This April, writers Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt are returning to their world of supervillainy.

The co-creators of Dark Horse Comics’ Minor Threats are picking up where they left off with the D-list villains of Twilight City and where they find themselves at the end of Volume 1. In Minor Threats: The Fastest Way, we follow Frankie Follis, better known as the villain Playtime, as she grapples with her ascendency to the top of the super-powered underworld in the nearby city of Redport. With Twilight City’s greatest hero AND villain out of the picture, things are looking golden for Playtime… on the surface. Whether hero or villain, being on the top isn’t always as rewarding as it seems, and, as the Dark Horse solicitation of The Fastest Way Down notes, “heavy is the head that wears the supervillain crown.”

Oswalt and Blum have reunited with the rest of the creative team from Minor Threats Volume 1, including artist Scott Hepburn, colorist Ian Herring, and letterer Nate Piekos, to dive right in to the new status quo of Twilight City, Redport, and their villainous and heroic communities. Volume 1 created a costumed world whole cloth and The Fastest Way Down looks to be exploring what happens when the villains and heroes of that world are thrown into chaos.

Mr. Blum and Mr. Oswalt were kind enough to speak with me again about how their comic book has grown since that first Minor Threats miniseries, how the characters have evolved in unexpected ways, reuniting with the creative team, and how Goodfellas and The Godfather Part 2 and Batman: Year One have influenced this new tale.

Minor Threats is one of the biggest breaths of fresh air to come to superhero comics and years, with a cast that is never static, but evolving in new and unexpected ways. Take a visit to Redport and Twilight City; the crew of Minor Threats are ready to take you on an unforgettable ride into the depths of villainy and moral compromise.




FreakSugar: For folks reading this, what is the new status quo that we find at the beginning of Minor Threats: The Fastest Way Down?

Jordan Blum: Frankie has gone from a former D-list villain trying to get out of the game to the new Queenpin of costumed crime. She’s trying to bridge two eras, the more innocent years she grew up in as a supervillain sidekick to her mom and this new, darker post Insomniac/Stickman world. She also has Scalpel in her ear, trying to push Frankie to think bigger than just bank heists. Of course, not everyone in the community accepts Frankie’s ascension. She has turf wars to deal with as well as a group of young heroes named The Action snooping around, trying to uncover the actual truth about who killed The Insomniac. It’s not easy being king, or queen.

Patton Oswalt: Frankie very quickly learns that there is no peace for the criminally successful. It’s not just “watch your back” – it’s watch your sides, your front, and even the people who’ve “got” your back.

FS: Frankie has made it to the top of the villain heap in Twilight City. How have her actions affected her mental state? What kind of feelings is she grappling with?

JB: She is really struggling to accept this new power and responsibility. All she knows is the streets. This elevated life is unnatural for her. She’s become a local hometown hero in Redport, investing in the community while also secretly running her new empire. I think she misses the simplicity of the old days, getting her hands dirty. On top of that, the act of murdering the Insomniac, a man she knew her entire life, has taken a toll on her. She’s heading down a dark path and barely recognizes herself. Frankie’s terrified of her daughter Maggie seeing her for who she really is.

PO: The big thing she’s struggling with is missing the endorphin rush of how brutal – but simple – street-level crime was. Once you’re at the top it’s all a slow, terrifying burn. And she’s having trouble weaning herself from the quick rush that comes from duking it out for small turf at street-level. And this is going to cause her some problems.




FS: We know that she’s feeling the pressure from rival villains and gangs, but what is her relationship with the ne’er-do-wells with whom she’s on more friendly terms?

JB: Without spoiling anything, her relationship with Scalpel has gotten REALLY complicated. Brain Tease and her have made a mutually beneficial agreement, but can she really trust him? To the rest of the villain community she’s become a local folk hero. She’s restored them to power, organized them and given them a shot to be something more in the world. But some secrets, especially relating to the Insomniac, are coming back to haunt to her in a major way.

PO: Well, for the first time she has to be the leader – or give the appearance of being the one in charge. Which means juggling a lot of different egos, and people vying for a spot at the table at which she is currently sitting at the head.

FS: How has your relationship with these characters changed since that initial Minor Threats miniseries? What have you learned from them that you didn’t know before?

JB: Frankie had more of a heel turn than we ever anticipated, but I think it led to us to explore her psyche in an interesting way. The first volume is a real victory for her, but one that comes with a lot of trauma to unpack. I love her warts and all, and I think Volume 2 will really challenge the reader. This is a book about villains. They’re going to do bad things. Whether you agree with Frankie’s choices is really up to you, but we tried to explore the motivations behind them so they felt valid and genuine. Other characters really blossomed and became so much more. Scalpel to me is the breakout character of this volume. An ice queen that begins to crack and let emotions get in the way of her business. Fair warning: Scalpel is going to break your heart. There’s also an issue that focuses on Frankie’s mother Loretta a.k.a. The Toy Queen that is my favorite in this volume. Switching narrators every issue allows us to shift the focus and excavate these vivid and detailed histories for all these wonderful characters.

PO: Both Playtime and Scalpel surprised us – and probably surprised themselves – in discovering how much residual emotion still exists in a world where being emotional (and sentimental) is an immediate liability.




FS: Following up on that, you’ve all created a superhero world whole cloth. How was that world evolved in ways you didn’t expect?

JB: The world is expanding because other creators have voiced wanting to play in the toy chest and add their own toys. There are a ton of Minor Threats spin-offs that have yet to be announced by “pinch-me, this a dream” writers and artists. It’s killing me not to spoil them. We always said that Redport was like the “Staten Island” of Twilight City. There is so much more to explore. That inspired Tim Seeley to pitch The Alternates, creating our “Brooklyn” and the heroes who inhabit that borough. This has continued beyond Twilight City, allowing the world of Minor Threats to be so much bigger. As long as people have original superhero/villain stories to tell with unique perspectives we are open to building, and building, and building…

PO: Well, a lot of that evolution has come from Scott’s amazing artwork – this world is STUFFED with sixty years plus of continuity. And you realize how much, both mentally and visually, that must affect the denizens. Like, I bet a lot of them have to actively ignore the phantasmic landscape they walk through every day just to live their lives.

FS: The whole creative team is back for this new miniseries. How has that collaboration been like? Do you have a shorthand with them at this point?

JB: Absolutely. We constantly want to challenge each other. Especially with Hepburn. We threw some crazy pages at him and got masterpieces in return. We wanted to write new insane sequences to see how he would push the form of comics. We also were so influenced by the amount of world-building storytelling Scott incorporated into the background of volume 1 that we tried to lean into it in volume 2. Hints of 60 years of superhero continuity we might never see. Stories within stories within stories. We even built out a completely off panel subplot of Frankie trying to rid Redport of magic that occasionally pops up but never affects the bigger a-story. I also have to say that Ian Herring’s colors and Nate Piekos’ letters have never looked better. They have created such an incredible look and sound for the book, it’s so fine tuned in this go around.

PO: We’re getting there. I actually like the fact that there isn’t an immediate shorthand, that the writing and artwork is still open to interpretation and argument. Keeps us on our toes.


MINOR THREATS: THE FASTEST WAY DOWN #3 cover by Marguerite Sauvage


FS: You’ve talked about your influences for the Minor Threats universe before, but have you added any as you’ve delved deeper into these stories?

JB: Some of Bendis’ Marvel work regarding The Hood was absolutely discussed. As was Miller’ and Mazzucchelli’s Born Again. More so we looked at gangster movies with great, sprawling rises and falls like The Godfather Part 2 or Goodfellas. It was important that Volume 2 feel like a different crime genre than Volume 1.

PO: We’re still fueled nicely by Suicide Squad (the original run) Astro City, Black Hammer and The Flash’s Rogues.

FS: What are you reading right now?

JB: Local Man, Transformers, Pine and Merrimac, Penguin, Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees, Ultimate Spider-Man, all the Superman books are incredible and Duggan’s X-Men stuff.

PO: Far, far too much to list. I follow writers, so people like Mark Russell, Tom King and Jeff Lemire I pretty much buy up immediately and read.




FS: Do you have any other projects coming down the pike you’d like to promote?

JB: A lot of cool Minor Threats books outside of Volume 2, but we have to wait. Seeley and I have a new book we’re working on outside of the MT universe. Very excited for that. Lots of movie and TV stuff I’ll be shot for spoiling. Sorry.

FS: Is there anything you can tease about the miniseries?

JB: If you felt Snakestalker got the short shrift in Volume 1 you will be very happy with Volume 2. He may be dead but his presence will be felt in major ways!

FS: If you had a final pitch for Minor Threats: The Fastest Way Down, what would it be?

JB: You’ll see the world of super villainy explored in ways you never have. This story has everything: violence, love, betrayal and murder Santas. The stakes may be bigger but it’s still an intimate portrait of very human characters doing very bad things.

PO: Listen to the lyrics of Bleached’s “Heartbeat Away.”

Minor Threats: The Fastest Way Down #1 debuts Wednesday, April 3, 2024, from Dark Horse Comics.

From the official issue description:

The hit superhero saga that’s Watchmen meets The Wire returns from Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum, showrunners of Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K on HULU, and superstar artist Scott Hepburn (Tom Morello’s Orchid).

Frankie Follis AKA the costumed criminal Playtime has won. Twilight City’s greatest hero The Insomniac and its greatest villain The Stickman are dead, allowing Frankie to unify the super crook underworld and assert herself as the Queenpin of Redport. But Frankie is feeling the pressure from every side. Rival gangs are challenging her authority, Scalpel her consigliere is pushing her to legitimize her empire, and the act of murdering The Insomniac has broken something deep inside her. Frankie is about to learn the hard way . . . heavy is the head that wears the supervillain crown.

In the vein of Sin City, Black Hammer, and The Boys, this noir-ish superhero caper, focuses on a lower-class kind of criminal, similar to the Coen Bros most pulpy films, but set in a high concept world of heroes and villains.