CBN talks to DnA, Walker exclusively about Hypernaturals
In July, CBN fan favorite cosmic scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will return to galactic adventures with their own creation, The Hypernaturals, from BOOM! Studio.
Fans, practically starved for this kind of cosmic fare, got a taste on Free Comic Book Day with an original issue of Hypernaturals that will not be repeated in July’s #1.
Taking a rare trip from his cubicle at our CBN offices, Managing Editor Byron Brewer caught up with both the scribes (who, as usual, answer collectively as DnA) and also Hypernaturals artist and co-creator Brad Walker for an exclusive interview to discuss the new cosmic book.
Cosmic Book News: Tell us a little about this future world you have for Hypernaturals. It is the year 100 AQ, but where does that figure into “real” time? What is the Quantinuum and how is the Earth different than it is today?
DnA: The exact date, in our terms, is deliberately being left vague. It’s the future, not far, but far enough. There are actually some plot reasons for this, which we can’t go into, but mainly it’s so we don’t lock down entirely and regret it later. The important thing is that when the Quantinuum began — a singularity moment, human culture just changed overnight, and this future began. It’s not a future that evolved. It’s a future that turned up like a light.
Cosmic Book News: Explain a little about the Hypernaturals. Is it a militaristic corps like Marvel’s Imperial Guard (X-Men) or is it more like a political post with limited terms? I noted some served three terms and some chose to serve less than that.
DnA: They’re police, champions, protectors. Not so much military, but they sign on for designated terms (the limit is three of the five year terms). The Hypernaturals are all humans with “hypernatural powers” who are detected from amongst the trillions of humans in Quantinuum space, a culture that spans many worlds, and are recruited for service. Only the best make the cut each term. They’re all unique — naturally occurring powers, unusual gifts, etc. They are the one-in-a-billion exceptional and unusual souls who are drawn upon to be heroes.
Cosmic Book News: In this “future,” do all humans have hypernatural powers, or are they like mutant powers in that folks start to get them as they grow older?
DnA: See above — only the very few. A hyper gift is a freak occurrence.
Cosmic Book News: Thus far, to my knowledge, it has been said that all the HNs are human or at least of Earth homo sapiens origin. Is this right? Are there other characters coming in HN that are alien non-Earthers?
DnA: There are no sentient aliens in this universe. There are alien life forms — up to the size of complex animals, but nothing sentient or civilized, no races of cultures. However, the range and diversity of human life, which has spread to many different worlds and very many different environments, along with the possibilities of bio and technological body modification means that some humans may seem very alien.
Cosmic Book News: You see to have two casts: the Centennial Iteration (the newbies) and those who have been HNs before who are coming to the rescue. Tell us about this expansive cast and how the team may shape out in months to come.
DnA: The Quantinuum is a hundred years old, and the Centennial Iteration is the twenty-first version of the team. They’re supposed to be the best yet, and it’s supposed to be a big PR exercise, but something happens. For a while, the Quantinuum has no Hypernatural defenders … and it’s up to retired and veteran members, and some real newbies, to stand in. We’re going to focus on some of the ex-members — the super-fast Bewilder, the genius Thinkwell and the combat hero Clone 45, and look at their reactions to the disappearance of a team they used to belong to.
Cosmic Book News: While a threat has been seen for the Centennial Iteration, no real quality big-bad has stepped forward yet. Who is gonna be the team’s main villain?
DnA: The team’s faced some big villains in the past, as we’ll learn. We’re going to meet at least one of those “old foes,” and he’s really scary and cool. The Hypernaturals have their arch-foes. But this could be something new, something on a whole level beyond. This is like something they’ve never faced before.
Cosmic Book News: You have written Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel and the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC. What are the similarities and the differences in these groups and the Hypernaturals?
DnA: If you’ve enjoyed our cosmic forays at Marvel and DC, you should love this. It’s got the huge, complex, star-spanning continuity of Legion, and the wit and invention of Guardians. But it’s also neither of those things. We’ve not only created the characters, we’ve created the galaxy. We get to do some pretty big and dramatic things. Basically these are the cosmic action stories we simply couldn’t have told in another book. These are stories that couldn’t have happened in the Marvel Universe or the DCU. These aren’t leftovers or re-fits. These are brain-frying mega SF stories we’ve never been able to tell before.
Cosmic Book News: Anything else you would like to say about the book, Dan & Andy? Do you enjoy being reunited with Brad?
DnA: Working with Brad again is fantastic, and we’re loving what he’s doing. His character designs alone are superb, but the strip work … wow! We’d also like to mention Andres (Guinaldo), our other artist on the regular book, who is also drawing it out of the park. The art on this is gorgeous!
Cosmic Book News: Let’s hear from one of those great artists. Brad, what is it like to bring these cosmic characters to life? Can you tell me the approach you took with some of the HNs in their design?
Brad Walker: It’s really wonderful, and it’s something that’s unique for me so far, in my career. The majority of my work has been at the “Big Two,” and the opportunities to create and design new characters there are few and far between, in this modern era. When I stepped into this, Dan and Andy had a story they wanted to tell with characters in mind, and my contribution was to come in and brainstorm, visually. I tried to take their ideas and not just translate them, but spin them in some other directions too, and maybe see if anything I put on paper inspired them into areas they hadn’t thought of before. I tried to think in terms of personality, not just costumes and muscles, and I think those were the elements that really clicked for all of us, and started to flesh things out. For the costumes, we knew we wanted uniforms, but I really wanted to put individuality into everybody’s look, too. So, I looked at each character’s personality and abilities, and I tried to include visual tweaks that coincided with those things. I tried not to make any of the visuals random. Everything was pretty deliberate, and we all discussed things, as we went along.
Cosmic Book News: Design-wise, who is your favorite among the HNs? Why?
Brad Walker: I have little things about all of them that are fun, but my favorite is probably Clone 45 because he’s got a lot of personality. And I gave him a comically v-shaped body type that almost looks like a Bruce Timm drawing, but drawn realistically, the way I do. So, that’s entertaining to me. We’ll see over time if that translates through different artists, and different motions and poses, but it’s fun, in the meantime. Looking past just the team, we have a villain coming up early on that I had a lot of fun designing because it was all based around an abstract concept. All I had to go on was a name that, for the most part, just describes an emotion. So that was fun to work out visually, and I think the result was really cool.
Cosmic Book News: You once mentioned to me that Dave Cockrum was an influence on you. Are there any other artists who you may be channeling for the Hypernaturals’world?
Brad Walker: Yeah, Cockrum really influences me a lot in all the character design stuff. He doesn’t get enough credit, especially in team design. There just weren’t many guys better. His characters were so graceful and individual and balanced. Kirby, of course, was a big influence, both in design and on the pages themselves. He’s always my favorite. There’s a laundry list really, and I could go on and on. I’m a huge fan of comics from the ”˜60s, ”˜70s and ”˜80s. As far as sci-fi worlds and landscapes, I’m trying to look around at a lot of images from great sci-fi illustrations to inspire me.
Cosmic Book News: Anything else you would like to say about the book, Brad? Do you enjoy working with DnA?
Brad Walker: I took on this project because I feel strongly that the comic industry is in need of embracing new stories, new characters and new properties. I love and believe in Dan and Andy’s writing and ideas, and BOOM! is one of a small handful of companies that are really trying to publish exciting, new things, and all that is something that I wanted to be a part of. I had other work lined up, but because everybody involved (myself, included) was so passionate about this book, I wanted to figure out a way to contribute. The folks at BOOM! and Dan and Andy have all been extremely accommodating to work around my previous commitments, and we’re all having a great time. I really hope people will give the book a shot, and I think that it’s something cosmic fans especially will have a blast with!