Jeff Parker Kicks It Old School With "Kickers, Inc."

Tue, January 31st, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

It's not easy living in the world of writer Jeff Parker. In "The Interman," his titular hero faces a new peril every few pages and now he's bringing his brand of adventure to Marvel Comics. As part of the "New Universe" celebration, Parker is writing the "Kickers, Inc." back up story in "New Avengers #16." So, you know who the Avengers are, but wonder who Kickers, Inc. are? Mr Parker, tell our CBR News readers what they need to know!

"CBR Fans, I'll I gotta say is... ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBAAAALLL!!!

"And you don't really need to know anything except that the Kickers were a paranormal investigation team in a world where mostly normal things happened. Which meant Scooby Doo-type adventures where someone pulls the mask off the villain at the story's end," Parker told CBR News. "The story by me and Juan Santacruz appears in 'New Avengers #16.' Juan is a freaking monster. I think we hit on some subject matter he's been wanting to draw too. I love the demon sportscasters he drew in the Kickers story!"

While fans of Parker have longed to see his unique sensibilities brought to Marvel, "Kickers, Inc." isn't quite where they thought he'd land and he explained how he got attached, as well as why he had to say "yes." "Mark Paniccia liked the way I handled the 'Starbrand' issue, I think-- either that, or he was irked that it wasn't a hard enough assignment for me, so he dealt the super-whammy by giving me one of the most notorious Marvel titles of all time to handle.

"It's irresistible because: it's a chance to be in one of the most popular comics today, and: to see if we could make 'Kickers Inc.' something readers would enjoy. I think we succeeded, but the readers will decide."

The New Universe was loved by many fans in the eighties and many of those fans still hold tight to fond memories of the aborted superhero universe, but Parker admits to not being a big fan of the universe. "Not really, but that doesn't mean I didn't become sympathetic to the characters. I think that whole line came along at a time when a big wave of readers were ready to experiment with books that weren't conventional superhero comics-- but not too ready. So the New Universe, straddling the line, spoke to them."

Some have wondered if this Kickers revival could lead to more stories, but Parker is doubtful, saying, "I guess anything is possible, but ours is really a one-time thing. That'll be pretty obvious after you read the story."

That said, "Kickers, Inc." is leading into something big at Marvel…though like the "Interman," Parker is man of mystery. "I've got a lot more Marvel work coming up, and one I'm really looking forward to that I can't talk about yet. Darn I wish I could talk about it! Oh, and a cool short story coming up involving artist Tomm Coker in which people with big hats from the past shoot one another. I'll also keep doing the all-ages "Marvel Adventures" stories, which are doing great out in the world of big chain stores. I think those venues are crucial to the health of our industry, and editorial has been letting me work with major talents like Carlo Pagulayan and Manuel Garcia on the Fantastic Four, which makes a good impression. Manuel will be working with me on the newest "Adventures" book to come, too. Another thing I can't talk about yet, I think. I'm so sorry about these allusions to things that I don't know if I can mention. I just don't want to get one of my checks switched with a No-Prize!"

Fans of "The Interman," stay tuned: Parker may be playing with the big boys at Marvel, but he hasn't forgotten about his breakout project and says we'll see a sequel of sorts this year. "Going back to Tomm Coker again, he's also drawing a story for 'Interman Zero,' a 32 pager which should be out later this year," said Parker. "I apologize that volume 2 is still in the works, but right after the first book came out, I had back-to-back kids! Not kids growing out of each other, but a little girl and later a boy. But they'll soon be big enough to do art assists, and I'll be able to get ahead. I think the zero issue will be good for interesting new readers who might be wary of buying a whole graphic novel, so it's probably best to go in this order. I can't wait for you to see some of Tomm's art on either of these stories."

Parker's continually shown that he can handle a variety of genres, from action-adventure to the more personal, intimate life moments, and he loves the breadth of opportunity at Marvel. "I love the fact that Marvel hasn't typecast me in a particular genre. I'm doing all ages superhero stories, more mature pulp adventure, stories where guys in big hats shoot at one another, dubbing old romance stories... it's such a blast. I really like working in them all, it's really a comics writer's dream."

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