Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Revolutionary War

Andy Lanning beats the drums of war to bring back the Marvel UK heroes in a new crossover story!

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Writer Andy Lanning heads up a sprawling saga that not only brings together all of Marvel UK's greatest characters, but also celebrates 20 years since the British line of original Marvel comics stories first debuted.

Revolutionary War, an eight issue event, tells the tale of a struggle that may end these heroes' careers rather than prolong them. We checked in with Lanning to get the scoop on what the huge project means to him as a creator before it kicks off this week in REVOLUTIONARY WAR: ALPHA #1.

Revolutionary War: Alpha #1

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: ALPHA 1 (WITH DIGITAL CODE)
On Sale January 8
Marvel.com: Andy, beyond celebrating the anniversary, what would you say was your prime motivating factor in pitching Revolutionary War?

Andy Lanning: Well, as you said, the initial idea came when I realized it had been 20 years since the last Marvel UK title was on the shelves. That got me reminiscing about what was a very special time for a lot of UK and European-based creators and rekindled my fondness for the really cool Marvel UK characters who hadn't been seen for a very long time beyond a brief appearance in Paul Cornell's excellent [CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13] series. 

In a little over three years, Marvel UK put out a whole range of United Kingdom-based super hero titles that sold the sorts of numbers you don't see today--DEATH’S HEAD II #1 sold in excess of 300,000!--and gave a start to some of today's top comic creators, the likes of Liam Sharp, Bryan Hitch, Salvador Larocca, Carlos Pacheco, Pascal Ferry, Gary Frank, Dougie Braithwaite, Gary Erskine and many more.

I thought it'd be fun to reintroduce some of the cool characters we worked on back in the day to today's audience and there [are] still a lot of people out there with fond memories of them, too, so maybe we could find an audience for them again. 

Marvel.com: What are some of your fondest memories of the Marvel UK days? Which were your favorites of the characters?

Andy Lanning: My favorite time at Marvel UK was working in the offices, where Paul Neary set up a sort of Bullpen/art studio which initially Liam Sharp, Bryan Hitch and I worked at. We were soon joined by a rotating cast of UK artists and pulled many all-nighters while we worked on the comics, sometimes coming up with a concept on a Friday that was ready to be drawn by the Monday to go to press two to three weeks later. It was pretty intense but we all learned a great deal and had a lot of fun.

Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 art by Richard Elson

I guess my favorite characters had to be the ones I started out on: The original Knights of Pendragon series and Death's Head II; I got to work with Gary Erskine and Liam Sharp and we all learned and grew as artists during that time inspired by each other's work and guided by Paul's experience.

Marvel.com: What's the biggest difference, in your opinion, between the UK characters and the American ones, looking past the geography, of course. What makes the UK heroes who they are as unique creations?

Andy Lanning: When Marvel UK got a chance to create its own titles in the early 1990’s, they had a very distinctive flavor to them, the idea being to create a weekly comic to rival 2000AD and create super heroes with a unique UK take on them--a blend of Marvel super heroes and 2000AD sci-fi "anti-heroes." Often they had a dark, cynical humor running through them and proved to be very popular on both sides of the pond. 

Marvel.com: In REVOLUTIONARY WAR, how did you design a threat that demands the coming together of all these characters?

Andy Lanning: We went back to existing continuity. The corner of the Marvel Universe set in the UK had its own version of a super villain organization, akin to HYDRA or A.I.M., called MYSTECH. It was a shadowy cabal run by immortal "techno-wizards" who had sold their souls to Mephisto centuries ago for immortality and mystical powers. In return they promised to supply the Dark Lord a steady supply of souls. Over the centuries the cabal became a company and infiltrated every aspect of UK society; from the government to big business. But they were always looking for ways to be released from their pact with Mephisto and hence had a hand in the creation of many of the Marvel UK heroes and became a recurring threat throughout the books. 

Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 art by Richard Elson

Because of the rather abrupt ending to Marvel UK's titles, we never got to see a climactic battle with MYSTECH and that became the starting point for our story; many years have passed in MUK continuity and there has been a final battle which rid the land of MYSTECH for good. Many of the Marvel UK heroes have either retired, vanished or been sequestered into MI: 13 to become government sanctioned agents. The story starts in present-day London when workmen dig up what appears to be a MYSTECH bio-weapons cache and it becomes active. This leads MI: 13 and S.H.I.E.L.D. to search out the missing heroes as they may be the only ones who hold clues as to what is happening.

Marvel.com: Your co-conspirator on the series is Alan Cowsill; what's it been like working with him again? What are his strengths for a project like this?

Andy Lanning: Alan started as an editor at Marvel UK during this time and worked as a writer on a few of the titles; since then he stayed with Marvel UK as it became Panini and has recently been writing for Dorling Kindersley books on the Marvel Encyclopedias as well as the popular Marvel figurine magazines. Alan's a great source of knowledge about the characters and continuity and we've had a blast reminiscing and re-reading the stories about the characters.

Marvel.com: What sort of interactions have you had with the other Revolutionary War titles and creators? How do they inform your storyline, if at all?

Revolutionary War: Alpha #1 art by Richard Elson

Andy Lanning: Alan and I met up with Kieron Gillen, Rob Williams, and Glenn Dakin in a pub in London to discuss the initial concept and how they might work their issues into the overall story arc. I wanted to work in the same way we did on the Annihilation books: where there was a meta-story but each writer of the individual tie-in stories was given freedom to tell their own tale within that framework whilst making sure their character performed whatever the bigger story needed. This worked out really well and Kieron, Rob and Glenn took the idea and ran with it so that their issues are great standalone stories but also link into the bigger plot.
Marvel.com: What's it like working with artist Rich Elson on your book? He seems to be new to these particular characters--is that correct?

Andy Lanning: Richard actually got some of his early work at Marvel UK and worked with Alan on SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ADVENTURES, a weekly Marvel UK comic, but I think this is the first time he's worked with these characters, even though he's very familiar with them from back in the day.

Richard's an awesome artist and I've wanted to work with him for a long time but never had the chance until now. His artwork and storytelling are fantastic. He's really giving the characters a new lease of life. My only regret is that I did not have time to work inking Richard's pencils, something we'd discussed and that I'd have loved to have the chance to do--maybe next time.

      Revolutionary War begins this week in REVOLUTIONARY WAR: ALPHA #1 by Andy Lanning, Alan Cowsill and Rich Elson

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