“The Avengers clash with the Guardians of the Galaxy in a desperate search for a planet-killer, in this action-packed novel set in the world of the Marvel: Crisis Protocol game.” That’s the premise behind Target: Kree, a new novel from comic book scribe Stuart Moore, who’s decades of writing experience at Marvel, DC Comics, AHOY Comics and many more makes him more than the man for the job. What’s more it’s an enjoyable, action-packed read that isn’t afraid to thrown in the odd bit of thinly veiled social commentary too. A novel that will appeal to Marvel fans young and old, as well as players of the Marvel: Crisis Protocol strategy game it’s loosely based on. And out July 6th (US)/September 16th (UK) from Aconyte Books.
Olly MacNamee: I’ve read your new book, Target: Kree, and while it’s a prose novel, I must say, it did remind me somewhat of the classic Marvel crossovers I grew up with. It even has the fan-favourite misunderstanding between the capes and cowls that leads to an all-out clash of heroes as the Guardians of the Galaxy go at it with the Avengers. A lot. Was this tone intentional, I take it?
Stuart Moore: Yes, very much so. Those clashes are trickier than you’d think; it’s tough to come up with a legitimate reason why the heroes would be at each other’s throats! I started with the fact that the Avengers don’t really think very much of the Guardians, and then I gave the Guardians a reason to come on a bit stronger than they normally would. The characters took it from there, which is how it should work.
OM: It all starts with an almighty bang! Quite literally. You destroy a whole planet, Praeterus. But within this space melodrama lies a murder mystery too; there’s a planet killer out there, and quite possibly on Earth. What can you tell us about this central mystery?
SM: It’s all part of a gigantic invasion plot. The destruction of Praeterus propels the Guardians into the story, but the plight of the planet’s refugees ties directly into both Tony Stark’s situation and Kamala Khan’s life. All that, in turn, brings the other Avengers into the story.
OM: In the second part of this novel, the action shifts to the more familiar setting of Earth and New York City. I was very intrigued by your take on Tony Stark in this book; exploiter of the migrant workforce. That migrant workforce being the Kree. Although, he isn’t aware of his now part in this, is he?
SM: I don’t want to give too much away, but no, Tony Stark is not the sort of person to prey on helpless, innnocent immigrants. That said, Tony certainly has his weaknesses, and in these times we’re all rightly suspicious of billionaires.
To me, Tony would be an insufferable character except for two crucial points: He constantly questions his own privilege, and he relentlessly strives to be a better person. That combination makes him a very powerful, multilayered character.
OM: I loved your positioning of Jennifer Walter – The She Hulk – as the lawyer brought in to take on Tony Stark in a group action lawsuit. There is certainly a feel of the real-world at the heart of this adventure. Something a lot of readers will easily decode. Given this is loosely based on a tabletop game, was there any pushback when you pitched to include such social commentary?
SM: I expected some pushback, to be honest; but no. Everyone seemed to like the basic setup, and the plight of immigrants was at the very heart of it.
I had a lot of fun with Jennifer Walters, who plays a small but crucial part in the story. She does get in a good shot right near the end.
OM: With this integral and allegorical subplot included as well as Kamala Khan – Ms. Marvel – playing an important role in this novel too, who do you hope picks up this novel? It certainly seems to appeal to a variety of potential readerships.
SM: I hope so! Kamala is a very strong character; she’s young and still learning, but she’s very sure of her place in the Marvel Universe. Her background and experiences make her a natural counterpoint to Tony, and in this story she also befriends a teenage Kree kid who’s having a rough time on Earth. IT’S ALL CONNECTED…
OM: As for the Kree, what can you tell us of Halla-ar and Kir-ra, two important characters in this book, both with their own stories to tell?
SM: Halla-ar is the Kree teenager, a troubled kid who’s lost everything. Kamala helps him out, and becomes determined to help him find the killer of his world.
Kir-ra, Halla-ar’s adult sister, is sort of our Everyman (EveryKree?) character. She just wants to keep her extended family safe on Earth, which hasn’t been a very welcoming place for the Kree refugees. I tried to play with the complicated dynamics of an immigrant family, the tensions and resentments that crop up while you’re trying to adjust to a system that’s severely stacked against you.
Oh god, I’m making this sound like a political science textbook. It’s not! Ninety percent of the novel is Rocket Raccoon flying into things, Gamora threatening to decapitate people, and Ms Marvel jumping off the outside of spaceships. Promise. There are surprise villains, too.
OM: I really enjoyed the inclusion of iconic Marvel characters popping up right through the novel too. The cast seems to grow and grow. This is not something you usually get in most novels. Structurally, it all feel a very Dickensian – but with superheroes! Or, was this simply an attempt to capture the essence of the gameplay of the game itself?
SM: Well, we wanted a large cast to reflect the nature of the game. There are two major battle sequences, and both of them can be “played” at home, if the reader wants. But that’s all sort of a bonus. From the start, everyone at Aconyte emphasized that the story, the characters, were the important thing. That let me craft a novel that, I hope, stands on its own, and that will appeal to both gamers and non-gamers.
OM: And with the shock reveal at the end of this novel, is there an intention to write further books in this series? A sequel, or even a trilogy maybe?
SM: We’re talking about exactly how this will work, but yes, there definitely will be more.
OM: And ever, Stuart, many thanks for your time, and good luck with Target: Kree.
SM: Thank you! I hope everyone likes it. My fondest wish is that, after people read the book, they’ll echo the words of Rocket Raccoon in Chapter 38, when he gets super-drunk in a Russian bar: “OK. OK, thish a good story.”
You can pre-order Target: Kree here.