Remember when as a kid you staged massive monster fights with your action figures in the sand box of your local park? Well, who ever said those epic battles needed to end when we grew up? Not Cullen Bunn! The illustrious writer takes Kei “Kid Kaiju” Kawade and his beastie pals around the paddock for another earth-shaking ride this April in an ongoing MONSTERS UNLEASHED spin-off series.
That’s right. The behemoths don’t plan on going anywhere and they’re causing a bit of concern within the Marvel Universe—along with helping Kei and his allies fight evil. Cullen took a short break from monster hunting to tell us about the upcoming super-sized series that will re-awaken the kaiju-loving kid in all of us with some serious monster-on-monster action.
Marvel.com: Last time we spoke you briefly went into detail about the MONSTERS UNLEASHED spin-off series. Now that we’re getting closer to the first issue’s release on April 19, what can you tell us about the cast of characters that will be featured in it?
Cullen Bunn: The new MONSTERS UNLEASHED features Kei Kawade—Kid Kaiju, the boy with the power to summon and create monsters by drawing them—Elsa Bloodstone—famous monster hunter turned bodyguard—and a group of five monsters that Kei has created. These new monsters—Aegis, Mekara, Slizzik, Hi-Vo, and Skragg—form a powerhouse group of heroes unlike any that have been seen in the Marvel Universe. It’s their job to combat the most dangerous apex predators in the world: other giant monsters! In addition to the main team, we’ve got a great supporting cast. Parents, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Damage Control representatives, H.E.R.B.I.E. robots, and a host of villains, and that’s just to start!
Marvel.com: What’s the team dynamic like between the human characters?
Cullen Bunn: Kei and Elsa have a bond. They’ve been through the fire of the Leviathon invasion together, and they are closer for it. But, in Kei, Elsa sees someone who is as interested in monsters as she is. Yes, Kei loves them and doesn’t want to see them destroyed and Elsa was trained to wipe them out, but they share that bond. Kei’s parents don’t want their son to be a super hero. They know he can’t have a normal life, but they also don’t want him risking his life fighting gargantuan beasts. And then there are the government agents and super heroes who are seemingly always orbiting Kei and his monsters. Their interactions range from friendly to commanding to downright combative.
Marvel.com: What will their interactions be like with the monsters who are staying over into the new series? Is there a lot of fear of being squashed?
Cullen Bunn: When you’re dealing with monsters the size of buildings, there’s always a chance of getting squashed, I guess. This new team of monsters, though, all have their own personalities. In terms of how they interact, they are heroes like you would see in another team book. They have unique viewpoints, and they have lots of questions about their own origins, but they see Kid Kaiju as a friend, and they would face any danger to protect him. Now, Elsa and the monsters have a slightly more contentious relationship, but they recognize that they’re all working toward the same goal.
Marvel.com: Any person or monster you look forward to revisiting?
Cullen Bunn: I’m excited about all of the main cast. Kei’s new monsters were only in a few pages of the initial series, so it has been fun expanding their personalities and seeing them become fully developed characters. Kei and Elsa are, of course, favorites of mine, and I can’t wait to expand their supporting cast. Kei’s parents, Elsa’s relatives, their friends and allies and enemies. I’m looking forward to all of them. And there are Marvel villains and monsters—old and new—that I’m thrilled about bringing into the book.
Monsters Unleashed #1 cover by Arthur Adams
Marvel.com: Will there be any backlash against the use of these creatures after their attack on the Marvel Universe? Is every hero and secret organization now wary of what Kei can do?
Cullen Bunn: Oh yes! That’s a big part of the series. Kei is a young boy with what is potentially the most devastating power on the face of the planet. This means that many, many groups are keeping a watchful eye on him, all with different agendas. The Avengers want to train him. The Inhumans want him protected at all costs. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants him contained. Damage Control wants to make sure that the monsters don’t unleash massive collateral damage onto the world. But there are others who are very interested in Kei, too. Mole Man, who shows up early on, has use [for] Kei’s abilities. Lady Hellbender wants to know how Kei can summon monsters; when he started summoning creatures in the limited series, some of Hellbender’s menagerie vanished from their cages. And there is a group of villains—some of the most dangerous minds in the Marvel Universe—who want Kei for their own vile purposes.
Marvel.com: With a title like “Monsters Unleashed” there’s obviously an expectation of seeing these behemoths stomp around, and while they are massive personalities, they’re not the only ones you’ll be using to tell the story. How will you be balancing the monsters with the human characters to tell a more rounded tale?
Cullen Bunn: There will be monster-sized threats in this series, but there will also be challenges and dangers and interactions that a giant monster simply isn’t equipped to handle. Of course, an 11-year-old boy and a brash monster killer might not be equipped to handle them, either, but those are the breaks. So, every issue will feature monster action—not always monster brawls, mind you, but definitely dynamic monster awesomeness—human interaction, Elsa hunting human-sized beasties, Kei interacting with his parents and his teachers and the people who want to watch over him, and more! I feel like the series is pretty well balanced, more than the limited series was.
Marvel.com: You mentioned last time that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Damage Control are keeping an eye on this new team. What agents are on the prowl and are they concerned about the activities of specific team members or monsters?
Cullen Bunn: We’ll be meeting a new Damage Control representative who is working directly with various agencies—including S.H.I.E.L.D.—as a “handler” of sorts for Kid Kaiju and his monsters. You’ll be meeting some new characters, such as Damage Control agent Gloria Clark. You’ll also be seeing some familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. faces, some of whom have a long history dealing with giant monsters in the Marvel Universe. These factions all have different approaches to handling the monsters. Some want to guide them. Others think they are too big of a threat and are just waiting for an excuse to destroy them.
Marvel.com: Along with her knowledge of Dracula and Frankenstein, Elsa Bloodstone is a scholar on Marvel Monsters. Will she, as a seasoned monster hunter, be a parent-like figure to the younger heroes like Kei Kawade and Aegis, who will be taking these threats head-on? How will she be reigning in their naiver and more reckless tendencies?
Cullen Bunn: Elsa is a bodyguard, mentor, and friend to Kei. It’s not a role she’s very comfortable with. She’d rather be out there killing monsters. As you’ll see in the first issue of the new series, she’s still indulging her old monster-busting activities in order to work off some steam and keep herself grounded.
Marvel.com: Any words of advice before for the new team before they hit the ground running in April?
Cullen Bunn: Beware! That villain group I mentioned earlier is comprised of some heavy duty Marvel bad guys. They’ve tangled with every hero, from The Hulk to the X-Men, and now they’ve set their sights on you! They are recruiting any ne’er-do-well with a monster connection. They are planning on testing Kid Kaiju to his limits, and then use him for their own nefarious purposes. Kei—you’re in the Marvel Universe now. Your adventures will not be on the fringe, but right in the thick of things, so buckle up.
The mayhem continues in MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1 by Cullen Bunn and David Baldeon, coming April 19!