Sometimes dreams come true.
Writer and artist Monty Nero has conquered many creative fields, including game design and his own award-winning indie comics, but the chance to tumble a few building blocks with the X-Men in the Marvel Universe means the world to him. AMAZING X-MEN ANNUAL #1, out June 4, teams Nero with artist Salvador Larroca for a look at what makes the X-Men’s Storm tick—and what ticks her off.
We bagged a few answers to our questions with the writer, about how he looks at the dream job and what he’s bringing to it.
Marvel.com: Monty, what first interested you about comics to get into the field? What did you want to most accomplish in it?
Monty Nero: Just the magic of comics, the simplicity of the line work and text conveying such complex emotions and ideas. A few quick lines on a piece of paper and bam! It’s in someone else’s head. It’s intoxicating. It’s irresistible! I just wanted to make my own stories! There’s no logic to it. I was seduced by the medium. I had no plan other than make comics and starve.
Marvel.com: What are some of your fondest memories as an early Marvel fan? What series did you like best and why?
Monty Nero: As a kid it was Spider-Man. They were reprinting the original 1960’s stuff, and there were also the new issues, side by side on the racks. They were both great, but the 60’s stuff was the best. I remember being blown away by Kyle Baker’s inks, and John Romita’s incredible cityscapes. I loved Peter’s powers, sticking to walls, swinging on a web. Not overly muscled, just lithe and super agile. And funny, good natured, kind—I like that in a hero. I could relate. I used to imagine myself leaping from streetlight to streetlight, building to building, catching thieves and impressing girls. But the town I was in was small, so it would’ve been a little different. No skyscrapers. Try swinging off a two-story rooftop and you just graze your knees along the tarmac.
Marvel.com: What does it mean to you to be able to work on a Marvel project?
Monty Nero: Awesome. Totally unexpected and a dream come true. If you’d told me when I was a kid copying Spider-Man pictures with felt pens, I’d have passed out. I damn near fell off my chair the first time someone from Marvel got in touch with me.
Marvel.com: How did you get involved with AMAZING X-MEN ANNUAL #1?
Monty Nero: [Editor] Nick Lowe got in touch after reading a comic I wrote called Death Sentence, and then I pitched a couple of ideas on the phone, and he chose one.
Marvel.com: Why Storm as the focus of the story? What is it about her that makes her a compelling character?
Monty Nero: She’s been so popular for so long because her powers are just great. She’s timeless. I just felt I had a good angle on her personality, her history and her way of thinking, that would be really exciting. As it was, in 20 pages, you can only do so much and tell a satisfying story too. So I’d love to write some more Storm and bring it all to the fore. I barely scratched the surface of her potential.
Marvel.com: What's the genesis of your story? What did you set out to do with it?
Monty Nero: I read about some cool heavy metal fans in Africa that inspired the villain, and got away from the standard clichés you sometimes see. And then I got obsessed with how Storm’s powers would actually develop, in her mind and in her body, why she’s so hard to read and all the interesting stuff you can do with different weather patterns and how it would feel to control that; how it would affect her emotions.
Marvel.com: Which other X-Men do we see in the story?
Monty Nero: Mainly Wolverine, Beast, Nightcrawler, and Firestar as it turned out. You see the whole team at some point though. Wolverine and Nightcrawler I wanted because this goes back into Storm’s past and they were with her at the start. You need that resonance, that understanding. Beast is important for storytelling purposes, he’s got a more refined approach and he’s very well connected; a formidable warrior too. And Firestar because she’s fresh to this team, and I wanted her perspective on Storm in contrast to the others. A good story’s all about conflict, and there’s plenty of that.
Marvel.com: What's it like working with Salvador? What about his work inspires you the most?
Monty Nero: The dude’s a Marvel legend. He really knows his onions from an art perspective. I used to study his art to educate myself and I was very lucky to work with him on my first story. I can’t thank him enough for drawing it.
Marvel.com: Overall, what has the experience been like working in the X-Men Universe?
Monty Nero: Literally, like a dream. I still wander around pinching myself. And when I was looking at the final art and tweaking the lettering I was just bubbling with happiness. Here were Wolverine and Storm doing things that I asked them to do, and looking damn cool in the process. I am not worthy, basically.
Read AMAZING X-MEN ANNUAL #1 by Monty Nero and Salvador Larroca on June 4!