|"The End League" #1 on sale now|
Plans are already in place to extend "The End League" beyond its initial solicitation as a bi-monthly series and expand its run to that of a monthly ongoing title. "It's nice to hear so many people are enjoying the book; the sales and reviews have been phenomenal," Rick Remender told CBR News. "It guarantees we'll be around for a long time to come. We have a plan in place to make the book monthly around issue #5 so I expect it to just build from here."
"The End League" follows a cast of the last remaining supermen and women, all familiar archetypes, as they embark on a desperate and perilous journey through a world dominated by evil, in hopes of locating the one remaining artifact that can save their world, the Hammer of Thor.
|"The End League" #1 pages 1-2|
"The battle between good and evil is long since over and evil has prevailed," Remender explained. "The entire world is now splintered into 'mafia style' territories ruthlessly controlled by eternally feuding super villains. Human life is of no concern to the great majority of the new dictators of the Earth, as is evident in the squalid and decayed conditions in which the remaining populations exist. The motivation for survival is uncertain to those who still live, yet as with all life-survival remains the driving motivation. Earth itself has been transformed into a nightmarish prison, little more than a polluted, environmental muddle; the decades of superhuman war have sent the planet into a nuclear winter. The only light in the night sky is the glow of the evil new gods as they struggle for dominance."
|"The End League" #1 pages 3-4|
The Green Event, the nexus point of the "The End League," occurred as a direct result of Astonishman attacking and destroying an alien ship at the bottom of the ocean in 1962. Astonishman released a nuclear missile in the ship, which detonated its power core and released a wave of radiation that knocked Earth off its axis. Three billion people were killed by the radiation while one in every thousand of the survivors would later develop superhuman abilities.
|"The End League" #2 on sale in February|
The Day of Annihilation saw the supervillains of the world join forces to eliminate Earth's remaining do-gooders. Astonishman, accompanied by his fellow castaways, retreated to his Citadel of Seclusion where they remained hidden for 12 years.
The heroes have spent their time away in isolation focusing on survival and more importantly, searching for the Hammer of Thor – Mjolnir – which they believe can save the world.
|Exclusive: In-progress pages for "The End League" #2|
The concept behind the book, explained Remender, is "give super-human abilities to every one-in-a-thousand, and you'll begin to see the severe imbalance between good and evil within the human heart. Call me a pessimist, but in my mind had we superhumans among us the world would surely be reduced to a wasteland within months. I'm not a big believer in the good of humanity. Sure the current doom and gloom around us plays heavily into my bleak worldview but this mindset isn't a new one for me. I don't see much altruism in the average man's heart and never have. It's just not in our reptilian/monkey brain programming. It's all about me-me-me for the average Joe.
"Everyone has an agenda, and most everyone has a selfish motivation behind his or her actions. If you randomly bestow super powers on our population you'd give these flawed minds the power to inflict their agenda on the world. There are few among us who would stand up to the task of managing the great responsibility that comes with this great power. Sure, there would be pure hearted and ethical men and woman who would try to sway this.
|"The End League" #3|
Astonishman is joined in the End League by Soldier American (a super-sized soldier created by Albert Einstein), Blur (the fastest human alive), Mother Hive (an Oracle-inspired telepath), Prairie Ghost (a living ghost who is slowly dying), Brother Occult (a spirit medium who communicates with elementals, demons and deists from other dimensions), Divinty (the daughter of Zeus), Arachkid (half-spider/half-man), The Blue Gauntlet (a pacifist powered by an ancient alien parasite), Grimwood (a spiritual born of earth) and Black (a hero driven by his own intensity).
"Soldier American is the only living being who knows about Astonishman's hand in the green incident," noted Remender.
Using the legendary Norse god and his hammer as a muse for "The End League" goes back to when Remender was first introduced to comics. "For me it's a love for Walt Simonson's 'Thor' run from when I was a kid," the writer said. "My mom had always read Greek mythology to me as a kid and my first exposure to Norse mythology was the 'Thor' comic. It's really interesting stuff and there is a large cast of great characters to draw from. Thor is not the only Norse God in the cast. Someone we've met is also secretly from Valhalla."
|Rick Remender's "Fear Agent" #18 on sale now|
Well beyond the first five-issue arc, Remender and Dark Horse have big plans for "The End League." "It's a huge hit, so we've begun planning out production on the next two years' worth of stories and as I said, we'll also be going monthly this summer," said Remender. "I've got the first five arcs written, or at least fully outlined and ready to be scripted."
When asked how "The End League" would end, Remender said, "I've got about thirty-five issues to get through to arrive at the planned ending. But it could still grow from where I leave things if I was still interested in keeping it going.
|Pages from "Fear Agent" #18|
A big part of those amazing sales, says Remender, is the work of the book's artist, Mat Broome. I've always known, in order to make a superhero-team work outside of Marvel or DC, it was going to need an artist who blew the nipples off of anyone who saw it," explained Remender. "Well, as fate would have, Mat Broome blows nipples off for a living. When Mat contacted me about working on a project with him, it seemed too perfect. I gave Mat my outline for 'The End League' and he loved it. It was a chance to design amalgams of all of his favorite characters and make them his. We brainstormed for a few months and Mat got to work on designs. Each is better than the last. Mat can do superheroes on a level comparable with any modern great. With his long time inker extraordinaire Sean Parsons and his incredibly talented wife and colorist Wendi at his side, Mat has produced a style that is sure to turn heads and remind the industry what a powerhouse he is.
|Pages from "Fear Agent" #18|
Remender's earlier works include "Captain Dingleberry," "Black Heart Billy" and "Doll and Cretaure," while Broome mainlined with the slightly more recognizable "Batman: No Man's Land," "WildC.A.T.S.," and "X-Men."
|"Fear Agent" #19 on sale in February|
"The next arc sees the return of Tony Moore and basically we go Sci-Fi Western for six issues. Heath Huston finds himself marooned on the desolate Planet West. A stranger in a strange place peppered with gun slinging robots, venomous mutants and buxom cowgirls. It's high noon in dead space."
Remender says fans of both series will definitely see some comparisons in not only the books' characterizations but in their mood and pacing too. "I guess I'm a bit bleak in my worldview. That and I always tend to make sure Earth is in a state of shit," quipped Remender. "I like post-apocalyptic stories, what are you gonna do? I like hopelessness. It brings out the grit inside a character. Might as well get right to it and see how someone reacts when faced with a stacked deck and insurmountable obstacles. In my shitty opinion, that's the good stuff. Unlike most books of this nature, these characters are all dealing with the prospect of real extinction that's always waiting around every corner."
|Exclusive: Pages from "Fear Agent" #19|
"I love the character. The idea of shrinking down so small that you begin to find microscopic worlds and sub-atomic sentient life, it's like being The Silver Surfer but instead of the cosmos you're in the expansive microverse. It's endless fun.
"When I first got the job, I was talking to Matt Fraction on the phone and he insisted I read up on the Silver Age stuff by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane. Michael Siglain, my editor, sent me the collection of the 'Showcase' issues and I loved them, Fraction was right. They are insanely fun. I hadn't looked through them since I worked in a vintage comics store in the early 1990s and I'm glad I did. I've used them to build on what [former series writers and creators] Gail [Simone] and Grant Morrison built and feel very good about what we've put together."
|Remender's run on "The All-New Atom" begins with March's issue #21|
In closing, Remender teased one more forthcoming project that is the complete opposite of "The All-New Atom," both literally and figuratively. "I also have 'Gigantic' up next with artist Eric Nguyen. It's a new super hero book I'll be doing at Dark Horse. It's an Ultraman-type character in my take on the film 'The Truman Show' focusing on a brainwashed alien superhero deposited on Earth to be the spotlight of an intrusive, around the clock television program being filmed without his knowledge and broadcast universally," said Remender.
"Visually, we're focusing on a modern spin on the big dynamic power of Jack Kirby, merged with the scale of a 'Godzilla movie' and sprinkled with 1950s' sci-fi kitsch. 'Gigantic' will tap into what makes comics fun, big visually exciting pages and destruction on a scale never before seen while also serving as a reflection on America's consumer-based culture and the secret price paid by both the audience and the actors for a life filled with the endless distraction of entertainment."
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