Peter Quill doesn't want to be Star-Lord ever again, but when intergalactic war breaks out he'll discover he doesn't have much choice. This July, in the pages of the Marvel Comics mini-series "Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord," Quill must reassume his old heroic identity and lead a rag-tag band of recruits on what just might be a suicide mission. CBR News spoke with "Star-Lord" writer Keith Giffen about the mini-series.
Giffen wrote a large portion of the original "Annihilation" event and when Editor Bill Rosemann called with an offer to be part of "Annihilation: Conquest" he jumped at the chance. "Bill said, 'Hey would you like to write a Star-Lord mini-series?' And Peter Quill was always one of my favorite characters from way back when I started using him in 'Thanos,'" Giffen told CBR News. "So I was to turn Peter Quill back into Star-Lord. Since I was the one who kept hinting that something had happened in the past that made him put down the mantle, if I got a chance I would explain that to the readers and then show a little more about the man as he realizes there's a place for Star-Lord in the universe."
The other factor that drew Giffen to "Star-Lord" was that Peter Quill might be the main star in the book but he wasn't the sole star. "It was my chance to do a Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos story," he said. "Then when Bill gave me the names of the characters that Star-Lord would be teamed up with in his strike force - Bug, Deathcry, Captain Universe, Groot, Mantis… and Rocket Raccoon! There's no way that I'm walking away from that. Although I'm finding the interplay between Mantis and Captain Universe is a little more fun."
The "Star-Lord" mini-series begins immediately after the events of June's "Annihilation: Prologue" and finds Peter Quill definitely not having any fun. "Peter's state of mind is, 'I really don't want this. I'm more than happy to help you guys out and lead your strike force, but I don't really want to pick up this whole Star-Lord thing again,'" Giffen explained. "It's a very reluctant decision on his part. At this point, as I'm mid-way through writing the series, I'm not sure whether he's ever going to be comfortable being Star-Lord again.
"In comic books eventually the hero comes to embrace their destiny, but Peter Quill is not the embracing kind," Giffen continued. "So, I'm sure there will be a Star-Lord in the future, I'm just not 100% certain it will be Peter Quill."
Readers may have noticed that Peter Quill may once again be using his old heroic moniker, but he's sporting a new look with his armor. "It's such a cool look, but I can't go into too many details as to why the look is there," Giffen stated. "There's a very specific reason the armor has this kind of retro, almost World War I sci-fi look. Everything fits into the context of the story."
Peter is equipped with both new armor and new equipment. "The spaceship - Ship - isn't there and none of his old gear is there," Giffen said. "As you may have noticed he's not shooting ray guns. He's shooting bullets. There's a very specific reason he's shooting bullets."
Peter Quill may be going into action outfitted with new armor and equipment, but as we mentioned he's not going off alone. "The mini series picks up with him being told the where, why and how of what needs to be done. Then we're introduced to the team as he's introduced to the team," Giffen explained. "This is mostly a story telling device so that as Peter Quill learns about his team mates, so do the readers. I'm not coming in assuming everyone knows who Bug is."
Peter's team includes the aforementioned Bug, Rocket Raccoon, Mantis, Captain Universe (AKA Gabriel Vargas) and the former Shi'ar Avenger, Deathcry and the Monarch of Planet X, Groot. "The group dynamic - if there is a group dynamic - is dysfunctional as hell," Giffen stated. "Even though none of them with the possible exception of Bug would ever admit it to Peter Quill, the main reason each one of these people volunteered for this mission is because of the Star-Lord legacy. That's another thing that's driving Peter Quill crazy. Peter looks around and goes, 'I've got a huge tree that thinks its royalty. I've got a raccoon, an insect and a woman who thinks she's the Celestial Madonna. I think she's brain damaged.'
"That's my favorite thing with Mantis," Giffen continued. "Nobody quite believes she's the Celestial Madonna. They think she's delusional. And with Deathcry, I finally get to do a Shi'ar. Groot turned out to be more fun than I thought and with Captain Universe I'm just fascinated by the concept of the Uni-Power. Sometimes it's almost like 'The Greatest American Hero.' An alien force comes along and goes, 'You've got super powers!' and you go, 'Where's the instruction booklet?' You don't get one."
Peter's Quill's strike team of misfits has been assembled for a very specific purpose. "It's almost like the Dirty Dozen," Giffen stated. "In this case, it's people being thrown together almost out of a weird kind of respect for a legacy that their leader no longer wants. They're sent off on a mission that no one expects them to come back from. That being said, this ain't 'Suicide Squad.' I'm not going to start killing off characters whole sale. Just like any mission, there will be some people who make it and some people who don't. And some of the people who come out of it won't quite be the same person they were when they went in."
Their mission sends Star-Lord and his team to some important Kree historical sites. "You know how if you dig deep enough in Mexico City you start stumbling across Aztec stuff they keep building on top of? You might ask yourself what if you dug that deep on Hala?" Giffen explained.
Giffen couldn't get into specifics as to what obstacles and adversaries await Peter Quill's strike force once their mission begins. "If people think this is just déjà vu of the Annihilation Wave attack; it's not," Giffen stated. "Of course the Annihilation Wave is now part of the cosmic landscape. They are a power to be reckoned with. So, there will be some touch points with Ravenous and the Annihilation Wave, but they are not the threat. If anything, the threat affects them as well."
Whatever threats Star-Lord and his team encounter they will have to tackle on their own, but there will be a few supporting characters lending them a hand at the beginning of the story. "I introduce a few supporting characters to bounce the main characters off of but for the most part once their off on their mission you're following them," Giffen explained. "I've got enough characters on the team, but there are supporting characters that sort of float around them in terms of people who send them off on their mission, support and the various control and touch points."
These supporting characters will be a mixture of new and familiar faces. "One of them is right out of left field," Giffen said. "One when Bill sent the name to me I looked back and searched to find a reference and I couldn't find a reference to save my life, but apparently this character has appeared before. That's kind of cool when you can sort of resurrect these characters and bring them out of forced retirement."
Tone wise, "Star-Lord" could be compared to films like the "Dirty Dozen" and another classic war film, one which starred Clint Eastwood and was full of action and intensity, but also had some humorous and lighter moments. "I couldn't avoid the 'Kelly's Heroes,' but this is not a comedy," Giffen explained. "There are interactions between the characters though that I hope people will find humorous. The way people usually react to stress is to lighten it with humor. That said, it's pretty much a straight forward 'Here's your mission. Go do it,' story and as the characters bounce off one another, they're thrown into different combat situations. I'm kind of pleased that I'm getting to do a story that starts at point A and ends at point Z. I have a nice right up the middle shot at the story and I can hang little things on it."
Like all the "Conquest" and previous "Annihilation" mini-series, "Star-Lord" is a series that fans can enjoy on its own or as part of a larger story. "It's not a 'have to buy thing,'" Giffen stated. "I like the way 'Annihilation' works. If you like Star-Lord, pick up the 'Star-Lord' mini-series. It's almost like a mosaic. You don't have to buy every issue. That said if you're interested in something like the entire story of World War II instead of just the Battle of the Bulge the other books are worth picking up. There's some really great talent on all those books."
Giffen is pleased to be working on "Star-Lord" with the amazing talent of Timothy Green who is providing the art for the series. "The art is insane," Giffen said. "He did 'Ultraviolet' for Dark Horse and 'Rush City' for DC. His art has this kind of weird Marvel dynamic by way of that Moebius/Belal influence to it and it really looks good. I'm really pleased that he's on board because I know whatever I throw at him he'll nail it."
Giffen has had a blast working on "Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord" and think all the fun he's had will be apparent to readers. "I love the visuals on the characters and I just love the way everything is holding together," he said. "It will be a romp."
Wednesday, CBR News will talk with writer Christos Gage about "Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar."