Announced today at IDW Publishing written by Ron Marz and co-created by Eric Sellers, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and longtime comics fan. The series, which launches in March 2013, follows an Air Force squadron who must hunt down a rogue member on an adventure through time.
"I met Eric a number of years ago as kind of a friend of a friend and a guy who was and is a comic fan," Marz told CBR News. "A few years ago he asked me to write an essay for a George Perez magazine that he was putting out to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. And we just stayed in touch since then. So when Eric came to the conclusion that he wanted to actually try to put together a book and bring this idea to life, I was one of the guys he called."
Sellers' idea drew on his years spent in the Air Force and combines that realistic background with a fantastical concept. "It's kind of a throwback adventure story with a team of U.S. Air Force personnel who actually end up time traveling," Marz explained. "The overall Historians program, which is run by the Air Force, is designed to keep history sacrosanct; locate and in some cases retrieve historical artifacts; and just kind of maintain the integrity of the timestream. That's the general mission. The specific story that we're telling in this first miniseries is what happens when one of the longtime team members goes rogue and decides to use this technology for his own benefit. The rest of the team has to essentially chase this guy through time."
Art on the series comes from former "Supergirl" artist Jamal Igle, and the connection among the three creators goes back nearly 20 years, to Marz's seminal work on "Green Lantern." "I've known Jamal for I don't know how many years," Marz said. "I think I actually wrote Jamal's first professional gig, which was part of a Green Lantern issue, probably almost 20 years ago now." That issue, "Green Lantern" #52, is the very book that rekindled Sellers' love of comics when he picked it up at an Air Force base in South Korea in 1994. The three combining forces for a project now has a certain poetic resonance.
Marz and Sellers have worked closely developing the story for "The Historians," which started with Sellers' original idea. "It's a give and take, and truthfully, more often than not I’m the one trying to make sure that Eric stays as involved as he wants to be," Marz said. "This is his idea, and we're kind of bringing his vision to life, but Eric's been great about stepping back and saying, 'Look, you guys are the creative ones. You know what you're doing. Go ahead and tell the best story you can tell.'"
Working with IDW has allowed the creative team to do just that, Marz said. "A lot of it really comes down to, 'Okay, what do you want to do?' And that's the beauty of a project like this. There's no real editorial constraint, in which somebody comes in and tells us, 'This is the way this issue's going to go' and 'Bring in this guest star.' It's very much what we want to do. We're creators in the truer sense of the word, which is we're just making stuff up."
And in a time travel story, that means sending the characters whenever and wherever sounds like the most fun. "It's a story that will take these characters to a number of different eras and allow myself and Jamal Igle to kind of play with a bunch of different eras and a bunch of different looks and really just have fun," Marz said. "It's more of a throwback kind of story, almost Saturday-matinee-serial kind of stuff. We're taking the story seriously, but it's not grim and gritty with people's arms getting ripped off."
What eras can readers expect to see depicted in the series? "A lot of it's based on what Jamal wants to draw, really," Marz said. "He and I have talked about different eras and different things that he wants to draw. Part of that consideration is we want to pick eras that are as visual as possible, really giving the audience something cool to look at." And Igle is the right person to tackle all of that variety, Marz said: "He's just good. I could list all of the attributes, but it really comes down to he's just good at his job. To me the most important part of working with an artist on a comic is that the artist knows how to tell a story, and Jamal knows that inside and out."
Thanks to Sellers' connections in the Air Force, the creative team is able to add a level of authenticity to their science-fiction premise. "We're trying to get all the details right," Marz said. "Some of the characters, at least physically, are based on people that Eric knows from his service. They're not specifically those people, but he kind of wanted to honor some of the people that he has served with. We're trying to maintain a grounded reality in terms of the way the Air Force actually works, within the context of something as completely made-up as a time travel squad."
Once the series is collected, Sellers hopes to go on a USO book tour to promote "The Historians" to his fellow troops, and also to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that aids wounded service members. The arrangement between the creative team and the Air Force also extends to other areas. "Because of Eric's Air Force career, the Air Force has given us their stamp of approval, and is going to be cooperating in promotion and whatever needs we have," Marz said. "In terms of if we need to go look at an Air Force base or talk to people to get background information, they've been very forthcoming with all that stuff, which I think is a really cool aspect of this whole thing."
Watch the trailer now, and wait -- or travel through time -- for the "The Historians" #1 in March 2013.