On his most recent Substack, Jonathan Hickman announced that Jason Howard would be drawing for the upcoming Duels series, part of the Three Worlds Three Moons 3W3M universe that Hickman is creating on Substack with Mike Del Mundo and Mike Huddlestone, as well as guest-writers Al Ewing and Ram V.
Because now Hickman tells us Jason Howard is “the absurdly talented artist behind Super Dinosaur, Big Girls, Trees, and Astounding Wolf-Man. He’s got an amazing sense of motion and fun in everything he does, so he made perfect sense for the Duels story (which just so happens to have both).” But what is Duels? It emerged from Ram V’s treatment for the economic systems of the planets and moons in 3W3M, Jonathan Hickman wrote his own responses and notes, saying
“Sure there’s going to be a certain amount of crime everywhere, and with that kind of money rolling around a large amount of it is going to be organized, but I think there have to be rules on HEIR about why these guys get to run around trying to murder each other — and everyone is cool with it — but the random murders of others (and/or bystanders) would not be (because that’s bad for business). So I think there has to be some type of codified system of duels for the royals on HEIR, which would also imply that there would need to be some type of specialized organization that’s over it or part of it. And since these are royals I think it would have to ‘part of it,’ because I don’t see these guys subjugating themselves to murder bosses or something. Super high-end games of death sounds cool.”
They do. He later wrote;
“I really want to do something on AKVA with the pirate mining operation. How that works, what that looks like. Getting to put our eyes on the KHOR. It’s hard not to want to see the terrible royals on HEIR and their system of codified assassinations called DUELS. Hard to choose which one I want to see more. Almost impossible really. So, screw it. Let’s do both.”
He then laid out what he would need for Duels.
“An assassin that is part of the royal games of death, big and tank-like. We need a Royal who is trying to have another royal killed. We need the location that all of this is taking place, and method of travel, some kind of cool vehicle or such, and finally, we need the tokens.”
With Mike Huddlestone doing designs for Duels’ Assassins and Tokens, with Mike Del Mundo on Royal and Vehicle designs. Hiddlestone wrote ” I needed to design an assassin, a device the assassins use to accept contracts, a timer, and tokens that have a symbolic purpose… His description: “A brute. He’s big, strong, and terrifying — he looks like the kind of guy that twists the heads off of birds. Then moves on to twisting the heads off babies.” … “He’s a giant murderous bastard. A cruel smirk on his face.” Which, going through lots of choices and decisions, Mike delivered thus;
To see the all the thought processes, workthroughs, more art and much more explanations, you’ll probably need to subscribe. As for the tokens,
“These depict the various schools and methods of assassinations, laid out in the script. There are three of them: Think of it like Assassin: rock, paper, scissors.”… I don’t know if the assassin organizations are legal on this world, but even if they are, I imagine in their early histories they were not. So instead of custom cards or tokens that announce their presence, I think their traditions would come from a history of being covert. I imagine coins, whose backs have been defaced, with crude symbols carved into its surface. If someone is searched they just have a handful of coins, and even if one of the defaced coins is discovered it’s odd but not immediately incriminating. It also felt like an anarchic statement to deface a symbol of local government and then carve your symbol directly into it. So maybe these schools have risen to high social status, but I think their traditions would enshrine their early hidden years, and one of those is this tradition of defaced, hand carved coins (perhaps even handed down?) that carry their symbols. “
Sweet. Subscribe to Jonathan Hickman, Mike Del Mundo and Mike Huddlestone’s Substack here,