"Number 13," Robert Love and David Walker's post-apocalyptic tale of a lost android, debuted in the pages of "Dark Horse Presents" #2. That first serialized story ran through "DHP" #6 and will be collected in "Number 13" #0, on sale November 21, with the first issue of a new "Number 13" miniseries landing December 19.
The series, written by Love and Walker and featuring art by Love, tells the story of an amnesiac android as he scours a blasted landscape for clues to his own past, purpose, and creator. With the human race ravaged and mutated by the "Monstrum Morbus" plague, Number 13 finds himself un-trusted and very nearly alone in a hostile world. Comic Book Resources spoke with Love about the development of the story, the next phase of Number 13's journey and the question of fate.
At the outset, "Number 13" confronts some large themes, as the young android embarks on a quest to find the answers to life's big questions.
"'s lost his memory, like a computer's damaged memory. But, he has a faint memory of his father or creator, so he sets out on a journey to find his father, who he believes has all of the answers to his one question: who is he?" Love told CBR News. "Right now, with the memory loss, he's an innocent as a baby. He has no clue who he is or where he comes from. Everyone he comes in contact with he asks, 'Are you my Dad?' He clearly has his basic instincts in certain situations -- sometimes deadly instincts -- but overall he's a complete mystery; a mystery to himself, to his friends, to his foes and to the reader."
Over the course of the story Number 13 begins to learn bits and pieces of his past -- and the reader is let in on a few more details of that back story that remain unknown to our protagonist. It becomes clear early on that Number 13 is a weapon, and that his primary purpose may have been deadly. As he begins to find his way in the world, however, he may begin to overwrite that initial programming.
"He's trying to find his beginning in hopes of becoming human again," said Love. "Just like Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy, well, 13 wants to know who and or what he is and what his purpose is in life. His story is, in my view, fate vs. free will. 13 doesn't have control over his life or his destiny. His father and creator is still pulling the strings."
13's path toward self-knowledge is helped, and sometimes hindered, by a colorful cast of characters he meets along the way. Lorna, a young woman, is the first of these supporting cast members, and her fate at the close of the first serialized arc is left unclear, at least until issue #1.
Love considers himself to be "an artist first, a writer second or third," but "Number 13" is a story he's been carrying around with him for a long time, waiting for the chance to properly tell it.
"For a long time I had an image of a young boy who walks up to a skeleton, pulls off its head and asks the skull, 'Are you my Dad?' That's it, that's all I had in the beginning," said Love. But of course I needed to tell a story. So one day I sat down and began to plot out the story from that basic image that I had in my head. I didn't 'write' it out, I sat down and thumb-nailed about 30-40 pages of story from that beginning point. I didn't know where it was going to take me, I just let my imagination take over and I went crazy."
Following his initial plotting of the story, Love felt the narrative needed to be fleshed out a bit and needed some added structure. He contacted his longtime friend and collaborator, David Walker, to get his take. The two had previously worked together on "Blind Monkey Style" and "The Mad Mauler," stories appearing in the Image Comics anthology series "Popgun."
"I'm thankful that [Walker] came on board with the project because he gave the story a more stable footing," Love said of his collaborator. "He really expanded it. We created a world that is as mysterious and 13 himself. As an artist I think visually. I don't write scripts, I layout thumbnails for a story. But since I partnered with Dave, I no longer do that. We'll discuss what will happen from issue to issue, he'll then write a very loose script with dialogue. He'll leave plenty of room for me to interpret the script they way I want to. He doesn't tell me what do from panel to panel. He'll have a loose description of what is going from page to page.
"The main characters and the overall story came from me, but Dave put the hot sauce on it," Love added.
In approaching the overall look and feel of the book, Love is striving for something a little different. "Number 13" is working towards a style influenced by cartooning and animation, but with a darkness and coat of grime. His apocalyptic world is inspired in part by the look and feel of animated series like "Aeon Flux," artists like Moebius, and films running the fantasy and science fiction spectrum from "Conan the Barbarian" to "Blade Runner."
For Love, the crumbling, post-apocalyptic world of "Number 13" is less a standout feature of the story, and serves primarily as a stage for human drama.
"This is their world," said Love. "This is how they live and deal with this world. They still deal all of the problems that we deal with today: prejudices, shortcomings, dreams and love. This story could be told in any genre."
The post-apocalyptic does, however, have its draws.
"I wanted a sense of despair, loneliness and a bit of anarchy," Love said.
"Number 13" #0 collects the "Dark Horse Presents" serial and is available November 21, with #1 following on December 19.