A “Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing,” the incredibly powerful and undeniably grotesque villain was endowed with a super-human intellect and psionic powers thanks to experiments performed by the terrorist think tank known as A.I.M. With a huge head and a tiny body, M.O.D.O.K. is a character capable of being either a frightening foe or a comical antagonist depending on a writer or artist’s intention, and in May, he’ll star in a story that embraces both aspects of the character.
“M.O.D.O.K. Assassin,” a five issue “Secret Wars” miniseries by writer Chris Yost and artist Amilcar Pinna, will transport readers to the Battleworld dominion known as Killville, where the title character is a legendary hitman. We spoke with Yost about the darkly humorous tale of intrigue and murder, what, exactly, the dominion of Killville is and M.O.D.O.K.’s role there. We also delve into the other Battleworld dominions that will become involved in the story, and how one of the most dangerous thing one can do in Killville — is fall in love.
CBR News: In recent years, M.O.D.O.K. has been a character played for both his intellect and his comedic potential — will you continue down those paths in his new series
Chris Yost: M.O.D.O.K. is just such an amazing visual; you look at him, and you’re like, “Oh my God! What is that?” And it’s hard not to play for laughs because A.I.M. created this amazing intelligence and deadly killer, and he just has little, tiny arms and legs, and a giant head. So he looks ridiculous, but you’ve got to believe that the guys who were making him were like, “This is going to be bad-ass! We’re going to do it!”
When he started out, M.O.D.O.K. was legitimately a fearsome opponent. Then, as people got more used to the tropes of comic books, they started to realize how silly he would be in real life. So they started to play M.O.D.O.K. for laughs.
My first experience writing him was for the animated series “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” where, in my opinion, we kind of did the best of both worlds. We had him do legitimately scary stuff, but the Avengers couldn’t help but poke a little fun at him, which just made him mad.
In “M.O.D.O.K. Assassin,” we’re seeing a version of M.O.D.O.K. who is everything that A.I.M. ever wanted him to be. He’s a brilliant mind and a devastating killer. He’s M.O.D.O.K.!
So in this series M.O.D.O.K. isn’t just super smart — he’s super cunning, as well.
For sure. He’s in a situation, and — it’s hard to get into it without giving away some “Secret Wars” secrets, but he’s the smartest guy in Killville. He’s a cunning killer playing two sides against one another. He’s super bad-ass, but still kind of ridiculous looking.
Killville is one of the dominions on the “Secret Wars” Battleworld where basically everybody is a killer. There are the regular people, and then there are killers. All the heroes are gone. M.O.D.O.K. has basically killed them all. So it’s kind of like the movie “The Purge,” where everybody hides behind bars for one day to protect themselves. That’s what everyday is like in Killville, though.
Essentially, in this Battleworld dominion, murder is a legitimate way to resolve conflicts.
For sure. One of the greatest powers is the Assassin’s Guild.
It’s not a lawless place though. It’s a place that has rules. You can’t just go kill anybody. It’s because they want to control the killing. M.O.D.O.K. kind of stands above it because he’s M.O.D.O.K., of course. The Assassin’s Guild is one of the powers he has to deal with.
How much fun are you having writing M.O.D.O.K. doing what he does best?
It’s so much fun, because M.O.D.O.K. just loves it. He gets so excited to kill somebody. I think he kills three people in the first issue, and takes out a few other entities that you can’t really call alive. There’s going to be no shortage of M.O.D.O.K. gleefully grinning as he makes peoples’ heads explode.
Writing villains is the best. They’re generally pretty interesting, their motivations and the way their minds work are often fascinating. They don’t hold themselves up to the same standards that heroes do. They laugh at rules, and enjoy what they’re doing. So to play the story where everybody is bad is kind of fun.
The visuals of it are really extreme. Not only do you have the main character of M.O.D.O.K., you have the situations he’ll find himself in where he’s after or up against hundreds of killers. These situations, within the context of “Secret Wars,” are big. This just isn’t a story of killers — it’s a big part of “Secret Wars,” too.
Is Killville the only dominion you’ll be visiting in this series?
No, there are three that border Killville, and two of them are going to come into play. The Monarchy of M and the Sentinel Territories are on opposite sides of Killville. Then, to the south, is 2099. This is a Killville story, through and through, but you can’t ignore neighbors like that.
Plus, a dominion governed by assassination is bound to cause some inter-dominion ripples across Battleworld.
That’s exactly right. Killville is useful. Killville gets things done. It’s a handy asset to know about, but M.O.D.O.K. has a very specific policy about his neighbors that the first issue really illustrates beautifully.
What you’ve told me about the series reminds me of Mark Millar’s “Wanted” series. Is that a fair comparison?
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of “Wanted,” and I hadn’t even thought of that. It definitely is a world of killers and super villains, but this is a M.O.D.O.K. story, first and foremost. A character like M.O.D.O.K. pushes everything to the next ridiculous level.
Killville’s assassin and mercenary community obviously plays a large role in “M.O.D.O.K. Assassin,” but will we get to see some of that world’s take on other established Marvel villains?
For sure. For instance, in the first issue we meet Baron Mordo, Doctor Octopus and Bullseye. It’s only going to get more extreme from there. M.O.D.O.K. makes some decisions in the first issue that he kind of laughs off. Those decisions will come back to bite him in the chassis a little later.
â€¨At the end of the first issue the full-on big story comes into play, and that’s when we get into the romance portion of the story. This is M.O.D.O.K. — who is designed, of course “only for killing” — coming across somebody that he actually doesn’t want to kill. That decision will hurt him. He’s going to suffer for this decision and this girl that he meets. He’s basically found a girl that’s just as, if not more, deadly than him. He’s going to fall head over heels in love with her.
Is the object of M.O.D.OK’s affection a new character, or a new version of an established Marvel creation?
She’s a well-known, established Marvel creation.
Hmm — given your description, the title of the series and the font it uses —
No, it’s not Elektra! [Laughs]
Ales Kot is also playing a romance beat with M.O.D.O.K. in his “Secret Avengers” series, as well. I’m curious — what do you find interesting about M.O.D.O.K. in love?
For me, the big question M.O.D.O.K. asks in the first issue is, “Can you be more than what you are?” Basically, if you’re designed only for killing, can you be anything else? He resoundingly says, “No — if you’re designed only for killing, all you can do is kill.” Then that is kind of put to the test.
So, falling for someone and botching a contract puts M.O.D.O.K. in the crosshairs of almost everybody in Killville.
And beyond! Who he falls in love with will put him in the crosshairs of some of the biggest players in “Secret Wars.” Plus, there’s more to the story than what M.O.D.O.K. is aware of. Things are happening behind the scenes, strings are being pulled, and M.O.D.O.K., who is the biggest and baddest character in Killville, suddenly starts to wonder if he’s just a pawn.
It sounds like there’s a lot going on in “M.O.D.O.K. Assassin,” with crime and inter-dominion intrigue plus moments of dark comedy and romance.
For sure. If I could put him in a fedora, I would — but they don’t make them that size.
Helping you bring to life this diverse tale is Amilcar Pinna, who ran wild with some fantastic designs for gangs and killers in the recent “All-New Ultimates” series.
This series moves from extremes. It goes from the seedy back alleys of Killville to the epic visuals of the Sentinel Territories. You’re going to have a little bit of everything, and it’s all going to be beautiful and really extreme. Amilcar is perfect for this because he can do anything and make it look great.
First and foremost, “M.O.D.O.K. Assassin” is going to be dark and fun. Some of my favorite stories involve dark comedy and gallows humor. Everybody is bad in them, so who do you root for? In this case, hopefully people will root for M.O.D.O.K. — but he’s no angel.
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