Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Jonathan Maberry

The award-winning novelist rings out the final shots of DOOMWAR and prepares the Punisher for war with the Marvel Universe!



By Kevin Mahadeo

After pitting the Marvel Universe against one of its greatest villains in DOOMWAR, writer Jonathan Maberry has already line up a new fight against its most kill-happy, gun-totting vigilante with the upcoming limited series MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER.

For the past few months, former Black Panther T'Challa and current heir to the role Shuri have joined with the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and even Deadpool to stop the villainous Doctor Doom after he raided the entirety of Wakanda's vibranium reserve. With the valuable and durable metal, Doom hoped to combine magic and technology to advance his power far beyond that of this world-and with the end of June's issue #5, he just may have achieved that goal. With one issue to go, T'Challa now stands at a dangerous crossroads as his revenge-driven bloodlust against the not-so-good Doctor just might push him over the edge.

Along with wrapping up DOOMWAR, Maberry also launches the brand-new limited series MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER. The title takes place in an alternate post-apocalyptic setting that sees Frank Castle as the lone survivor in a world where a virus has turned humanity into cannibalistic predators. But for The Punisher, that just means more justice to dish out.

Both the final issue of DOOMWAR and the first issue of VS hit stores August 4; Maberry spoke with us about ending DOOMWAR, the difference between Marvel Zombies and cannibal predators and how Deadpool relates to Will Ferrell.


DOOMWAR #6 cover by John Romita Jr.
Marvel.com: What's it been like working on this huge series for the past couple of months and orchestrating this huge battle between major players of the Marvel Universe and Doctor Doom?

Jonathan Maberry: It's been a tremendous amount of fun. Marvel gave me a free hand to play with the story and fill it with the kind of tension and the kind of intricacy that I wanted and I really appreciate their trust in that. These are characters that I read when I was a kid, so getting a chance to write scenes with Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four, it really appeals to my inner fan boy as well.

Marvel.com: There have been a lot of great moments in the series. Do you have a favorite or even a particular battlefront that you enjoyed writing?

Jonathan Maberry: Actually, my favorite scenes to write are Doom and The Broker. I love the character of Doctor Doom, always have. And it's fun going back to the Doom that I remember from the Lee, Kirby days, when he was devious and not tending to rant as much. So, that was the most fun, but also exploring the different types of relationships during the crisis. There are some fights in which I would have written T'Challa and Reed more actively involved in combat. In this particular case, I find it very entertaining to write them as two generals behind the scenes trying to figure out a way to stop this massive threat. You have one that's the voice of reason and balance and you have one that's possibly going off the rails who believes the solution is radical. So, it was really fun to write those scenes. But really, there isn't any part of the book that I wasn't jazzed about when I sat down to write. I love writing "in the heat of battle" and getting The Thing out there. And I love writing Shuri, the new Black Panther.

Marvel.com: You mentioned something and I'm glad you did because I wanted to bring it up: T'Challa seems to be getting a little emotional about this battle and it seems to be clouding his judgment when it comes to Doctor Doom.

Jonathan Maberry: That's the thing about characters in fiction. There's a tendency to not want to mess with the character because this is the way the character's always been. So if you have a character that has always been stoic and always been strong, there's a tendency to want to play it safe and just show him as stoic and strong. I find that incredibly boring. I'm a novelist and we like to deconstruct our characters and find their emotional reality because otherwise they're not real to the readers. That

DOOMWAR #1 cover by John Romita Jr.
said, even though T'Challa has been one of my favorite characters since 1966, I don't like it when a character is one-note. No one is always strong, no one is always right and no one is always confident. Even the most skillful warrior or brilliant tactician has a moment of doubt. So, I wanted to see what happens when the right buttons are pushed and their control of world is taken away from them. I did that with T'Challa and now the question is whether we'll be able to rebuild that character in the final issue in a way that's satisfying to the reader and logical to the story.

Marvel.com: Another character that you took an interesting and cool approach to writing, in my opinion, is Deadpool. He's a favorite of mine, and I'm really enjoying how you're writing him a goofy and insane, but kept him grounded in a bit of reality.

Jonathan Maberry: I'm a fan of the character, too. The thing I like about him is that he's crazy, but he's not as crazy as he likes everyone to think he is. So, a lot of it is a tactic to keep people off balance while he's off figuring out something pretty complex. Also, as a fan of humor, I always like the "less is more" approach. Take the comedian Will Ferrell. I love Will Ferrell when the director keeps him from going over the top in every single line and every single scene. With Deadpool, I wanted his humor to be grounded in reality [as you mentioned], but also the joke is funnier when there are fewer jokes. I also have him in another project I'm doing. He's a fun character to write and the people who don't read Deadpool should give him a shot.

Marvel.com: What can we expect in the final issue of DOOMWAR besides a massive battle with a super-powered Doctor Doom?

Jonathan Maberry: It's not going to end the way people expect. That's the one thing I can guarantee. Some people are going to love it and some people are going to hate me, but they will be talking about it. It's going to impact the Marvel Universe. It will influence all the Black Panther stories, but also a lot of other stories will be impacted by this. We did something with this story that I think needed to be done. You can't always have status quo and have it be interesting. That's why we shake up characters' lives every once and a while. Sometimes you kill a character,

you change a costume, you break up a line up, and all of it adds freshness. People can come in and say that they don't like it or they do like it, but you get them talking about it and by the discussions, readers can express what they don't like about it or do. From a creative point of view, you don't want to just tell the same story over and over again. You want the characters to have real potential for growth. When I proposed the ending to DOOMWAR, the guys at Marvel were shocked at first, but totally in agreement that it would allow us to tell much more interesting stories about a character in the Marvel Universe that deserves much more attention.

Marvel.com: Before we close out, I wanted to briefly hit on MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER. This is not Marvel Zombies. This is a different thing all together. Can you elaborate?

Jonathan Maberry: Yeah. I love the Marvel Zombies stories. I was on the team for MARVEL ZOMBIES RETURN so I dig those stories. But there is only the barest of similarities in that the disease transforms everyone into an aggressive creature. That is the point at which the similarities end. In this case, we call them cannibal predators and they form tribal states and are not out there conquering the universe. They don't have cosmic power. They have whatever powers they had originally, but sometimes they don't understand how to use them because they're intelligence has dropped to that of a caveman. I imagine there's a Geico commercial in that waiting to happen. The story is dark. It has humor in it, but it's a dark story. It's a very introspective story. It's told from the Punisher's point of view as he's describing what has happened to his world. I hesitate to use the word existentialist, but it's an existentialist comic. It's the best thing I've written for Marvel by far and I take pride in this as one of the best pieces of writing I've done for any format or venue.


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this is going to be a must read for me the cuz i think this punisher comic has a mad max feel to it but with superhero lol can't wait