Please visit our sister site:
To view ComicBoards.com,
you must use a browser
with cookies enabled.
brought to you by:
Alvaro Ortiz & Dave Galanter
boards and related scripts
© 2006 Alvaro Ortiz.
Site design © 2006
An interview with
Fabian Nicieza & Kurt Busiek
Randy "Moonstonelover" Burtis
My thanks to Fabian & Kurt
for taking the time out of their very busy schedules
to do this. A tip of the hat also to Comicboards
poster BobMM who gave me some of the questions
to ask. For clarity FA: is Fabian's answer.
KA: is Kurt's answer.
AVENGERS Versus THUNDERBOLTS
The Limited Series
Q: What in your opinion
is the best issue of Thunderbolts that each
FA: It's hard to top Kurt's
issue #1 just because of how perfectly it was
all set-up and executed, but the issue where
Hawkeye showed up and kicked their butts comes
in pretty close.
KA: Single best? I really
enjoyed the LIFE SENTENCES special that Charles Adlard drew -- very nice stuff in there for
Abe and Melissa.
Q: What nonThunderbolt
related work by the each other do you think
is his best work?
FA: Marvels. Astro City.
Avengers. JLAvengers. I liked a lot of the work
he did on Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Heck,
I even enjoyed Ninjak!
I'm also really looking forward to his Superman
project with Stuart Immonen.
I like a lot of what Kurt does and have the
gaping hole in my wallet to prove it.
KA: I'm partial to NEW
WARRIORS #1-25, though BLACKBURNE COVENANT is
real good, too.
Q: What is a future project
you would love to work on with the each other?
FA: I think after we're
done with this project, Kurt won't want to do
anything else with me! I make him work so hard
to make the book good, he never has time for
the "sipping daquiris by the pool"
that most co-writers anticipate.
KA: Ordinarily, I'm in
favor of writers writing solo -- this just seemed
to be a special case. So if it was a future
project, I'd prefer it be a multi-book project
where me and Fabes and others could create a
buch of books that work well together and then
each do our own stories within that structure.
That'd be fun.
Q: Scenario-you are doing
the Avengers/Thunderbolts mini
and you have one idea for a character or plot
The other writer has a different one. Tom Brevoort
says, "You two
work it out...". Who wins?
FA: Kurt tends to win
because he's usually right. And even when he's
not, he nags me enough so I just give up the
fight. My kids are older than his, so I'm generally
punch-drunk and far less inclined to put up
KA: Me! I have more Eisner
Awards, and can batter Fabes senseless with
Q: What do you think it
would take to see a regular
Thunderbolt series a reality again?
FA: The Limited Series
selling well and a spin for a new TBolts book
that justifies publishing it.
KA: Good sales and reader
response on this project, maybe.
Q: How far along are you
on the mini?
FA: Not as far along as
we should be, but we're working on it.
KA: The whole thing's
outlined, and Fabes is polishing #3 and roughing
#4. I'm drinking pina coladas and shouting "Attaway!"
every time he finishes a page.
Q:What has been the most
interesting or rewarding thing in working with
each other on this project so far?
FA: Just how he can help
me wrap my brain around a scene to make it work
better. It can be the same scene I wrote, but
a nip here, a tuck there, and it's ten times
stronger. He would have been a great line editor
if he'd ever been given a chance.
KA: Having written the
book for so long (longer than me!), Fabes has
different take on the characters, evolving them
in his own direction. So
in figuring out what they do, we find interesting
intersections where my
conception pops up again in the context of his
take, or vice versa. It
makes them more nuanced, richer as characters.
Q: What has been the hardest thing about working together on this project so far?
FA: Time. Co-writing eats
more time out of the schedule, combined with
the fact he's on West Coast time and I'm on
real time, it makes it a bit harder to coordinate
KA: He builds a story
differently from how I do -- so it's not as
me to translate a story from his outline or
script. We go back and forth on scene structure
a lot, but with good results, I think.
Q: How did you choose the
particular Avengers who will appear in this
FA: There are so many
possible choices now, that I kinda went to my
"ideal line-up," made up mostly from
the characters involved during my favorite run
of the book between #137 and #162. Purely emotional
fan-boy stuff from me. And though we couldn't
get the Beast in there, I'm still trying to
figure out a way to squeeze in a cameo! ;-)
If I'm remembering correctly, Fabian rattled of a list of Avengers he wanted to use, and Tom Brevoort and I said, "Yeah, sounds good." They're all classics, with a nice range of personalities and attitudes toward the 'Bolts -- so they'll make a very recognizable and dynamic ensemble.
Q: Hasn't the Thunderbolts
story been told?
FA: Apparently not. ;-)
But the serious answer is, very few stories
of characters that are developed with sequential
release in mind are ever completely "told."
You could end one phase of a character's "life,"
but that could and should simply open up a new
or different phase. Sometimes, that phase is
worth telling, "Lex Luthor becomes President."
Or it might not. "Lex Luthor gets a job
at a 7-Eleven." Perhaps the story of SOME
of the current characters in the Thunderbolts
might be reaching a logical conclusion to their
original premise. Perhaps not.
KA: Um, what's "told"
about it that isn't also "told" about, say,
JLA or Batman or X-Men or Spider-Man? They've
all explored their subjects for much longer
and are still doing so.
Q: What is it about the
concept that makes it worth reviving?
FA: Dumb people trying
to do smart things, bad people trying to be
good, unrepentant bastards trying to repent
-- I mean what part of the concept ISN'T worth
KA: The T-Bolts, to my mind,
is worth reviving because it's still unpredictable
and still has plenty of places to go. It's been
described as a series about redemption, but
it's not as simple as that. Some of them are
redeemed, some are still trying, some don't
particularly want to be redeemed and some are
unredeemable. It's also a series about manipulation,
and about self-interest -- which aren't your
usual superhero subjects. The team and the characters
could still jump in any direction. Back when
I was writing T-Bolts, in the second year or
so, I loved having Moonstone on the team because
she was so selfish, so manipulative -- it was
like having Loki on the Avengers. Except, of
course, that Loki wouldn't join the Avengers
and the Avengers wouldn't have him if he wanted
That, to my mind, is the great strength
of the T-Bolts -- you can have Moonstone on
the team and it makes perfect sense. Hell, you
can have Zemo on the team. And that sort of
thing opens up the possibilities in a way no
other series can duplicate. Is the T-Bolts'
story "told"? Heck, no -- if it continued beyond
this mini I know what the next stage of it could
be, and it's a whole new beginning, with a different
dynamic, a different "heart." It wouldn't be
"told" until it stopped being open to changes
Q: The Thunderbolts concept
seems to be deeply rooted in Marvel continuity.
Is there some essence that can be made accessible
to new readers, or casual readers? Or, if lightning
should strike, to a movie audience?
FA: Good craft should
take care of that problem. I don't think there's
anything about the current status quo of each
team that isn't clearly and neatly summarized
by the end of the first issue.
KA: I don't know about
a movie audience -- the concept of super-villains
trying to act as heroes is a bit complicated
to get across in the first act of a movie, so
I think it works better when readers are already
familiar with superhero ideas. But we heard
from plenty of new readers over the series'
run. To a new reader, Songbird is no more "rooted"
in continuity that Spider-Man -- maybe less
So I'd just say as long as the stories are interesting
and the stuff new readers need to know is explained
in an accessible manner, then it'll work just
fine for new readers. Too many people are scared
of any reference to history -- but to a new
reader, it's all new anyway. they don't know
which bits are new, which are references to
something the other readers already know and
which are obscure. They just react to it as
a story. If it's a good story, well told, no
Q: Okay for the next questions
I want you to let your mind wander and talk
about what you see in the following characters
and how it relates to the Avengers Versus Thunderbolt
FA: Is this a word association
game? One word? If so... Honor
KA: He believes in protecting
freedom so that the citizenry can make their
KA: He believes in redemption.
Everyone can turn their life around -- after
all, he did.
KA: He believes in the
aristocracy -- that there are people better
to lead, to make decisions. The best of them
have named beginning with
Z. And ending with EMO. And four letters long.
KA: She believes that the
person who pulls the strings is the person who
feathers her nest best. Clearly, she believes
in mixing metaphors.
KA: She believes the law
needs a helping hand, but the law matters, and
it's good for megalomaniacs to have someone
standing behind them with a
loaded gun, in case they go too far.
KA: He believes in puppies
and bratwurst and in good leadership, if only
can find some. And in Dallas.
Mach 3 -
KA: He used to believe he was one of life's losers, and the only way to make a mark was to bite back. Now he's not sure what he believes, except that there are a whole lot more possibilities and a whole lot you have to be willing to pay for a shot at them. But it's probably worth it.
KA: She believes that if you do the right thing long enough, you really
ought to get the chance to relax and have a pleasant life. Maybe even a white picket fence and a kid or two. How long is long enough to redeem yourself?
KA: He believes in challeges. Technical challenges most. They're what make life fun. Plus, you know, money and sex, but overcoming challenges is the best.
Eat Earth! Dig Deep! Drink Water! Spit back pesticides on humanity!
The new member that is going to join-
FA: Nice try.
KA: He or she has deep
beliefs of his or her own.
KA: He believes in the
'sweet spot,' voting every election, soft core
pornography, chocolate chip cookies, opening
your presents on Christmas morning rather than
Christmas Eve, and he believes in long, slow,
deep, soft, wet kisses that last seven days.
No, wait, that's someone else.
He believes there's
an answer to everything, but that the best answers
aren't technical. He does believe in the small
of a woman's back, though.
FA: Repression looking
KA: She believes in heart.
Good hearts, bad hearts -- and that expecting
badhearted person to develop a good one usually
only happens on
KA: He believes there
are people better suited to leading, too, to
decisions for others. But he spells the name
differently -- five
letters! -- and he thinks that making decisions
that are in the best interest
of large groups of people often serves them
better than letting them
make those decisions themselves. But he thinks
it's that "best interest"
that should matter most.
Q:Who do you think is the
others favorite Avenger?
KA: Braniac 5!
No, wait. I'm gonna guess Cap.
Q:Who do you think is the
others favorite Thunderbolt?
FA: Mach 1.
Q: Sum up what you see
is the core issue this mini plugs into.
FA: I think the core issue
of this series is trust. Can you trust someone
bad to do something good? Can you trust yourself
to make a fair choice?
KA: I think the core issues
are -- where do you draw the lines? Who can you
trust? Do the ends justify the means? Are some
Do they deserve a chance anyway? And how far
can you go before you
can't tell the difference between you and the
Q: Who had the say on getting
Barry Kitson in as the artist? How has it been
working with him?
FA: I think that was Tom's
move. I've enjoyed it a lot. He is very enthusiastic
about the characters and very involved in helping
to develop them visually.
KA: As I recall, it was
Tom's decision. But Barry's a good guy and a
terrific artist, and has done some great new
costume designs for the book.
He's giving it a strong, distinctive look.
Q: When the series is all
said and done what do you want the readers to
take from it?
FA: That there are never
any easy answers when you're dealing with big
picture issues. That good guys can makes mistakes.
And bad guys can try to do right... but is trying
in and of itself always enough?
KA: Six issues of action,
character drama, and fun, in a way they couldn't
get in any other book. This ain't the JLA, it
ain't the Authority, it
ain't the FF, it ain't the X-Men -- it's two
very distinctive teams with a lot of issues
and history between them. And that's what makes
it so engaging to bring them together.
Discuss this interview at:
Avengers Message Board OR
Thunderbolts Message Board