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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

DnA pushes the New Mutants into Regenesis and change the game in Villains for Hire

By Chris Arrant

Between taking the New Mutants to Hel and imagining a threat so big only the bad guys can put a stop to it, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning almost seem like evil masterminds themselves. In the ongoing NEW MUTANTS series and upcoming VILLAINS FOR HIRE limited series, the duo known as DnA aim to explain how it got this dire and what the good guys—and a few bad guys—can do to fix it.

In NEW MUTANTS, the group found itself in the Asgardian realm of Hel and the trenches of Fear Itself thanks to teammate Dani Moonstar’s ties to Thor’s mythology; upon their return to Earth, they’re dropped smack in the middle of Regenesis, forced to take sides in the X-Men’s schism. With the forthcoming VILLAINS FOR HIRE, Misty Knight must reluctantly recruit from her rogue’s gallery if she wants to put a stop to an even more threatening antagonist.

Marvel.com spoke with the pair about the young mutants stuck in Hela’s nightmarish realm, how X-Man’s membership shifts the dynamic inside the New Mutants, and also why ex-cop Misty Knight would resort to enlisting known felons to do good.

NEW MUTANTS #32 cover by David Lafuente

Marvel.com: Over the past few months you two took the New Mutants square into the depths of the Asgardian realm of Hel. What will it take to get them all out alive?

Dan Abnett: The New Mutants have gone to the deepest and darkest part of a very deep and dark realm. They’re facing primordial monsters that can kill death. It doesn’t get much more dangerous than this, and the climax of the story is a ‘last stand.’ Who said any of them will get out alive? It is, by the way, great to work on a crossover story where your story is properly serious rather than being an option ‘meanwhile during the big event’ story. Dani’s connection to the Asgardians means that Fear Itself has a direct and primary effect on this team.

Marvel.com: In November, the New Mutants return to Earth and get caught up in the fracturing of the X-Men family after X-MEN: SCHISM going into Regenesis. The teaser posters show the team siding with Cyclops, but how do they get to that point?

Andy Lanning: Well, [NEW MUTANTS #33] explains the decisions they make, and to spoil the cover’s spoiler, not all is as it seems. The New Mutants are pretty headstrong, willful people, amongst the most headstrong of the X-Men. Cyclops has given them a job, a role, and they intend to do it; beyond that, all bets are off.

Marvel.com: Meanwhile you have the team still operating on less than full strength with Cannonball, Karma and Magik on the bench. How’s that working, or not working, for them?

Dan Abnett: No one’s on the bench forever, and we have drafted in X-Man, so it balances. I think fans of the team will enjoy where the character mix—and the consequences of ‘inactive’ characters—takes us. 

Marvel.com: The group is still acclimating to Nate Grey being part of the picture. How does he fit within with the New Mutants?

The New Mutants by David Lopez

Andy Lanning: His drastic power loss is actually defining him much more sharply, and he’s a strong, generally level-headed addition with some firm attitudes and a wealth of unusual experience.  I hope we’re doing some interesting things with him.

Marvel.com: Another new addition to the team comes this November when artist David Lopez joins the book. What do you think so far of his work?

Dan Abnett: Oh my god, his work is awesome. Just amazing; and especially appropriate for the stories we have coming up. His character work and scene setting is great, but then so is his storytelling. We are very very happy with what he’s bringing right now.

Marvel.com: Are the New Mutants still operating under Cyclops’ mandate to ferret out loose ends of the X-Men’s past? If so, what are they going after next?

Andy Lanning: Yes, they are, but blink and you’ll miss it.

Marvel.com: One thing we definitely won’t miss is the upcoming limited series with an evil streak a mile wide called VILLAINS FOR HIRE. How’d you get wrapped up with such a bad crowd, you two?

VILLAINS FOR HIRE #0.1 preview art by Renato Arlem

Dan Abnett: We’ve loved working on HEROES FOR HIRE, and reinventing that title to cover the concept that it’s a handler—or handlers—using heroes for specific missions depending on their skill sets. Now, HEROES FOR HIRE readers will know that this idea was originally dreamed up by a baddie, even though Misty was using it for good. Now the bad guys want their ideas back! The idea of switching the ‘polarity’ of the book was something we’d had in mind for a while, and were planning as a major arc. When we came to it, though, we thought it was such a monumental and shocking story, it had to have its own series.

Marvel.com: Misty’s worked for awhile drafting heroes in for missions, so how does she come to bringing in bad guys to stop bad guys?

Andy Lanning: The simple answer is that sometimes you’re forced to get your hands dirty and take extreme measures to get the right result. But there’s more to it than that. Though some of the villains in this series appear to be semi-comical ‘bad guys of the week,’ they are all hugely dangerous. You don’t mess with them. In the Marvel Universe, just because someone’s got a funny name and cute power doesn’t mean he isn’t deadly.  We don’t want to give the story away, but the real reasons behind this will make perfect sense and they will shock the reader. Sometimes going too far means too far.

VILLAINS FOR HIRE #0.1 preview art by Renato Arlem

Marvel.com: Which villains make up Misty’s new team, and how can she convince them to do some good for once?

Dan Abnett: Misty’s rolodex has found her Tiger Shark, Crossfire, Speed Demon, Nightshade, Bombshell, Stilt-Man and several more. She’s pretending to be a shadowy criminal handler hiring them for jobs, but nothing is what it seems—and there’s another criminal gang in the field too.

Marvel.com: Artist Renato Arlem rounds out the cast you have for VILLAINS FOR HIRE. What challenges has Renato faced with drawing such an evil-minded team, and what’s he doing to surmount it?

Andy Lanning: Renato’s doing great work. He’s got a superb, realistic style that makes this a very gritty, real-world, street-level book, perfect for that sense of colorful and larger than life professional criminals operating in a real New York setting. This book looks so good!

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