Cougar and Cub is a new series from Action Lab. As the name suggests the Cougar is an older woman and the cub is a younger boy. This series asked the question “What happens when a superhero has sex with her sidekick?”. To answer that question the husband and wife team of Nick Morino and Rosie Knight were nice enough to stop by First Comics News and let our readers know all about their latest creation Cougar and Cub.
First Comics News: Superheroes having sex with their sidekicks has long been the trope of fan-fiction with made you decide to make it the focus of your mini-series?
Nick Marino: Shortly after I finished working on the first volume of Holy F*ck, I was wracking my brain to figure out what kind of story I wanted to tell next. I love superheroes and I love the campy trappings that surround them. I thought: “What if Batman and Robin had a one night stand? How would that mess everything up?” Daniel Arruda Massa was down to explore that concept with me and see how far we could take it. Luckily for us, Rosie Knight agreed to join the team too!
Rosie Knight: As someone who’s been reading comics since I was a kid, this is a question I’ve thought about a lot, from the heavy homoerotic subtext of golden age comics to the more obvious stuff in the 80s like Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns. After reading Nick and Daniel’s first collaboration, I trusted they would deal with this theme in a funny yet subversive way that I could definitely get down with.
1st: How old is Cougar?
Nick: We never specifically state her age, but I’ve been writing her in the lead story as if she’s in her late 30s. But Rosie gets to write the character throughout her entire career in the Flashback Backups.
Rosie: In that sense, Cougar is very cut from a classic superhero cloth. Even though I write her over 50 decades, she definitely doesn’t age in real time. Though I try to show some kind of personal growth throughout the backups, Cougar’s age fluctuates depending upon which decade and which kind of story she’s in.
Nick: Like her age, we never address Cougar’s origin directly in this miniseries. I have a backstory that I wrote for her so I have my own ideas about why she became a superhero and what her life was like before she made that decision. But I’d like to keep that under wraps in case we decide to explore that origin in a future story!
Rosie: In all the backup stories that I write, Cougar is already a superhero. Even though I allude to her background, the question of when she decided to become a superhero is never covered. Hopefully we can tell that tale at some point.
1st: How old is Cub?
Rosie: Cougar has a different Cub in nearly all of my backups, so they’re different ages and at different parts of their lives. But all of my Cubs are over eighteen. How old they are is less relevant than the fact that they’re her sidekicks.
1st: What made Cougar take on Cub as a sidekick?
Nick: As our lead story begins, Cougar and Cub are very much established in their crime fighting careers. When or why Minerva Manx decided to take on Billy Bobtail as a sidekick is another one of those untold stories we might address down the line! Rosie, all of your Cubs are already established too, right?
Rosie: Yeah. In fact, the Cub who’s probably my favorite to write — you’ll meet her in our fourth issue — is actually an ex-sidekick who comes back to save Cougar. So I think even though all of the Cubs are already established, you still get a lot of cool background and world building with them.
1st: What is their relationship in their secret identities?
Nick: Minerva and Billy seem to be friendly with each other, but they really only spend time together when they’re suited up as Cougar and Cub. Minerva lives in her big mansion with Esmeralda, her servant / caretaker / complicated parental figure. Billy lives at home with his adoptive parents. So that makes their one night stand even more of an anomaly!
Rosie: The Cubs I write have various different relationships with Cougar, some even platonic!
Nick: That complication is the crux of the lead story! Cougar and Cub’s one night stand changes everything between them. Their camaraderie is decimated. We really see the ramifications of it begin to tear through their partnership in our second issue.
Rosie: My stories don’t necessarily revolve around the same premise as the lead story. But they do explore the dynamic of a superhero and sidekick relationship, and how awkward / ridiculous that can get. There are four different Cubs in my tales and each one has a different relationship with Cougar, from platonic to super sexy. So I get to explore all the different ways that relationship can go wrong!
1st: What happens when their super villain, the Roach, find out about their relationship?
Nick: I’ll take the reigns on this one! The Roach happens to be out and about in Megaville on the night of “the incident”. She’s watching our frisky felines from a nearby rooftop as their one night stand begins. She’s pretty shocked, to say the least. What happens next for the Roach creates a fun introduction for our rogues gallery and really initiates the superpowered conflict throughout the rest of our story.
1st: What happens to the super team if their personal relationship fails?
Nick: Great question. We can’t answer it here, though… because we answer it in our story!
1st: The back-up stories feature Cougar and Cub of the past. Are they lovers in the past as well?
1st: Is each back up set in a different decade, how does that work?
Rosie: Yes. That was one of the funnest parts of all of this, getting to come up with a concept that allowed me to write five different stories in five completely different styles. As a lifelong comic geek, it was incredibly exciting and most of all fun to have a go at writing in five different classic comic book era. The inspirations I chose for the backups are golden age superheroes, romance comics of the 60s, underground comix, 80s black and white boom (basically, just my chance to write a Ninja Turtles story), and 90s indie comics.
Rosie: Cougar and Cub are definitely inspired by Batman and Robin, and because of that Cougar does have multiple sidekicks throughout the different backups, though not all of them are her lovers!
Nick: We have a couple of brief flashbacks to Cougar’s past in the lead story as well, revealing a time when Cougar didn’t have a sidekick! This time when she was “going it solo” even becomes a bit of a plot point. Basically, we’ve really had fun playing around with the revolving door trope that plagues superheroes and their legacy sidekicks.
1st: Is this a five issue mini-series or ongoing?
Nick: Ask us this question again in a month and a half once we have the order numbers back for our first issue! Just kidding (kinda). The serious answer is that we’ve planned for five issues of Cougar and Cub. We’d love to have the opportunity to do more if the sales and reception are there. Plus, Rosie and I might even switch up writing duties for any future Cougar and Cub stories! Wouldn’t ya wanna read that?!?
1st: What makes Cougar and Cub so cool no comic fan should miss it?
Nick: Three words: Daniel. Arruda. Massa. Our artistic collaborator has leveled up from Holy F*ck. He’s created a modern amalgamation of styles for the lead story, blending looks from silver age and underground comix. It looks like my dreams come true! And then Rosie is totally killing it with her amazing backups, giving Cougar this bizarre and nuanced history. It inspires Daniel and he morphs his art to match the eras. Lots of fun.