Forceful Nazi Hunting

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What happens when a US military soldier, a psychic, a ninja and a vampire go hunting for minions of the Third Reich following Hitler’s defeat? We don’t know, but Shawn Lewis does, as he provides the answers in Dakuwaka’s Force 51, to be released in August.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Essentially, Force 51 deals with the remnants of Nazism following its defeat during World War II. Since the idea by itself can’t be called original—famous and less-known characters, ranging from Captain America and The Defenders to Hellboy and Liberty Girl have all dealt with it—what kind of spin have you put on the topic?

SHAWN LEWIS: Captain America! The comic that really started it all for me! Actually Frederik, I don’t think that era or the people of it have been covered enough. It’s sort of hard for our later generations to grasp the enormity of World War II. It would be like Iraq invading Australia after it invaded Kuwait during the first Gulf War!

The Nazi party was the first real threat to global domination.  The Axis’ were hell-bent on world conquest and genocide, and that threat really did spawn the greatest generation the world had and will ever see. Our spin on it will deal more with the characters and what war has done to them, both good and bad.

BF: I’m sure all that means that your interpretation of the surviving Nazis doesn’t border on the crazy and the loony, as seen in some comics…

SL: Indeed. I’ve definitely gone for a more serious approach. Other than the footage of the concentration camps and its survivors, the scariest films of World War II are of the Nuremberg trials. Frank, Goering, Frick, although they were monsters, weren’t crazy or loony. The Nazi party was a political machine, and the leaders of it were politicians. Hitler, possibly driven mad by syphilis, was the only crazy one of them all.

BF: The cast of Force 51 seems to be a bit of a mixed bunch, as it includes a soldier, a ninja, a psychic, a vampire and others. Why did you stack the team with such a diverse member base?   

Click to enlarge Click to enlargeSL: Being the global war that it was, I thought it was important to show how different cultures and countries had to deal with it. The Japanese character, Shine, has to deal with the atrocities committed by his country, the Russian character, Argent, has to deal with the war destroying his homeland and the life he used to live, whereas the younger characters like Shard, Shrapnel and Powderkegg weren’t affected as much by it.  

BF: The diverse nature of the team leads me to ask, did fate bring these people together, or were they brought together by a government or a corporation?

SL: A bit of a spoiler here... While it at first it appears the Force has been brought together by the Allies to sort of mop-up the remains of the Axis’, it will soon become clear that there are others pulling the strings. That’s a bit cliché, I know, but it’s the best way for me to describe it!

BF: Another problem with the ‘melting pot’ aspect is that different backgrounds and ethnics might cause cracks in team unity sooner or later. Will that road be travelled in this book?  

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeSL: Definitely! In the first issue, Argent, the vampire, is on the verge of killing Shine and drinking him dry! It kicks back to your earlier question about having such diverse characters; Argent, for example, with his experiences in Russia during the war, has a sort of “eat or be eaten” mentality.  Literally. There will be a lot of trust issues between the members of the Force, but there will also be some little cliques being formed between some of the members.

BF: One final question about your roster: does the team find a natural leader in the war-tested Captain Murphy, or does Force 51 go about its operations without a clear go-to guy?

SL: Boy, you’ve got me throwing spoilers out all over the place! The Force does begin to trust Murphy, until they find out that he is not the “real” Captain Murphy, or even American for that matter. That’s all I’m going to say at this point!

BF: This project is your first foray into comics. How did you find a home at Dakuwaka Productions?

SL: Mike Penny is very open to finding new talent and projects. He likes to do contests and things, and in entering one, we kind of struck up a friendship and started spit-balling some ideas I had that were very similar to Helios. Mike came up with some new ways to tackle the Force 51 book and we were off and running.

BF: Do you consider starting out at a smaller independent company an advantage over debuting through a bigger one, like Oni, Narwain, or even Image?

SL: Certainly! The only guidelines Mike gave me for Force 51 were “32 pages an issue”. I mean, where else except the Indies are you going to find that kind of creative freedom?

BF: For Dakuwaka, you’re also working on a four-issue mini series entitled Purity. What can you tell us about that and when can readers expect it to hit comic outlets?

SL: Purity, at its very base nature, deals with the fact that there is no such thing as 'purity'. The kindest of men will practice some sort of malice, and the vilest of men all perform some sort of kindness. I know, I know, could I be any more vague? But I’ve given you enough spoilers! It will be coming out in November, and can best be described as "Constantine meets The Prophecy."

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