Cullen Bunn Talks Going Full John Wick Style in Roku #1

Roku #1 Cover A
Cover A by Dave Johnson

Coming to shelves October 30th, we’ll find out how many lives the lethal assassin Roku must take in her first series! Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Ramón F. Bachs launch the four-issue series that has Roku killing her way around the globe.

We got to ask Cullen Bunn about the brand new series that goes full-on “John Wick style action.”

Graphic Policy: Hi Cullen! How’s it going?

Cullen Bunn: Going great! I just returned home from a couple of trips (to New York and Baltimore), so I’m a little behind, but I’m writing comics during Halloween season! What could be better?

GP: You’ve recently finished a pretty damn good mini-series featuring Punk Mambo; Now that you’re scripting Roku is there a difference in how you approach the two characters?

CB: Oh, yeah. Roku and Punk have such different personalities, different themes, that it is impossible to treat them the same. With Punk, I wanted to spin a fun horror yarn. With Roku, I went for full on John Wick style action. I listened to different music, wrote at a different pace. Everything, down to the pacing of the books, is different… in a good way.

Roku #1 Cover B
Cover B by Viktor Kalvachev

GP: Roku hasn’t really been shown as a protagonist yet in the Valiant universe; what are the challenges, or opportunities, that come from placing her in that position for the first time?

CB: Maybe she’s still the villain!

GP: Touche!

CB: I wanted to approach this as Roku’s first appearance. We’re not seeing any major Valiant heroes here. I didn’t want anyone to steal Roku’s time in the spotlight. Since she hasn’t been the lead before, it was so much fun helping her shine. Of course, she has backstory, and getting that across without slowing this story down, was a bit of a challenge. I think I found a pretty good middle ground, though.

GP: Valiant’s got a reputation of being very new reader friendly with first issues. How familiar does a reader need to be with Roku’s past to enjoy this?

CB: A new reader doesn’t need to know anything about Roku when they pick up this book. As I mentioned, I treated it as her first appearance. We’ll fill you in on anything vital along the way.

Roku #1 Cover C
Cover C by Marc Laming

GP: You’re using Roku to explore a side of the Valiant universe that we haven’t really seen before. Can you tell us any more about that without revealing too much?

CB: As we jump into this book, Roku has been working with a sinister criminal organization—a gathering of faceless movers and shakers. That’s where we start, but we used that as a springboard to introduce a number of criminal groups and (especially) a number of assassins, mercenaries, and killers. Some of these ne’er-do-wells have big roles. Some have brief appearances, but all of them hint at new factions that will be part of Valiant moving forward.

GP: Is there anything different you need to do for your own processes when centering a story around a character that has been seen primarily as villainous?

CB: I’ve made a career out of writing villains and anti-heroes. For this, I was kind of able to do my own thing. I did want this book to feel different, though, and I put a lot of thought into how to make that happen. Here, I wanted to focus on action and violence and the criminal underworld.

GP: Do you think that we’re still going to view her as a villain after this series?

CB: She certainly starts that way! As for how she ends up… it all depends on how that final act plays out.

Roku #1 Cover E
Preorder Cover by Howard Chaykin

GP: You’ve introduced a couple new characters in the first issue; what can you tell us about them without revealing too much about the story?

CB: Elena is Roku’s contact and handler in Russia. I wanted someone who could counterbalance the seriousness and darkness of Roku. She is a talented character, and I really came to love her over the course of the series, even though she seems a bit bumbling.

Ember-1, on the other hand, is every bit as serious and lethal as Roku. She is an enhanced British operative loaded with the very best gear. What makes her really dangerous, though, is that she seems to know more about Roku than Roku knows herself!

GP: Finally, is there any other Valiant character that you’d like to get your hands on?

CB: Oh, yeah. There are some characters I feel like I was born to write. I’m not mentioning them right now, though, because my secrets run deep.

GP: Thanks so much for answering our questions and can’t wait to check out the series!

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