|Art from "Greatest Hits," on sale later this summer|
Later this summer, Vertigo is launching its first superhero team comic book since Grant Morrisonâs seminal âThe Invisiblesâ ended in 2000. The six-issue miniseries titled âGreatest Hitsâ is written by David Tischman (âAmerican Century,â âBite Clubâ) with art by Glenn Fabry (âHellblazer,â âPreacherâ).
The headliners in âGreatest Hitsâ are the Mates, a British-bred league of justice, who Tischman calls the greatest superhero team of all time. âThe Mates started in a small town in England. They are not The Beatles. But they hold a place in the zeitgeist that the Beatles had for us. There is no one else like The Beatles - and thatâs who the Mates are,â Tischman told CBR News from the floor at New York Comic Con.
And while Tischman readily admits each Mate is a pastiche of an iconic caped hero, comparisons to the Fab Four can also be made. âThe persona of the Mates is an iconic one for both superhero teams and rock bands,â explained Tischman. âYou are always going to have the really cute one. You are going to have the quiet one. You are going to have the spiritual one and you are going to have the goofy one. Thatâs the case from every group from Justice League to âN Sync.â
Offered Tischman, âCrusader has super strength. Heâs the cute one and is always portrayed as the good cop. Solicitor, who is a Batman-like crime fighter, is the quiet one. He ends up falling in love with and marrying a woman that is often at odds with the rest of the team. Vizier, who is a practicing Celtic priest with magical powers, becomes very spiritual, for reasons that are revealed in issue #1 and #2. And Zipper, who runs at sonic speeds, is happy-go-lucky. But heâs also self-destructive.
âMost of the Mates are nice guys. The one that you think is the nicest is a little bit of a dick. And the one who seems the most screwed up, is actually the sweetest.â
But âGreatest Hitsâ is not about a team of superheroes, itâs about what itâs like when you become famous and rich and adored. âWe donât have superheroes. But in our universe, we have rock stars,â said Tischman. âAnd these superheroes behave the way rock stars behave, because thatâs what the superheroes would do if they really walked amongst us. Girls would be sneaking into their rooms. Theyâd be doing drugs. Itâs the whole thing.â
Framing the six-issue miniseries is a plot thread that has a Hollywood director making a âBehind the Musicâ-style documentary about the history of the high-powered team. âAnd thatâs how we learn about the Mates,â said Tischman. âThere are some real world situations that the Mates get into. There are also a couple of battles and a couple of original villains. We also see the Mates do some socially-responsible, civic-minded things.
âThatâs actually the way the team becomes famous in Europe, when they save miners that have been trapped in a coal mine disaster in France. Later, the Mates arrive in New York at JFK airport and while they are heading to the hotel, they stop a civic riot.â
Tischman revealed all the Mates have signed off on the making of the documentary that is told in the pages of âGreatest Hits.â âAll the Mates that are still **alive** are okay with it,â teased Tischman. âOne is dead and you find out which one in #6.â
Tischman also shared, later in the series, the Mates break up and one of its members reveals his secret identity to the world.
âThe Mates are full-time heroes. Being a hero is there job. Itâs how they earn a living,â said Tischman. âThe Mates donât hang out at the Fortress of Solitude; they hang out at the Four Seasons, in costume, and run up a very large tab.â
Tischman is thrilled to be working with Fabry, a British artist, on the project. âGlenn is doing painted covers and interior art and it all looks phenomenal. The covers, specifically, are awesome,â said Tischman. âThe look is very realistic. And with Glenn being from England, he really understands the mood and feel of the Mates and their world.â
And that world is not shared with Vertigoâs other characters, like John Constantine; despite the fact Fabry has drawn both âHellblazerâ and âThe Sandman: Endless Nights,â in the past.âThe book is set in its own, self-contained universe,â confirmed Tischman. âThat said, itâs a universe where superheroes exist. There are other active superheroes. A lot of them are interviewed in the documentary and comment on the team.
âYou also see how superheroes evolved over the years,â he continued. âIn the 1970s, a lot of superheroes took drugs to augment their powers. In the 1980s, with the technology boom coming, a lot of the heroes started wearing armor so they wouldnât get killed. You see grunge heroes in the â90s, who are like, âI donât need a secret identity, I donât need a costume, I donât need powers. I just fight crime. Itâs what I do.â
âAs you get to the â00s, you start to see some bubble gum superheroes, superheroes, who work for corporations and are given their powers and who work on payrolls and have no idea of the legacy of heroes behind them. Itâs just a high-paying job.â
Tischman, who thanked both Vertigoâs Eisner Award-winning editor-in-chief Karen Berger and his bookâs editor Shelly Bond for getting âGreatest Hitsâ from concept to creation, said when the project first, he drew inspiration from the sounds of silence. âI was listening to Paul Simonâs âGracelandâ and I stopped and realized that this album is 20 years old,â explained Tischman. âAnd then I thought about âSounds of Silence,â and thought, there is no way that Paul Simon still enjoys playing âSounds of Silence.â Heâs just not a 19-year-old kid anymore. Heâs in his sixties. And I thought what that must be like. Because for some people, âSounds of Silenceâ is a seminal song. And those same people would pay $200 to hear Paul Simon sing that song because thatâs how important it is to them. But as an artist he has grown and matured and heâs a completely different person. So what does that do to a superhero?
âThereâs also a story when The Beatles were recording their last album, Paul got them back in the studio, and he got rid of all the outside stuff that was really taking away their focus, but it was too late. Thatâs the Mates.â
"Greatest Hits" #1 ships later this summer from Vertigo.
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