have a new installment to look forward to. Marvel Comics’ acclaimed adaptation of the young adult series concludes this September, with writer Jody Houser and artist Marco Failla bringing the team back for their “Final Flight.”
Max and her friends are just your average group of teenage kids — with one major exception. As the products of genetic experiments, they are all part avian, each harboring special powers of their own. In “Max Ride: First Flight,” the titular protagonist and her friends, known as The Flock, escaped their creators and came one step closer to discovering their origins. But what Max really discovered is that no matter her history, her future lies in saving the world.
The series conclusion finds the winged hybrids ready to take their fight to their enemies, but the line between friend and foe is starting to blur. Can Max continue to protect Fang, Gasman, Angel and the rest of The Flock while confronting Jeb, the man who is responsible for the experiments that changed them all? Or will her destiny force her to choose between her friends and being a hero? Houser spoke with CBR News in an exclusive first interview about the recently-announced series, sharing insights on Max’s leadership and the dangers the team will face as the series comes to a close.
CBR News: Max Ride returns this September — how does it feel to be continuing the series?Â
Jody Houser: It’s a lot of fun. I like working on a book that appeals to younger readers. This is the comic that kids and grandkids of friends of my family read.Â
What have the challenges been in adapting such an established body of prose novels into comics, especially as you pursue a storyline that diverges from the source material in some really different ways?Â
Even with five issues of the comics, you can’t really cover everything. In the last series, there wasn’t room for the trip to Disney, which would have been fun — and since Marvel owns Disney, would have actually worked! So figuring out the most important elements to drive the story forward, while giving something new to fans of the novels, is a challenge, albeit a fun one.
When we last saw Max, she had been captured. Does the next arc pick up where you left off? What can you tell us about where things are starting for “Final Flight?”Â
After Max and the Flock escaped from the trap set for them, they chose to lay low for a while. Not that that works too well for them. They’re in more danger than ever in this new arc.
We saw Max begin to come into her own as a leader throughout the last two arcs — what kind of growth can we expect from her in “Final Flight?”Â
Max has gotten better about making the tough decisions for the team, and we’ll be seeing her given some very difficult choices in the next few issues. As brash as she can be, she’s learning that her initial impulses aren’t always the best route through a dangerous world. We’ll see a different side of her.
Max is hearing a voice telling her to save the world — what is going to stand in her way? And what can you tell us about what she’s saving it from?
That’s the mystery, isn’t it? We’ll find out a little more in the first issue. Let’s just say it’s something very, very bad.
What has your approach been like for developing the personalities of The Flock? And as they prepare to bring the fight to their enemies, what more will we see from them?
Between James Patterson’s original novels and Marguerite Bennett’s work on the first arc, all of the kids felt fully developed by the time I came on board. For me, it’s more about taking the characters we’ve gotten to know and pushing them through new challenges, seeing how they come out on the other side.
You’ve kept these characters so relatable — they look and feel like kids who might read the comic. How are you and Marco Failla working together to keep the designs approachable and dynamic?
I haven’t spoken with Marco personally yet, but I love how clean his style is, and the energy he brings to his pages. I think he’ll be perfect for this arc of the story.
You’ve had such success adapting properties into comics. What is your approach? How do you determine the essential character qualities to maintain, while bringing new life into the story?
I actually took a class about adaptation when I was getting my Masters. Although the focus was novel into film, a lot of what I learned about making sure the new take on the story serves the new format first and foremost still holds true. A lot of it is instinct, I think, having a good feel for the spine of the story. At the end of the day, my main goal is to help create a good comic, so that more than anything drives the writing choices I make.
I’m not sure I could have made this answer sound any more pretentious…
What are you most excited for going into this next arc?Â
This is what the story has been building to since the beginning. Now that all the groundwork has been laid for theÂ mysteriesÂ in the series, we’ll finally start getting some answers.
“Max Ride: Final Flight” arrives in September.
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