After barely surviving a barrage of ultra-violence and being burned by those closest to them in "2 Guns," the lives of ex-undercover agents Bobby Trench and Marcus Steadman get even more chaotic this summer when the pair again cross paths in the pages of "3 Guns," writer Steven Grant's follow-up to his 2006 crime caper. The new miniseries follows Trench and Steadman as they separately get tangled up in an illicit arms deal involving Russian gangsters, anti-government revolutionaries and a mysterious new "third gun."
The six-issue miniseries from BOOM! Studios begins this August, coinciding with the Universal Pictures film adaptation of "2 Guns," starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Joining Grant on "3 Guns" is artist Emilio Laiso ("Hack/Slash") on interior art, and Rafael Albuquerque -- the "American Vampire" co-creator who also provided covers for the original "2 Guns" miniseries -- returns for cover duties. Grant spoke with Comic Book Resources about where the idea for the sequel came from, how it ties into the movie, the new antagonists and the mysterious "third gun."
CBR News: The ending of "2 Guns" doesn't exactly lend itself to an obvious sequel, or even have many of loose ends. What made you want to revisit these characters after all these years?
Cover by Rafael Albuquerque
Steven Grant: I was asked to, mainly. That's not quite as cold-blooded as it sounds. One of the things my experiences with comics have taught me is don't bother thinking about sequels or more material until you're asked for it.
I don't really look at it as a sequel, except that it's the same characters. Obviously a second story isn't going to involve the full cast of "2 Guns," for reasons obvious to anyone who has read "2 Guns." I wasn't planning another story with those characters, but that never necessarily means there isn't one, or several. I must've been working on something in the back of my head, because when Ross [Richie, BOOM! founder] said, "'2 Guns' is going to get a lot of attention, give me '3 Guns'" -- yes, he did say "3 Guns" (the other option was "2 Guns 2" but that sounds too much like a strip show) -- it took me about 20 minutes to produce one. But there's plenty in the premise to be dealt with yet, from different angles. I didn't set out to do a reprise of "2 Guns." It's its own story.
How much of writing "3 Guns" is informed by the "2 Guns" film adaptation? It's a comic book sequel to your story, but are there seeds -- from the time you spent on set, having actors in mind for these characters -- or anything like that which have seeped into "3 Guns?"
Yes and no. Obviously, it's not in our best interests for me to do anything obviating anything that happens in the movie, but that's unnecessary anyway. I'm thrilled by the cast for the film, but Bobby and Marcus have a life and voices in my head that pre-existed the movie versions and those original versions are what's in the stories. I have an understanding with the producers: the book is the book and the movie is the movie. We don't have to be in lockstep with each other. In doing a somewhat original crime story, I figure I can serve both the book and any film that might derive from it, but I'm not really interested in serving two masters and, again, for the most part it's unnecessary.
But I admit there's a high level of excitement from watching the film progress and rush toward release that energized my interest in the characters after leaving them on their own for several years. When you're in this sort of situation, it's hard to escape that. Fortunately, I don't want to.
"2 Guns" had Trench and Steadman tangled up with Feds and gangsters. What piqued your interest to bring in Russians and anti-government revolutionaries in "3 Guns?"
It came out of their situations post-"2 Guns." What happened in "2 Guns" is difficult to explain to authorities, so both Bobby and Marcus have gone native as far as their respective agencies are concerned. They haven't seen each other and have no idea what the other has been up to. Effectively they're now living the roles they were pretending to live in "2 Guns," or something like them, and nobody knows Trench or Steadman, they only know Bobby Beans and Marcus Stigman. There's more ambivalence in their roles than ever, they're involved on opposite sides for difference reasons. In piecing the story together I wanted different types of criminal elements than they dealt with in "2 Guns," partly because I wanted to get both of them more out of their elements, and I wanted a broader canvas. On the surface it's basically an illicit arms deal they end up in the middle of, but there's a lot more going on than that. It seemed a fun way to go.
What can you us about the "third gun" in "3 Guns?"
All I'm willing to say on that front is there's another undercover cop in the mix that neither Bobby nor Marcus are aware of. Last time Bobby and Marcus worked toward a common goal, this time all three of them are working at cross-purposes, and nobody can afford to trust anybody, because when you're undercover the person you trust is the one who'll get you killed. Hilarity ensues.
Rafael Albuquerque is returning on covers for the miniseries, but you're working with a new artist for the series. Will Emilio Laiso be working in the same funny and clean-but-violent tone for the story as original series artist Mateus Santolouco?
At this stage, all I can do is assume so, but that's the expectation, yes. Mateus, unfortunately, was booked elsewhere. He's pretty busy these days.
You've mentioned previously that the initial ideas for "2 Guns" revolved around the absurd humor of undercover agents, and that you had originally planned to have a caper involving undercover agents from every possible agency. Do you see a potential 4, 5, or even "6 Guns" in the future?
I doubt I'll push it that far. But five years ago I'd have said there'd never be a sequel to "2 Guns." So your guess is as good as mine.