Joe Keatinge is talking about his new Image series, Hell Yeah, and what it’s about:
Youngblood and X-Statix focused on the celebrity superheroes. Hell Yeah is about the world they made, twenty years after their initial appearances. It’s about their effects on culture, economy and government with a focus on the generation born into their world. Even so, all this is merely a starting point. Where do you go in a world where time travel is possible? What’s the effect on religion when a gigantic being comes to Earth to eat the entire planet? I think a lot of the times when comics explore these themes they take the fun out of it. Watchmen is a great comic, but man, it is a downer. I like Marvels too, but I don’t want to see how Celestials effect an old man. I want to see how they effect hot bands.
The idea of superhuman culture is one that’s been touched upon in only a few books throughout the genre’s life – Astro City, perhaps, Grant Morrison’s NewXMen, Joe Casey’s Wildcats and Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Top 10, Steve Englehart’s completely-forgotten Big Town – but it’s one of those ideas that feels as if it’s been waiting to happen for the longest time. The weirdness about something like the Marvel Universe is that it tries to be both “the world outside your window” and a superheroic world of possibility and invention, and those two things are completely in conflict if taken to their logical conclusions; if you think of how world events affect culture, whether it’s 9/11 or Occupy Wall Street or the Moon landing or whatever, it’s both ridiculous and frustrating to consider that no-one’s ever really managed to put this kind of thing into a comic book entirely successfully yet. It’s a reason to look forward to Hell Yeah, definitely, but also a question to think about for ourselves: What would it actually be like to live in a world with unstable molecules, the existence of time travel and parallel dimensions that we can visit, and an annual threat to your very existence?