Preview art by
By Tim Stevens
Come September 24, comic fans will not be able to escape writer Duane Swierczynski, as the CABLE scribe releases the one-two punch of WOLVERINE: ROAR and IMMORTAL IRON FIST: ORSON RANDALL AND THE DEATH QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA.
For Swierczynski, both projects represent the happy culmination of two goals. The first, which reaches its apex with ROAR, has been something the scribe has been molding since his adolescence.
"The central idea in ROAR goes back to a story I was playing around with in high school," shares Swierczynski. "Later, in college, I tried turning it into a horror novel with the pretentious title 'Sound at the Edge.' I know, right? But it sputtered out after nine or 10 pages. I kept it in the back of my mind until [Marvel Executive Editor] Axel Alonso offered me the chance to write a Wolverine story. Both of us knew early on that ROAR was the way to go."
In truth, though, the story has been on Swierczynski's mind even earlier than high school. He recalls, "I grew up on Saturday afternoon viewings of Channel 48's Creature Double Feature. I was babysat by human beings with two freaking heads!"
Preview art by
Armed with that upbringing, he crafted ROAR as a visceral horror story that left him saying "thank God Wolverine can regenerate body parts."
No matter how twisted his vision may have been, the storyteller still found himself impressed and shocked by artist Mike Deodato's work: "Mike put the feeble images in my own head to shame. He managed to pour so much sweat, blood, pain and mood into every panel it seriously gave me the willies. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out."
The second goal has been on Swierczynski's agenda a far shorter time, but it still thrilled him to achieve it. When he first received the job as regular writer of IMMORTAL IRON FIST, the writer immediately requested permission to chronicle the lives of past Iron Fists as predecessors Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction had before him. In particular, Swierczynski could not wait to get his hands on Orson Randall; thus, DEATH QUEEN was born.
"I loved every second of writing DEATH QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA," says Swierczynski. "It started with a simple idea 'hey, let's send Orson Randall to Hollywood' but took on a life of its own the more I kicked it around with IRON FIST editors Warren Simons and Alejandro Arbona. They kept egging me on, and the story became increasingly insane. I mean, pistachio nuts! How the hell did that
end up in there?"
Preview art by
For readers used to the Saturday Serial vibe of previous Randall-centric tales, this one-shot should prove different. After spending the summer in Hollywood, Swierczynski could not help but tap into the noir trappings the city calls to mind.
"Truth is, I'm a history geek," he confesses. "If I'm going somewhere, I'll want to read as much as I can about its past, look at a ton of vintage photos, and then go looking to see what's still standing."
Merging that love of history with hardboiled action like that found in Otto Penzler's "The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps" helped Swierczynski hit upon a formula that just felt right for Danny Rand's predecessor.
"Orson's a man of his time. Saturday serials were big, but so were hardboiled pulp mags like 'Black Mask.' This is just Orson getting his Hammett, Horace McCoy and Paul Cain on."
Fans will have the option to get their Hammett or their Creature Double Feature on this September 24 with WOLVERINE: ROAR and IMMORTAL IRON FIST: ORSON RANDALL AND THE DEATH QUEEN OF CALIFORNIA. Of course, to be on the safe side, they'll probably want to grab both off the shelves.