Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen, PreviewsWorld

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Contract killer Nina Ryan is gunning for absolution, but…will she find it? That’s one of many questions at the heart of writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Deodato, Jr.’s Absolution. A new series that broadcasts one sinner’s comeuppance for your entertainment.

Published by AWA Studios, Absolution pits Nina against her own dark past and a ticking clock. Now she has a month to make up for her crimes, or the bombs that have been implanted in her head will explode. Online! For millions to see!

In the following interview, co-creator Peter Milligan (X-Statix) explains why the road to redemption is definitely splattered with blood.

Peter Milligan

Troy-Jeffrey Allen: Firstly, what is Absolution?

Peter Milligan: You’ve committed dreadful crimes.  You have blood on your hands.  Is it possible for someone like you to ever have absolution?  Can your guilt ever truly be washed away?  For those who believe, sins may be forgiven through the sacrament of confession and reconciliation.  But what about if you don’t believe? What about if you’ve been a killer most of your life?  Can you ever truly be absolved of your sins?

Some time in the future, the criminal justice system believes you CAN.  But this isn’t absolution through religion.  This is absolution via entertainment.

You are linked up to live-stream followers and you have one month to make amends for your heinous crimes.  One month to prove to the world that you are worthy of absolution. Fail, disappoint your audience, let your Absolution score drop too low, and the tiny bombs that have been inserted into your body will explode.

You have one month to please your viewers so they boost your absolution score.  If you hit your target score within the allotted time, you are absolved of your crimes.

But is this truly absolution?  Does real absolution even exist for someone like you?

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TJA: Tell us about Nina Ryan, why do we follow her through the story?

Milligan: If Nina was just another sexy assassin with a hot ass and a cold heart I really wouldn’t be interested in writing about her.  Nina is more complex, more vulnerable, more human than your average paid killer.  She was inducted into a criminal organization when she was too young to know better and turned into this formidable killing machine. And she was good at killing.  It was more than a job—it was the only thing that gave her temporary relief from the rage and anger that gripped her.

In the near future where Nina lives and operates, the link between neurology and crime has been accepted.  Which means a lesion in Nina’s brain might have contributed toward making her that angry young killer.  If you remove that lesion–is she the same person?  Can she be held accountable for what the old Nina did?

Nina Ryan always found it very easy to hunt down and kill a target. She’s about to find out that life can get way more complicated than that.

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TJA: Is this in the modern world or does it take place in the future?

Milligan: It’s the near future.  Which means it’s future enough for certain technical advances to have been made which makes the story of Absolution possible–but it’s close enough to be a very recognizable world, with very recognizable people.  In some ways this is our world, a world where people increasingly experience life via the medium of the internet, a world of trolls and likes and obsessions.  This is our world, but it’s nudged forward—and by becoming a more extreme version of what and who are, the story holds a cracked mirror up to our own strange days.

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TJA: How did Absolution come about as a project? Did you approach publisher AWA or AWA approach you?

Milligan: This is a strange one. I was in a café dwelling on the whole notion of absolution and to what extend we can be responsible for our actions – I’d recently read an article about crime and neurology. As I walked home from the café I had the idea of Absolution.  The story of a woman who has done a lot of bad things in her past but now has the chance to absolve herself of her crimes.  I got home and scribbled a page of notes.  Then I expanded this, built upon it, and showed it to AWA.  Of course from then we developed it a bit, some things changed, but the kernel of the idea remained.

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TJA: What made Mike Deodato the right artist for the job?

Milligan: I know Mike’s work, of course. I knew he was great, and was really happy to have him on the project. .  But I didn’t actually know for sure just how right he was for Absolution until he started producing art.  And then, wow, it was like the story was taken to another level.  He’s producing a kind of edgy, restless art that perfectly complements the story and world of Absolution.

Essentially, this sounds like a redemption tale. What is it about redemption tales that keeps writers and audiences coming back for more?

A redemption tale makes this sound like such a cozy, straightforward story. Absolution is anything but cozy and straightforward.  It’s morally and visually complex and shocking. It questions the very idea of redemption.  As to your broader question about redemption, yes, it is an idea that writers and audiences return to time and again.  The idea of characters seeking redemption suggests a character who wants to change for the better, which a lot of people find appealing. And maybe this redemption thing says something deeper about our culture.  Maybe we like the idea of being redeemed, of being made clean, all those nasty little guilty secrets of our modern lives washed way.

Nina Ryan probably feels like that at the beginning of her journey–but her sins are neither little nor secret.

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TJA: Looking forward, what can readers expect from Absolution?

Milligan: On the one hand Absolution is a fast-paced, brutal near-future thriller set against a hyper-modern backdrop of internet trolls and a fame and media-obsessed society.  The hero is an assassin – or an ex-assassin – so rest assured that the body count is high, and there are very few easy deaths.  On another level this is a book about a young woman who wants to be a different person—but finds that that is easier said than done.

TJA: In terms of audience, who is Absolution for?

Milligan: Probably someone who doesn’t have a weak stomach! Not just for violence and brutality but for the tough questions it asks.  Lapsed and practicing Catholics are welcome, as are members of all other churches and religions, as well as atheist and agnostics. In fact anyone who asks themselves questions about the nature of human weakness and the possibility that we might not be weighed down and destroyed by the  crimes and mistakes we’ve committed in the past.

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