Acclaimed comic book writer and Man of Action Entertainment co-founder Joe Casey wants to inject some good old-fashioned 70s and 80s metal into your next comic book session. From the Man of Action Entertainment imprint at Image Comics comes New Lieutenants of Metal, a story from the mind of Casey that features the artwork of Ulises Fariñas (Catalyst Comix, GAMMA, Judge Dredd: Mega City Two) and tells the tale of a precision strike force that’s ready to face any threat, and is the most kick-ass, head-banging heroes ever assembled! With names like The Mighty Krieg, Vandenborg Riot, Manowarrior, and Steppenwulf, metalheads out there should enjoy the musical references while even casual comic book readers will find a lot to love in New Lieutenants of Metal.
I had a chance to talk to Casey ahead of the comic’s first issue arriving on the most metal of holidays, July 4th. We talked about the genesis of the comic’s idea, the suggested screaming and streaming soundtrack that sets the mood for each issue, the clash of musical genres and cultures that will set up conflicts in New Lieutenants of Metal, and the possibilities of the comic making its way to the small screen in animated form like Man of Action’s hit series Ben 10. See what Casey had to say along with some early looks at the new comic below!
What’s the genesis of the idea for ‘New Lieutenants of Metal’? Where did it come from?
JOE CASEY: Who can say for sure where these bizarre ideas come from? Somewhere deep in the fevered corners of my brain, maybe? I think the actual name came first. I just liked the sound of it. It lent itself to certain kinds of characters and a certain kind of comic book so I just started building from there. To be honest, it’s not rocket science. It’s just about letting your imagination run amok and being willing to go with it, no matter where it goes.
I love the idea of a metal playlist to accompany each issue. What ties these specific tracks and bands to this particular story?
JOE CASEY: It’s more of a mood soundtrack. There’s a specific era of metal — late 70s to late 80s — that, in retrospect, seems like such a unique moment in music history, never to be repeated. The level of invention, the fashion, the lifestyle, the subversion, the ethos… it all adds up to some strange sociological statement that I was definitely interested in exploring (through lots of big explosions).
For folks who might not be well versed in metal history, what do the New Lieutenants have in common with famous bands and musicians from metal lore? (ie Steppenwulf, Manowarrior)
JOE CASEY: As with all things metal, there’s a superficial quality to certain things that, over time, become much deeper and much more spiritual. Metal is about triumph of the will. It’s about experiencing trial by fire and coming out stronger on the other side. The members of the NLOM have their own trials to overcome, both as a team and as individuals. And hopefully readers will take these characters into their hearts in the same way a generation embraced Metallica’s Master of Puppets album in 1986 or Rob Liefeld’s X-Force in 1991.
What makes metal a perfect, though underrepresented, musical genre for this particular story and these characters?
JOE CASEY: Metal and superheroes — especially superheroes like these — go together like death and taxes. It’s all about size and power. I would also venture to guess that the New Lieutenants of Metal are absolutely the LOUDEST superhero team you’ve ever been pummeled with.
What are some influences that inspired the art style of ‘New Lieutenants of Metal’?
JOE CASEY: I’m not sure this kind of art style has ever been seen in this kind of over-the-top action comicbook. To me, that’s an interesting juxtaposition. Now, the art style is all down to Ulises Farinas. This is a creator-owned Image book, so it doesn’t have to conform to any kind of “house style” or nonsense like that. It’s got its own unique flavor, unlike anything else that’s out on the stands right now.
Will we see more narrative interplay between conflicting musical genres in the future?
JOE CASEY: It’s more about a conflict between philosophies. Which, if you think about it, is the core of all superhero-supervillain conflicts. The Beeb — and his Boy Band Nation — is our big bad for this first storyline. They are truly the New Lieutenants of Metal’s primary nemesis. But there’s also the Grunge, who shows up in issue #2.
What makes Image Comics the right place for ‘NLoM’?
JOE CASEY: C’mon… you’ve seen the first issue. Who else would have the balls to publish this?
How soon until we see an animated version of ‘New Lieutenants of Metal’?
JOE CASEY: Never say never. One thing I’ve learned in my career so far: Anything can be animated… if you’ve got enough money. But this is a comicbook. It was created to be a comicbook and if that’s all that it ever is, that’s just fine with me. With our company, Man Of Action Entertainment, I’ve got enough animated series going right now that I’m completely satisfied with that area of my workload. Besides, we’d never get the music we’d need to do it right.
Look for New Lieutenants of Metal from Image Comics’s Man of Action Entertainment imprint on July 4th!