"Supercrooks" may be the first new comic coming from Mark Millar's Millarworld comics line in 2012, but he's been working on the super powered heist story for year. "'Supercrooks' came about because I'd always wanted to see a supervillain story done like a Guy Ritchie movie -- a sort of big, over the top heist story done like 'Lock, Stock' or 'Oceans 11,' but with cracking new super-villains and interesting powers," the writer told CBR as he and longtime collaborator Leinil Francis Yu shared six exclusive pages of the Icon comic as the kickoff to CBR's Millarworld week of reveals. "I remember watching 'Lock, Stock' and thinking, 'I'd love to see something in comics done like this -- a bunch of guys getting together to pull off a big robbery.' So, 'Supercrooks' has been in my mind since back then. I thought there was such potential there for a rogues gallery who all had distinct personalities and specialties. They get together and pull one big job.
"They're very likable characters, as well," Millar added of the cast. "Normally, when you do villains, you try to make them as scary and threatening as possible. But these are just a bunch of thieves with superpowers. 'Kick-Ass' focuses on a lovely, idealistic character who isn't nearly as nasty as the situations he gets into. There's something intrinsically decent about him for the readers. There's that bit of wish fulfillment in there that we all can tap into. We all, on some level, want to be superheroes like that. I just felt it would be nice if these guys were likable in the same sense that Dave Lizewski is, so we're really rooting for them when they're up against the real bastard -- this guy they're in Spain to rob."
The Spanish setting played heavily into the creation of the book, both for Millar and Philippines-based Yu, and not just because there's a long history of Americans abroad stories across genres. "I love that clash of pop culture ideologies. It seems so interesting, and I've noticed that in quite a lot of the books I'm doing this year and next, the setting is more international -- superheroes in unfamiliar places," Millar said. "'District 9' was an invasion movie like 'Independence Day,' but setting it in South Africa gave it a slightly different feel. Just setting this book somewhere else makes the background different. During the day, when they're planning the robbery, these guys are hanging around Spanish markets and Spanish bars. It's also got a European comics feel to it. Leinil has drawn it in a slightly more European style. It looks more like a French or Spanish album than it does like an American comic, and I like the fact it feels distinct. It makes it something I've never seen before. I love it when I pick up a comic and see something new. It feels fresh. With American villains in an alien environment, the story almost writes itself."
At the core of "Supercrooks" are the bad guys themselves, of course, but the ragtag team isn't a unit of thieves at the top of their game -- a concept Millar owes to many classic crime tales. "The set-up is that the main guy Johnny Bolt -- one of his old friends is in trouble, so he gathers up a crew of old villains who all owe this guy a favor. They have to help out because they have a loyalty to him because he looked after them in prison and inducted them into the super-villains when the neo-nazis or the Irish or the Muslims had their eye on them. So, they go to Spain, because that's where America's biggest supervillain of all time has retired, and he has his entire haul in the mountains underneath this big villa, and they want to steal it.
"They're doing this heist to help one of their old friends who's in big trouble with supervillains over in Vegas. The very simple conceit of it is that they're always getting busted and going to prison in the States because there are, like, 500 superheroes around. We see this frustration in the pre-credit sequence, the opening act we're giving away here, in the CBR preview. So they decide to get smart and go somewhere without superheroes, and Spain is perfect. Their money is as good as anyone's and there's no superheroes to bust them. There's no Captain Spain."
Just as with his other creator-owned hits, Millar is bringing plenty of his personal interests and flourishes to bear in building the cast up in the comics pages. "The characters they bring in are all very distinctive," he said. "We've got two underground cage fighters, because I love the idea of fight clubs for supervillains. You've got this idea of wrestlers with super powers fighting illegally and using their powers against each other. These two brothers are in there. Then, you've got the main character's girlfriend, who is pissed off because she doesn't want him to be a villain anymore. She's an ex-supervillain who's trying to go straight, and he hauls her back in for one last job. Then there's his best friend who became a real estate guy because he was fed up with the superheroes taking him to prison so often. It's a bunch of guys who were trying to go straight getting back together for the biggest job of their careers. I love that idea, which we've seen in crime heist movies before, but never seen it done with superheroes."
Like so many of his projects before, "Supercrooks" is already making its way towards the silver screen -- this time through creative work rather than through a Hollywood option. "It's been very exciting. What happened was quite coincidental," the writer explained. "Nacho [Vigalondo] is a good friend of mine, and he's an Oscar-nominated Spanish director. We always talked about doing something together, but we never found a project. A while ago, we talked about doing 'American Jesus' together, but it never quite happened. And we talked about doing something completely original. Superheroes in Spain is a perfect fit for a Spanish director who loves Marvel comics, so I sent him the plots and he and I collaborated, working up a really good screenplay, and now we're going to make it into a movie.
"He's doing this thing called 'Windows' first, but this is absolutely next on the agenda. I think he finishes 'Windows' in Summer, and then, hopefully, we can get into pre-production on this. He's amazing and brought so much to the story. I absolutely love it and we're totally doing more stuff together. The whole Millarworld gang is a really nice one. We're all primarily friends and talk or email every day, so getting a chance to all work together has been amazing. I really feel we're onto something here. Nobody's tried anything on this scale for a generation. In terms of big name artists alone, we've got the cream of the industry, here. I feel insanely lucky. We've got a great line-up of producers and directors turning them into movies, which in turn feeds into the books and keeps the whole thing very healthy. We couldn't be more excited going into 2012. This is by far the biggest thing I've ever been involved in.'"
Stay tuned all week on CBR for advanced looks inside Millar's continuing "Kick-Ass" saga, "Nemesis 2," "The Secret Service" and his still unseen project with Frank Quitely as MILLARWORLD WEEK continues!