In a 1967 schlock sci-fi movie, the idea that "Mars Needs Women" was put forward. In the future of the Marvel Universe, the Martians have solved that problem by conquering the Earth, so Earth Needs Heroes. In 2008, we'll get them, in a new five-issue "Killraven" miniseries by Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld, which finds the Martian-battling freedom fighter assembling a new incarnation of a classic Marvel superhero team to combat alien overlords. CBR News spoke with Kirkman about the series.
It was Rob Liefeld who pitched the idea of a new "Killraven" series. "It was something that Rob pitched last year in San Diego to Joe Quesada while Jeph Loeb and I were sitting next to him," Robert Kirkman told CBR News. "Rob and I are pals and he came up and started talking to Joe while we were there. He asked Joe about the possibility of a 'Killraven' project and Joe said, 'Yeah. Let's do it.' Rob was like, 'Well, I don't really want to write it. I just want to draw it.' Joe replied, 'Well you've got these two guys here. Pick one.' Jeph Loeb pointed my way so I got the gig."
Kirkman was aware of the Killraven character before he landed the assignment but didn't know much about his back-story. "I've been reading some stuff to have a passing knowledge of it, but [the new miniseries] establishes a new continuity and new take on the character," Kirkman explained. "So, it's not going to be conflicting with any of the old stuff. I kind of just wanted to move forward with the basic concept of the character without having any kind of extra baggage."
Kirkman sees the traits that define the character of Jonathan Raven AKA Killraven as being similar to those of another popular Marvel hero. "In a lot of ways, he's kind of like a Captain America type character," Kirkman stated. "He's lived a very hard life. In our continuity, he's been a slave for basically his entire life but he is very heroic. He can find a solution to almost any situation and hopefully, for his planet's sake, he'll be able to find a solution to the Martians having conquered the Earth."
When "Killraven" begins, no one remembers a time when the Martians were not rulers of Earth, but before the Martians took over, Earth was protected by a host of heroes. "This Earth is the same Earth as the Marvel Universe," Kirkman stated. "So at some point in the future of the Marvel U, the Martians invade and a force of Marvel heroes is not able to stop them. This series takes place many, many years later. We see the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. We see Avengers Mansion.
"The concept that Rob came up with was that this is very much a tour through the future of the Marvel Universe," Kirkman continued. "You're going to see what happens to things like Thor's hammer and Cap's shield."
Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, and other artifacts from the lost heroic legacy of the Marvel Universe eventually become part of Killraven's plan against the Earth's Martian oppressors. "The story is about Killraven forming the Avengers of the future and leading them against the Martians in order to retake the Earth," Kirkman explained. "The supporting cast is mostly new characters using familiar items from the Marvel Universe so there's going to be a Hawkeye, there's going to be an Iron Man, there's going to be a Thor, but they're all going to be very different."
Along with a new incarnation of the Avengers, readers of "Killraven" can also expect a new interpretation of his Martian foes. "We're not drawing on the H.G. Wells 'War of the Worlds' stuff as much," Kirkman said. "These guys are a little more humanoid. This series is a pretty vast departure from the original 'Killraven' stuff."
It won't be just Martian adversaries opposing Killraven and his allies fight for freedom. "There's kind of a twist at the end of issue one where we see that he's going to be going up against somebody that's fairly familiar to Marvel Universe fans," Kirkman explained. "There are a number of characters that would still be around years into the future."
"Killraven" will be a story that's packed with both superhero and post-apocalyptic action. "I'm a big fan of end of the world type stories," Kirkman remarked. "So there's going to be a lot of those elements in there. And Rob is known for balls-to-the-wall action comics, which is what we're definitely doing here."
Kirkman has seen a few of Liefeld's pages for "Killraven." "He's done pencils for the first two issues," Kirkman confirmed. "So he seems to be moving along at a pretty good clip. So far, the stuff he's doing for the series is pretty stunning. It's some of Rob's best stuff. I'm pretty excited."
Kirkman feels that the new take on "Killraven" and classic characters like the Avengers make him and Liefeld the best creators for the series. "Rob and I both feel that we do our best work on characters that are a little more new and original," Kirkman said. "I really liked working on 'Ant-Man,' which was a new character created for the Marvel Universe. My run on 'Marvel Team-Up' was littered with new characters and Rob's M.O. has always been to come on a book and introduce new characters and do new stuff. So, I think it's kind of cool for us to get together and do a book that takes place in the Marvel Universe and uses a lot of established artifacts and an established character like Killraven, but, in a lot of ways, it's all new stuff. Rob and I are introducing a new corner of the Marvel Universe, with new characters and new threats. Rob's perfect for that."
When "Killraven" hits stores in 2008, an epic battle for freedom will begin, but Kirkman wouldn't reveal whether or not Killraven and his allies are victorious in their war against the Martians. "Possibly and possibly not," he said. "Who Knows? We're definitely leaving it open for sequels though."
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