For our latest exclusive interview, Jules was able to sit down and have a chat with one of the hottest “big two” writers of the moment, Cullen Bunn. Following the recent announcement that Cullen would be writing a new, ongoing Lobo series for DC Comics, it’s safe to say the Missouri native has become the uncrowned “King of the Antihero”, adding the Czarnian to his existing portfolio of ‘edgy’ characters such as Magneto and Sinestro.
Cullen was more than happy to chat about his work with all three of these iconic antiheroes, and here’s how the conversation went;
Big Comic Page: You’re about to launch a new Lobo series, featuring the New 52 version of the character introduced in the Justice League Villain’s Month one-shot. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Cullen Bunn: “The new LOBO series is really a perfect jumping on point for the character. The New 52 version of Lobo hasn’t really been explored in depth. We don’t know what he stands for, what makes him tick. This series will dig deep into the character for the first time, revealing his history, his personality, and his personal code of honour. Also, the book will be a lot of fun, with lots of action, violence, and bloodshed.”
BCP: How different is he from the old Lobo?
CB: “This is a completely new character. This won’t be a popular answer, but I don’t think “heavy metal Lobo” holds up as well now as he did in the 90s. I think many readers–especially new readers–want a little more meat on the bone in terms of a character’s emotional development. So… what’s different about this character? Everything!”
BCP: How aware of Lobo were you before you got the job? Were you a fan ?
CB: “I was a big fan of Lobo during his heyday, but I fell off following the character in recent years. I was aware of the recent redesign and one-shot issue, though. Working with the character now, I’m glad I have the memories of the older Lobo story, but I think it’s important that those stories (and more recent stories) aren’t firmly cemented in my mind. That might get in the way of writing something new.”
BCP: The old version of the character, fun as he was, was fairly one-dimensional. Will we see more depth to this new iteration?
CB: “Definitely. One of my goals with this series is to make sure that readers know and love (or hate) the new Lobo. I plan on revealing quite a bit about his character early on, setting him up to go through some significant development in future issues. I loved the old Lobo, but he was a parody. This version of Lobo is a real character, and he deserves a lot of development.”
BCP: Predictably enough, the internet just about broke in half when the new version was announced. Does it make it more of an uphill battle to create something knowing there’s so much grousing before anyone has even read it?
CB: “I tend to get a little frustrated when it comes to the grousing and complaining. The only person who likes change is the bus driver. I could go on and on about how I believe that people in general rely too much on knee-jerk reactions. At the same time, though, there have been many, many readers who are excited about the new Lobo. The old character, as I said, wasn’t for them. This series offers them a chance to enjoy some new stories. Die hard fans of the old Lobo might like it, too, if they give it a chance.”
BCP: Will we see much of the old ” faux-bo” Lobo?
CB: “You’ll be seeing him. In fact, he appears in the first issue!”
BCP: Any plans for DC guest stars to pop up or Lobo to cross over into other titles?
CB : “For sure! Lobo will be bouncing around Earth in this series, so he’s bound to run into some of the DC universe’s heaviest hitters.”
BCP: Reilly Brown’s art on the series looks spectacular. What does he bring to the project?
CB: “Holy cow! Reilly is an amazing artist to begin with, but his Lobo stuff is by far some of his best work. He balances the action, extreme violence, and bloodshed like a master. It’s an absolute pleasure to be working with him.”
BCP: If you were going to recommend a Lobo story (other than your own) to someone who had never heard of the character, what would it be?
CB: “For the new character, I don’t know how much is out there as a good introduction aside from the Villains’ Month one-shot. Everything else, from the original OMEGA MEN appearance to the great LOBO’S BACK or LOBO’s PARAMILITARY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL really focuses on a vastly different character and approach to story.”
BCP: You’re fast becoming the go-to guy for anti-heroes now, what with Lobo, Magneto and Sinestro. What attracts you to that kind of character?
CB: “If you look at most of my work, the anti-heroes and villains shine through. THE DAMNED, my first professional comics work, has a star who is a real bastard. THE SIXTH GUN features a gunslinger with a skewed moral compass. Bad guys are just more fun. They are more fun to write because they can surprise you. They’re more fun to read for the same reason.”
BCP: Your Sinestro run has been incredible so far. As far as I’m reading it, he’s clearly a villain, but doesn’t see himself as one. What’s your thoughts on the character?
CB: “Glad you’re liking it! Yes, Sinestro is a villain. He doesn;t see it that way, of course. As far as he’s concerned, he’s the greatest hero in the universe. Everyone else is wrong.”
BCP: It’s ostensibly a solo title, but Sinestro’s yellow lantern corps have been heavily involved so far. Is that something that’s going to continue?
CB: “While Sinestro is definitely the star of the book, the Corps will continue to be involved. My plan is to give as many members as possible a little page time and exploration.”
BCP: Lyssa Drak seems to be a main player in the title. What’s so appealing about her to you?
CB: “Lyssa is a horror character through and through. That supernatural vibe fits very well with the tone of what I wanted to do with SINESTRO.”
BCP: Trust is a big issue in Sinestro. It feels like nobody trusts anyone, which gives the book a real edge. Is that something you’re eager to explore in more depth?
CB: “With a group of evil-doers, it’s very hard to know who to trust. The short answer is, you can’t trust anyone. This will be a continuing theme in the book. Everyone is out for themselves, and Sinestro will need to be careful that he doesn’t play into the ploys of some of the more sneaky members of the Corps, like Dez Trevius. But, really, it takes a player to play a player, and Sinestro is at the top of the game.”
BCP: Speaking of trust, Soranik *really* doesn’t trust her father, yet he really wants her love and respect. It’s a brilliant dynamic between them. Can you tell us a bit about that?
CB: “When I took the series, I wanted a character who would become the voice of reason within the Corps. Originally, it was going to be a new character until my editor suggested Soranik. With her connection to Sinestro, it makes for a wonderful tug of war between the two. Will Soranik’s goodness rub off on Sinestro? Or will he end up corrupting his daughter?
BCP: How closely tied to the GL universe and books is Sinestro going to be?
CB: “We have the GODHEAD cross-over coming up soon, and Sinestro will be playing a big role in that story.”
BCP: What draws you to Magneto as a character?
CB: “Magneto has such an amazing back story full of tragedy and sorrow and building anger. Not to mention he’s always been one of the most badass villains in the Marvel universe! Those two elements combined offer such wonderful storytelling possibilities.”
BCP: There’s a definite (to my mind anyway) Noir/detective feel to your Magneto run, is that deliberate?
CB: “Absolutely. A noir/horror/detective story with mutants is how I pitched the book!”
BCP: Magneto is an honourable man who is capable of some horrific actions. Is this something he can justify away or does he agonise over it?
CB: “Magneto has spent years justifying his actions. He knows that he commits terrible acts for the greater good of his people. He’s starting to agonize over it a little, and you’ll see that even more in coming issues. The real question with Magneto is, can he ever let the hatred go?”
BCP: Do you have any plans to explain his survival in Genosha?
CB: “I do! We touch on that in issue 10, and we’ll delve into it a little more in future issues.”
BCP: Are there any other loose ends from previous stories that you’d like to address?
CB: “Right now, I’m focused on tying up all the elements I’ve introduced. As you can see, though, I like to play in Magneto’s history, so you should see some of those older story lines surfacing from time to time.”
BCP: Magneto’s powers have been all over the place in recent years. Exactly how powerful is he at the moment?
CB: “Right now, his powers are on the fritz. He’s still powerful, but nowhere close to where he once was. He no longer has the fine-tuned control he once had, either. However, now that he’s got someone brewing Mutant Growth Hormone for him, who knows what his power levels might be like in the future.”
BCP: Magneto has a long history in comics. What are your favourite stories?
CB: “My favorite is probably GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS, but I liked him in the FATAL ATTRACTIONS story, too.”
BCP: The book is crossing over with Uncanny Avengers for ‘Axis’. What can you tell us about that?
CB: “MAGNETO and UNCANNY AVENGERS will lead into the events of AXIS. Magneto plays an important role in the event. He has already shown up on Genosha and confronted the Red Skull (in issue 9) and that didn’t go so well for him. What he does next will set some big wheels turning in the Marvel Universe.”
Lobo #1 (DC Comics) will be in stores on October 1st, 2014.
Sinestro #6 (DC Comics) goes on sale October 29th, 2014.
And finally, Magneto #10 (Marvel Comics) will be available next week (September 24th) from your local comic shop.
You can also follow Cullen on Twitter at @CullenBunn
The writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy