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Racing to the DEADLINE

Our Man at Marvel, Bill Rosemann, introduces readers to Daily Bugle reporter Kat Farrell

By Arnold T. Blumberg     January 05, 2002


Another look at the developmental character sketches drawn by Guy Davis for the new Marvel miniseries, DEADLINE.
© 2002 Marvel Characters Inc.
Katherine Farrell is new to the Daily Bugle staff, but she's determined to make the most of her career. There's one problem - in a city like New York, she's bound to run into a few people she hates with a passion - those damned "Capes," the superhuman crusaders who clog the skies and streets with their petty squabbles and cosmic shenanigans. Life would be better for Kat without the Capes around, but now she just might need them. In fact, her relationship with one particular Cape - the former Judge Michael "Black" Hart, now known simply as "The Judge" - may be her stepping stone to success...if she can take the heat.

DEADLINE, debuting April 3, is a new miniseries from Marvel that takes a decidedly different look at life in a superhuman-infested New York. Scripted by Marvel.com's "Your Man @ Marvel," Bill Rosemann and illustrated by Guy Davis, the noirish thriller also sports covers by ELEKTRA's Greg Horn and a character designed by Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada. Until now, as Marvel's Marketing Communications Manager, Rosemann's role has been one of promotion, touting the many projects produced by everyone at the company but himself. Now he's on both sides of the street. Does he feel any additional pressure when it comes to promoting his own work?

"It's a dangerous tightrope to walk," says Rosemann. "On one hand, I want to spread the word. On the other, I know that I have to keep the spotlight on the big stuff that's coming in April, like CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 [or] BLACK WIDOW: PALE LITTLE SPIDER #1. On top of that, writing DEADLINE is strictly a freelance gig, so any extra promotion I do on my own clock."

Rosemann's decision to focus his series on a reporter in the Marvel Universe rather than a hero stemmed from a love of the fictional reality's central city - a town that has become a symbol of American heroism and resolve in any universe.

"The Big Apple has always fascinated me as a place of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances," says Rosemann. "It's the struggle of everyday citizens that make for great, heart-wrenching drama. That said, by being based in New York City - and not some fabricated town - the Marvel Universe has traditionally been more grounded to reality, and subsequently populated with more complex characters. I always was fond of the street-level stories, the tales that looked at these crazy, brightly garbed gods through the eyes of a mere mortal, whether it was Frank Miller's tales of Ben Urich in DAREDEVIL, or Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's story of Phil Sheldon in MARVELS. So when it comes to comic books, I'm interested in exploring this 'real' side of the Marvel Universe."

Guy Davis' celebrated THE MARQUIS is now in a trade paperback from Oni Press.

Rosemann may be thrilled, but his lead character, Katherine Farrell, is anything but. As we've already noted, Kat hates the "Capes," as the press calls superhumans. Now she's stuck with them.

"Sure, some may find superheroes fascinating, but not our girl Kat," says Rosemann. "She thinks they're overgrown babies, what with their ridiculous costumes and their constant destruction of public property, especially when the police and firemen of NYC showed us on 9/11 what real heroes are. So while we'll be looking at some familiar heroes (and villains), Kat does so with a cynical eye that questions their motives and methods."

"Our story opens when she learns that she has one chance of getting a coveted spot on the City Crime Desk alongside her hero Ben Urich," says Rosemann, "but only if she can land one big story in a week. DEADLINE follows Kat for that one week as she chases that one huge hit."

While the reader follows Kat through her many tribulations and sees the Marvel Universe through a very different pair of eyes, fans of DAREDEVIL and the Spider-Man titles will see many familiar faces as well.

"Folks like Ben Urich, Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant, and good ol' J. Jonah Jameson all feature prominently in Kat's world. And since it's her job to cover The Capes, we'll also see plenty of cameos by Manhattan's superhuman population, but from a 'person on the street' view."

Rosemann does hope, however, that there will be more to excite readers than just a slew of cameos.

"What I hope people will find more interesting is the level of society that the mere existence of The Capes has created. For example, you know about The Bar With No Name (the dive where super-villains go to knock back a few), but where do costumed creeps go when they break an arm fighting Thor? After all, it's not like they can just waltz into an emergency room. And where does someone with super-tough skin go to get a tattoo? It's questions like that that I'm interested in, and it's this world that Kat prowls in her hunt for the story."

Another look at the developmental character sketches drawn by Guy Davis for the new Marvel miniseries, DEADLINE.

Kat's world has been shaped by Rosemann in conjunction with Guy Davis of THE MARQUIS fame. This is Davis' first Marvel series, and for Rosemann this was a singular opportunity to work with a "pro's pro."

"Landing Guy Davis on DEADLINE is like a first-time director saying, 'the name on the top of my wish list to star in this movie is Robert DeNiro,' and then DeNiro signs up!" says Rosemann. "Guy is the artist I dreamt of drawing this story. To have him onboard is both terribly exciting and incredibly humbling. Not only is he supremely talented, but he's such a nice guy... and such a workhorse! He thumbnails every page of every issue before he pencils it, and then he asks me what I want changed. I'm like, 'Holy s**t, Guy Davis is asking me if I like what he drew!"'"

With DEADLINE, Rosemann follows in the footsteps of such celebrated comic book noir creators as Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis. While he may be as humbled by that comparison as he is in working with Davis, Rosemann appreciates that some of the best stories in the superhero realm examine the phenomenon from an Everyman's point of view.

"Some of us have been reading comics for many years, and in that time, you can grow too close to what you're reading," says Rosemann. "The fantastic becomes the mundane. What I like about standing squarely on the street and looking up at the costumed characters is that it reminds us how amazing, how inspiring, how scary they can be."

For Rosemann, the comparisons to Miller and Bendis recall inspiring moments from the works of those creators that influenced his creation of DEADLINE.

"It was [Miller's] one page look at the Avengers from the legendary DAREDEVIL 'Born Again' story that stuck in my mind like a spur in a horse's hoof," says Rosemann. "He did it with one page and with only a few words, but Frank showed us all how to look at our characters from a fresh perspective. And if the great Bendis has demonstrated anything - in addition to the fact that quantity and quality can be equal - it's how interesting heroes and villains can be if examined with an eye on realism."

Rosemann's eye is firmly fixed on making DEADLINE a hit (in his spare time, of course), and he hopes the series' take on superheroes will strike a chord with readers as well.

"I believe comics can be enjoyed by a much larger audience," says Rosemann. "So it only makes sense to speak to that audience - while also including plenty of in-jokes and nods to veteran readers - by using a protagonist who is new to the superhero world as well."

Spoken like a true "Man" about town.

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