comics

Black Panther's Wait was Worth It by Ryan Hill

 
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It’s taken entirely too long for something like Black Panther, a superhero movie starring an African American, to see the light of day. In the period leading to that film’s release, Marvel has given us movies about a guy who communicates with ants (Ant-Man), two movies featuring a talking raccoon (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2), Doctor Strange and three Thor films. Granted, those are all enjoyable – save Thor: The Dark World – but it shouldn’t have taken so long for Black Panther to become a reality.

The saving grace for the delay is that Marvel, and especially writer/director Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole, did Black Panther right. It wasn’t rushed, like, oh, Justice League. The property was handled with care and precision, resulting in a film steeped in African culture, with fantastic, three-dimensional characters, gorgeous costumes and a wonderful theme. Even the villain, typically Marvel’s weak spot, has layers. It’s a film everyone should get behind.

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Taking place soon after the events in Captain America: Civil War (probably on the same point on the Marvel timeline with Spider-Man: Homecoming), Black Panther finds the newly crowned King of Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), mourning the death of his father and the responsibility of becoming a new king in a changing world. Wakanda, home to the metal that created Captain America’s shield, is technologically far ahead of the rest of the world, but they’ve remained largely hidden, afraid of influence and corruption from outsiders. That fear leads one outsider, the twisted Erik Killmonger (Coogler mainstay Michael B. Jordan), to try and use Wakanda’s technology to make it a superpower.

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In a short period, Ryan Coogler has become one of the best directors out there. At 31, he’s already directed the devastating Fruitvale Station, his Rocky update Creed was a crowd-pleaser, even netting Sylvester Stallone an Oscar nomination, and with Black Panther he’s proven adept at handling blockbuster entertainment without letting special effects swallow up the important things, like character and story. Arguably the film’s only real weak spot, the plot hews a little too close to the average Marvel fare, but the focus on the characters more makes up for it. Black Panther is more than a big budget action spectacle. It’s a personal film that deals with real emotions and themes, which makes Black Panther resonate more than any other Marvel entry.

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Marvel’s Phase Three of its cinematic universe was always going to be interesting. Having already made three Iron Man movies, three Captain Americas and three Thors, the studio has not only exhausted some of their biggest properties, but their level of quality is established such that movies like Black Panther can be made. If Panther is any indication, the Marvel films may be moving in a direction more exciting and diverse than ever before.

Drew Hayes talks villains, FORGING HEPHAESTUS in the Authordome by Ryan Hill

 

Drew Hayes is pretty awesome. His novels are fun as hell, he's wearing a beer can helmet in his author photo, and he's a really nice guy.

Does that sound like a man crush? Nah...

Does it, though?

Just kidding. Drew is a great guy/author/friend, though.

Drew does have a new novel out, Forging Hephaestus, which is all about villains. It's also rated 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon after 68 reviews, which is stupid impressive. For contrast, my novel, The Book of Bart, is rated 4 out of 5 after 77 reviews.

* = Yes, this is a shameless plug

 

That said, Drew has strapped on the armor, chosen his weapon of choice (a bachelorette party straw), and is ready to step into the Authordome for a record FOURTH TIME. 

Will he survive? Absolutely. This is all virtual/not in the real world.

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

Welcome back to the Authordome, Drew! This is your fourth time entering the infamous arena. Do you think this time will be more Fury Road or Batman & Robin?

I'd say more Kung Fury than anything else.

You have plenty of experience writing superheroes with your Super Powered series, but Forging Hephaestus is a bit of a new direction for you, focusing on the villains instead of heroes. What made you want to look at the "darker" side of superheroes?

I’d say it was less about wanting out and out darkness, though the nature of the tale does lead to a more violent tone than some of my other works, than it was just wanting to try something really different. Villains get to have more fun, take the pragmatic path over the moral one, and generally get away with things no superhero ever could, which made the idea of writing about them really interesting. Plus, there was no way I’d get away with a superhero named Johnny Three Dicks, that’s solely villain territory.

Ryan note: Johnny Three Dicks is one of the best superhero names EVER

First thing that comes to mind. Favorite superhero movie/TV show. GO!

For movies, it’s either Deadpool or Batman Begins, both were great films overall. TV shows… if we’re being really loose with the term “superhero” then I’d go with the short-lived show Limitless, which was way more charming and fun than it had any right to be. If we’re sticking with classic superhero properties though, then I’d say Justice League Unlimited.

Villains always have the most fun, but they can be difficult main characters because you need something to anchor the story. How did you approach that in Hephaestus? Just make the main character boring? How do you go about writing a story about a villain with other villains there?

I think the book, and the series as a whole, are anchored on the basic idea of survival. That’s why the villains even have a code (the series is titled Villains’ Code after all) and why they enforce it. Because none of them want to die or be sent to jail, they have to do their villainy with intelligence and care, hence why they’re able to function around other villains and not launch stupid schemes every week. Those villains do exist in the world, mind you, and they are another source of potential antagonists for the main character villains. Lots of potential enemies!

Who is your favorite villain? If you say the Joker, you must use 150 words or more to explain why. I'll also laugh and point at your answer as I'm posting it on my site.

Right rogue’s gallery, wrong villain. I think Mr. Freeze (the version from the '90s Batman Animated Series) is one of the best villains ever written for one simple fact: he isn’t even really a villain. Victor Fries is a brilliant scientist trying to save his wife, only to be betrayed and mutated by the head of the company he worked for. Rather than go on a straight-up murder spree, he focuses on robbing people to get enough money to continue research on curing his wife. And what stops him? A billionaire with ultra-tech protecting his wealthy corporate buddies.

Dumb question of the interview: Is Forging Hephaestus set in the same world as Super Powereds?

No, it is not. This story was about playing with the worlds and tropes of classic comic books, which are more reality-removed than the Super Powereds world. Rather than messing with my existing property to fit a new mold, it made more sense to build this world from the ground up and make it exactly the way it needed to be.

What's next for you? Another entry in your awesome Fred the Vampire Accountant series?

If all goes as expected, that should indeed be next on the docket. Fred No. 4 is written and in REUTS hands, so ideally it should be out in summer as usual.

Last but not least, sell us Forging Hephaestus in haiku format.

A guild of villains
Capes, mechs, mutants, and lies
What more do you need?

Thanks again to Drew for being a good sport in the Authordome. You can read more about him and his works at his site, which is chock full o' goodness.