When it was announced, "The Infinite" – the upcoming Image Comics collaboration between Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld – certainly got fans talking, and that was before a strong idea of what the time travel-driven, sci-fi actioner was about had hit the web. With CBR's first interview on the series with Liefeld, the pieces began to fall into place, and the conversation surrounding the outspoken creators intensified. Today, Kirkman adds fuel to the fire surrounding "The Infinite" by speaking first with CBR News about his part in the summer-debuting monthly series, and the wrier explained that he knows exactly what he wants to get out of this comic: more Rob Liefeld than ever before.
"I'm in this to get more issues out of Rob than he's ever given to something. That's one of my personal goals," Kirkman said of the artist he famously called “the modern-day equivalent of Jack Kirby."
"Just to hit that Jack Kirby quote that set the internet on fire, I'll say that Rob has hit the age that Jack Kirby was at when he and Stan Lee created the Marvel Universe. Jack was in his early 40s when that happened," the writer continued. "With Rob, it's almost like a flip has switched in the guy. Now he is all about his legacy, and what he sees as his legacy is a stack of hardcovers. What he wants to do is produce as much as he can every single day so he can have a library of books with his name on it that people can read for generations. I'm getting to work with Rob at a really interesting time in his career because this is a Rob who is here to work. He's dying to do at least two pages a day. It's really cool, and it's really weird to get calls from Rob where he goes, 'I'm done with all those pages you wrote, so where's the next script? I'm working on covers, but I don't want to do covers. I want to do pages!' Hopefully that will result in a monthly comic book series that you've never really gotten from Rob Liefeld."
The origins of the project come largely from Kirkman's appreciation for some of the more controversial aspect of Liefeld's personal aesthetic, although the two also bonded over their view for comics in general. "The thing is, Rob and I have been pals for a long time and always hang out at conventions, and we have very like-minded opinions on the state of comics and what's needed to make good comics," the writer said. "We're always wanting more action out of our comics, and we're both very much supporters of creator-owned comics. Since we always have such a good time hanging out, we've always wanted to work together more despite the fact that we've done a five-issue 'Killraven' mini series and we're still collaborating on 'Image United' with all those other guys.
"We wanted to do a book together, and one of the things I told him was that I wanted him to stop apologizing for what he does. It's not that he's really apologized for it, but when he did that 'X-Force' series he came back to Marvel for, he was showing me pages and going 'Check this out! There's no shoulder pads anywhere. What do you think of that?' And I said, 'I kind of want to see some shoulder pads...that's your thing!' So I told him that if we did a book together 'I want you to cover these guys in gear because that's the thing you do. That's what you did that made you look unique and made everybody excited – big guys carrying ridiculous guns that they could never carry and covered in gear where they more than likely wouldn't be able to walk. That's the stuff that gets the kids excited and looks awesome.'"
And as Liefeld amps up the pads, pouches and guns, Kirkman is angling to absorb all of it into his story. "As we're moving forward with 'The Infinite,' I'm really excited to say that Rob's charged up and is going to be giving us that kind of stuff. And as a writer, I get to come up with reasons to make all that stuff make sense – using shoulder pads as shields and showing that all the pouches will get used. I'm basically challenging Rob to come up with something unreal and then putting it on myself to write stories that make those things real. It's a lot of fun and back and forth. At the end of the day, collaborating is about pushing each other, and that usually ends up with the best product."
Kirkman views "The Infinite" as a long-form series, though fans of his other Image Comics published through his Skybound imprint may notice slight differences in the format. "It's a finite story, but it's not something that's going to be as long as 'Invincible' or 'Walking Dead.' But it's not just going to be six issues. It's much longer than that – essentially a monthly ongoing series with an end. It's something like the Luna Brothers books. I don't want to advertise where that end will be because I hate to give that stuff away."
As for the series high concept that sees future time traveler Bowen land in the present to recruit his young self into a war for time itself, the writer said that the creative pair are hoping to offer something slightly familiar but also widely divergent from what readers expect. "Neither of us really wanted to do straight-up superheroes. One of the things that interested me about it is that if you look at 'X-Force,' it's about a paramilitary strikeforce that fights supervillains, but they're not superheroes per se. That's the kind of book we wanted to do – something that appeals to superhero fans because it has that fantastic element to it but that's really a sci-fi book. We wanted to do something a little different.
"I like time travel stories, but I feel like over time people have settled into an accepted parameter of what is allowed in time travel. Through various works of fiction, time travel has become kind of real, and everybody follows the same rules. I'm looking at this as though time travel doesn't exist and there are no rules. There is no 'You better not encounter your younger self, or you'll cause a lot of problems!' That's in a lot of stories, but who knows if that would actually happen or not. I'm really excited about 'The Infinite' because we're going to do a lot of things that haven't been done in any kind of time travel story before. We're going to be telling a story with a lot of layers. There's a really complicated system of 'This guys was here at this point, so it led to this' – just a really cool layered story that explores the concept in a new way."
As for the eponymous threat to all reality, The Infinite itself is less of an abstract force as much as it is a physical threat backed by a mysterious story all its own. "The Infinite is more of an organization led by one man. It's kind of like an army, but this one guy has time traveled from further in the future than where Bowen is from. He's been coming back through time and taking over. I just thought 'What if a really horrible person invented time travel?' It'd be extremely easy to go back and insert events to your favor and then use that to your advantage. You cold take over the world and use your ability to control time to control everything. That's what he does. So The Infinite is basically a group of really bad people that he's formed into this army."
Look to CBR in the months ahead for more on the Comic-Con International debut of "The Infinite" and its August launch from Image Comics and Robert Kirkman's Skybound label.