Bad Azz Mojo - Part 2

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Known for his darker takes on humanity in his famous Vertigo stories, Brian Azzarello chatted with Broken Frontier about his stories and where they come from. Up next: Deathblow.

Part One: Loveless

BROKEN FRONTIER: Your next big project is for the Wildstorm Universe: revamping Deathblow along with Carlos D’Anda. This isn’t your first experience with the character—

BRIAN AZZARELLO: Correct, I wrote Batman/Deathblow a number of years ago.

BF: Was Deathblow your choice to work on?  Is there anything in particular about him that you liked?

BA: Well, I think like most people out there I have these fond memories of the character in my youth.  You know, crawling up in the blankets as a child and reading the latest Deathblowbook.

[Author’s note – at this point there was a loud sustained laughter for 5 minutes on both ends of the conversation.]

BF: So, then why did you take the book?

BA: That’s easy.  Because Jim Lee asked me to do it and I don’t say “No” to Jim.

BF: Since the Wildstorm Universe has reset itself, were you given complete freedom to go ahead and tell any tale you would like?


BF: So you’re saying you didn’t have to go back and re-read all those old Deathblow stories you loved for research?

BA: No. But, I wouldn’t have to do that anyway because I have all those old books committed to memory, as I am sure you and everyone else does.  I’ve read those books so many times I wouldn’t need to read them again. [Laughs]

BF: I think it was actually Deathblow that ended my ability to stand Brandon Choi scripting anymore.

BA: [Laughs] I love the name.

BF: That’s about all there was.  At least in my opinion, it took a gifted writer to be able to make a book drawn by Jim Lee and Tim Sale barely readable.

BA: Well, what’s funny about that – and obviously I’m being facetious about my undying love for Deathblow books – is that once this book was announced with me as the writer, a lot of artists have come up to me and told me how much they loved the character and how much it meant to them.  He’s got a little of that Batman thing, I guess. 

You can count on one hand the amount of artists that don’t want to draw Batman.  Every single one.  Visually that character has everything that a comic book artist wants to draw.  And for some reason, Deathblow has some of that too.  Not as much obviously, but it’s definitely there.

BF: Is that because he’s such a dark character?

BA: Maybe, but to be honest I have no idea.

BF: Or is because everyone remembers Jim Lee and Tim Sale?

BA: I think that’s got something to do with it, because the fans really like that character too.  I’m at a loss. [Laughs]


BF: I remember it being a very interesting series.  Because as the first two issues came out—

BA: You realized how cool his name was, right?

BF: Well, aside from that. [Laughs] The first issue came out – which was the one Jim Lee illustrated – and it looked like a dark story of an ex-military guy on his deathbed who needs to do this one last thing.  But then it took a very weird turn in there and suddenly this was a horror tale.  Is there any story in particular that you are looking to tell?

BA: I’m sure some people will think what I’m doing is horrible. [Laughs] But my stuff is going to be much more grounded.  We won’t be dealing with the whole angels and devils theme.

He’s a soldier; that’s what he is. CODENAME: DEATHBLOW! [Laughs]

BF: So should we be expecting more of a war book?  Espionage?

BA: You will see him in warfare, but it’s war as currently fought; more of a terrorist mode than war combat. 

BF: Will there be any crossover within the Wildstorm Universe?

BA: Yeah, just not in my book! [Laughs]  I’m sure The Authority and Wildcats will cross over every other month.  But I am being very selfish with my Deathblow. I won’t share him.

BF: Will this be one single story as you’ve set up in 100 Bullets and Loveless or will this be an ongoing?

BA: No, I definitely have one story in mind and when it is finished I will walk away.

BF: Since this is not “your” character, despite calling him “my Deathblow,” was there any need to be careful with what you did with him?

BA: Not at all.

BF: So you’ve been given a good amount of freedom?

BA: Oh c’mon!  This is like having someone else’s GI Joe!  I keep taking his head off and throwing it at a tree!  Putting him on the BBQ, attaching an M-80 to his back!  It’s not MY GI Joe, because I would never do that to my GI Joe.

BF: So you’re putting him through the paces?

BA: Yeah, it’s safe to say that.  And the readers will definitely be put through the paces as well.  This book will keep readers off balance.  Just when you think you have it figured out, the rug will be pulled out from under you.

BF: But him being someone else’s character, were you required to keep him safe, so to speak?  So that he would be around for future Deathblow fans?

BA: Yes.  I can tell you that I know where it ends.  I know what position he is in when it ends and editorially at Wildstorm they are happy with where I will have dropped the character by then.

BF: In terms of an artist, we’ve discussed your fantastic runs with them already, was Carlos D’Anda your choice as well?

BA: He and I have talked about working together.  He’s done Outsiders, but he’s basically a Wildstorm guy.

BF: Now, with this multitude of artists that you’ve worked with, do you find yourself writing differently for them?

BA: Sometimes I do.  I try not to and originally with all of them I don’t, but if I see that someone needs a bit more art direction I’ll put it in there.  I always try to leave that out at first because I want these artists to have as much freedom as they can to bring their own touch and do what they want with the book – because this is a collaboration and I feel guilty telling them what they have to draw.

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