Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wagner, Shasteen, Gardner talk 25 TO LIFE

There is a murderer on the streets – a serial killer – hunting down and executing African American police officers. As you may know, the police go after cop killers with extreme zealousness but when even the full force of the police can’t find the killer, they call in for help – they call in the F.B.I.

In the recently debuted miniseries 25 To Life, an experimental unit of the F.B.I. is called in to solve these targeted killings, and to do it they use criminals against one another. After profiling the suspect in a case, they seek out incarcerated criminals who fit that same profile – ‘Mirrors’ they call them – and try to get inside the mind of their suspect by getting inside the mind of these prisoners. In the case of this race crime, they have to saddle up with a racist militia leader and somehow strike up a partnership in order to catch the killer.

The first issue of 25 To Life hit the streets last week, with the remaining two scheduled for October and November. Last week we talked with series mastermind Eriq La Salle, and this week we turn to his accomplices, writer Doug Wagner & artist Tony Shasteen...

Newsarama: In 25 To Life, it revolves around an experimental FBI unit that uses incarcerated criminals to gain insight on outstanding cases. Can you tell us how this team works?

Doug Wagner: There are volatile, high profile cases out there that could erupt into riots and general mass chaos if not solved swiftly. In these types of situations, the government and the public demand and need results in a short amount of time. That’s where our experimental FBI unit comes in. The FBI has been given permission to make “deals” with guys in prison for 25 To Life in exchange for their knowledge and insight. If they don’t help solve the case, the deal is null and void. There’s not only pressure on our team to solve the case, but pressure on the criminals they incorporate to solve the case as well. The concept is an expanded version of the classic concept of “it takes a thief to catch a thief.” But in these cases, we’re dealing with crimes that are much more violent and malicious. Who better to catch a racially motivated murderer ex-racially motivated murderer?

Nrama: What can you tell us about Santana and the rest of the team?

Wagner: Santana is an African-American in his 40’s and the leader of this team. At his age, he should be higher on the FBI food chain, but he has this problem with authority figures. Lucky for him, he's brilliant. Santana uses his cop intuition and street hunches to solve crimes, trusting his heart before his head. He is an excellent detective and investigator with his own dark secrets.

Espinoza is a hot Columbian female with a violent streak. Psychologist by trade, she picked up her gun skills and bullet-proof skin on the job. The smile is genuine, trustworthy and sincere 'til the end – but you definitely do not want to mess around and end up on her bad side. Her only blemish is a nasty ex-drug habit that's had her suspended, threatened and moved from city to city like a military brat. She’s clean now, but struggles to remain so.

Roschard, “Roach” to his teammates, has a background in chemistry and forensics from his military days, and he has always been an over-achiever in both. Though tough enough on the streets, he is better suited in the lab, and everyone knows it, including him. As a result, he constantly feels as though he has something to prove. Roach is logical and analytical, using a scientific approach to crime solving.

Shepard is the new blood on the team. A 24-year-old right out of the academy, he’s still the by-the-book kind of agent. On this team, his insights are rarely appreciated and often rejected. The son of a prominent government official, Shepard has to constantly establish that nepotism did not get him the job on this team, even though it did. Usually, he’s convincing himself more than those around him.

(For the rest of the interview, click on the title at the top of this story)

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