NYCC, Day 2: Cherniss and Johnson Talk "Sub-Mariner Revolution"

Sat, February 24th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

With a vast amount of physical power and the resources of a technologically advanced undersea kingdom at his disposal, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner is easily one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. This June, Namor will need all of that power and all of his skills and cunning as a warrior to survive what writers Matthew Cherniss and Peter Johnson have planned for him in the pages of "Sub-Mariner: Revolution" a six issue mini-series featuring art by Phil Briones. CBR News spoke with Cherniss and Johnson about the series.

"Revolution" won't be the first comic series that Cherniss and Johnson penned together. "Peter and I had worked on one project a few years back with Marvel prior to 'Sub-Mariner' called 'Powerless,'" Cherniss told CBR News. "We both have day jobs working in television, developing new series, so it is hard to find time to write comics, but we had so much fun doing 'Powerless' that we had been looking for the right idea to work with everyone at Marvel again. We are huge comics fans so getting a chance to play around with the characters we love is always something we look forward to."

It was the chance to do something different from what others had done with the character in the past that drew Cherniss and Johnson to their latest assignment. "We always found Namor to be an interesting character but, to be honest, he wasn't someone that we had targeted," the duo said. "It was only after we met with Marvel, and they brought up him as a character that they were looking to re-define, that we really began to dig in and realize the potential that existed for an impactful and exciting story."

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Cherniss and Johnson are aware that they're telling a story about a Marvel character that despite his popularity with some fans has had a number of series over the years. These series occasionally sold well but they we're unable to hold onto their audience. "There are so many circumstances to determine the success of a book, many of which have little or nothing to do with the quality of the story being told," the duo stated. "When you look back, there have been some great writers and artists that have worked on Namor over the years. It may have something to do with the fact that he is not 'of the surface' and because of that it is hard to keep him active for long periods of time in 'our' world. Our goal was to solve some of those problems in this series and I think that if ever there was a time in the Marvel Universe for Namor to break out it would be now."

Namor may not have been able to hold onto an ongoing series in the past but he is an incredibly enduring character. Cherniss and Johnson believe there's a specific reason why the Sub-Mariner has been around for almost seventy years. "We think it is because he has the essential traits of all great Marvel characters," the duo explained. "Namor is a man struggling against his own nature. He is both a warrior and a ruler, and those two things are often difficult to keep in balance. All the great Marvel characters from Spider-Man, to Daredevil, to Wolverine, hell--even Galactus, they all struggle with this in their own way. Namor is complicated, he is hero and villain, and characters like that are fun to tell stories about."

Cherniss and Johnson feel that the Sub-Mariner's warrior nature is one of his defining personality traits. "Namor is a warrior at heart and I think his inclination is to approach problems with a warrior mentality," they stated. "But he is also a leader and it is that constant struggle that defines him. At times he has tried to contain the warrior spirit, but more often than not he fails and that often puts him at odds with the rest of the Marvel Universe."

Namor has found himself at odds with the rest of the Marvel Universe in a number of recent events. Readers will see some of the consequences his actions have brought in "Sub-Mariner: Revolution." "The events of that last year have taken a toll (The death of Namorita, the insertion of Atlantean sleeper cells on to American soil, the imprisonment of Nitro, and the entry of Namor and the Atlantean army into 'Civil War')," the duo explained. "But all that pales in comparison to the events that take place in the first 8 pages of our series.

"Many of the choices Namor has made are going to come back and haunt him, not just in the form of external threats, but internal ones as well," the duo continued. "You can't just put sleeper agents on American Soil and enter a Civil War without it having major ramifications. In this case, his choices have put himself, his throne, and all of Atlantis at risk."

The action in "Revolution" will happen in a number of settings. "We like to think of this story as epic, in that it will be taking places on a number of fronts," the writers said. "The last thing we wanted to do was some battle under the sea. We wanted the events to hit home in much the same way that Civil War did. That's not to say that it will involve as many characters as Civil War, but by the end I think you'll feel as if you have been on a journey. Atlantis plays a part, but so does the surface world, so do some of the Illuminati, and that's just to name a few."

Like Cherniss and Johnson mentioned, Namor will be encountering and running up against a variety of characters in "Revolution," some of them familiar faces and some of them not. "We're definitely introducing a few new characters that we hope will have a major impact on the Marvel Universe, but you'll also be seeing Tony Stark, some of the Illuminati, Wolverine, and a few other surprises," the duo explained.

Some of the characters that the Sub-Mariner runs into in "Revolution" will be friends but many of them will be foes. Cherniss and Johnson have packed the series with a wide variety of obstacles and adversaries for Namor to overcome. "They will come in the form of heroes, and villains, and traitors, and in many ways, Namor's own nature," the writers said.

"Sub-Mariner: Revolution" will be a story that has the Monarch of Atlantis employing a lot of brawn to solves his problems but he'll be using an equal amount of brain power as well. "There is a huge mystery element in the story that Namor is racing to solve," the writers explained. "But we wanted to make sure we didn't do that at the expense of telling a kick ass Superhero Action story. Let's face it seeing Namor beat the hell out of his opponents is a lot of fun too!"

Over the years the Sub-Mariner has played a variety of roles; he's been a hero, a villain, a monarch and even a businessman. Some fans might be wondering what role Prince Namor will be playing in the post "Civil War" Marvel U. "This series explores just that question," the writers stated. "By the end of our series I think you'll be able to answer that question for yourself. All I'll tell you now is it sure is hell isn't a businessman!!!"

Cherniss and Johnson hope fans will flock to "Sub-Mariner: Revolution" because it's a story that will take the character in new and exciting directions. "If you're looking for Namor to battle sea monsters or polluters this isn't the series for you," they said. "We are trying to put Namor on a whole new course and I think by the time you finish with issue #1 you'll see that there are some serious changes in store for Namor."

 
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