No one is more familiar with Dynamite’s outer space exploits than Brandon Jerwa. With quite a few "Battlestar Galactica" series under his belt, Jerwa is extending his reach to the "Stargate" universe. With an "SG-1" series already on shelves, the writer’s newest "Stargate" project hits this May and centers around fan-favorite character Vala Mal Doran. Played by Claudia Black on “Stargate: SG-1,” Vala is a scheming, unscrupulous, conniving, thieving con artist with a mysterious agenda. (Just the kind of girl you’d love to take home to mother – as long as your mother watches her wallet.) To that end, Jerwa has assembled Vala an elite team a la “Ocean’s Eleven” for a huge heist the likes of which the "Stargate" universe has never seen. CBR News had a chance to catch up with Jerwa between his jaunts into space for some info on the new series, his fandom of "Stargate," Vala and her crew, and some of the other exciting things in store for “Stargate” fans.
CBR News: Brandon, what's the idea behind “Stargate: Vala Mal Doran?”
Brandon Jerwa: On one hand, it’s a (hopefully) classic heist story with plenty of twists and turns. On the other hand, there’s the riff of old mistakes coming back to haunt you. It’s really sort of two stories in one, as I’ll explain in just a moment…
How does this particular series fit into the Stargate universe and greater continuity?
The series is actually set in two different timelines. The first two and a half issues take place before Vala joined up with SG-1. She’s a freelance thief who’s burning bridges left and right, both with former employers and the higher-ups in an organization called the Lucian Alliance.
The second half of the series takes place in the current continuity of "Stargate SG-1." Vala is leading a far more honest life these days, but she finds herself dealing with the repercussions of her actions in the first part of the story. Those repercussions aren’t just affecting Vala’s livelihood, either – they’re threatening the entire universe.
This may be an obvious question, but are you a big fan of "Stargate?" How much research did you have to do for this book?
Oh, sure. I came into the franchise very late, but I was actually in the process of getting caught up when Dynamite first started talking to me about Stargate projects. I was particularly thrilled when they approached me about the Vala mini-series; she’s just the right kind of hard-luck, troublemaking, wise-ass character that I really identify with. Um…I mean “enjoy writing.”
The solicit compares this particular adventure to an “Ocean's Eleven” type adventure - what was most fun for you about putting together this team?
I’m a huge fan of heist stories (and yeah, I love all THREE of the modern "Ocean’s" movies, regardless of what anyone else thinks), so I jumped into this one with a ton of ideas. If I did my job properly, this’ll end up being a “keep-your-eyes-on-the-cards” story that keeps people guessing until the final turn.
Can you tell us anything about Vala's crew? Any old familiar faces from the series there, or is it all completely new?
In the first half of the story, Vala’s working with a crew of science fiction ne’er-do-wells that are all new to the franchise. I’m going to keep the hard details under wraps for now, but let me give you some glimpses into my madness: Vala’s crew has a weirdo alien pilot, an officious robot, a tiger warrior, a midget assassin and a hot chick with a space monkey.
Later on, we’ll see the whole SG-1 gang, including my personal favorite, Jack O’Neill. Everyone’s getting pulled into Vala’s mess.
You've dealt with outer space adventures before in your “Battlestar Galactica” work many times before, but this is your second foray into the "Stargate" universe - how has the transition been going for you and what do you feel are the major differences in working with the two universes?
The transition has been pretty painless, honestly. I think the big, obvious difference would be the amount of humor in the "Stargate" franchise. I love that I can write a high-stakes battle that’s deadly serious and follow it up with a string of jokes.
What were some of the challenges you faced when crafting this story? Was there anything that was particularly difficult?
I think writing a story with lots of good twists and turns can be a more difficult thing than some people – myself included – may imagine. You have to keep a consistent pace, and there are times when you need to be subtle, then really overt, and then overt again to distract from the other subtle thing you just did. It’s a house of cards, and it takes a steady hand to keep it from falling apart for the reader.
I have a huge file full of notes that basically reads like a roadmap of the cause-and-effect bits throughout this story. I’m trying to make sure everyone enjoys the ride without seeing what’s just around the next corner.
By the same token, what do you feel was ultimately rewarding about this project?
Not to give a really simple answer, but…it’s fun. Comics can be fun sometimes, right? We’re still okay with that, aren’t we?
What do you think will be most exciting for fans of "Stargate" when picking up this new story?
Hopefully, they’ll see something fresh that adds to the greater mythology and reminds them all why they love Stargate so much in the first place! Oh, and I heard a rumor that Claudia Black – Vala Mal Doran her own bad self – will be writing an introduction to the first issue!
And if anyone reading this interview isn’t already a "Stargate" fan, let me say this to you: Come on over and check it out. We’re not leaving you out in the cold with this one; if you’re curious about this long-running epic but don’t know where to start, I think the comics might be a comfortable entrance for you. And we’ve got a space monkey!
Finally, what are you most excited for when this series hits shelves?
The fame! The wealth! The adoration! Accolades and praise! Dancing women! Space monkeys! Residual checks! Happy "Stargate" fans! Happy NEW "Stargate" fans!
(If any of those things aren’t available, I’ll settle for impressing Claudia Black with the tender loving care I’ve shown her character.)