It's time to revisit Rekall and return to your memories of Mars because the classic sci-fi movie "Total Recall" is getting a sequel in comic book form.
Headed to stands in May, the new Dynamite Entertainment series directly follows the events of the 1990 action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid, a normal man whose life slowly unravels after he discovers hidden memories of his former life as a thug named Hauser.
Quaid's journey takes him to Mars to face Vilos Cohaagen, the brutal director of Mars Colony, by aiding the rebel forces hoping to take down the dictatorial figure. Although the movie concludes with Quaid getting the girl, sending Cohaagen into space and giving Mars Colony a much-needed breathable atmosphere, it seems his journey isn't over just yet.
Bringing a new direction to Quaid's escapades is comic commentator, editor and collector Vincent S. Moore, along with artist Cezar Razek. We spoke with Moore about the upcoming sequel, his transition from commentating and editing to scripting the series, his plans to put Quaid through his paces, the challenges in store for our hero during the series and where in the movie's timeline the series picks up.
CBR News: Vince, while you've been a longtime commentator on the industry, this is your first foray into writing comics. How does it feel? Are there any noticeable differences in being on the other side of the curtain?
Vincent S. Moore: First off, it feels really cool and somewhat surreal to be writing comics at last. I hope my take on "Total Recall" will be the first of many comics to come.
Second, there weren't too many differences to being on the other side. That's because along the way with the comics commentary I've done some editing of comics as well. That's in addition to selling comics, too (I'm the Vince mentioned in the opening paragraph of The Buy Pile here at CBR). So actually writing a comic wasn't too much of a surprise for me. I've been moving towards it for a while now, although I did have some writer's block while writing the first issue. I hadn't written a comics script in a while and I had to feel my way back into the process. It's a good thing I had plenty of examples to study as long time comics collector and I had the whole story plotted ahead of time. Something I highly recommend.
And I was in good hands in terms of the editor Joe Rybandt and the other folks at Dynamite. All in all, I had a blast writing this miniseries.
So, let's get into the nitty gritty about "Total Recall." The end of the feature film saw Douglas Quaid defeating Cohaagen, giving Mars some breathable air and kissing Melina, though there were a few unanswered questions. What lingering threads from the film do you hope to address in the upcoming series?
This is tough to answer without giving away too much of the story. I can say I start this sequel right where the movie ends, with Quaid and Melina kissing. From there, I tried to bring up as many questions of my own as I answer those from the film. Beyond that I can't really say.
Naturally, I want the readers to pick up the book to find out what I do, what thread I did pick up and where the story goes. You'll get no spoilers from me, although the variant cover to issue #1 does have a clue as to what's to come in future issues.
One of the threads in the movie that seemed to be the most ambiguous was Quaid's past as Hauser. What kinds of plans do you have to expand on that and give readers a better picture of Quaid pre-Rekall?
With four issues, I didn't have a lot of room to explore everything I would have liked. Quaid's past as Hauser is one of those ideas. However, if the sales are good enough, maybe Dynamite and the owners of Total Recall will be persuaded to order some more issues. Then I can put my plans about Hauser into action!
Until that happens, the readers will have to be happy with how I take the story of Quaid forward.
Can you tell us about general plot you've set up for the mini.
The plot, again not wanting to give away too much, picks up where the film ended. Quaid and Melina have saved Mars. Mars has air and Cohaagen is dead. From there, the comic moves quickly to show the aftermath of those events. We will see what happened to Venusville after the film ended and what problems the rebels are coping with after the atmosphere appeared. We will see plenty of familiar faces there.
Obviously, someone has to be in charge of Mars after the death of Cohaagen, so the readers will learn who that is and what their plans are for the colony. I couldn't just accept the air machine as deus ex machina for the film's end, so I try to explore that in my own fashion while upping the ante a bit.
We start from there and let the chips fall where they may. Beyond that, I can only promise plenty of action, twists and turns -- and Quaid still working hard to be the hero Mars needs.
Although Cohaagen is out of the picture, giving Mars an atmosphere can't be without a few consequences -- and Quaid must have made a few enemies. What kinds of threats can we expect him to face?
Quaid will have to deal with the consequences of a rebellion without its leader, since Kuato died at the hands of Cohaagen, as well as a Mars colony and a Martian army without an administrator. That situation alone will make for plenty of mayhem. Quaid will also have to deal with a couple of mysteries I introduce in the first issue that make matters worse, including a tragedy at the end of the first issue that helps to set up the rest of the miniseries.
Quaid will also be confronted with the ghosts of his enemies and of his own past in different forms along the way. During all of this, he'll be wondering all along if the situation he's in is real or a dream or perhaps a nightmare.
There's a lot at stake in this miniseries -- the future of Mars, the rebels, the freaks, even Earth itself and the war between the Northern and Southern Blocks. All of those events threaten to keep Quaid from enjoying his happily ever after with the woman of his dreams, Melina.
In addition to Quaid, Melina will be making a few appearances throughout the mini. Beyond those two, what other familiar faces from the film can fans expect to see?
Along the way, the readers will see Tony and Thumbelina, the freak rebels. I also deal with the mother and daughter fortune tellers in Venusville. I tried as much as possible to reference those characters from the movie I thought survived.
There will also be other people, new characters, that Quaid will meet. Those people and the dangers and desires they represent will be part of the engine that keeps the story moving forward. I really want people to pick up this book and be surprised by what they read and which way the story goes.
What difficulties did you face in creating a sequel that stuck to the original constraints of the movie's universe? Was there anything you felt didn't work in the original film that you've tweaked for the sequel?
I didn't really face any difficulties creating this sequel. It was a lot of fun, to me, to try to see what elements from the original film in which I could still find story value. I am a big believer in the idea of a good writer being able to find the story or stories in any character or situation. Even with all of the deaths and the change in Mars by the end of the movie, I thought there were plenty of ideas still to write about.
Plus, I knew going into this I would be writing a licensed book, so one of my goals was to limit myself to the ideas and characters in the movie itself, adding only those elements and characters that were absolutely necessary and even then finding ways to tie them back into the film itself. That self-imposed challenge helped me stay on track and I think it helped me get this project in the first place.
Along with the hook that drives the whole story, that is.
There weren't too many ideas from the original film I feel didn't work. If anything, given how some people feel most of the movie is the delusion of Quaid back in the chair at Rekall, I found it perfect that events in the movie either made too much sense or made no sense at all. I was able to use that view in this miniseries. As a buddhist, I found that view resonated with the idea of reality as Maya, as illusion. Which in turn, links back to the source of all this in Philip K. Dick and his stories. While I couldn't use anything from the short story that inspired the movie, I tried to bring a pulp feel to the writing and to keep the dream logic going in some fashion.
What kind of research, if any, did you have to do during your writing process?
Most of my research actually took place in the pitch phase when I watched Total Recall at least five times in a row over a three-day period. As I watched, I took notes on everything I thought would make a good idea or was an important part of the background of the story. It was good fortune that I was such a fan of the movie that I own the DVD copy that came in the Mars shaped tin case! It made the watching easier.
So the film was fresh in my mind as I made my original notes for the pitch. Those notes shaped the plot and became the story. I will say I also played the movie a couple times while writing a couple of the scripts, both as background noise and as a reminder of the feeling I was trying to capture on the comics page.
As a fan of the original film and a writer, how do you feel about the upcoming remake of "Total Recall" starring Colin Farrell?
Nowadays I think it's hard to have really strong feelings about movies, given how many older movies are being remade. I loved the original movie. It in turn led to my reading of the source short story and enjoying that as a very different experience. I'm sure the new movie will be its own experience as well.
I am curious to see what the new version of "Total Recall" will look like, and I hope it does well. But it will be its own thing and may not have anything in common with the 90s film other than the title.
In the meantime, my focus is on this miniseries doing well. The artist, Cezar Razek, has done some really great work turning my script into great comics. And the covers I've seen so far by Darick Robertson are incredible.
I want the readers to pick up this miniseries out of fond memories of the original movie and out of curiosity. Then I want them to keep picking it up because of the great work the entire creative team did. I'm just the guy with the good fortune to be in such expert hands.
"Total Recall" goes on sale May 11