In a world of superhero revivals and renumberings, creator-owned comics continue to land on the scene with hopes of blowing readers out of the water in an unexpected way. That's exactly the hope the creators of DC Comics' new "Insurgent" miniseries have for their futuristic sci-fi adventure.
A six-issue mini co-written F.J. DeSanto and Todd Farmer and drawn by Federico Dallocchio, the science fiction thriller launched last Wednesday merges near-future political drama with ramped up military action in a world where super soldiers are hidden in the United States' population. And even though it doesn't stand as part of DC's traditional superhero line, its creators hope it'll make its mark on readers.
DeSanto, a film producer known for his work on comic-friendly screen stories and soon for his "Cyborg 009" revival at Archaia, spoke with CBR News about the origins of "Insurgent" and the path it will travel after hitting the stands last week. "It's really simple," he explained. "My partner Todd and I had the idea, and a buddy of mine who's not even in the business said, 'That sounds like a WildStorm book.' So I called Jim Lee to pitch him the premise, and it just sort of went from there. I sent the material in, and I didn't really think they'd do it. Hank Kanalz reached out to me a couple of Comic-Cons ago to ask if I wanted to meet on a Sunday morning. I thought, 'They're just being polite. They're going to want to pass on it to my face.' But he said, 'We really want to do it!'"
Though WildStorm no longer stands as a separate imprint, the Editors of DC's West Coast office helped DeSanto and Farmer shape the story. "It's hard not to give up the whole story, but we've described it as 'Blade Runner meets G.I. Joe.' We're trying to put our own spin on the classic story of a soldier being called out of retirement to deal with a threat that could potentially cripple and entire nation. We wanted put a spin on it that is very modern and relatable. For me, a lot of this is a reaction to the post-9/11 world. There's a lot of politics to it."
In "Insurgent," both military science and political turmoil have taken leaps forward after a secret project leads to the assassination of the President. "In the very near future, you find out that the government has been using technology in different forms to experiment on injured soldiers and create enhanced security agents. Almost super soldiers. The experiment is deemed a failure, but when they decide to recall all these soldiers, not all of them want to go willingly."
Standing on the other side form the super powered rebels is John Ravane – an anti-hero in the retired gunslinger mold who is forced to return to hunting escapees when his adopted daughter is stolen from him. "We really see this world through Ravane's eyes," DeSanto said. "By the time the action kicks in, he's been out of the loop for so long that he doesn't know what's going on. We use that as a way to educate the audience about the world. You're learning these things with him as well as the different layers of what's going on with the government and how it's all connected.
"You take that archetypal character of this military guy and give him this daughter which gives a twist on it where she becomes the lynchpin of his whole story. Without her, he'd just be this mercenary. It's a very tricky balance, but the heroes that I grew up with could take us into a world and give us some stakes in the whole thing rather than fire some guns and kick some ass. It's really important that you establish a character from the ground up that you can relate to emotionally. I think we've done a decent job creating this arc that Ravane has been forced into by circumstance. Without those circumstances, he'd just be a crazy military guy, but we want all our characters to have an emotional state in this story."
That drama extends to the soldiers of the "Insurgence Program" and how they relate to the nanotech world they helped create. "They were supposed to be placed in a way to stop any insurgent force they face, but the irony is that they take that name for themselves," the writer explained. "They become their own revolution. By the time this is all over, we'll have set the stage for a second American Civil War. This is an inherently American book. The problems are all internal."
DeSanto went on to describe the shadowy villain of the piece as "a serious bad guy you meet in the first issue controlling all this. You'll learn his whole master plan in the third issue." The lens he views the world through is a new level of American extremism -- the kind of thinking where citizens view their only option as violent overthrow of the government. "What if those ultra-patriots go too far to manipulate the country. In their minds, they're doing the right thing. But how far can you go with that before you ruin your own country?"
Overall, the writer promised major twists and turns over the course of the six-issues as "Insurgent" builds its world bigger and wider without straying too far from what we see in America today. "I really hope that what happens when you read this book is that you'll go, 'I have no idea what's going to happen next in the best way possible,'" he said. " I do want the gritty, science fiction morals of 'Blade Runner,' but I didn't want it to be a polished, 'Minority Report' kind of future either. What you'll see in the first issue is that this is a world in transition. It's almost like the new world is being built right on top of the old one. You don't have flying cars, but you have some new technology that's potentially realistic. It's a world that's rapidly evolving because of that new technology and new kinds of military warfare."
"Insurgent" #1 is on sale now from DC Comics.