WC10: Casey Has An "Officer Downe"

Evildoers, it's time to stockpile up on sophisticated weaponry, lock yourselves up in a secure bunker and say a prayer to the man upstairs - Officer Downe is coming in for the take down, and he's going to kick your teeth clean out of your skull. The long arm of the law has a powerful assault rifle, an extreme loathing for all things crime and a wonderful mustache in Joe Casey and Chris Burnham's "Officer Downe," the new Image Comics one-shot announced today at WonderCon 2010.

"'Officer Downe' is a story that taps into that primal myth of the unkillable cop," Casey told CBR News in an exclusive interview. "Even in the Bible, you can find exploits of law enforcement officers who were so dedicated to their mission that they could not be stopped by any means. I think Joseph Campbell even wrote a chapter about it in 'Hero With A Thousand Faces.'"

In "Officer Downe," readers will come to know the titular policeman for relentlessly bringing the pain to every living creature on the wrong side of the law. "He's the proverbial badass with a badge," said Casey. "Single-minded in his enforcement of the law, he's as dedicated a policeman as you'll find in modern day society. To him, wearing that badge actually means something. He's the kind of cop you want patrolling the streets of your city - as long as you don't mind the risk of ending up as collateral damage, that is."

Classifying "Officer Downe" under any one genre is no easy feat. The term "police procedural," for instance, is hardly an adequate descriptor by Casey's standards. "If by 'police procedural' you mean kicking the teeth of the criminal scum-suckers that infest the city, then sure, it's a police procedural," he explained. "Actually, come to think of it, I think 'something else entirely' describes it a lot better."

While Officer Downe is part of a larger police operation, Casey said that the character tends to fight crime on his own terms. "Fortunately, Officer Downe is more of a loner," he said. "Sure, he's got the LAPD backing him up, not to mention a top secret special division unit that aids him in his crusade, but when he hits the streets, it's a one-man war on the underworld."

And make no mistake, the underworld of "Officer Downe" contains an eclectic bunch of dangerous criminals for Downe to contend with, such as the nefarious Fortune 500, Headcase Harry and Zen Master Flash. "The Fortune 500 basically run Los Angeles," described Casey. "That's how bad it's gotten in this town. And trust me, they have to be seen to be believed. Zen Master Flash runs an assassin school up in the hills, but he's been known to lend some muscle when called upon by the Fortune 500. Besides, as he says himself, 'He loves to fuck with the po-lice,' so there's some personal agenda there as well. Headcase Harry - well, he's pretty much exactly what his name describes."

Even if Officer Downe is without backup, Casey certainly isn't. He co-created "Officer Downe" alongside his "Nixon's Pals" collaborator Chris Burnham, who Casey described as taking "a quantum leap" with this latest project. "As you can see, he's gone insane with detail," said the writer. "It's like nothing I've ever seen outside geniuses like Geoff Darrow or the late, great Seth Fisher. I threw some pretty wacked out stuff at Chris this time out, and he responded with his own sick sensibilities cranked up to eleven. In other words, it's good stuff.

"Chris is one of those guys I like to go to with the big ideas," Casey continued of his collaborator. "Stuff that's high concept, but within that, we're both willing to get our hands dirty and make a real story out of it. Both of us love comics and the potential inherent in the medium. Hopefully, some of the storytelling approaches we came up with for this book prove that."

Casey has long had the concept for "Officer Downe" locked and loaded in his mind, but it wasn't until recently that he saw an opportunity to sic the muscled law enforcer on comic book readers everywhere. "I had the idea for 'Officer Downe' about six or seven years ago," he said. "I think I even talked to an editor at Dark Horse about it at one point, but since then, the concept had just sat on my shelf - along with the other thousand [concepts] - until I'd been talking to Chris about a different project and realized he had a hole in his schedule to work on something creator-owned. This idea seemed perfect. We both jumped on it and, a few months later, here I am talking about. Comics at the speed of thought!"

While "Officer Downe" is currently listed as a one-shot, Casey isn't ruling out the possibility of more crime-busting adventures further down the line. "We'll see," he said. "The story we're telling works really well as one big blast of narrative goodness, but we've already talked about future expansion. Chris is getting busier and busier and, as you can probably tell, it's not like he can just knock these pages out in an afternoon. That level of detail makes that impossible. But, having said that, this is definitely just the opening salvo of an Officer Downe all-out assault on humanity."

For now, however, the focus is on the upcoming one-shot. "I would just suggest to anyone who likes hyper-violence and police brutality to check it out - it's the kind of story we'd never get away with anywhere but at Image," said Casey. "It's just one big, fat story. Hopefully, it'll go down like a good steak dinner."

"Officer Downe," written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Chris Burnham, hits comic book stores on July 14, 2010.

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