Not content with unearthing a fabled sword, journeying to Hell and toppling one of its fiercest generals, the teenaged Brothers Stronghand are back for more adventures in blackest metal at Oni Press. The second volume of "Black Metal" by writer Rick Spears and artist Chuck BB arrives in October, taking Sam and Shawn Stronghand ever deeper into Hell's domain and setting them against a whole host of new adversaries, including Satan himself.
CBR News spoke with the book's creators for their thoughts on "Black Metal" and the music that inspired it. Additionally, Oni has provided CBR readers with an exclusive first look at twenty five pages from the second volume.
CBR News: Going back to the origins of this book, what made you guys want to tell a story with black metal as its (black) heart?
Rick Spears: First and foremost, I wanted to do the book so I could work with the amazingly brilliant Chuck BB. I'd been a fan of Black Metal, but it was Chuck, the dark lord of all that is grim and kvlt, that truly showed me what was to be seen. It's a music that reaches for a dark area that's ancient, scary and dangerous. It's brutal and theatrical, and that's fertile soil for storytelling.
Chuck BB: Short answer? I love Black Metal, and for all its silliness, I can see the honest (at times naïve) and imaginative elements of the genre. I think Rick and I wanted to really push for that brutality, the epic darkness that is so present in Black Metal and make it feel like it would to someone entrenched in the scene. Of course we have fun with it, and my art treatment is cartooned, but combined with Rick's serious treatment of the characters, it really shows a lot of reverence.
So, in volume 1, we see two kids -- the brothers Stronghand -- discover a legendary sword through the power of Black Metal, then overthrow a duke of Hell. What do you do for a sequel?
Spears: A lot of forces are at work, and in volume 2, we start to get a sense of the bigger picture. In both Heaven and Hell, plans and schemes are being put into action and Shawn and Sam are right in the middle of it all.
BB: Dukes are all well and good, but Hell has some much bigger egos lurking in, above and below it. You will see them all.
Beyond being the reincarnation of The Roth, a powerful lord of Hell, how would you describe Sam and Shawn?
Spears: One of the critiques of "Black Metal" volume 1 was that Sam and Shawn were, for the most part, interchangeable, but that was intentional. They are together the reincarnation of the Roth. In essence, they are one entity. But now that they are two distinct people, they've begun to develop more individual personalities. This becomes a big theme in "Black Metal" 2. Shawn is the more smooth and sly evil, whereas Sam is more blunt force evil.
BB: Black Metal music was born out of youthful angst, so it makes sense that we would try to capture that same intense belief in something more than the norm. And the kids are just that: embodying that pure raw Black Metal ethos. And while the boys are one in form, their personalities are greatly expanded upon and it's possible they won't always see eye to eye.
Deception and betrayal look to be a big part of this book, but with brothers who are close enough to actually be the reincarnation of the same guy, how do you go about manipulating that?
Spears: Ah, that's the big question. That's a big part of what volume 2 is about. How do you drive a wedge between these two brothers? How do you tear them apart?
BB: It depends how you slice it. Rick really wielded his pen to come up with things to separate them. You have never seen the brothers Stronghand like this.
Satan himself plays a role in this volume. What can you tell us about your take on the biggest bad guy of all time?
Spears: We teased Satan at the end of "Black Metal" 1, and he's back in a big way in book 2. Satan is the Prince of Lies, and some of his lies are ancient. He has dark plans for both Hell and Heaven, and the brothers Stronghand are the key.
BB: It was always our goal to get Satanic with this story, and he is everything you've heard about and more. And let's be honest, it isn't Black Metal without the big man downstairs -- a very big winged-goat-man.
While volume 1 began in the mortal realm, this new book seems to be set primarily in Hell (with some scenes... elsewhere). What made you take this approach?
Spears: "Black Metal" 2 picks up right after the end of "Black Metal" 1. A lot happens in Hell but we also see travel to Heaven, the Void and even Valhalla.
BB: I think we always wanted to get into Hell as soon as possible. The real world stuff is great for setting it up, but the meat of our story and the music genre is so supernatural and hellbent that we just had to jump right into the lake of fire. I think one thing we are trying to do, as we did in the first book, is tie other mythologies into the world of Hell, so we are not limited just to demons.
"Black Metal" vol. 1 made a number of references, both in text and visuals, to black metal groups. Have you managed to slip a few of these into volume 2, as well?
Spears: We wear our inspirations proudly on our sleeves -- or pages. But yeah, lots of hidden things for those that know how to see.
BB: The name of the book is "Black Metal," and we make no bones about it. Rick and I hold a lot of reverence for the music and its culture, so its influence is everywhere. Trust me when I say that there was quite a bit of Burzum and Darkthrone being spun on my turntable while I laid down the black.
"Black Metal" volume 2 is scheduled to shred your mind on October 5