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Inside Look: Noble Causes #32

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Last week saw a dramatic turning point for Jay Faerber’s saga of the wealthy super-hero family the Nobles. The book jumped five years into the future providing new readers with an accessible jumping-on point and rewarding old fans with an intriguing new status quo. The solicitation for the issue reads:

New direction! New family members! New character designs! If you love Dynamo 5, you'll love Noble Causes! Set five years after the events of Noble Causes #31, this issue is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers! Doc Noble has rededicated the Noble family to be the world's preeminent super-heroes, but even as they take a more pro-active approach to fighting crime on a global scale, they still harbor dark secrets and hidden agendas.

Noble Causes #32 is written by Jay Faerber with art by Yildiray Cinar and Ron Riley and is published by Image Comics. Jay guides us through the issue below…

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Noble Causes #32 marks a huge shake-up for the book. Previous issues were marred by some pretty bad scheduling issues, so we went on hiatus after issue #31 in order to both get the book back on schedule, but also perform a pretty significant revamp. The problem with doing a creator-owned book like Noble Causes is that you don’t have the ability to shake things up by hiring a new writer and launching in a "bold new direction," like DC and Marvel can do. Well, I suppose I could hire a new writer, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of doing a creator-owned book, wouldn’t it? Anyway, the point is, I had to think of another way to convince people that they could pick up the book with #32 and not be lost. The way we did this was to jump ahead 5 years in the book’s timeline, which basically leveled the playing field for everyone. All readers, veterans and newbies, would be on equal footing when it came to the book’s characters and status quo.

Noble Causes #32 Pages 1 and 2

Page 1

I wrestled for awhile with how exactly to convey the "five years later" aspect of the timeline. I was afraid that starting with a caption that said "five years later" would be immediately off-putting to new readers, because it suggests coming in in the middle of things. And that went against everything we were trying to accomplish. At the same time, I also didn’t want to not address it at all, because you can’t always assume readers have read the marketing or solicitation materials. I finally hit on the idea of having one of the characters simply say the line, in reference to another character being in the bathroom for so long. It’s subtle and, I hope, funny.

Page 2

I think colorist Ron Riley and letterer Charles Pritchett really did a nice job with the TV screen effects, as seen in this first panel. I also like the bit with the bad guys not realizing that they’re watching Olympia about to break into their hideout.

Noble Causes #32 Pages 12-13

Pages 12-13

This is our first look at Noble Island, the Noble family’s island headquarters, in an undisclosed part of the South Pacific. Artist Yildiray Cinar is really great at taking two pages of script and making them into a great spread. He really knows how to convey a lot of information on a page, without sacrificing scope or storytelling. Colorist Ron Riley has always had a particularly effective way of coloring skies and water, and that’s on full display here.

Page 15

This is our introduction to a new supporting character, Colonel Comet, or simply "the Colonel," as he’s usually called. He’s married to Celeste, in what appears to be a nod to an Anna Nicole Smith-like marriage. When I was planning the revamp, there were certain characters I struggled with. I wasn’t sure what sort of changes to implement. Celeste was one of them. When I hit on the idea that she’d be married to a senile old super-hero, I just fell in love with the whole thing. I remember gleefully telling Brian Vaughan about it, and he responded, "The Colonel is my new favorite Noble character." Mine too.

Noble Causes #32 Pages 15, 17 and 19

Page 17

I’m including this page pretty much for the art alone. That fifth panel, with Doc yelling at a stoic Rusty is just so full of life. I love the contrast of Doc being so animated, and Rusty just motionless. And the sixth panel, squarely on Rusty’s face, is another classic. The last panel perfectly captures the exasperation I was going for in the script.

Page 19

Page 19 contains the first of the issue’s two big twists. I read one review online where the reviewer didn’t know who the metal guy was supposed to be. But in case it was lost on you, this is Crucible, the metal bad guy from the first page, who conveniently excuses himself just before the Nobles bust in. We learn here that this is because Frost tipped him off. It’s implied that Crucible has something on Frost … information of some kind that he’d prefer the Nobles not find out. This will come back into play later on in the series.

Page 20

The last-page shocker (right), pretty much a staple in Noble Causes. Amy, the civilian girlfriend of Surge Noble, appeared to be just a brunette Liz Donnelly (the normal girl who dated Race Noble in previous issues, and was the focus of the series). Well, here’s where we find out that Amy is pretty much nothing like Liz. I’m a firm believer that every issue needs to end with something that leaves the reader wanting more. It doesn’t always have to be a cliffhanger, but when one of my stories ends, I want the reader to immediately want to read the next issue. This is especially important with first issues, which this issue is (sort of).

Some of the subplots set up in this issue are paid off in the very next issues, and some won’t be paid off for another year or so. The trick to doing a team book like this is to dole out your subplots in a staggered kind of order, so some are short-term and some are long-term. And for every subplot you pay off, you should start another one, so that the book’s always moving forward … sometimes even five years forward.

Noble Causes #32 is out now from Image Comics priced $3.50

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