SGT DEAN: It seems you have kind of become the official writer of these Military Specials. How do you feel about that?
STUART MOORE: I don't want to sound too aw-shucks or anything, but it's an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously.
SGT DEAN: These issues are designed for a pretty specific audience, many of whom don’t regularly read comics, or have limited access to them. With that in mind, do you approach them any differently than other projects you have worked on?
STUART MOORE: A bit differently, yes. First of all, the characters have to be pretty self-explanatory within each issue. We try to keep the stories as current and in-continuity as possible, but we don't want to get too bogged down by that. I certainly don't want the stories to seem dated in a year.
More importantly, though: I'm very aware of the difficult circumstances that most of the people reading these books are living in. When I write, say, an issue of WOLVERINE, very few of my readers are worried about getting shot tomorrow. So it's very important to all of us that the AAFES books speak to soldiers' concerns -- say hey, we're with you, we're thinking of you -- without getting too grim, preachy, or political. We get very little feedback on these books, so in the end we all just cross our fingers and hope we did something good.
SGT DEAN: Is it more difficult doing these done-in-one stories as opposed to a story where you’re given 2, 4, or 6 issues to tell it in?
STUART MOORE: Well, as a writer, I always try to pack too much in, so it's difficult for me. Basically it means the plot itself has to be pretty simple and quickly resolved. We also need to leave room for both the military personnel and the super heroes to have their moments. The super heroes are the eye candy, but the soldiers and guardsmen are just as important.
SGT DEAN: “Letters Home” has been my personal favorite thus far in the series. I love the use of the heroes’ “letters” as narration because it casts those characters in a very human role that you normally don’t see. The final letter particularly so. What prompted the idea for that issue?
STUART MOORE: Thank you. I was asked to do a story about terrorists interfering with soldiers' emails home, and I started thinking about how that could dovetail with the super heroes' own experiences. Captain America and the Punisher have both been away to war, and the Silver Surfer and Ghost Rider were both, in a sense, drafted to fight under weird circumstances that changed them irrevocably. I hope the story works -- if it does, then it's doing what I really want these books to do: saying to our servicemen and women, We understand. We're thinking of you, too.
I also, weirdly, wound up doing some things with Captain America and the Punisher that parallelled events in CIVIL WAR -- which was in the works at the same time. Sheer coincidence, but it was kind of cool.
SGT DEAN: “The Spirit of America” is another excellent story, and one with a base in reality. In a lot of cases several members of families, fathers and sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, even husbands and wives, serve in the military. Sometimes together, sometimes half-a-world apart. Was there any particular inspiration for that story?
STUART MOORE: We wanted to get more into the Guard here -- to show that there are a lot of people serving on the homefront as well as overseas. That will continue in the next special. There are also women serving in far more dangerous positions than ever before, and that fit into the story nicely.
SGT DEAN: You have had the opportunity to work with a lot of Marvel characters, through these specials as well as the New Avengers/Transformers crossover, and your work on Ghost Rider, Iron Man and other titles. You’ve also written for some of DC’s characters. Do you have a favorite character, or group of characters, to work with?
STUART MOORE: I really like IRON MAN -- as I write this, I'm working on a four-issue arc in his regular book (issues #29-32). He works well in the AAFES books because he's a high-tech contractor and, currently, head of the international antiterrorist agency S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. So he has various links to the military, and his cutting-edge technology helps move things along and keep the stories current.
I also love Wolverine. For a character as heavily exposed as he is, I find him amazingly rich. One of the little things I wanted to do in "Spirit of America" was to deal with the fact that Wolverine is currently a member of both the New Avengers and the X-Men. It seemed natural for him to drag Cyclops along with him, even though he's basically going on an Avengers mission.
SGT DEAN: Before we wrap this up, is there anything you can reveal about the upcoming sixth special?
STUART MOORE: It's a story about the National Guard in California. It picks up on a line at the end of "Spirit of America," where Guardsman Matthews says he's being reassigned to fight forest fires. (See -- we're actually planning ahead!) I think I'll let the cast be a surprise for now.
SGT DEAN: Thank you for taking the time to chat. And thanks for your show of support through these stories. Keep up the great work.
STUART MOORE: No, thank you, and everyone else serving their country on the homefront and abroad. I'm just writing comics here! (But I'm glad people are enjoying them.)