Marvel Comics is going to publish a series about World War I–era fighter planes shooting dinosaurs, and honestly, that should be enough to get you stoked about it. But wait — there’s more! We’re proud to exclusively announce that this five-issue event — which bears the rad title Where Monsters Dwell — will be written by comics legend Garth Ennis and illustrated by his longtime colleague Russ Braun. Get your propellers ready and your machine guns polished, folks: We’re going pterodactyl hunting.
The series will follow the exploits of Karl Kaufmann, a.k.a. Phantom Eagle, a Great War flying ace who first appeared in some Marvel war comics back in the 1960s. Kaufmann was an extremely minor character, but he took center stage in a delightful, Ennis-penned 2008 miniseries called War Is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle. Now he’ll be returning for this bizarre story, which debuts on May 27 and will somehow tie in to Marvel’s Secret Wars megacrossover (in which virtually all Marvel characters will get tossed around in a battle spanning alternate universes and time periods). We checked in with Ennis — best known for series like Preacher, The Boys, and a lengthy run on Punisher — to talk about the genesis of the series and how awesome dinosaurs are.
What was the pitch for this miniseries?
I was having a pint with editor Nick Lowe, and he suggested putting the Phantom Eagle up against dinosaurs. It was exactly the kind of thing I was in the mood for — having been writing some pretty dark and grim stuff recently, I fancied something a little bit lighter. So Nick caught me at exactly the right time in exactly the right frame of mind.
What makes Phantom Eagle an interesting character, and why return to him after your previous miniseries about him?
I had no plans to, having said all I had to with the character — or so I thought. But isolating the character from his World War I setting, considering him out of context, I realized I quite liked the idea of writing him for his own sake. In the first series, he went from being a bloody fool to something of a fledgling bastard. By the time the new story begins, he himself would probably say he’d evolved into quite a charming shit. He’s right about the second part.
What can you tell us about the plot?
Sometime in the early 1920s, ex–Great War fighter pilot Karl Kaufmann is bumming around the Far East, getting into various scrapes and trying to make a dishonest buck. He agrees to fly naïve English socialite Clementine Franklin-Cox to Singapore, only to end up blown off course and flung into an exotic world of dinosaurs, cannibals, and a rather unusual tribe of amazons — who have their own plans for Clemmie. She, in turn, is not quite all she seems.
How, exactly, will this sync up with Marvel’s company-wide Secret Wars megacrossover?
Not really for me to say.
What’s it like to write dinosaurs?
Fantastic beyond words. I grew up reading about dinosaurs, still love them to this day. Occasionally I pop into the Natural History Museum here in New York just to wander around the dinosaur halls — which are the best in the world, as far as I know — and gaze up at the huge skeletons, letting my imagination go. About 15 years back, I wrote a tyrannosaur pack into my series Hitman, which was of course enormously satisfying. That story was, in fact, a tribute to the greatest dinosaur comic ever — “Flesh,” which I read as a kid in the British [comics] anthology 2000 AD.
How do you think the Punisher would fare in a fight against dinosaurs?
Quickest way to ruin a good Punisher story is add fantasy.
How good is Russ Braun at drawing dinosaurs?
Superb. Russ is one of those artists who does everything well; he takes dinosaurs in his stride along with whatever else he’s asked to draw.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how funny is this series going to be?
Hopefully somewhere around 7 or 8, with a few 10 moments sprinkled throughout.