Jody Houser reintroduces us to one of the universe’s most notorious villains!

There can be a fine line between hatred and respect. And while the notorious Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the Empire’s most ruthless commanders, he’s also one of the most brilliant.

Star Wars fans know the character from Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn” novels as well as his emergence as a major player on the “Star Wars: Rebels” TV show; now, witness the Grand Admiral’s rise to power in comic book form! This week, on February 14, writer Jody Houser and artist Luke Ross begin their adaptation of the Zahn novels with the first of a six issue limited series: STAR WARS: THRAWN #1!

We caught up with Jody to talk about telling Thrawn’s story in comics.

Marvel.com: How did this limited series come about?

Jody Houser: [Editor] Heather Antos got in touch with me about adapting Thrawn into a comic after I’d wrapped up adapting “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” for Marvel. She was my editor on that project, so she knew about my love of Star Wars and Thrawn, more specifically. As a fan of the original Timothy Zahn trilogy that really kicked off the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I was very excited.

Marvel.com: After adapting a hugely popular Star Wars film into comic book form, what was the process like for doing the same for Timothy Zahn’s novel? Is it a different challenge to tackle a character that’s been so beloved for so long?

Jody Houser: The main difference is really the medium that I’m pulling from. Film tends to hew a little closer to comics than prose, as the two are very visual-focused. I also have more experience adapting from the screen (I did work on MAX RIDE, also for Marvel, but that was a much looser adaptation). Working from prose is a unique challenge.

Marvel.com: How much room do you have to deviate from and build upon the source material?

Jody Houser: Considering the depth of the novel and limited number of pages in a six issue limited series, it’s really more about figuring out how best to streamline the story to fit the new medium.

Marvel.com: Is it more thrilling to write a villain as your protagonist after working with the rebel heroes of “Rogue One”?

Jody Houser: The interesting thing is that Thrawn is much less of a villain in this novel than in any of his previous appearances. He’s a brilliant and collected tactician who is faced with bigotry and ego that makes little logical sense to him. Probably the most thrilling part is getting to work with a character I’ve been a fan of since I was a kid.

Marvel.com: What’s it been like collaborating with artist Luke Ross?

Jody Houser: I’ve actually worked with both Luke Ross and [colorist] Nolan Woodard (separately), earlier on in my comic career, so it’s wonderful to be reunited with them. In particular, there’s a lot of design work on Luke’s end, as many of the characters haven’t appeared outside of prose. It’s really fun seeing this slice of Star Wars take shape. Togorians are back! Luke and Nolan are a fantastic team, and the book really looks amazing.

Marvel.com: What is it about Thrawn that you think appeals to fans so much?

Jody Houser: Thrawn stands apart from the other Star Wars villains (and most other villains in general) because he doesn’t act for his own benefit. He’s smart, and his plans are always fascinating and satisfying to follow. I’ve described him as what happens when a Ravenclaw goes bad. And it’s refreshing to read about an incredibly competent character, even when they’re on the wrong side.

Catch the beginning of this thrilling adaptation in STAR WARS: THRAWN #1, by writer Jody Houser and artist Luke Ross, on February 14!

Read More

Jody Houser takes the Parker family into Marvel Legacy—and the future!

Splitting time between heading to class in high school and fighting crime on the streets has always defined the Peter Parker dynamic. Now, however, Pete’s daughter Annie has taken over the duality of running to chem class and tying up super villains!

On November 22, new series writer Jody Houser and artist Nick Roche leap eight years into the future with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13! The Marvel Legacy era begins for Peter, Mary Jane, and Annie May as they contend with home life and protecting New York City.

We caught up with Jody to learn more about the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Fam.

Marvel.com: Do you envision the Peter and Mary Jane of this series as different from the mainstream Marvel Universe?

Jody Houser: While their situation has changed in both cases, I don’t think the two of them as people have really changed much at all. That has always been one of my favorite things about alternate universe stories—seeing how the characters we know react to a universe we may not. Although in this case, I’m sure Peter and MJ wish their financial situation had changed more.

Marvel.com: A lot can change in eight years—especially for a kid like Annie. How has she changed as this issue starts? Has her relationship with her parents changed?

Jody Houser: She’s now a teenager and starts to feel stifled a bit. She loves her parents and still feels close to them, but she’s starting to wonder if the training wheels will ever come off. From her perspective, she’s around the age her dad was when he first became Spider-Man, but she has a lifetime of training and experience. She just wants them to see it that way too.

Marvel.com: What about this time jump excites you as a writer? What challenges and opportunities does it present you with?

Jody Houser: The time jump ties very much into the idea of Legacy for me. Annie stands at a point where she’s thinking very much about college, the future, the shape of her adult life. She wants to decide who she’s going to be, what kind of hero she wants to be.

Marvel.com: How has the larger world of this book changed over those eight years?

Jody Houser: The world itself has progressed quietly, with new advances in technology and such, but nothing overly dramatic or world-altering—other than the usual attempts to take over or destroy the world, I’m sure. But even those kinds of changes can have a big impact on our characters, who still depend on things like traditional newspapers to make a living.

Marvel.com: How has artist Nick Roche aided you in realizing this alternate world?

Jody Houser: Nick has been amazing to work with in terms of establishing the new family dynamic and making the super hero action exciting. Honestly, I feel like I’m on the right path when he’s excited to draw something in the script. He also shares my love of fun Easter eggs.

Marvel.com: Rumor has it the family will encounter a new threat—what can you tease about that?

Jody Houser: Let’s just say that what seems to be the main threat they’re facing probably isn’t the main threat that they’re facing…

Marvel.com: What makes issue #13 a can’t-miss for readers?

Jody Houser: It’s classic super hero fun alongside Peter Parker: Dad Joke Edition. How can you miss that?

Check out Jody Houser and artist Nick Roche’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13 on November 22!

Read More

Jody Houser and Nick Roche on Legacy’s leap into Peter and MJ’s future!

As the start of Marvel Legacy heralds the return of a few favorite characters, team configurations, costumes, and more, the up-and-coming heroes of the Universe continue to propel Marvel tradition forward—and no series serves as a greater example of that than AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS!

On November 22, the Spider-family swings into Legacy as writer Jody Houser and artist Nick Roche present issue #13! Eight years into the future, Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s daughter, Annie, is in high school—and fights crime alongside her mom and dad!

We caught up with RENEW YOUR VOWS creative duo Jody and Nick to learn more about the Parker family’s newest chapter.

Marvel.com: Issue #13 is called “Eight Years Later.” What does that mean for Spidey, MJ, and Annie?

Jody Houser: Jumping forward puts Annie in high school—and there will be more of a focus on her school life than we’ve seen before—but overall it’s still the story of the Parker family.

Nick Roche: Annie will be the focus of the biggest changes for sure—we last saw her as an eight-year-old, so nearly an entire lifetime has passed for her ahead of our run on the book. The new dynamic she has with her parents also reflects in her attitude about her super powers. But she’s not the only one in the Parker family experiencing some serious changes…

Marvel.com: Seeing Peter and Mary Jane together—and getting to know their daughter—seems like the perfect old-yet-new combination to add to Marvel Legacy.

Nick Roche: For sure! Legacy lives in the form of Annie May Parker—who’s now roughly the same age as Pete when he got his powers after being bitten by that radioactive [Note: Can you add in the correct creature that bit Peter in here? I want to say penguin? Was it a squirrel…? I’m blanking].

It’s interesting to see how Annie copes with the responsibilities associated with her abilities. But there’s something quite joyous about Peter and MJ together so far down the line, still each other’s best friend and ally. And with a super powered teenager in the house, they’ll need all the support they can get.

Jody Houser: Having a daughter who really represents the next generation of heroes feels very much in-line with Marvel Legacy. And as someone who has always been a fan of the alternate universes in Marvel, I’m excited to be contributing to that legacy as well.

Marvel.com: Annie contributes to the Spider-Man legacy and also stands out as a hero on her own—what’s it like creating the teenage version of this character?

Jody Houser: It’s a lot of fun. Having a character who is the child of a legend—but treats him like a dorky dad—adds such a great dynamic. She’s grown up with special abilities and punching villains as the norm around her house, so it’s fascinating seeing her life as a teenager.

Nick Roche: Well, I feel that [writer] Gerry Conway, [artist] Ryan Stegman, and now Jody are her real parents. Her new look has already been established ahead of my participation, so I’m more like a well-meaning uncle trying to keep up with his cool niece. Though I did feel a tingle when I drew her first appearance in comic book form. The trick is to draw the book like you don’t care about the weight of expectation, but make it look like it’s all you care about. I’m associated forever with her now—and it feels great.

Marvel.com: Now that we’re in the Legacy era, will any other classic elements of SPIDER-MAN lore show up in the book moving forward?

Jody Houser: You’ll definitely see some familiar faces from Spidey’s rogues’ gallery—as well as some of the heroes he’s come to know. We’re telling very classic, fun super hero stories in this book.

Nick Roche: Even in the RENEW YOUR VOWS-iverse, the roster of amazing Marvel characters extends in infinite directions. Issue #13 gets bookended by some bucket list guest appearances from Spidey’s rogues’ gallery. And I know for a fact that one or two of his pals poke their super sensitive (in some cases) noses around the door to see how the Parkers are getting on.

But Jody writes great “off-duty” hero scenes, so the sections where Pete, MJ, and Annie are lovingly bickering at home are just as interesting to read (and draw!) as the amazing action she’s built her story around.

Marvel.com: Anything else we can expect from the Parkers?

Jody Houser: Dad jokes! So many dad jokes.

Nick Roche: I’m worried that Marvel will bill me for having so much fun on their dime. I hope the blast we’re having on the book becomes evident on the page—and that it convinces loyal RENEW YOUR VOW readers that the book they fell in love with is as fun as it’s ever been.

Witness the Marvel Legacy launch of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13, by Jody Houser and Nick Roche, on November 22!

Read More

The latest Star Wars spectacular comes from the big screen to the comic page!

The blockbuster film of 2016 becomes the incredible comics adaptation of 2017 when ROGUE ONE hits the shelves as a six-issue limited series beginning in April written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Emilio Laiso.

We’ve got all the available intel on the series right here in this interview with Houser and Laiso, so strap in and get ready for excitement as only Star Wars can provide!

Marvel.com: Jody, heading into an adaptation of a film, what’s important for you to plan for, and to deliver?

Jody Houser: I’ve worked on several comic adaptations now, and the most important aspect for me is to make sure the version of the story I’m telling works for the medium, rather than trying to tell a screenplay in the pages of a comic book. Obviously you want to do your best to capture what people loved about the movie and to bring new elements to the story. But first and foremost, you want to make a good comic.

Marvel.com: As a storyteller, what are the themes and ideas in ROGUE ONE that pump you up the most?

Jody Houser: Getting to work on Star Wars in itself is a huge, huge deal for me! As for ROGUE ONE specifically, I like that it focuses on the more ordinary characters, those who choose to become heroes rather than being born to it. The choices that characters make in the face of evil and corruption is something we can relate to even though we’ll never get to swing a real lightsaber.

Marvel.com: Which characters from the film really stand out for you the most?

Jody Houser: I really enjoyed all of the characters, but if I had to pick one favorite at blaster point, it would be Bodhi Rook. He’s the only one in the movie who would have probably been perfectly safe taking no action at all. But he chose to leave the safety and security of the Empire because it was the right thing to do. His arc was probably the most emotional for me.

Marvel.com: We hear there may be extra story material in the comic that wasn’t in the film; how do you create moments like that? Where do you look for areas that can be expanded upon?

Jody Houser: [Director] Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm had a number of ideas for moments that didn’t fit in the film that I’m working with. There are also some amazing moments in the novelization I want to incorporate. So it’s really a mix of material from existing versions of the story, as well as new scenes.

Marvel.com: What’s the process been like on this? Do you have the film script next to you? Do you watch the film several times over?

Jody Houser: I actually read the “Rogue One” script in the Lucasfilm offices, which was a little surreal. While I wasn’t able to have a copy at that point, I took extensive notes. I’ve seen the movie twice in theaters with friends and family—over 80 friends opening night, actually! I’m also working from the novelization and Ultimate Visual Guide that Lucasfilm sent over.

Marvel.com: What will the collaboration with Emilio be like for you? What is he bringing to the project that you love?

Jody Houser:
We’re still early enough in the process that I haven’t worked directly with Emilio yet, but I’m looking forward to it! Emilio is great at chaotic action scenes, which is definitely a must for this story. I’m also excited to see his take on the cities and landscapes of the new worlds.

Marvel.com: Emilio, you’re returning to the Star Wars universe with this project: how did you feel when you were offered the chance to go Rogue?

Emilio Laiso: Returning to the Star Wars universe is exciting. The saga is very exciting thanks to the array of the worlds and of the races to become familiar with. Moreover, there are the characters in the saga, who have entered in the collective imagination. Characters to whom it must be payed respect, and also to pay respect the millions of fans.

“Rogue One,” in the framework of this fantastic saga, is something unique. There are legendary characters in a legendary universe, and the movie, in my opinion, is something extraordinary. When [editor] Heather [Antos] told me that there would be the possibility to be the artist on ROGUE ONE, my first reaction was something like “wait… wait…”! I was very enthusiastic that she and [editor] Jordan [White] choose me for the adaptation.

When I got the word, I was so happy that I spent a couple of hour bobbling the head of my Funko Stormtrooper telling him that it was a great honor and a great responsibility.

Marvel.com: Visually, what draws your eye the most in the film? Which characters, ships, etc. really excite you to draw?

Emilio Laiso: The space battle outside the shield is one of the aspects that has struck me more from a visual point of view. Indeed, this is one of the “Rogue One” scenes that I can’t wait to realize. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work on every single new character, each of which has an excellent visual characterization. My personal favorite characters are Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus.

Marvel.com: And what are you looking forward to in working with Jody?

Emilio Laiso: This is my first time working with Jody, and I think that ROGUE ONE will be a great opportunity. I hope that together, adapting this epic movie, we will be able to make this series unique.

Jody Houser and Emilio Laiso journey to the stars with ROGUE ONE, beginning in April!

Read More