The Next Generation: McKeever talks 'Inhumans' & 'G.I Joe'

It wasn't so long ago that Sean McKeever was writing the adventures of teenage characters that actually sounded and acted like teenagers, whose stories allowed McKeever to look deeper into the human condition and explore what it means to live. But now, Sean McKeever tells CBR News that he's begun doing work for Marvel Comics and…


…nothing's changed.

To be a bit more informative, it's been announced that McKeever will be helming the new "Inhumans" series in May that focuses on the younger generation of super powered characters. "The Inhumans are a genetic offshoot of humanity developed by an alien race called the Kree some 25,000 years ago. They advanced more quickly than humans and made great technological leaps, particularly in genetics. With their genetic knowledge, they're able to unlock each Inhuman's true genetic potential by exposing them to a creation of theirs called Terrigen Mists. It transforms them into truly unique beings with specialized physical features and abilities.

"At some point, the Inhumans thought it would be best to live in isolation from humanity, so they built a city called Attilan off the coast of Portugal. After some strife with humans and with their alien creators, they've relocated their mobile city to a crater on the moon, where their continued isolation is a pretty safe bet."

With the focus of "Inhumans" being squarely set on a younger cast, McKeever says to expect mostly new characters, but to not be surprised if there are some familiar faces. "The main characters in this series may not be the Inhumans that fans are used to reading about. We'll see Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon and the rest, but the focus will be on younger Inhumans: Tonaja, Nahrees, Jolen, Alaris and San. I don't really want to say much about them yet. Of course, anyone who's read the Jenkins/Lee maxi-series will recognize Tonaja and Nahrees, but I'm keeping mum because discovering the characters and their relationships will be part of the fun of the book, I think.

"I feel the best way to explore the Inhumans is to put them side-by-side with humanity. That way, we can see in what ways the two species are alike and different. With that in mind, what we're doing is sending this group of young Inhumans to Earth: more specifically, to America, to study at an American university. The 'Inhumans' is an ensemble drama about living in an alien world, or about aliens living in our world, depending upon how you look at it. The goal for these students is not only to survive in this strange place--that, to them, is like a third-world country would be to Americans--but to successfully become a part of society. That's not their goal; it's the goal set upon them. How they deal with their task is the major thrust and tension of the series."

If you're automatically ready to compare this to another teen superhero comic like "Gen13," McKeever says to stop right there. "How about that it's not a superhero series? It's really not. It's an ensemble sci-fi/drama. Would you have called 'Roswell' a superhero TV show?"

The writer also stresses that characters aren't like the X-Men, just because they're special powered characters who've had problems with humanity and says, "Tom Brevoort and I talked about this a bit early on. Where mutants in the Marvel Universe are now essentially a demographic (just look at Morrison's 'New X-Men' to see what I mean) the Inhumans are actually an entirely different culture. They don't share our pop culture or our social structure or any of that. We are as alien to them as they are to us."

While McKeever isn't sure what his fellow writers on the other books launched in Marvel's "Tsunami" line have planned, he says that there's no finite plan for "Inhumans" or ends point in mind. "I honestly came into this book so quickly that I'm not thinking that far ahead."

The acclaimed writer also says that the style of storytelling in this series will be mixed, with some shorter and longer story arcs to accommodate readers who prefer both styles of storytelling. "The first arc is six issues; after that, there may be a one-shot or a two parter. I'd like to work it so I always do a long arc followed by a quickie, but I'm not going to hold myself to anything too rigid, as long as it also works well in graphic novel form."

As has been mentioned, Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee produced a wildly popular "Inhumans" maxi-series a few years ago that many felt said all that needed to be said about the titular characters, which has some wondering why McKeever would take on this new series. "Well, Paul's a buddy of mine, and his maxi-series blew me away. It totally deserved the Eisner award it received. But I don't know that it said everything that needs to be said about the Inhumans. The fact that I'm doing a series should make that self-evident. If there was nothing to say, I wouldn't bother.

"Not to come off like a bit of a jackass, because I hate when people say this, but this is not your father's Inhumans. It will have a bit of the feel of the Jenkins/Lee book, but we're using mostly new characters and placing them in a whole new setting. It's a new era for the property, and I'm pretty excited to be ushering it in with Matthew Clark. We were actually trying to court Drew Johnson, an artist friend of mine, but he had just gotten the 'Wonder Woman' gig. However, he let us know that Matt was finishing up his 'Vampirella' commitment and would soon need something. I loved, LOVED his work on 'Felon,' so I was all about it. And his work here hits a new mark for him. He really has given it the feel of Jae Lee's work--that sort of molasses, Gothic sensibility--but he's done it without compromising his own fabulous style."

And if you haven't read any of the past Inhumans' appearances, fear not; "Oh, it's pretty new-reader friendly," says McKeever of the new series. "The first couple issues will have a lot of the familiar faces, and that will be nice for long-time readers. Hopefully they aren't only looking for familiar characters and will stick around for the great character arcs I have planned."

McKeever's involvement with "Inhumans" actually began last year, when Marvel approached him about tackling two of their new "Tsunami" projects. "Marc Sumerak had approached me last fall about pitching a new 'Inhumans' series, as well as pitching 'Sentinel.' I was really excited about the idea of doing an Inhumans series featuring the younger Inhumans Jenkins had introduced. At the same time, I was kinda worried, because I remember thinking a couple years ago, when I was pinch hitting for Jenkins on 'Hulk,' that I was gonna be looked at as the Official Jenkins Coattail Clinger. And I actually thought, 'God, what if they ask me to write a young 'Inhumans' book? I bet they do. Typical.' But now that I've gotten some solo Marvel writing work under my belt, I'm really not concerned about that at all."

McKeever also isn't worried if people are going to pre-judge "Inhumans" as "another McKeever teen series" and write it off before it hits shelves. "They'll have to read it to figure that out. I mean, clearly, it will have my dramatic stamp on it, but I'm confident it will be different. It's just that I think I'm too close to my writing to be able to step back and point to key ways in which they're different flavors."

On a much different note, the "Inhumans" writer will also be writing a G.I story for Devil's Due Publishing in a couple of months. "The 'Joe' story will be in 'G.I Joe Frontline 9 & 10,' in June and July, with art by Francis ('Star Wars Tales') Portela and covers by Francis Manipul," reveals McKeever. "I met Josh Blaylock [lead 'G.I Joe' writer] and company through my partner in crime, Mike Norton, and we'd been partying together at shows for two or three years now. Last year, Josh asked me if I'd like to write the story of a character he created for 'Joe' named Zanya. I said yes, not telling him that I've probably read only two 'Joe' comics in my life, and never watched an episode of the cartoon that I can think of. Heh! Growing up, I usually walked to my parents' hardware store after school and did homework or worked or hung out, so I missed out on weekday cartoons in the 80s, for the most part. Never saw 'Joe' or 'Transformers,' though just about everyone else my age has really fond memories of that stuff.

"My story is a two-parter that deals with the sort of 'origin story' of Zartan's daughter, Zanya. It starts with her upbringing in Chicago with her abusive mother and takes her cross country in search of her father. It's really a story about a girl who had to become tough enough inside to break the abusive cycle that abused children often get stuck in. And it's got some fun fighting and action bits in it, I think. And some obscure Dreadnoks.

While McKeever understands if some people have concerns about someone who isn't a "G.I Joe" fanatic writing "Frontline," he's also ready to assure fans that the story is top notch. "I should add the following, regarding my 'Joe' ignorance: I know how that if someone came onto, say, a Spider-Man series as a writer and said he didn't know thing one about the character or mythos, I'd be skeptical as hell. But trust me when I say that fans of Zanya will thoroughly enjoy this story, and that Josh and Hasbro are keeping me in line when it comes to portraying Zartan and Co. properly."

While not a "G.I Joe" fan yet, McKeever says that he could definitely see himself doing more work on the property if the chance came up. "I don't see why not. I like those guys a lot, and now Mike Norton works for them full time. I'm sure it's just a matter of the right project at the right time."

Speaking of the right time, McKeever also wants to remind fans that May will see the release of "Inhumans" and that, "If you like a good bit of soap opera twisted with the sort of science fiction that is at once visually exciting and also a magnifying glass on the human condition, then 'Inhumans' is for you."

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