“This is a new approach to a war book.” – Thomas Derenick
This fall, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA artist Thomas Derenick teams up with DOC SAVAGE writer Ivan Brandon to bring you the new series, MEN OF WAR. Can Easy Company, a team of regular ex-military men, make their way out of a treacherous battlefield designed by the greatest villains in the DC Universe? We caught up with Thomas to learn a little bit more about what’s in store for Joe Rock and his men.
THE SOURCE: What about DC's new 52 titles excites you the most?
THOMAS DERENICK: The prospect of a fresher and newer approach to the DC Universe. I’m glad we’re not throwing continuity completely out the window but tightening it up, making the universe younger overall opens us up for some interesting possibilities and directions with the storytelling. Readers have become obsessed with having every story matter. I don’t blame them - there are so many titles out there and only so much money to spend on them. They want to feel they aren’t wasting their money on something meaningless. Streamlining the continuity makes it easier for us because we don’t have to worry about stepping on as many toes and yet the character defining stories will still be intact. Hopefully this will make the storytelling much stronger in the years to come.
How and why are you shaking up the series' status quo?
I’m on the art end, but for me I’ve been given the opportunity by DC to do a hybrid pencil shading and ink style that I was known for years ago. It has a much more polished look than my previous work and should add a great sense of depth and mood to what Ivan Brandon and I are doing with THE MEN OF WAR. Plus this is a new approach to a war book. We’re trying to be authentic as to how soldiers look and operate to give you the feel that these are real military. The twist is that they will have to deal with a lot of the same threats the superheroes do. How does a human soldier react or cope with a villain on the same power level of Superman? How does he even survive it? The closest I’ve seen to this is G.I. Joe and even there it’s two entirely different animals. Trust me when I say the readers will be pleasantly surprised.
What new characters will debut in the series?
The only one I’ll mention is the new modern Sgt. Rock.
Will we see new character designs?
Yep, quite a few.
What's the biggest surprise you've had working on this character/book?
Building a working knowledge of the visuals of the military. It’s incredibly complex and I’ve been pulling my hair out a little figuring it all out. We want this to feel authentic and I’ve never been that well versed in the military other than a couple of military video games (no not “Call of Duty” unfortunately). “Modern Warfare” probably would have been a huge help with this project. The realization that the military is pretty much a culture all it’s own and the number of different things you have to be aware of just to draw it properly almost overwhelmed me. I’m happy to say I’m getting the basics down and it shouldn’t be much of a problem from here on out. Thank you to my co-creators and editorial for their patience. It was appreciated.
What secret has been the hardest to keep?
The fact that the entire line was being relaunched. That’s probably the biggest secret I’ve ever been given and I couldn’t tell anyone. ARRRGGGH!
What’s the unofficial tagline for this series, in your own words?
Be prepared for anything, ‘cause anything’s gonna happen.
What were your thoughts about the day-and-date digital announcement?
I’m not really aware of how many people read their books digitally these days so I don’t really know what to think. If the digital sales are high enough to justify selling them the same day then I back DC 100%. I think there are different kinds of people out there. Some want to have a physical product in their hands but some people are satisfied with just being able to read it and they shouldn’t have to wait any longer than anyone else. I don’t believe one type of person is going to become the other type so hopefully it’ll be an expansion of the audience not a splitting of it. I have high hopes.