“I love team books but it annoys me how bland and samey the characters often are” Monty Nero talks Frenemies

After the success of Death Sentence and Hollow Monsters, Monty Nero is back with a brand new series on Kickstarter – Frenemies. It’s a slice of high camp superhero space adventure, about a group of students who are given cosmic powers, but don’t necessarily follow the rulebook when it comes to what they should do next. It’s another fantastic read from Nero and artist Yishan Li and we caught up with Monty to find out more:

Tell us a bit about what Frenemies:The Lost Planet is all about?
Monty Nero: It’s about seven rivals  hunting for a LEGENDARY PLANET  which once dominated our solar system, the site of incredible knowledge which could save our world – or destroy it. It’s a sci-fi fantasy with some sparkling quick fire dialogue.

How did you and artist Yishan Li team up?

MN: We met at a comic con a few years ago and we got on so well that I wrote this sci-fi script for her when I got home. We’ve just been waiting for the right moment to do it. She’s been very busy working for Top Cow, Dark Horse, and on Hellboy of course. This really plays to her strengths and she’s done an amazing job. I couldn’t imagine a better artist.

What are the strengths she brings to the world of Frenemies?
MN: Character work and storytelling. She’s brilliant with character design and emotions and that’s exactly what this needed. It all rests on the interplay between seven rival characters who have to stick together even though they’d rather not. You can see at a glance how fresh and cool the characters look. They all meet at a cosplay competition which makes it visually very eye-catching, and of course as they travel through the cosmos their predicament just gets wilder.

The characters all stick together despite the events that happen to them, why was that so important for the story?
MN: The alien prophesy, the knowledge and power that comes from finding The Lost Planet, can only be gained by these seven together. Each character changes as they get closer to their goal, becoming more alien and powerful. They’re always in a state of flux, and alliances and friendships keep shifting. You’re constantly uncovering revelations about all them as they traverse the cosmos

You’ve given each character equal time rather than having one stand out. Was it hard giving each character their time in the sun?
MN: Not at all – it’s in the tradition of great team books. It’s all very natural, they all have different areas of knowledge and skills and points of view: LGBTQ, straight, liberal, conservative, shy, extrovert.Introvert.

They’re all working at a University as Phd students or professors, and it’s only natural to find disparate views and backgrounds in that scenario. Carlton starts off taking the lead, but it’s soon obvious that Minerva has more to offer once they’re blasting through the galaxy. She’s a lesbian punk adventurer used to danger and the paranormal. But then something happens that forces Hunter to the fore. He’s more right wing and entrepreneurial.

don’t want to give too much of the plot away. I love team books but it annoys me how bland and samey the characters often are. This is structured like a conflict engine – it’s the gift that keeps giving in terms of generating fresh story and brilliant dialogue.

What books or comics influenced you with Frenemies? It seems to have an air of Saga about it?

MN: Yeah a little.. It’s maybe closest to Saga and Umbrella Academy with maybe a bit of Hellboy or X-Files too. Though most of the influences are cinematic. I wanted to evoke Star Wars, and Raiders, and 2001 and Close Encounters. The spirit of adventure and awe at the unknown. The trick was figuring out how to do it in a completely fresh way. When you’re in deep space, solving riddles in Zero G to beat alien traps that rely on the cooperation of seven completely original characters, It makes the narrative feel new. And of course we have five LGBTQ characters from around the world, rather than just the straight white heroes we were given back then.

The Kickstarter for Frenemies launches on May 28th and you can back it here!