With its second series, due in stores next month, BOOM! Studios' Wild's End from Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard takes its War of the Worlds-meets-The Wind in the Willows premise and throws in a few new flavors all its own, building a complex and paranoid narrative evokative of thriller and paranoia-infused films more than any book.
Following the invasion of the first book, we meet characters old and new in a surprising and disturbing status quo -- one that sets up a prison break-style storyline set amongst heightened security fears, questions about characters' loyalties and more.
Writer Dan Abnett joined ComicBook.com to discuss the series.
You can check out the solicitation text for #1, on sale September 23, along with some exclusive preview pages, at the bottom of the page. You can buy the first volume digitally here.
This story picks up and just runs with the ball. Do you think that, particularly when your'e doing a creator-owned work at a smaller publisher, eventually you're preaching to the converted? Or is it just a matter of filling in the pertinent details as you go instead of setting the table?
Dan Abnett: I think — and this is probably old school — but I think that EVERY issue of every comic should be accessible for new readers. I think it’s sad that so many comics expect you to know what’s going on these days, and make no effort to catch you up. It’s probably due to the fact that everything ends up collected as trades and therefore issues are written to that end: I am a champion of the primacy of the individual monthly (or weekly) issue as a thing in its own right, a self-contained read that is satisfying (and the later collected edition being a wonderful bonus). So, we do pick up and run, and it will obviously be a benefit to readers to have been with us for the first story. But everything is explained. Everything you need to know is told to you as you go along, just not flatly laid out on page one. If you’ve never read the book before, this is a perfectly good place to start. That’s one of the reasons we started the second series as a mystery: As the new characters get drawn in and make discoveries, so do the readers — so the storytelling is a catch-up reminder for people who’ve followed us so far, and a primer for new readers.
It's hard to avoid the fact that a conversation between Cornfelt and Runciman early on has shades of some of the conversations that have been going on around the Hugo Awards. Is that just a happy accident, or did you draw some inspiration from that situation?
Abnett: Ultimately, a happy accident. The actual argument they’re having is a very old one in the SF community. However, the current resonances are fun, and what’s been going on in the SF community may have indirectly sharpened my take on that section of the story. It’s NOT a veiled commentary on the Hugo situation, however. :)
From a character design point of view, I really like Cornfelt. He seems so eccentric, with the coloring of his face and the eyes, that making him the most relatable character in the room a lot of the time almost puts me as a reader a little off balance in the context of the world. Was that intentional?
Abnett: Yes. He looks great. Ian’s designs for all of the new characters are fantastic. Cornfelt is relatable, but he’s also an outsider, and, though likeable, he isn’t a terribly nice person. I suppose his outsider status, and the fact that he is in conflict with everyone in the story makes him relatable. He’s coming into this the way the readers are, and the characters will have to learn to trust and accept him. He’s definitely the "odd one out," and that’s a very useful hook for the readers, something to hold on tight to.
Will his kind of odd look make him suspect to the more paranoid elements in the series down the line?
There's some obvious sociopolitical commentary kind of bubbling around the edges here, but largely nothing too overt. Will we see that more directly taking a role in the story as the "escape" story revs up?
Abnett: I don’t know about directly, but we’ll see more of it. It’s a main theme that will be explored in lots of ways. The rights of the individual versus authority, the power of authority and how that can overstep, the genuine critical need for security against authentic threats…
Last time around it was heavily War of the Worlds influenced. Are there any other pieces of literature that might have a kind of direct influence on this volume?
Abnett: War of the Worlds and The Wind In the Willows are still key touchstones, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers springs to mind, along with a lot of dystopian SF. I think, if anything, series two is where Wild’s End firmly starts to have its OWN flavour.
Bringing the science fiction writers to help approach this is the kind of story that can go a number of ways. Are you leaning more in the direction of Watchmen, Galaxy Quest, or another way entirely?
Abnett: The idea grew organically out of the subplot in series one that concerned Susan "ghost writing" SF. That was almost a throwaway at the time, and useful way of introducing SF ideas and terminology, as well as giving Susan some interesting depth and history. I don't think this is going to get all "meta" and self-regarding, though. Bringing in professional speculators to help with an unknown problem makes proper sense. A lot of influential SF writers are used as consultants by NASA, the military, etc. for that very reason.
I'd suggest that there's essentially two kinds of stories with anthropomorphized animals: the ones where the characters take on traits of the animals and the ones where they're essentially just people who look like animals. It seems that this series is the latter, but is there a little bit of the former buried in the characterizations that just might not be immediately evident?
Abnett: I think it’s the latter. It wasn’t going to be anthropomorphic originally, but when the decision was made to go that, we found it it was an incredibly fast and efficient way of getting readers to identify — and identify WITH — the cast of characters. It defined them very rapidly, allowing us to move forward with the story faster and lose less time establishing character. There are, however, a lot of amusing side elements that riff off the nature of their animal-ness, if that's a real world. And it isn't.0comments
Wild's End: The Enemy Within #1 (of 6)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
Main Cover: I.N.J. Culbard
Jackpot Cover: Jake Wyatt
BOOM! 10 Years Incentive Cover: Rob Guillory
Incentive Cover: Jeff Lemire
Format: 32 pages. full color
On sale: September 23, 2015
What’s to Love: The first Wild’s End miniseries kept us in constant suspense with its unlikely mash-up of War of the Worlds and The Wind in the Willows. We’re holding our collective breaths once again as author Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and illustrator I.N.J. Culbard (The King in Yellow) are set to play with the paranoia and “enemy amongst us” conspiracy theories prevalent in stories we love like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The X-Files.
What It Is: As Clive, Susan, Fawkes, and the other survivors of the alien invasion of Lower Crowchurch try to cope with what just happened to their small town, the military arrives in an attempt to cover up the “incident.” Town residents are immediately detained, questioned, and treated with suspicion. Are they alien spies, collaborators, sympathizers? Clive and the rest will need to escape imprisonment if they’re to get the word out and warn the rest of the world in case the aliens return.