Conjuring magic can be a tricky task, so can weaving a story filled with magical elements, but "Warlord of Mars" and "Thun'Da" writer Robert Napton ("Warlord of Mars") seems up to the task. In February he casts his spell on "Son of Merlin," a new 5-issue miniseries produced by Heroes and Villains Entertainment and published by Top Cow that follows young professor and man of science Simon Ambrose as he discovers he is the titular son of Merlin, the legendary figure from Arthurian legend.
Teamed up with artist Zid, Napton worked with Heroes and Villains to flesh out a reality-based world where magic is used on the sly by a select few whose bloodline allows them great power. Simon only discovers his true parentage when his pops gets into some trouble with none other than sorceress Morgan le Fay.
Comic Book Resources spoke with Napton about mixing science and magic, helping to create a new mythology and trying to do something fresh with well known characters.
CBR News: I know the series is planned for five issues, but is this a finite story or are there more stories after this one?
Robert Napton: The first story arc is five issues. There's definitely more material for another series. This story was created by Heroes and Villains Entertainment, the same company that brought "Tracker," "Epoch" and "Netherworld." So they had a first miniseries in mind with potential for more.
What can you tell us about the book's star Simon Ambrose -- both before he discovers his lineage and after?
Simon is a brilliant young professor at MIT. He graduated and became part of the faculty. He specializes in the study of energy, specifically at the Plasma Science & Fusion center at MIT, which is a real place incidentally. The nature of energy has fascinated Simon his entire life -- which ties into his lineage. Since it's the title of the comic, there's no secret he is the Son of Merlin -- so when he finds this out his perception of energy changes radically. In the universe of our story, magic is just another energy -- one that is mostly untapped.
Does Simon's science background help or hinder his ability to wield magic?
Both. At first he's very reluctant to believe what he's hearing from Gwen -- a protege of Merlin who has been assigned to help Simon unlock the magic he is carrying around inside of him. He thinks it's a joke, but as soon as he realizes its not, his great genius in general becomes an advantage. He's a quick study -- a fast learner.
One of the keys to magic in fiction is that it follows a series of rules and laws. Did you enjoy coming up with those building blocks?
Yes, Markus [Goerg], Dick [Hillenbrand] and Mikhail [Nayfeld] from Heroes and Villains had a specific take on magic which was to have it a bit more restrained and grounded in a certain reality. Druids are the most powerful magic users -- Merlin is a Druid and so is Morgana, so naturally their offspring have Druid blood and are capable of the same powers. Other magic users, like Gwen for example, are more limited in what they can do. So there are strict rules about who can do what and that's very much at the core of this universe we've created for the story. I enjoyed helping shape that structure and figuring ways to make it work for the narrative. The characters have to use their own cunning to get them out of tough situations -- the magic isn't a crutch for them or the narrative, so that's a nice, fun challenge for the writer.
You're working with well known characters in Merlin and Morgan le Fay. What classic aspects of the characters did you want to use and what new elements or wrinkles did you want to introduce?
Obviously there's so much mythology and fiction out there with these characters, but the thing I was most interested in was the relationship between Merlin, Morgana, etc. and how we could play with that and make it a bit different from what we've seen before. There is a connection between Morgana and Merlin that the first issue reveals which is quite interesting and I don't want to spoil it here, but it sheds light on Merlin's origins in a new way.
In the world of "Son of Merlin" is magic known to the general public or is it kept secret?
Magic is almost entirely underground. There are some humans, like Gwen, who are in the loop and are low level magic users, but the mass population doesn't know. It's a secret society.
How did you hook up with Zid and what made him the right artist for the job?
Top Cow found Zid and just one look at his work and it's just so stunning it's a no brainer. As Zid's pages come in, I just ran out of adjectives to describe how great they look. The painted look just fits perfectly for this series and Zid's work is just stunning.
"Son of Merlin" is a very unique take on the Arthurian mythology and it's been a very exciting project to be a part of.
"Son of Merlin" #1 will be available digitally and in comic shops February 6.