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Autonomous Doomsday Weapons: An ECCC Interview With Kyle Higgins

Written by Tim Midura on Tuesday, March 13 2018 and posted in Features

Autonomous Doomsday Weapons: An ECCC Interview With Kyle Higgins

Talking The Dead Hand, creator-owned vs work-for-hire, and Freud.


Source: Emerald City Comic Con

Kyle Higgins is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker. His work includes NightwingMighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and the upcoming The Dead Hand with artist Stephen Mooney from Image Comics. The first issue is set to release April 11.

 

Tim: For the uninitiated, what's the pitch on The Dead Hand?

Kyle: The Dead Hand refers to an autonomous doomsday weapon that the Soviets talked about building but never actually did. They built a semi-autonomous system called Perimeter which was designed to guarantee a retaliatory strike on the US even with total decapitation of the Kremlin. We didn't learn about it until like 1993.

My book is exploring that autonomous system that maybe they did build, right? It takes place in a small town called Mountainview that has a secret that dates back to the end of the Cold War and something called Operation Dead Hand. It also deals with six different characters which all have connections to the spy ring in one form or another. Some of them dating back to the Cold War, some of them being newer. It all focuses on this last mission of the Cold War, Operation Dead Hand. Once again, maybe putting the world in jeopardy.

Tim: You've already made it in the industry as the writer of Power Rangers. Why come back to creator-owned?

Kyle: Well, for that very reason. Creator-owned is where you get to build worlds and tell stories that are, as Grant Morrison likes to describe it "mainlining." It's straight from the writer to the page to the reader. The collaborative process of working with editors and licencors on something like Power Rangers scratches one type of itch. But building worlds from whole cloth and being the sole arbiter of characters' destinies is a different itch. Doing books at Image scratches that.

I worked at DC for several years. I went and did C.O.W.L. at Image. Since then, I've tried to keep a foot in both worlds. I think in this current market as well, most writers do need to continue to do something like Power Rangers that's commercial and mainstream with recognizable characters, while also building their own brand and telling stories that are original.

Tim: The Dead Hand seems to expand on themes from C.O.W.L., namely political drama. What keeps bringing you back to these themes?

Kyle: I really like things that aren't black and white. I think if you look at C.O.W.L.. Hadrian's Wall, or when you see The Dead Hand that's probably the connective thematic tissue. Looking at legacies and characters who are generational is something that I've always been fascinated by. I love historical fiction. C.O.W.L., Hadrian's Wall, and The Dead Hand all have that in common.

This one is definitely different from C.O.W.L. and Hadrian's Wall though. I've written it in more of, I don't want to say novelistic way. I'm using third-person narration that takes us in and out of different interludes. We can go off on different tangents. I've never tried something like this before so it's been fun. It also has a lot more action than the previous two Image series.

As far as political intrigue, it's something that's very prominent in our lives right now. I don't why I keep coming back to it. I'll just be totally honest. I guess I'm interested in it. I'm interested in institutions that become more about self-preservation than about whatever cause they were originally started as a result of. There is something interesting about that. C.O.W.L. was kind of about the death of an American institution. At some point, it becomes more focused on itself than it does about its original initiative. I think that's something that bothers me in our day-to-day lives whether it be politics, corporations, or religion. I think anything that gets too big runs the risk of self-immolating.

Tim: The Cold War is the backdrop for The Dead Hand. Will readers see much of Carter's time during the Cold War?

Kyle: You'll see of it initially in the first arc. To understand why he is where he is and his dedication to his country and the greater good of the world. In order to understand that, you have to explore some of his time and some of his black ops work during the Cold War. I've been kind of describing this book as kind of a mash up of James Bond, John Le Carré, and Metal Gear Solid.

It's definitely heightened spy fiction in that Bond and Metal Gear kind of way. But I think without spoiling too much, when you see the modern day you'll understand there's also avenues for some of the spy work, in addition to the end of the Cold War sequences.

Tim: What's intriguing to you about the Cold War as a setting?

Kyle: I've always been fascinated by dark mirrors, whether it be a dark mirror of a character or a dark mirror of a country. The Soviet Union was presented to us for so long as the dark, evil superpower. It's us, but evil. It's us, but red! It's actually much more complex than that.

As I learned more and more about the Cold War and the happenings behind the scenes with our leaders as well as the Soviet Union leaders, it became a very fascinating era for me. Especially when you consider the way the Cold War developed out of an alliance between us and the Soviet Union in World War II. An alliance of necessity during World War II. That kind of "you're not sure who you can trust/high tension" backdrop was something that I've always found interesting.

While it's presented as black and white, good and evil, it was not that at all. That kind of grey area is what I like to inhabit in all of my creator-owned works. I think that it's just a natural setting. As I talk through it right now, Freud wouldn't have a hard time diagnosing where my fascination for the Cold War comes from.

Tim: What else do you have in the works?

Kyle: I have Shattered Grid, which is a huge Power Rangers event, launching March 28. I have The Dead Hand. I have a few other creator-owned projects that aren't announced yet. I directed a film called Shadow Hours that's going to be dropping March 25. That's a really exciting one.

I'm trying to do more directing and get back to my first love. That's one that I would definitely recommend people check out. It stars Tom Riley and Britt Lower, with a pretty awesome score by Bear McCreary. It's very much a psychological thriller/neo-noir. Tonally consistent with my other creator-owned works, but this time in live-action.

Tim: Where can people find that?

Kyle: That'll be announced soon. Eventually they can find it on theshadowhours.com but we have a partner that's going to be announcing the film in the very near future.

 

[The Shadow Hours is debuting at Wondercon and will be online at ign.com Monday, March 26.)







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About the Author - Tim Midura


Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.


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