You Say You Want a Revolution?
Feature Revolutionary War talks to Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill about setting 2014’s first crossover, Revolutionary War, on British soil
FWe’ve got a rich and comprehensive
continuity of purely UK-based
orget Inhumanity. The most highly anticipated event book of the year as far as British True Believers are concerned has to be this month’s Revolutionary War. Devised by co-writers and former Marvel UK staffers Andy Lanning and Alan Cowsill, the eight-issue series will see the return of Marvel’s erstwhile British imprint’s much-loved ’90s stable of characters, namely Death’s Head, Motormouth, Knights Of Pendragon, Warheads and Dark Angel, two decades after the ambitious but shortlived comic book line last saw the light of day.
“I was sadly aware that 20 years was scarily long and I thought that we should try and do something to mark the occasion,” says Lanning, who persuaded Marvel editor Steve Wacker to green-light the project. “It’s been surprising for them as quite a few people have been coming out of the woodwork saying how much they loved the Marvel UK stuff. Hopefully, with the people we’ve got on board, at the very least we can come up with a good rollicking story and keep fanning the flames of interest, so maybe we can do some more stuff later on off the back of it.”
Bookended by the recent Alpha and the upcoming Omega issues by Lanning, Cowsill and artist Richard Elson, Revolutionary War comprises a number of special one-shots over the next few months. The co-authors are also scripting Death’s Head for Transformers illustrator Nick Roche and Warheads for Gary Erskine, who actually co-created the futuristic mercenaries in 1992. Additionally, Kieron Gillen is penning Dark Angel for
Dietrich Smith, former Marvel UK editor Glen Dakin is taking on Motormouth and Rob Williams is writing Knights Of Pendragon for Will Sliney and Super Soldiers for Brent Anderson.
“As much as possible, we’ve tried to keep a flavour of the Marvel UK family so we’ve got a core of British and Irish writers and artists,” says Lanning. “Richard Elson was involved during the early days of Marvel UK and it’s fantastic that Gary is coming back to draw Warheads because his style really defined that series. But he only ever drew two and a half issues so Gary himself feels that it’s like unfinished business. He loved the series and is chomping at the bit to get back into it. And Nick Roche grew up on this stuff, which makes me feel incredibly old!’”
With his long-time partnership with Dan Abnett currently on hold, Lanning realised that he needed a new co-writer once Revolutionary War was given the go-ahead. “I work best when I can bounce ideas off somebody else so I was floundering around in a panic for a while, thinking, ‘Blimey, I can’t do all this stuff on my own because I don’t know enough about the continuity involved’,” he admits. “I then thought of Alan because he was at Marvel UK for the majority of its heyday and since then he’s become the go-to-guy for basically anything that’s to do with British comics.”
The author of numerous Marvel reference books for publisher Dorling Kindersley, Cowsill made the perfect foil. “I’ve got quite a good knowledge of the whole thing,” he claims. “I’ve pretty much read everything.”
The Marvel UK characters’ adventures – which were serialised in weekly anthology title, Overkill, as well as being published in the usual US monthly format – fused traditional American superheroic tropes
The idea that they’re slightly kooky and off-kilter is what makes them interesting
with more cutting edge 2000 AD- inspired sci-fi. “They were kind of like a strange beast to begin with,” recalls Lanning. “In researching them and going back through the old stories, we’ve discovered that there’s a lot of fondness for them. There’s a lot of hokey stuff in there as well, but that’s kind of fun too. The idea that they’re slightly kooky and off-kilter is what made these characters interesting in the first place. The best thing about them is that