With indie star Rick Remender beginning an exclusive contract with Marvel, a deal that will see him continue writing "Punisher," a guest issue of "Thunderbolts," and other projects, the writer is wrapping up his creator-owned books "Fear Agent" and "The End League," both from Dark Horse.
Issue #8 of "The End League" arrives in stores this week, and CBR News caught up with Remender to catch up on the action-packed dystopian series and preview exclusive artwork from both issue #8 and the double-sized series finale issue #9. We will follow up next week with a discussion of "Fear Agent's" final fate.
"The End League" stars a Justice League-styled band of superheroes in a world where the vast majority of powered individuals -- called "Magnificents" -- have chosen evil over good and have, by strength of numbers, conquered and remade the Earth in their grim images. The second issue saw Astonishman, the world's greatest hero, die at the hands of Thor. The remaining good guys believe the key to saving civilization rests in gaining control of the Norse god's hammer--which three different villains claim to possess.
Following Astonishman's demise, the time-displaced Nazi Wolfsangel created a batch of mindless clones in the hopes that one of his own Astonishmen might wield Thor's hammer, but of course none of them possess the altruistic, virtuous soul necessary to do so.
"After defeating the soul-possessing Scarecrow Sinister, Soldier American and Blur Girl were captured by a band of cloned Astonishmen," Remender told CBR. "Prairie Ghost was left behind and set out to kill the man he holds responsible for this all, Dead Lexington."
With the madness and mayhem crushing down, the few surviving heroes have become fewer. Set up by the Smiling Man, Codename Black sacrificed saving two teammates in hopes of capturing Thor's hammer -- only to be smacked down by a couple of friends, who predict doom if Black is the one to wield the mystical object.
Remender said there are "a good few surprises coming up in regards to who is who, especially at the end of issue #8. The hammer is now officially in play and the guy who has it, Wolfsangel, doesn't necessarily know the motives of the folks around him."
With a large cast of heroes and villains, early issues of "The End League" tended to shift focus to different characters and events. Black, though, has been a central character in the second arc. "He's the only member of the team who isn't a 'Magnificent' -- he doesn't have any super powers, and in fact he blames all of the Earth's problems on the existence of super powered types," Remender explained. "And he's basically right. That's been the theme of the book since the beginning, what would actually happen if a percentage of the population became super powered. Or, more specifically, how quickly would everything turn to shit. So, Black is the guy who's watched his family and his world torn down by human drama enhanced exponentially by super powers.
"Now, if he wants to direct the fate of humanity, to do what he thinks is right to save us, which is sort of a relative concept depending on one's perspectives, he's going to have to sacrifice some of his principles to do it. Taking the hammer, if it works for him, will make him a Magnificent and he's not sure if he'll be tainted by the power and make the wrong choice once he has the muscle."
Amidst all the mayhem, Divinity and the other remaining Greek gods seem to be missing in action, but they will return in "End league" #8 and make a big showing in issue #9. "It's sort of a giant soup of fun superhero stuff I always wanted to do. We've got the Nazis of Wolfsangel, Nargor'ri' the demonic interdimensional world ravager, the Greek gods, and the entire super powered population of New Lexington all converging at the same time in the same place and our tiny band of heroes end up stuck in the middle of it all," Remender said. "It's the most fun kind of pandemonium."
Remender also praised "End League" artist Eric Canete. "His art on this issue is worth the price alone. It's a true masterpiece by one of the greatest artist in this industry (when he's not busy in animation). Canete knocked it so very far out of the park. It's an exercise in how to do comic pages."
For the series finale in issue #9, Remender revealed that "Punisher War Journal" and "NYC Mech" artist Andy MacDonald will be serving as illustrator. "Andy is without a doubt one of the most under recognized guys in comics. He's a powerful storyteller who matches his solid foundation with a unique and lovingly rendered inking style that isn't only distinct but manages to feel classic at the same time. Just see for yourself, these first pages he's turned in are insane."
Though issue #9 marks the end of "The End League" for now, Rick Remender did not rule out a return to this world in the future. "I enjoy these characters so I might come back eventually but for now this is where the big initial story ends and is a great point to take a break."
"The End League" #8 is in stores now. Issue #9 will be released in October from Dark Horse.