He Never Left: Peter David talks "Fallen Angel," "Hulk" and "Madrox"

Fri, October 22nd, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

"Fallen Angel" #17
For over a decade, Peter David has been a fan favorite writer in the comic book industry, with a very devoted fan base. Though probably best known for his work on Marvel Comics' "Incredible Hulk" and "X-Factor" series, the author has been building his fan base in recent years with buzz titles such as Marvel's "Captain Marvel" and DC Comics' "Fallen Angel." With a multitude of projects in the works, David spoke briefly with CBR News and commented on the perception that he's "back in the spotlight.

"Sure seems that way. Who'd've thought?" smirks the acclaimed author.

Possibly his most notable work on the stands is "Fallen Angel," a series that recently received a reprieve from cancellation by David's own promotional tactics and a boost from DC that saw free issues of #1 distributed to retailers across the country. For those not who've not yet read the series, David was happy to provide an introduction. "Set in the city of Bete Noire (which is sort of like 'Casablanca' by way of the Twilight Zone) 'Fallen Angel' tells the story of Lee, a mysterious caped woman with a tragic past who is sort of a court of last resort for the truly desperate. If you come to her with your problems and she believes in your cause, she will fight to the death to help you out. On the other hand, if she thinks you brought it on yourself, she'll bring disaster crashing down upon you faster than ever."

"Fallen Angel" #18
The rich character base in "Fallen Angel" has drawn much acclaim and without giving too much away, David explained a little about each of his original creations. "There's Lee, a.k.a. the Fallen Angel, a woman of questionable morality who is trying to find a place for herself in a morally ambiguous world. She works out of Furors, a bar run by an avuncular German named Dolf who many fans suspect is a remarkably aged Hitler. There's Slate, the Peter Lorre-esque Chief Examiner; Shadow Boxer, the city's Chief Enforcer and his lover, the intelligence gatherer named Black Mariah, and together those two are the single greatest threat to the Angel in the city. There's Asia Minor, the surprisingly cheerful drug dealer; Bumper Ruggs, the androgynous overseer of the prostitution rackets and, overseeing all of it, the Angel's former lover, Doctor Juris."

As the series has unfolded, David has been exploring the true source of power in Bete Noir and developing the relationship between Lee & Juris, aspects he says will factor into major events in upcoming issues. "There is a major power struggle coming up in 17, and a huge reveal of Bete Noire's background in issue #18."

David teases, "In issue #18, one character dies and another's motivations are made plain for the first time."

And while the writer is proud of the work he's been doing on "Fallen Angel," there is an additional aspect he'd like to have added into the series' origins. "Yeah, I would have found a way to get DC to allow me to set it in the DCU so I could guest star DC characters. 'Sandman' had, like, a dozen guest stars in its first year."

"Fallen Angel" Pages 4, 5 and 6

For those on the fence about the series, David facetiously says, "Get off the damned fence. That's gotta hurt, having all those pickets up your butt."

[Hulk #77]
"Hulk" #77
Something else that would hurt is being pounded by the Hulk and David knows a few things about the character he helped revitalize over a decade ago. Though fans always wanted him back on "Incredible Hulk," no one expected it… not even David. "Kind of stunned, really. What began as a possible 'Ultimate Hulk' series evolved, or mutated if you will, into a Marvel Universe 'Hulk' limited series and then, next thing I knew, it was part of the regular series."

In his online blog, David revealed that his story is now set to last five issues instead of the previously announced six and he'll have a single issue story to move some pieces into place. But when will we know if he's on the book permanently? "About ten seconds after I know," answers David.

After an extensive run on "Incredible Hulk," one might think that David had said all he needed to in regards to the mythos, but David credits Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada with providing him a new angle. "The basic inspiration came from Joe Quesada who said, 'This is what I'd like to see you do,' and I said, 'Okay, that has potential.' Especially when I married his basic notion of a Monster Island setting with something that had some fundamental classic underpinnings, namely 'The Tempest.' And for having said everything I wanted to about the Hulk, well...things change, the world changes, the character changes, and I change. So hopefully we'll see some of that reflected in the series."

"Hulk" #77,
Page 3
"Hulk" #77,
Page 4
"Hulk" #77,
Page 5
   
  "Hulk" #77,
Page 7
 

The other project exciting fans was David's return to X-Factor after a fashion, with a mini-series focused on the Multiple Man named "MadroX." And as much as David assuredly put his best into the series, few could have planned for the universal acclaim that the book has found so quickly. "I was hoping for it, "he admits. "I think Pablo is doing some terrific work and, really, the success of a book stands or falls on the art. As soon as I saw the pages I knew we had a good shot at getting some good response."

"Madrox" #1
Jamie Madrox, the titular character of the series, has a distinct voice, causing some to believe that David is putting just a bit more of himself into Jamie than his other characters. "There's probably a bit of me in every character I write. I can be a moody SOB and there are days when I just sit there and say, 'What's the point of anything?' At least with me, I have my wife and kids to bring me out of it. Jamie only has himself...literally. Jamie is actually able to manifest that attitude physically because he feels he never has to make choices; he can just send out a variety of dupes and have them pursue all the possibilities life has to offer. The problem is, if you can be everything, then you wind up never being anything. That's what Jamie is coping with, and anyone who's ever stood at any decision point in their life should be able to empathize with that."

The revival of an "X-Factor" series will be determined by sales and when asked what could turn "MadroX" into an ongoing, as David has hinted might be possible, he answered, "Aw c'mon, you know the answer before you even ask it. If there's a lot of po$itive re$pon$e and fan$ $upport the book in the only way that really matter$, then bottom line, Marvel will look for ways to continue it. If they don't, Marvel won't. Simple as that."

"Madrox" #1,
Pages 18 & 19
"Madrox" #2,
Page 2

"Madrox" #2,
Pages 16 & 17
"Madrox" #2,
Page 19

"Madrox" #2,
Page 21

David has a few items on the table and won't reveal them yet, but he says fans should check out his website to find out more. "A couple of projects, yeah, but nothing finalized I want to announce yet. But they can always check in at www.peterdavid.net for updates."

 
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