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Marvel's Hulk writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson takes on the monster in us all with new crime thriller Crocodile Black

The series, co-created with artist Som, launches from Boom! Studios in May

Crocodile Black
Image credit: Andrea Sorrentino/Boom! Studios

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With his work for both Marvel and DC over the past few years, Phillip Kennedy Johnson has demonstrated his ability to write about the best of us — Superman, in his Action Comics run — and the monster inside us all, with his current Incredible Hulk run. Now, in a new series for Boom! Studios, he’s asking what it takes to bring people to crime — and whether all of us are capable of making that step.

“Crocodile Black is a story about dark reinvention,” Johnson explained in a statement from the publisher. “It’s about hidden trauma, unchecked obsession, the power that masks give us, and a dead man’s black crocodile-skin boots. It’s about a COVID-era kid with no prospects finding something he never knew he wanted, and using it to become someone he never knew he wanted to be: a dangerous man.”

The series was born of the way society responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the writer explained. “I was fascinated with how many people left behind jobs they hated or college programs they were never that interested in, and pursued paths they’d been afraid to before… It’s a story I hope will leave readers asking themselves, ‘Given the opportunity, could I be capable of great things, too… or terrible things?’”

Johnson’s collaborator on the series, Som, is full of praise for the writer. “ He has an incredible understanding of the medium and creates brutally harrowing moments page after page with such aplomb, that it becomes a joyride for someone like me. It pushes me to create visuals that could do justice to the writing. I truly hope this labour of love fascinates you all the same way it fascinates us.”

It’s a mutual appreciation, with Johnson calling Som “ a visionary, a genius of an artist,” and adding, “He was the only choice to draw Crocodile Black. Much of Som’s work illustrates the otherworldly or grotesque violently intruding on reality, which we really wanted to capture for this story. I routinely get art back from Som with elements that are so distinct or haunting that it impacts the way I write for him going forward. More than any other, that kind of collaboration is the reason I love the medium like I do.”

Crocodile Black #1 hits stands — physical and digital — on May 8. Until then, take a look at the two covers for the first issue from Andrea Sorrentino and Christian Ward:

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Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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