Mark Millar Interview

Mark Millar is the popular writer of such books as Dark Horse's Chosen, Image's Wanted, and Marvel's Ultimates and Ultimate Fantastic Four. This month, he writes the core book in Marvel's Civil War event. Westfield's Roger Ash touched base with Mark to learn about this massive project.

Westfield: How did you become involved with Civil War?

Mark Millar: Quite accidentally, actually. I always go to these Marvel meetings and seem to get talked into doing twice as much work as I can handle through sheer enthusiasm. I remember telling my wife that I was going to take six months off and promised her I wouldn't take on anything new and then I came home from this trip with a big folder filled with notes under my arm. Fortunately, I've been able to get something of a break in here too, but I'm the only idiot in the world who would actually choose coordinating a huge multi-part crossover with half the company to lying around the house and watching TV as planned. I'm very easily sucked into something once I get excited and the notion of doing a big crossover was very alluring to me from a fanboy perspective. I've wanted to do one of these things since I started at Marvel and wouldn't have agreed to do this one unless they were prepared for something very radical that would have everybody talking and as excited as I am.

Westfield: Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about the story and what causes the division between the heroes?

Millar: Sure. It's actually very simple. Brian had suggested at the meeting that we do something with secret identities being registered and SHIELD maybe hunting down the guys who refused to sign up. It was kind of SHIELD versus the Marvel Universe. But I felt it might be more unusual if the division was right down the middle of the superheroes themselves where one half of the Marvel characters was in battle with the other half. It's a very traditional Marvel idea in that sense, heroes fighting one another, but I needed to come up with something that would literally pit brother versus brother and that's the idea of superheroes going legitimate after a terrible incident. I didn't want to do a Watchmen and make it all about them having to unmask. It's been done to death. Instead, I've opted for them choosing whether they should work for the federal authorities like cops and go legitimate or continue their Lone Ranger careers with masks and fake names.

Westfield: Was it challenging working with a cast of characters this large?

Millar: Yes, very much so. It was much, much more difficult than I expected because the entire MU needs to be involved here (already daunting) and the characters are constantly changing in their own books so I had to be constantly aware of not only everyone's current work, but their future plans. It was an enormous feat and I'm constantly rewriting. It's the most difficult thing I've ever been involved in. A huge amount of work.

Westfield: Is there a character, or characters, you're particularly enjoying writing?

Millar: I honestly like them all, but Cap and Iron Man are probably the two I get the biggest kick out of writing. I could write their books forever so it's nice getting to play with them a little.

Westfield: If someone only read Civil War, would they get a complete story or are some of the tie-ins essential?

Millar: They would, yes, but we've purposely structured this so that the tie-in books explain little things perhaps only hinted at in a single line. The experience will be much richer if you pick everything up (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?)

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Millar: My run on Ultimates and Ultimate Fantastic Four will be drawing to a close as you read these words and should be picked up at all costs. 1985 should hopefully be solicited and, together with Marvel Civil War, is probably the project I'm most proud of right now. Otherwise, look forward to Millarworld 2 in the Spring and the four or five new books planned and, of course, the big announcement at the Chicago Con this Summer regarding what Hitchy and I are planning next. All will soon be revealed and it's quite exciting.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Millar: Uh, drive carefully, kids, and say no to drugs, etc.