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Fly into the Future of Nova with Gerry Duggan

The next writer of Sam Alexander's adventures discusses his plans for the title, cosmic guest stars, differences from Deadpool a

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Nova #10 cover

By Ben Morse

For nearly a year now, Gerry Duggan has gotten down and dirty with DEADPOOL, but come November, he shoots for the stars as the new writer of NOVA, working alongside artist Paco Medina to chronicle the adventures of Sam Alexander.

Though the tenth installment of the current volume, Duggan’s debut issue will be called NOVA #100 to commemorate 100 total issues across every Nova series. Wells and Carlo Barberi will provide the lead story, with Duggan and Medina contributing a back-up plus variant covers from Sal Buscema, Phil Jimenez and J.G. Jones.

We spoke with Gerry about how he landed the gig, finding Sam’s voice, multitasking as a Marvel writer and much more, including his immediate plans for NOVA.

Marvel.com: My first question to you is how did this project come about? Obviously, you’re working on DEADPOOL over in editor Jordan White’s office, but this is over in the cosmic office. How did the pieces fall into place to get you on this book?

Nova by Stephen Platt

Gerry Duggan: I had talked to [NOVA editor Steve] Wacker a little bit in the past year. I saw him last year at New York and we got the chance to shake hands and he and I had Golden Apple in common. Many years ago, in both of our pasts, we were both the back issue guy at that shop in Los Angeles at different times. I really admire and enjoy the books in that office. I’d be picking them up whether I was at Marvel or not. He thought of me as someone who could come onto NOVA after Zeb Wells’ 5 issue story wrapped up. I was thrilled he did. I stopped what I was doing—don’t tell Jordan this—I put down the work I was doing on DEADPOOL and immediately started working on a document to show Wacker and Ellie [Pyle] and they really enjoyed it. They said it was great. They gave me pretty simple guidelines about what they were looking for. It was high adventure starring a young kid in the old Marvel style. I think people can expect to see a lot of big fun in outer space and we’re going to give him a lot of real world problems. I’ll be continuing some of those themes that [Jeph] Loeb and Zeb began.

Nova by Mark Bagley

Marvel.com: That leads into my next question. You said that you’ve been enjoying some of the books from Steve’s office. How closely have you been following NOVA since it launched?

Gerry Duggan: I’ve read everything. I really enjoy the book. That’s why I was thrilled to be asked to do it. I have a young son myself who is maybe more interested in science than we write Sam. It’s an interesting time for me. Los Angeles got one of the decommissioned space shuttles, Endeavor, out here. The week that the call came in from Wacker, I was actually down at the science center with my son looking at all this stuff. The opportunity came to me at a very interesting time where I had been talking about outer space with my son quite a bit. And it’s nice for me; I haven’t been able to show him anything yet, but I’m looking forward to reading NOVA with him. Obviously, he’s not reading any DEADPOOL. He won’t be reading any DEADPOOL for quite some time. I’ll get a kick out of that.

I should say that even though this is an all ages book, I think it will appeal to anyone regardless of your age. I’m not trying to write young. I’m just writing a young kid. He makes mistakes. If he were a Dungeons & Dragons character, his wisdom would be quite low. It’s not that he’s unintelligent; it’s just that 15 year old kids screw up. For me, that’s a lot of the fun. Some of the jams that we put him in, he’ll fix a small problem but make a larger one worse. That’s been fun to write.

Nova by Ed McGuinness

Marvel.com: You talked about the broad strokes you’re bringing to the book, high adventure, space action, but specifically first issue and first arc, what can people expect?

Gerry Duggan: First issue and first arc, you’re going to see some big adventure in space and then a little bit of a mystery. We won’t be rebooting the Nova Corps, but Sam will be learning about the Corps through old Nova helmets that he’ll be recovering. He’ll be learning about how the wearer was killed. It’s not quite a black box, but he’ll gleam new ways to use his powers and how to really get a head’s up on some threats. That’ll be a fun little “Indiana Jones” type adventure for him to check out. In that, we’re going to experience a lot of the corners of the cosmic Marvel Universe. I’m not sure if this all approved so I’ll put it like this: Look for some big and fun guest stars. If you like big and scary looking heroes that look like horses, you might be thrilled at one of the guest stars in the first arc.

I think one of the first times you see Sam, he’s in orbit with a ball bat whacking at space junk. He’s stationary and all the trash is moving at 17,000 miles an hour. Those are the sorts of things where I try to remember what kind of kid I was. I broke some windows. Sam will break some windows too, but when he breaks a window it’s usually of some sort of galactic importance.

Deadpool #16 cover by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: You’ve talked about writing DEADPOOL with Brian [Posehn] as a very specific kind of book and this is pretty diametrically different. As you’re continuing on and working on both simultaneously, how are you switching off and transitioning between the two books?

Gerry Duggan: It’s fun because sometimes the ideas do that for me, where I realize that if I make this idea a little crazier it could be a DEADPOOL idea. Or maybe this would be a fun thing if I toned down and sanded the edges to happen in NOVA. A lot of it, and this is going to be a boring answer, it’s sort of about time management. I’m trying to keep a rigid schedule and I’ve not done that ever. I don’t have a choice because DEADPOOL double-ships. I have a lot of help because Jordan and Brian are great, but when I’m sitting there writing DEADPOOL, I feel the clock a little bit more. I feel like it’s nice because I can stretch some other muscles and I can find that I go back to the other project a little more refreshed having taken a break.

A+X #13 cover by David Yardin

I’m also doing a six issue arc in A+X. That’s been fun too because it’s Captain America and Cyclops. It’s not a comedy but Shane Black was always one of my biggest influences and it’s only recently where he’s become sort of a household name. I think when Cap and Cyclops are together I want to catch some of those sparks that he’s always excellent at writing. It’s a little like “Midnight Run” too. These guys don’t want to be there, they don’t want to be together but they have this thing that they have to do and it’s gonna get done. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not an ongoing but I’ve got three Marvel projects that are consuming most of my time.

Marvel.com: And they’re all very different. It’s not like you’re writing three Deadpool books.

Gerry Duggan: I love that so much. If I could just give a shout-out to Cullen [Bunn], it’s nice for me to have Cullen’s Deadpool work [DEADPOOL KILLS DEADPOOL] on the stands because then there’s some Deadpool where I don’t know what’s coming. I can read it and enjoy it. [Laughs]

That’s just one of those things where it’s your job. I obviously enjoy the hell out of writing DEADPOOL. But the only time I’ve ever surprised is when someone else writes something, and particularly when I’m enjoying Cullen’s work.

Nova by Ed McGuinness

Marvel.com: You mentioned that you’re going to be going into outer space a lot. Is that going to be the default setting of the book or are you going to be jumping between cosmic and Earth bound stuff as they’ve been doing so far?

Gerry Duggan: The short answer is Sam gets into some trouble for missing school. In my life, there were always a couple of moments where a teacher said something to me and they weren’t trying to profoundly change my life, but they did. A teacher says something to Sam and it makes him realize how much of this planet he hasn’t seen. He’s flying off into the Sombrero galaxy but he’s never been to Tokyo. He’s going to have a map in his room with a bunch of pins, so he’s going to visiting all of this planet too. That’s sort of a device that I’m going to be using visually to land on immediately where he’s explored. I’m looking forward to that. In the first couple of issues, he’s going to Scotland and Tokyo for sure. That makes me laugh. If I was a 15 year old kid, those were two the places I would go.

Marvel.com: You were talking about trying to get into the mindset of a 15 year old. You have a son, who’s not 15, but has that youthful energy. You also have issues from Jeph and Zeb to work from. How do you find Sam’s voice between all those factors?

Nova by Adi Granov

Gerry Duggan: Those guys did such a good job setting the table for me that when I come in there I have a pretty good idea of what he will do. The fun part for me is finding a situation where he can screw up but still save the day. I did that a little bit when I was a kid. I remember being grounded for things. The fun part is putting Sam in those situations where he can be a hero and still really mess things up. I think they’ve done a good job of that, one example would be the skate park. Look for Sam, when my run starts, to do the right thing for some people without knowing that they’re some pretty bad people. He does the right thing but without that wisdom that I was talking about, it leads to some dirty big mistakes.

Marvel.com: Who do you have in terms of guest stars or villains coming up that you can talk about?

Gerry Duggan: There are definitely going to be some new characters. I went through the list of old space aliens and there are guys, who maybe aren’t that old, but I’d love to get Terrax in there. I’d like to get Starfox in there. I don’t think anyone is going to ask to have Quasar in the book for now, but I’d love to have Sam bump into him. The people that Sam helps in the early issues that turn out to not be great end up going on sort of a rampage as they end up a little more powerful after Sam’s assistance. Basically there’s a posse that’s chasing these pirates and slavers through space. Sam joins up and then sort of fesses up that a lot of this could have been avoided had he done a little bit more due diligence. That’s fun. That’s a fun situation to put a kid in. It’s not fun if you’re the kid, but even the adults in the situations will yell and hem and haw, but at the end of the day I think they look back on and enjoy.

Nova by Ed McGuinness

Marvel.com: You’re going to be working with artist Paco Medina, he’s staying on the book after Zeb leaves.

Gerry Duggan: I’m so excited.

Marvel.com: That was the question, how do you feel about getting to work with Paco. He’s great.

Gerry Duggan: He’s wonderful. I was really nervous. Wacker and Elie asked me and I leapt at the chance to do some work for them in a short amount of time. And then I was sitting back and waiting because I didn’t want to ask who was drawing it. I didn’t want to seem like an ingrate and then Wacker finally said, “Oh, we’ll have to get these over to Paco,” and my face hurt from smiling. He’s such a talented guy and I’m thrilled to be working with him. I just can’t wait.

Marvel.com: He gets better with every issue and every project. You guys will definitely make a great team. That was my final question, is there anything you want to end the interview on? What should people look forward to?

Gerry Duggan: I just want to thank the people that have bought the comics that I have written for Marvel. I’ve only been there just over a year and in that time Marvel has paired [me] with Geof Darrow, Tony Moore, Mike Hawthorne, Val Staples, Scott Koblish, Declan [Shalvey], Jordie [Bellaire]. The list goes on and on. And now to be able to work in the cosmic office and working with Paco, I feel very, very fortunate.

Nova by Ed McGuinness

I hope that, regarding NOVA specifically, if you like new adventures in the old Marvel style where a kid is going to be having to juggle real life problems with huge cosmic consequences, that this is the book for you. I’m trying to make it as fun as I hope DEADPOOL is, obviously with a much different tone. But fun is fun. I really do try to put my heart into everything that has my name on it and so if you’re one of the folks that are enjoying DEADPOOL every month, there’s no reason to think that you wouldn’t also enjoy NOVA.

Gerry Duggan joins NOVA with issue #10 this November!

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