We are thrilled to be sharing with you the entirety of the seventh issue of Michael Avon Oeming’s “The Victories” here on Multiversity today. Not only that, but we have an interview with Mike as well, where he talks about the series as a whole, as well as this issue in specific.
Before we get to that though, we have some news: “The Victories” will be ending with issue #15. This is not a cancellation, but rather a natural end point for the story. Don’t worry, though – Mike assures us that he is leaving the possibility open to more “Victories” stories in the future.
If you happen to find yourself in Seattle this weekend, make sure to stop by the Multiversity/Dark Horse “Big ECCC Party” to benefit the Hero Initiative. Mike will be there, and so will we!
So, Mike, let’s not bury the lede here – the final arc of “The Victories” starts with issue #11 – was this story always meant to be a relatively brief one, or has something within the story pushed your decision to limit the series?
The Victories ongoing series was always planned as a sort of living thing. These three arcs, Transuman, Posthuman and Metahuman were all part of one large story. This is all I had planned out. When we get to issue 15 (which concludes 21 issues of Comics counting the first mini and a 3 part DHP story) you’ll see the story comes to a definite ending- that leaves an opening for a very different continuation should we choose to go on. However, I’ve been living with Victories for about 3 years from conception to release and I’m looking forward to doing something new, and certainly something less dark. Between Wild Rover and this, it’s been a lot pulling from the darkest recesses of my mind to write this stuff.
As a writer and artist, how do you approach the physical creation of each issue? Are you working from an outline you give yourself, or do you sit down and start drawing and see what comes out?
Exactly. Usually, the outline is very loose, Marvel Style, but with page by page descriptions. Sometimes I have to write those pages out, but I usually figure it out as I draw it. So script and layouts happen almost backward sometimes, most especially when I stray off script. When I can, I like to get away from the desk, and write either at a “creative retreat” in the mountains to at one of my favorite writing spots in Portland, like coffee shops or the giant Powells book store. The “creative retreat” in the mountains was great, got a ton of writing done there with Taki Soma (Rapture and our next secret project) , Dan Berman (Co-writer on Thor, Co-creator of God Complex and SIX), David Marquez (Ultimate Spiderman and Guardians of the Galaxy) and Tara Rhymes (Joyners 3D with Marquez). Looking forward to doing this again. I wrote most of the ending of the series surrounded by snow, trees and Mt. Hood.
There are some clear analogues within the series, such as Faustus as the vigilante Batman type and Metatron as the god-like Superman. Obviously, these character types have been used and reused for many years, with the results being far more diverse than would be expected. What drew you to these archetypes as fodder for this story?
I like beginning with Archetypes, it’s a good tool. However, they have to quickly break free of that and become their own thing or they just become a two dimensional crutch, a short cut to thinking and creativity. With these two, they were a spring board for some of my darkest thoughts, some pulled from my life, much pulled from my mothers life and those of friends. Metatron was an expression of the abuse the psychological industry has put so many people through over the years. There is a thing called “Psychic Driving” where this guy Ewan Cameron gave people drugs, put them into sleep induced comas and played messages telling them that they hated or killed their mother in an attempt to wipe their minds clean and replace their thoughts with whatever the doctors wanted. There is a documentary called the Sleep Room you can check out. Anyway, this is one example of the horrible things done to peoples minds. MKultra is another well documented program created by the CIA. My mother spent some time in these kind of places, went through electro shock therapy, given drugs that only made her situation worse and I think eventually contributed to her death. So thats what Metatron was all about…. doesn’t really feel like Superman anymore does it?
The ongoing series, as opposed to the mini, which was focused almost much more on Faustus,has been focused on the team as a whole. Which of the characters has been the most satisfying to explore? Which character looks different now than when you originally started working on the book?
Easily DD MAU was the most fun to write and most unexpected. She was based on a type- we all know them, blow-hards who are so insecure, they always need to be the biggest personality in the room and call attention to anything cool they have done, bragging about themselves at any possible moment. Again with my mother, she always had weight problems that went hand in hand with her depression and most women I’ve known well have body issues which is an extremely complicated subject I could never encapsulate here or even in a comic. So combining those things with a truly heroic heart and she became the break out character of the series.
But by the end, I think it’s Faustus who we will see grow the most from his first appearance to the last issue. He has the largest arc.
“Powers” looks at superheroes through the eyes of the police force – is there a specific type of person that “The Victories” looks at superheroes through the eyes of? A sociopath, perhaps?
I think it would be the eyes of vulnerability. It’s not about crazy people or depressed people, it’s about all of our vulnerabilities, the issues that are the compass to our personalities. This is what I mean by an adult comic, or “realistic heroes”. It’s not about tits and ass or blood and guts, its the building blocks of who we are, thats what makes a character real to me.
Besides the obvious parallels of both books being about superheroes from a non-standard angle, what are the similarities, for you, between “The Victories” and “Powers?”
I think they both share a common aesthetic because they are both seen through my eyes. I think any fan of Powers would be a fan of the Victories. They know neither is a book to judge on one issue, characters and events build, they don’t just show up for wrestling matches. Also, DH doesn’t publish Powers, but we’ve begun a nice merchandising relationship with them, with Powers PVC figures and a pretty awesome Retro Girl statue.
One of the most effective parts of the mini was just how unresolved Faustus felt at the end of it – it wasn’t a clear happy or sad ending – it was very close to how things tend to resolve themselves in real life. That same lack of resolution has filtered through the series as a whole as well – while the actions the characters do are the farthest thing from reality, the emotional damage and baggage feels entirely real. Is that a tough line to walk from a writing standpoint?
Thanks… its not so tough because that’s how life is. There is rarely a reckoning, or real justice. Often if “justice” is carried out, it still doesn’t change the damage that was caused in the first place.
You mentioned DD being a character that brought you a lot of enjoyment, and much of that is due to the backstory you were able to give her. If the series wasn’t so limited, what would be the next character you’d like to dig into and really explore?
These first arcs were all a build up to a much larger Cosmic Jack Kirby kind of story, first exploring the personal feelings and experiences of being human building to observations and questions about humanity it’self. You can see my love of the “Ancient Alien” philosophy building in the series, I love that stuff because it reminds me very much of the best of Joseph Cambells work (even though it flies in the face of Cambell) questioning what it means to be human and how art and stories reflect that. I think the last issue will shock everyone…. Maybe I can return to this world again, but I need an emotional break from it.
Your desire to do something less dark is an understandable one – what do you do when drawing to ensure that you don’t let the darkness get you down too much?
Drawing doesn’t get too dark, but the writing does. It takes me to places that I’ve been in the past, things I still deal with, current and new anxieties… kind of darker is going down the paths my mother has been through. She has been abused by nuns, husbands, doctors and most importantly herself. That’s some dark stuff. Also a gift from my mother that continues in my work and life.
As someone who almost always has music playing around the house, I’d love to know what your go to working soundtrack is. Is it music to pump you up? Help you concentrate? Neither?
Music puts me into some kind of zone. I can do anything with music on. I actually enjoy washing dishes with tunes playing:) I like a lot of electro, electro pop like Metric, the Knife, Lykke Li, Washed Out, American’s UK and lots 80’s new wave. Big into the classics, you know, Zeppelin and Floyd!
We are running the entirety of issue 7 on Multiversity – what do people need to know going in?
Issue 7 truly shows what a real hero is. All of the heroes have voluntarily turned themselves in to quarantine after a plague breaks out that is caused by heroes DNA, a mutation that may wipe out humanity. But once they do turn themselves in, they find this is no quarantine, but a prison camp. DD Mau steps up the plate, saving everyone with magical move that contrasts here self centered nature with her heroic side. What happens in this issue also plays in the FINAL issue of Victories in a big way. This issue also has a Lady Dragon story, giving background to her character finally and it’s drawn by Taki Soma. It’s kind of an all female spotlight issue!
Finally, if our readers haven’t checked out the book yet, why should they? Sell ’em hard, Mike!
The Victories is about the heroes behind the mask, not the wrestling matches, not the robots from space, but that is all there. If you have real characters with true motivations behind those wrestling matches and robot fights, it creates the kind of book you find in Powers and a few other gems. Plus, it has monsters with willies and boobies.