War is Hell. Here Come the Demons; Denton Talks "Common Foe"

Fri, April 8th, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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During The Battle of the Bulge some of the fiercest fighting in World War II occurred. In the Ardennes Forest on the border of Germany and Belgium, under supplied and out numbered American forces had to battle the might of 29 German divisions in the coldest weather ever to hit that region. In "Common Foe," a four issue a mini-series from Image Comics co-written by Shannon Denton and Keith Giffen with art by Jean-Jacques Dzialowski, an American unit fighting in the battle of the Bulge finds themselves hunted by mysterious and malevolent creatures. The Americans' only hope is to unite with their German enemies against the monsters stalking them. CBR News spoke with Shannon Denton via e-mail about the May debuting book

The idea for "Common Foe" came from Denton and Giffen's mutual interests. "Keith and I both have an affinity for the time period," Denton told CBR News. "My grandfather, like so many others, fought in WWII. Despite his and so many others claims that they weren't heroes it's hard for me to see those guys as anything but. The world still owes them for their sacrifice. Now to the fantasy side of it, Keith loves horror movies and I love horror action so this just seemed like a perfect fit. We collaborate on a lot of stuff and we both had a germ of an idea for WWII stories so that's how we ended up with 'Common Foe' through Image and the upcoming 'Grunts' graphic novel that we're also collaborating on."

Common Foe is set during some of the heaviest fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. "We set the story around the time of the German offensive into the Ardennes forest when the Americans were caught completely by surprise." Denton said. "There was utter chaos along the border. Our guys are caught up in that chaos without actually being at the Battle of the Bulge."

War is Hell and in "Common Foe" this battle has drawn the attention of demons. "Amid the blood and chaos of the Battle of the Bulge, a battered squad of American soldiers and a platoon of German infantry do everything they can to rip each other to shreds," Denton said. "But to survive the night, the two enemies must come together and unite against an ancient evil hell bent on destroying everything in its path."

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The American and German soldiers in "Common Foe" are battle-hardened veterans. "Both are tight units in that this is near the end of World War II so they've been through a lot together," Denton said. "Initially their goals are to kill each other but once they become prey regardless of what uniform they wear they must unite even if they don't like each other."

Other than the fact that these creatures have been sealed up for years, Denton and Giffen let readers draw their own conclusions as to the origins of the creatures preying on the soldiers. "The guys in the story discuss what these things could be, but since it's from their point of view the thing that really matters to them is not getting killed by the creatures," explained Denton. "Who or what they are is irrelevant unless it means an answer as to how to kill them. They are monsters pure and simple."

Artist Andy Kuhn ("Easy Way") played an important role in the creation of "Common Foe." "Superstar artist Andy Kuhn first put pencil to paper off of our description so a lot of the look of the monsters is thanks to Andy," said Denton. "He, Jean and Esad [Esad Ribic, the cover artist for the series] have done a bang up job bringing these things to life."

"Common Foe" is a tale of human nature at its worst and its finest. "The book is pure carnage set during World War II," Denton said. "Obviously war is hell and the worst atrocities man can do to another are usually acted out in war. However, a lot of the best of humanity can also be found during conflict. The stories of medics charging into machine gun fire to help someone they've never met, people being faced with insurmountable odds and somehow not only surviving but preserving their humanity and inspiring their fellow man. These are some of the themes we're rolling with in addition to the carnage."

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With "Common Foe" Denton and Giffen primarily wanted to create a scary thriller. "Mostly we just wanted to tell a really gripping story," Denton said. "We're hoping all the other stuff will come to mind after the white knuckle effect goes away."

Many of Denton's other comic properties, which he created for his company Meteor City Productions, have been optioned for film and television, and he hopes "Common Foe" will also be optioned. "This is definitely a movie I'd like to see so let's hope so. We've already started to have people approach us so we'll see."

 
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