Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Rick Remender

The Write Stuff writer talks about creating a Deadly Dozen in PUNISHER and making magic in the upcoming DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL!

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By Kevin Mahadeo

In his latest PUNISHER arc, writer Rick Remender resurrected a number of relatively obscure, dead D-List villains from the Marvel Universe who previously served as old-school comic book fodder, and then quickly turned them into some of most dangerous threats Frank Castle has ever faced. The writer plans on taking similar steps when he begins penning the new ongoing series DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL this October by exploring the depths of Marvel's supernatural realm and building up a number magical creatures and elements.

Between weaving his creative magic on both titles, Remender took some time to talk about creating a rogue's gallery for Punisher, his excitement over the upcoming launch of Jason Aaron's PUNISHERMAX and setting his career goals to putting the "super" back in Marvel's supernatural.

PUNISHER #9 cover by Mike McKone
Marvel.com: Why'd you decide to bring back a lot of these lesser-known characters and make them the villains of the current arc in PUNISHER?

Rick Remender: They are the kind of characters I tend to gravitate toward because though lesser-known, they have so much potential. The Human Fly to me is an A-List villain. He pukes up acid, his wings are razor sharp, he's super fast, and although he has always been schizophrenic and crazy, thanks to the black magic that brought him back to life, he's out of his mind and turning cannibalistic. Death Adder and Basilisk, two of the most vicious and badass characters out there in my opinion, these guys aren't changed at all because they've always been psychopathic and kind of nasty. So, it's interesting to get to take these characters, dust them off, find what's cool about them and really personify it using the Hood's magic. You can tell I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Marvel.com: Were these all characters you grew up reading as a kid and thought were cool?

Rick Remender: Yeah, but I did my research. A lot of them are MARVEL TEAM-UP villains and late 70's-early 80's characters. Megatak, who was created during the video game craze of 1983, was ridiculous, but then I started reading about him and got into it. He's basically a living computer program. He jumps into monitors and pops out of another one. The Internet is basically just a conduit for him to travel through. And teamed up with Microchip, those two alone would be a force to be reckoned with. I

PUNISHER ANNUAL #1 cover by Jason Pearson

think by the end of this arc, the members of this crew that survive will be pertinent and important villains from here on out.

Marvel.com: Do you have any particular favorites amongst this crew of villains?

Rick Remender: The Hijacker is great. He's a Jack Kirby character from TALES TO ASTONISH. He's this old, crazy guy who basically lives in this containment suit and has a backpack that shoots not just fear gas, not just suffocation gas, not just blood-pop-out-of-eyes gas-he's got dozens of different kinds of canisters of different kinds of gas. And he's got an impenetrable tank. How is that guy D-List? That guy is A-List awesome. Letha and Lascivious, the women who basically lead the group and are potentially the biggest threats given the Hood's augmentation of their powers, we deal with them quite a bit. And then they get their own annual. It's basically Letha and Lascivious and Spider-Man and Punisher in the PUNISHER ANNUAL #1. We're hoping in these first four arcs to establish a new mythology for Frank that goes beyond just Jigsaw. By the end of this, you should view the Hood and the Deadly Dozen as recognizable as Frank's rogue's gallery.

Marvel.com: It was announced last week that Jason Aaron will be re-launching PUNISHERMAX. Beyond both being Write Stuff writers, I understand the two of you are friends. Have you guys been discussing the awesomeness of Frank Castle?

DARK: THE LIST-PUNISHER #1 cover by John Romita Jr.
Rick Remender: Yeah. When people read what he's got coming up...it's just a good time if you dig the character. I think people have responded really fairly to this new version of Frank [in PUNISHER], and I think that's because he leans pretty heavily into it. He finds this armory of Marvel relics to use against mainstream Marvel villains. In the MAX version, I know Jason's plans and they take recognizable things and lean the other direction. There [are] no magic crystals and people in capes that control fire. Jason is going to give me a run for my money. I'm enjoying having a positive reaction to the book, but knowing what Jason's doing, I'm pretty intimidated.

Marvel.com: But doesn't a sense of friendly competition cause you both to continuously amp up the level of your own book?

Rick Remender: It does. I think both books are going to be really, really strong. When people see what [artist] Tony Moore and I have coming up in the third arc, it's so different from anything we've seen in PUNISHER before and it's so much fun and so much of the stuff that I love about comic books. But at the same time it leans in the exact opposite direction of what Jason is doing in the MAX book. So, because the two will be so separated, there is a healthy spirit of competition between us when it comes to it.

Marvel.com: Switching it up a little, you've got the new DOCTOR VOODOO series coming up in October. What excites you most about doing that series?

DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGERS OF THE SUPERNATURAL #1 cover by Marko Djurdjevic
Rick Remender: I feel that there's never been a central book for the supernatural stuff in the Marvel Universe. I think when you ask people what Doctor Strange's powers are, they say magic. Well, what is magic? What are spells? He doesn't have a clear list of limits. With a new Sorcerer Supreme we not only have an opportunity to establish what magic can and can't do, but we have a central book. Jericho is the avenger of the supernatural. Jericho is basically that eager guy on the job who's trying to in his first week fix everything that his predecessor has left undone. There's zombies breaking through the dimensional barrier and creeping into our world. Vampires are taking over London. A child of Limbo is living in San Francisco. The Son of Satan in living five doors down from him in New Orleans. There [are] all of these amazing, crazy things. And then there [are] all these relics. You've got Black Knight's sword. You've got the Blood Stones. You've got all of these things and nobody's keeping tabs on them. It seems to Jericho that the Sorcerer Supreme's responsibility is not only to categorize and watch these things, but to put them in order. I'm doing a lot of supernatural and monster stuff. It's what I love and it's stuff that Marvel has just a giant barn full of. I plan on focusing my career on making these things awesome. That to me can be more fun than any challenge given to a writer.

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