In the last few weeks, readers have learned that BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid is "Irredeemable;" Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con revealed that much about the writer is still "Unknown." Waid addressed audiences at the BOOM! panel via a video message to provide further information on the already-announced ongoing series "Irredeemable," which begins in April, and also revealed a new four-issue miniseries titled "Unknown," shipping in May. And then there's WaidTV... CBR News caught up the ubiquitous writer to talk about these new projects.
"'Unknown' is a 4-issue detective series with me and artist Minck Oosterveer, a European guy who's phenomenal," Waid told CBR. "The description essentially is, What if Doc Savage were written by David Lynch?"
The series will star Detective Catherine Allingham and her new apprentice, B. Matt Doyle. "She is the world's greatest detective specializing in science and impossible crimes. She refuses to believe that there's anything beyond the rational world," the writer explained. "And he is her Watson, her assistant, who has competed very heavily among others to be her apprentice. It's quite the stepping stone for you if you want to be a detective, right?
"On the first day of the job, she tells him two things: one, she has six months to live; and two, she refuses to go to her grave without the answer to the greatest mystery of all, which is: what happens when you die? And now he's just completely gobsmacked because he's not sure if the woman he's working for is really canny or just insane. Then it becomes basically a pulp adventure to try to find some way to use science to bridge the void to the afterworld."
Waid said that editor Matt Gagnon discovered Oosterveer through recommendations, and that he "couldn't be happier working with him." The artist's previous credits include a "Zombie Tales" story for BOOM!. The miniseries will sport covers by "V for Vendetta" artist David Lloyd.
"Irredeemable," Waid's other series, has already received a good deal of attention due to the promotional "Mark Waid is Evil" t-shirts, and is solicited in the February issue of Previews for an April release. The writer said that the concept for the series, which finds the world's greatest hero becoming the world's greatest villain, would be "pretty fertile ground to till."
While Waid himself has written stories of heroes' failure (as in "Kingdom Come") and villains taking over the world ("Empire"), this seemingly-straightforward concept will be a new approach to the idea of good guy gone wrong. "He's not a noble villain. He's not the Dr. Doom-ish villain who honestly believes what he's doing is best for the world," Waid said of the books pro/antagonist, the Plutonian. "I would say he falls more in the category of sociopath, although there's a lot more to him than that.
"My premise is essentially that, we've always written super heroes assuming that everybody who gets the powers is somehow emotionally equipped for the pressure. And I sort of reject that premise," the writer continued. "You know, look at the celebrities and teen idols that we deal with in our real lives, and how many of them end up with destroyed lives, and how many of them end up completely unable to cope with the pressure of the public. And that's a problem that only gets worse every year as the internet and electronic communications continue to break down the barriers between the celebrities and their public. As criticism comes fast and furious. There were no message boards in 1939 where Superman could visit as Clark Kent at the Daily Planet and read about what an asshole Superman was. But now, that's everywhere, and that level of scrutiny, that level of pressure is not necessarily something that every superhero can handle because it's not something you necessarily think comes with the job."
With this comparison to Clark Kent, we asked Waid if the Plutonian has a secret identity to allow him to mingle in a crowd. "Yet to be revealed," the writer said.
"The structure is that, by the time we catch up with him in the first issue, he's already gone rogue. And now the very few superheroes who are left, to defend themselves against their former teammate, have to band together and realize that they don't know as much him as they thought they did," Waid told CBR. "And if they're going to stop him, if they're going to do anything to save their own asses, they've got to search all of time and space to find out everything they can about him, and not just figure out how he got to this point but also to, what are his weaknesses? What is his background, his upbringing? Does he have parents, does he have loved ones--we need to know everything, because we know very little."
Though most BOOM! Studios comics are released as a series of miniseries, typically one four-issue story followed by another, "Irredeemable" will be ongoing. "As a creator, there's something about the magic of doing an unlimited series, an ongoing, because it allows you to be a little more flexible," Waid explained. "For instance, I'd done a lot of issue 3 the other day, I came up with some interesting new ideas and some ideas for cliffhangers that hadn't occurred to me before. If I were only doing four issues, I wouldn't be able to flesh that stuff out because I'd be tied to my outline. But this gives me the chance to be a little more flexible."
"Power of Shazaam" artist Peter Krause is handling the art on the series. "He gets it, he really gets it," Waid said of the artist. "It's probably a little more traditional than a lot of BOOM! books that we do, but that's good in this case because it allows me to go in some very dark places, because the style itself that Peter's using is not necessarily that grim and dark. But the character acting is great and his storytelling is impeccable." Cover artists will include John Cassaday, Jeffrey Spokes, Barry Kitson, Gene Ha, and "whoever else I can rope in from my pool of former collaborators."
Also announced at NYCC was WaidTV, a new weekly video feature taking place right here on Comic Book Resources. "Because that's what the world needs, they need to see my big round face once a week," Waid joked. "It's actually turning out to be fun so far. The idea is to sit in front of the camera for a change and talk directly to the fans, directly to the retailers. Not necessarily to sell them anything, but just to put a face to the company and directly answer a lot of the questions people have." Visitors to Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles will also be able to record video questions for Waid. "It's like a video lettercolumn, if you will."
Waid said that, at least for the time being, his video series will not take the form of a talk show. "One can dream. Don't take my dreams away."