In today's world, danger lurks around every corner, with the levels ranging from your common street thug to a despotic dictator in a foreign land. While many superheroes focus on the street level threats, Nathan Edmondson's upcoming Image Comics book "The Activity" takes aim at the larger threats facing us and our nation. Illustrated by Mitch Gerads and debuting in December, "The Activity" focuses on a group of highly-trained covert operatives sent on missions to -- theoretically -- make the world a better place for American interests. A tight, tech-filled series of adventure stories, "The Activity" offers all types of action as well as some real world-based ops for the reader's enjoyment. CBR News spoke with Edmondson about working with Gerads, researching the series' bleeding edge technology and what, exactly, the title refers to.
"'The 'Activity' is the short name for the real organization once known as the Intelligence Support Activity," Edmondson told CBR. "In the seven (disclosed) special forces tribes, it performs the duties its name implies: providing support for special forces by way of intelligence gathering and handling. ISA -- whose name in reality changes every one-to-two years to ensure anonymity, even from our own government -- contains several divisions. These are HUMINT, or Human Intelligence, SIGINT, or signals intelligence and the enigmatic 'Direct Action' division. Our book, 'The Activity,' focuses upon the latter, and imagines, within a very realistic framework, a team whose mission statement is flexible; a team of direct responders, problem solvers."
While the series will mainly focus on one specific team, Edmondson plans to give readers an idea of what the entire organization is about. "We see the world of the military and the ISA -- also called 'Gray Fox' -- through the eyes of this team within The Activity -- Team Omaha -- but the book gets its name from the whole organization," the writer said. "We will see the breadth of their operations as we move forward in the series."
Edmondson kicks things off with a bang in the first issue, which features both the loss of a team member as well as a brand new member joining the Activity's ranks. "As is the case with most elite special forces units, soldiers from the ranks of the military are invited to apply, and the application process can mean brutal, intense, unmerciful physical and mental testing, a process called 'selection,'" Edmondson said. "The new teammate whom we follow as a window into the story is Sergeant Leslie Ryan, who earns the call sign Fiddler."
Team Omaha consists of some of the most accomplished soldiers around, the best of the best plucked from various branches of the armed services. "Each member is a fully capable and elite operative," Edmondson said. "That said, we do distinguish different skill sets between them. One, the team leader, is a calculating soldier, brilliant but with less field experience than the team's 'Shooter,' a former Delta operator. Also on the team is a long-time Activity linguist, a former ROTC turned Coast Guard turned CIA tough and brilliant soldier. Finally, we have a rough-and-tumble all-American girl with language and geopolitical backgrounds."
With such hardcore members making up the core group of the Activity, readers shouldn't expect them to spend their time chasing after bank robbers or pickpockets. "The missions vary wildly," the writer said. "On one hand the team may be assisting Delta Force Operators on a Black Op in Central America, on another they may be deceiving and engaging Somali pirates. They may be on the ground during a major wartime conflict, or in a penthouse hotel room roping information from a diplomat by means of remote robots and clever acting. Missions go right, missions will go wrong, and the team will be tested."
Speaking of remote robots, "The Activity" utilizes all kinds of bleeding edge, reality based technology while on their missions, something Edmondson made it a point to familiarize himself with when developing the title. "Between shows like 'Future Weapons', reading 'Wired Magazine,' 'DefenseTechWatch' and a host of other science and technology and weaponry journals and sites, we keep up to date on military tech daily," Edmondson said. "Whatever tech we use, the reality is always one step ahead, so we can use our imaginations a bit and still be within the realm of reality.
"There was another side to this, however, that came about after my meetings in Washington, D.C.," Edmondson continued. "We were approached by a military weapons and tech company, a government contractor that had some sweet devices, one of which was featured, in fact, on the show 'Future Weapons.' This company gave us a glimpse at some of their devices -- nothing secret, but just a look at what they offer and what they don't really publicize except to the military directly. We hope to find more opportunities for that sort of research."
"A blind date," Edmondson joked when asked how he teamed with artist Mitch Gerads. "No, actually, on my way back from some film meetings in LA, where I conceived the idea, I looked online, googling simply 'freelance illustrator,' and found Mitch's work on Comic Twart. I saw enormous potential and serious talent and I pitched him the story immediately. The rest, as they say, is history."
"The Activity," by Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads, hit stores in December courtesy of Image Comics