Writer Tini Howard Will Put Death’s Head Through an Existential Crisis This July
“[H]is whole job is apprehending people for money, and if people with better tech surpass you in that, you end up... kind of broke, yes?”
This July, Marvel exclusive writer Tini Howard and artist Kei Zama will bring Death’s Head up front in his own limited series. As one of Marvel’s more unsung characters, DEATH’S HEAD is setting up the intergalactic mech merc for quite a setback right from the beginning – before he crosses paths with Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling!
Marvel.com talked to Tini Howard to find out more about what is in store for the best freelance peacekeeping agent in the universe.
Marvel.com: You mentioned at C2E2 that Death’s Head will not be starting out on a great note at the beginning of the series. Can you go into more detail about how we meet him in DEATH’S HEAD #1?
Tini Howard: Well, as a character, he's not someone we see in the forefront all the time. And while there are obvious reasons for that, I always like to back these decisions up with story reasons. It's the role player in me. If someone can't make it to the D&D game, you make up what they were doing instead, right? It was funny to me to think of him not being at the forefront because he's not doing well, in some way or another.
Technology now is so entirely different from technology when Death's Head was created. The robots we see coming to light now, in the real world, aren't like Death's Head, and they probably never will. And he has to see that and come to terms with it, that someone who was always supposed to be “the future” finds himself... not being that.
Marvel.com: What attracted you to Death’s Head as a character?
Tini Howard: I'm a 33-year-old woman, so writing about obsolescence is heavy on my mind. I'm at that age where I actively feel myself drifting away from modernity and seeking comfort in the things I grew up with, and I have to actively fight that! I think we all do.
So I was drawn to Death's Head as a character that looks super powerful and tough but is... big. Clunky. Breaks easily. And his whole job is apprehending people for money, and if people with better tech surpass you in that, you end up... kind of broke, yes?
Oh, also he's a GREAT BIG BOY with weapons. He has a Swiss Army knife for an arm that takes different attachments. Who wouldn't love that guy?
Marvel.com: You also revealed that Wiccan and Hulkling are going to be part of this series. Where does their relationship stand, and what kind of rapport do they have with Death’s Head?
Tini Howard: If I haven't made it obvious enough yet that part of the book's theme is “a crisis of aging,” I'd like to reiterate that now, haha. Wiccan and Hulkling are two of my favorite characters, but they were the Young Avengers almost twenty years ago. I know in comic book time we fudge that a little, but now we're in an era where characters like Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales, who are typically portrayed as younger than those two, are full-blown heroes who sometimes take up leadership roles. So Wiccan and Hulkling are dealing with that crisis too. It's kind of silly to call them the Young Avengers after they've done so much, and the Young Avengers aren't really a thing right now... so what – and who – are they?
It's really fun to put Wiccan and Death's Head together. They're so different, their powers occasionally cause problems for one another. They're such an odd couple, but they're really after the same thing – understanding their place in a world that makes them feel obsolete.
Wizards and robots. Robots and wizards and their shape-shifting boyfriends. We got everything.
Marvel.com: Death’s Head is often referred to as a cult favorite character. Are you doing anything to make his appeal broader, or are you sticking with a more niche story for him?
Tini Howard: Every time you take on a new character you're forced to balance a few things – what you have to say about them, and what people want to see from that character. The good thing about Death's Head is that he's had a lot of identity-crises-in-literal-form before what with all the versions of him running around, so I think Death's Head fans are ready.
Also, we'll see some new characters and parts of the Death's Head legacy, so that's fun.
Marvel.com: The interior artist on this series is Kei Zama – how has your collaboration been so far? What were your mutual goals for bringing Death’s Head to life (no pun intended)?
Tini Howard: Kei draws big beautiful bots, and she draws them very well. You can just turn her loose there. What I've been stunned by is how gorgeous her designs for Wiccan and Hulkling are. She does bots and boys equally beautiful, so we're in for a treat.
Lastly, I'll say that at least one other friend of the boys shows up – I haven't seen Kei's art for her yet, but I can't wait. ;)
DEATH’S HEAD, written by Tini Howard with art by Kei Zama, arrives in July! You can see a whole gallery of Kei Zama's art from the upcoming limited series as well as variant art by John McCrea and Mike Spicer below.
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