Showing some teeth, Jolley talks 'Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive'

Sabretooth (AKA Victor Creed) has had a varied history in the Marvel Universe. At times he's proven as popular as his 'buddy' Wolverine, yet at other times he seems to swim in a pool of tremendous obscurity. A giant (mutant) of a man with great strength and even greater ferocity, we know Creed for his capacity for mayhem, but who is this popular anti-hero? This June we may find out in the first part of a four-part series, "Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive #1". Written by Dan Jolley, with art by Greg Scott and covers by Tony Harris, "Mary Shelley Overdrive" takes a look at a small slice of Victor Creed's life, but opens up a lot more story than just that.

"Well, first and foremost, this is the fastest, meanest story I've ever put on paper," series writer Dan Jolley told CBR News. "I came at it the way I would an action movie, actually, rather than a comic book; there are no costumes, no other recognized super-humans, and the code-name 'Sabretooth' is only used once. The main character is simply called Victor Creed. I'm pretty sure that if you took this mini-series and put it directly up on the big screen, it would probably only need three or four additional minutes to flesh out Creed's background for non-comics audiences. He's a perfect anti-hero - a massively charismatic presence who's still a pure-bred bastard, along the lines of Sonny Chiba in most of his movies, or Clint Eastwood's character in 'High Plains Drifter' - and the story takes full advantage of that.

"'Mary Shelley Overdrive' is a slice out of Victor Creed's life. I really wanted to show him in his 'off-time,' when he's not involved in military actions or super-villain schemes; he's an assassin, and he's got bills to pay like anyone else, and this story grows out of something that happens during a hit one night. The action gets started around eleven p.m., digs its teeth in, and goes full-speed through the four issues until dawn the next morning."

Don't expect a bunch of guest stars from the Marvel Universe showing up in "Mary Shelley Overdrive." This story is all Victor. Aside from a very brief mention of Luke Cage, Creed is the only tie to the Marvel Universe in this book.

"The principal players here are a young woman Creed gets involved with named Bonnie Hale, and a group of mysterious antagonists only referred to as 'the commandos,' said Jolley. "The commandos appear to be a group of Russian Spetsnaz [Special Forces] soldiers with a murderous agenda - it's Creed witnessing their attempt to kill Bonnie that drags him into the story's action - but it quickly becomes clear that they're a lot more than they seem, and ten times more dangerous. Each of them has undergone a process of 'augmentation' that makes them almost invulnerable, they outnumber Creed twelve to one, and they all want him dead.

"Bonnie is a normal human woman - not a mutant, not super-powered in any way - but she and Creed do make a powerful connection. 'Mary Shelley Overdrive' is kind of a beauty-and-the-beast story, in a perverse kind of way.

As we noted early, throughout Sabretooth's history he's mostly been depicted as a snarling beast ready to rip an opponent to shreds. Sure, he's had his moments, but that is generally how he's perceived. With "Mary Shelley Overdrive" Dan Jolley is making a conscious effort to evolve the character of Victor Creed beyond that which has come before.

"It definitely is my intention to elevate Creed's character," continued Jolley, "but the concept of doing that - at least as far as this mini-series goes - was something I took to Marvel, rather than the other way around. When I first contacted [editor] Mark Powers about doing something for the X-office, he gave me a choice of about ten different characters I could develop, and Sabretooth immediately jumped out at me because of his back-up status. I'm not saying he doesn't have a rich backstory, but he does lack a degree of development that a lot of the other principal X-characters have. I saw in Victor Creed an immense potential, a slate that still had plenty of room on it for further development.

"To that end, what I've tried my best to do here is treat Creed as if he were as normal a guy as it's possible for him to be. Now, I understand that that's still not going to be all that normal, since it's not your average joe who's six and a half feet tall and equipped with fangs and unbreakable bones and claws and a mutant healing power. Victor Creed is a vicious, ruthless, gargantuanly dangerous killer - but I don't believe he could ever be truly effective if he's frequently a victim of blind rage and uncontrolled animal urges. So I've kept all the savage skill and ferocity, and attempted to portray him as extremely cunning and intelligent as well. I'd like to think that in this story Sabretooth is the most dangerous he's ever been.

"That said, I think I also understand how Creed sees the big picture of things, and in that respect his ultimate motivations are pretty simple: he's a Miller-time kind of guy at heart. He wants to do his job, get the respect he deserves, and then just kick back and enjoy himself. He likes the finer things - the Italian suits, the sweet cars, the bodacious ladies. He is pointedly not interested in taking over the world, or even changing the world all that much. People like Magneto and Mystique have huge, profound, far-reaching plans, but Victor Creed does not. At the end of the day, he'd rather have a really good cigar than his own country."

For Jolley this is his first work for Marvel, but he's been around for some time working on projects like "JSA: The Liberty File" from DC Comics and "Obergeist" from Top Cow. Art on the book is provided by Greg Scott, a relative new comer to comics who's done work for Moonstone Books. Greg will be penciling and inking his own work. Jolley tells us, "[Greg's] got this amazing, gritty style that he pretty much has to ink himself or it doesn't look right. ... I feel really safe in predicting that his star is about to rise in a big way." Colors will be handled by JD Mettler of Jolly Roger Studios and lettering by Marvel's Randy Gentile.

For those of you who have taken a break from picking up any of Marvel's mutants and worry you might find yourself lost in "Mary Shelley Overdrive," fear not. This book doesn't require you to know years of backstory and it appears Jolley has designed this book to be enjoyed by new readers and long time fans alike.

"I think this book is very accessible to people who know little or nothing about the current state of the Marvel Universe, specifically the X-continuity," said Jolley. "It's a very straightforward plot: you understand right off that Creed is a big, tough, scary guy with some very shady history, and that he's gotten himself into a conflict with a bunch of other big, tough, scary guys. There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but it's easy to get the basic concept. Also, 'Mary Shelley Overdrive' could take place, really, at any time during Creed's recent life - it's not tied in to his association with Magneto, for instance, nor with Weapon X or Wolverine. (Wolverine is completely absent from this story, in fact.) It's a story that can be appreciated on its own, and at the same time be enjoyed by long-time X-fans, since it provides some insight into Creed's character that we haven't seen before. For new readers, I'd like to think it'll spark a lot of interest and send them looking for more Victor Creed stories; for returning readers, it'll be a new look from a different angle at a character they already know."

Is there anything else we should know about "Mary Shelly Overdrive" before closing out this interview?

"The rough sex scenes were going to be significantly more explicit, but editorial stepped in and put the brakes on. Consequently, Greg got to re-draw page 17 in issue one… and I have the original censored page! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Ahem."

Those looking to check out more work from Jolley, well, he's got a few projects coming from DC and Marvel in the future, but it's much too early to discuss them quite yet. Outside of comics Jolley's just had a "Star Trek" novella published through eBooks, co-written with Scott Ciencin, and the two also just turned in a full-length print novel based on the television series "Angel."

"Sabretooth: Mary Shelley Overdrive #1" is 32 pages with ads, rated Marvel PG+ for violence and slated to be in stores June, 2002.

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