Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
In the 1980s, Mike Baron flipped the superhero genre on its head with Nexus, a comic about a reluctant executioner of mass murderers. Meanwhile, on television, a bunch of surprisingly dark characters were running missions in a futuristic helicopter on Airwolf. Now, 30 years later, Baron has written a story for the upcoming Airwolf graphic novel, which will be released in August by Lion Forge.
Baron came up with an interesting twist for the Airwolf comic, pitting the high-tech chopper against some very low-tech World War II-era planes. He’s also still writing new Nexus comics, and artist Steve Rude is running a Kickstarter campaign to publish the newest story online and in print.
Baron spoke with ROBOT 6 about Airwolf, Nexus and his other projects, and he threw in some advice about writing comics as well.
Mike Baron has done it all in comics, and then some. But what he loves most is creating his own characters, and he was doing “creator-owned comics” years before it became a movement. A collaboration with Steve Rude, Baron’s Nexus was one of the 1980s gleaming independent gems — and Baron expanded on that with the PTSD-prone veteran-turned-hero Badger.
Like many of his colleagues, Baron spent time at the Big Two, crafting a six-year run on The Punisher and doing some memorable work on Deadman. But just as he broke into comics creating his own characters, 2014 sees Baron returning to that — both in comics and in prose novels. The Colorado author is currently writing his fifth novel, Domain, and charting the return of his signature creation Badger.
ROBOT 6 spoke with the two-time Eisner winner spoke at length about his projects, his passion, and his love of martial arts.
The news last week about the return of First Comics makes me happier than it has any right to. Although I haven’t read an incredible amount of the publishers’ 1980s/1990s output–which included a couple of gems, which I have read: American Flagg! Nexus! Those two alone feel like they should earn First a place in most comic lovers’ hearts–the publisher holds a weird place in my heart for being, I’m pretty convinced, the first American indie publisher I ever bought a comic from, way back when.
Tony Bedard is a writer I’ve interviewed several times regarding various projects over the years. I greatly enjoyed his work years ago with CrossGen and since then I’ve often viewed a project more favorably if I found his name was attached. So when I heard he had a new ongoing series for DC, R.E.B.E.L.S. (core concept: Vril Dox [Brainiac 2] recruits a team to regain control of his L.E.G.I.O.N. police force), I contacted him for an email interview. This Wednesday, April 15, marks the release of the third issue in the series. (A preview of the first issue is available from DC here.)
Tim O’Shea: The first issue opens with a reference from the Encyclopedia Galactica, a nod to past incarnations of Legion books (as well as the works of Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams). When launching a new series that references the past but wants to make its own mark in the present (while telling tales from the future) how careful does a writer need to be in referencing the past with certain aspects while giving readers a fresh twist?
Tony Bedard: I want R.E.B.E.L.S. to be completely accessible to a new reader, and yet I want it to be loaded with references and “Easter eggs” for readers who are familiar with Legion lore. I guess the trick is not to make those bits essential to understanding the story. They’re in there as a bonus (and, yeah, the encyclopedia caption is a total homage to LSH stories of the past) but they’re not the point of the book. We’re just telling a fast and furious space saga, and everyone’s invited to join us.