When you've written critically acclaimed graphic novels ("Pistolwhip: Yellow Menace"), tackled the world's most recognizable comic book heroes ("Justice League Adventures") and created a deep, psychological take on a classic DC Comics icon ("Beware The Creeper"), what's left to do?
The same thing you've been doing all along - try something new and different and keep your readers guessing, naturally.
Shipping last week was the Dark Horse/Rocket Comics series "Crush," created by Jason Hall to be a comic about not only the human condition, but everything he can think of, as he explained to CBR News.
"On one level, the book is about dealing with all sorts of monsters, both real and figurative -- everyday and fantastic: from abusive parents, paranoid neighbors, and high school bullies to deadly agents of shadow corporations, 10-foot brutish goliaths, and werewolf computer-geeks... as well as the monster one may find inside his or herself -- which is the very situation Elizabeth Mason literally finds herself in on her eighteenth birthday. And this transformation just may lead Liz to discovering the horrific truth about her past and who she really is," explains run-on sentence champ Hall.
"In a lot of ways, 'Crush' is about the self-discovery and change we all go through when making that leap from teenager to adult. Physical and emotional changes of all varieties are through the roof, and things tend to just seem out of control. Of course, this is all presented through the POV of an eighteen-year-old girl that discovers she transforms into a "monstrous creature"... Heck, there might even be one of those high-falutin metaphors in there somewhere! Even the title itself works on a number of different levels: you can physically 'crush' something, you can become emotionally 'crushed,' and you can have a romantic 'crush' on someone -- and you'll see all these ideas play out in the series."
But any series that explores those kind of high concepts needs to have compelling leads and Hall contends that he's solved that problem. "Liz is a bit of a 'goth-chick' -- sort of a social outcast who's mentally and physically kicked around both at home and at school. And her extracurricular interest in witchcraft only seems to fuel that fire. She's fed up with her life (her parents don't even remember that it's her birthday) and has reached the end of her rope. But there's a ray of light in that dark tunnel in the form of her best friend Jen Tanaka. Jen's one tough cookie who doesn't take any crap from anyone. She does her best to take care of Liz, who means the world to her. And she won't let anything bad happen to Liz, no matter what the cost. Then there's Jen's older brother is Carl, who's got a real 'small town hero' quality -- or maybe that's just how the infatuated Liz looks at him. Of course, Liz would never suspect there was any chance Carl had similar feelings in return. You know how matters of the heart go. Too bad she had to go and discover that she changes into a rage-filled monstrosity called 'Crush.' Of course, there just may be more to "Crush" than meets the eye... "
Don't worry- he doesn't mean that the Transformers will be appearing in the series. But there will be an enticing cast of villains permeating the pages of "Crush," but Hall won't reveal much… yet. "There are the baddies: the sinister and mysterious Mr. Vesper (head of the 'Vesper Institute'), his sexy and savvy operative Agent Bixby, and the monstrous Brute -- but you'll have to read the book to find out about them at the same time Liz and her friends do. I don't want to give too much away because the book is full of surprises -- only some of which are revealed in the first four issue story-arc, while at the same time raising some other questions and mysteries. Things aren't always what they seem..."
If what you've read so far intrigues you, then take note: Hall doesn't plan to maintain the status quo for too long. "As the series goes on, we'll journey with Liz on the road to discover the truth behind her transformation and why she's being pursued. Was it some fluke of magic that triggered the change? (She never actually thought any of that magic stuff was real...) Or is it something much more sinister? Plus, I'd really like to have future stories focusing on all the other characters and their respective POV's and pasts as well. And not only Jen and Carl, but also Agent Bixby, Mr. Vesper, Brute, and others. Everybody has a story to be told, and I'm itching to tell them all, so it would be great if the series ends up having a long life. Everybody get those purchases in for #1!"
Now as you may have guessed, Jason Hall is a guy, but that doesn't discourage him from tackling a female lead in "Crush;" in fact, he enjoys writing female leads a lot! "I really like writing female characters (there aren't enough of them in comics, but it's certainly getting better) -- and with 'Crush,' two of the three main protagonists (and one of the main antagonists) are female -- so I think it's going to be a series that both female and male readers are going to enjoy. It's a bit darker and more introspective than people might be expecting. And it has a real emotional side to it that helps the story be a bit more grounded, allowing the reader to relate to the characters and what they're going through. I think the emotional aspect is something that tends to be a part of all my work, and something I hope readers enjoy and perhaps even connect with in the projects I've done so far. But that's not to say 'CRUSH' isn't full of action, adventure, intrigue, mystery, and suspense. There's plenty of all that! And with the eye-catching artwork of Sean Murphy, who really has a knack for adding little moments in the artwork here and there, readers are going to get their money's worth. It's going to be a lot of fun!"