What happens when the last of the supernatural beings protecting the earth turns out to be a real jerk? Nothing good for the people of Earth, that's what. In their new ongoing series "The Last of the Greats," writer Joshua Hale Fialkov ("Echoes," "I, Vampire") and artist Brent Peeples ("Grimm Fairy Tales") have created a world where a group of super beings landed two decades ago and decided to change the world for the better. Only humanity didn't feel the same way about the Greats and their mission. As the early October book from Image Comics kicks off, humans have done away with most of the Greats, with only one survivor to defend them against an invasion no one saw coming. CBR News spoke with Fialkov about the new world created by the Greats, why humanity turned against them and what role the Last will play in their continued survival... or extermination.
"Twenty years ago, arks appeared in the geographical center of each continent, except for Antarctica," Fialkov told CBR News. "One year passed, and from each of those mounds came the Greats. Our history changed in a drastic way because of their presence, so while the story takes place in the here and now, it's very much a changed world."
Fialkov wanted to take a realistic look at what would happen to our world if characters similar to well-known comic book superheroes actually landed on Earth.
"It's always bothered me that you have characters like Superman or Thor who are essentially (or literally) gods, and yet they let horrific things happen," Fialkov said. "I think that it's almost a necessity of the human condition that we can't just let someone take care of us. We're distrustful to a fault, and frankly, we have good reason to be. Look at the corruption at almost every level of government, and those are just regular schmucks in sixty dollar suits. Imagine if they could remake matter with their minds, right?"
With that in mind, Fialkov got to work on a race of alien creatures who came to Earth, modeled themselves after humans and worked to change the world and possibly improve things.
"The Greats were beautiful giants about 10 feet tall," Fialkov said. "They each took on the nationalities and cultures of their continents, and they set about doing everything in their power to remake the world into a Garden of Eden, which was the problem. They gave us what we wanted. Peace and happiness. They made us all equal, they erased things like poverty and wealth and borders and property ownership and illness and made us all truly equal, and we hated them for it. As soon as we found a weakness in them, we took advantage of it and we wiped them out."
The series will follow The Last of the Greats as he decides what to do with the people he not only doesn't care for, but who also murdered his fellow Greats.
"The Last of the Greats was the one 'sibling' who had zero interest in us and our problems. He stayed hidden away while the rest played superhero. So now, as our story is starting, the Earth is on the verge of extinction from a massive alien fleet, and The Last has made his presence known. He really, genuinely hates us. We're dogs and swine to him, and that we've come to beg and plead with him makes him hate us even more. He's seen everything that's happened the past twenty years, and every prediction about the fate of mankind and his siblings proven true. And, worst of all for us, he knows that we're totally at his mercy."
And mercy might be something The Last is short on considering his hatred of the human race. Even so, he does offer to help, but it's not without a price to be paid.
"He's preparing us for things to come, and we're slowly giving up every single right we hold dear," Fialkov explained. "This is represented primarily by the relationship between the Last and his human ambassadors. I really want to explore all of that stuff, and, oh yeah, a metric shit ton of exploding heads and massacred alien invaders."
Fialkov notes that, had humanity allowed themselves to be taken care of better without turning on their benefactors, an alien invasion would hardly be the concern it is when the series begins. This sets the stage for "The Last of the Greats" to become something of a social commentary.
"Frankly, we did it to ourselves," Fialkov said. "While there's a genuine threat in the form of a fleet of flying saucers, it's abundantly clear that had we just not been a bunch of dumb assholes and let the Greats protect us we'd be in much better shape, but at the same time, we wouldn't be humans, would we? For me, the idea with this book was to explore the sociological implications of having these Gods walk around."
When it came to actually getting his ideas onto paper, Fialkov went with artist Brent Peeples who he had met at a recent comic convention. The writer liked the artist's style, but also his incredible work ethic and enthusiasm.
"Brent and I met at [New York Comic Con] last year, and he was far and away one of the most excited, dedicated guys I've ever met," Fialkov said of his collaborator. "He's got a level of commitment to quality and storytelling that means he's willing to work his ass off to get the pages perfect. He's also got an amazing sense of humor that comes through and really strikes a balance between the drama and the lighter moments in the book. Plus, he's handsome as the day is long."
"The Last of the Greats" debuts from Image Comics in October.