The first issue of Dynamite Entertainment's "Highlander" was released this past Wednesday. By the creative team of Michael Avon Oeming, Brandon Jerwa and artist Lee Moder, the series was hotly anticipated by fans of the cult favorite "Highlander" film series. Today co-writer Brandon Jerwa stops by to provide some commentary on the issue, giving you a behind the scenes look at the making of this comic.
HIGHLANDER #1 COMMENTARY
By Brandon Jerwa
We're moving ahead a few hours after the conclusion of the zero issue. The intent was to let the necessary conversations take place in the midst of forward motion, rather than "hey, here's exactly what we need to do…and then we're going to do that…and then we're going to talk on the way." Instead, we see that the immortals have found transportation to Russia and they're sorting out the rest of their business during the trip.
Note a little bit of hostility between Paul and Tasya; she's sort of the least favorite person on this trip, as we've already seen in her confrontation with Connor last issue…but of course, the person bearing the bad news usually takes a little heat, anyway.
I really like the notion of seeing Connor and his adopted daughter Rachel together, and being able to set that in the 1960s made for some nice visuals here. I cannot stress enough how much I love the colors in this book; they're an essential element in making the flashbacks work and I think that's really proven here. Add in artist Lee Moder's attention to detail for clothing, hairstyles and texture and the flashbacks really convey what they're supposed to.
This sequence continues on, with Connor playing the dad whose little girl is going off on an adventure of her own. It's sweet, it's funny, it's tender…and the last panel gives you just a little bit of a sad smile in the middle of this book about guys with swords chopping each other's heads off.
Off with their heads! What could be cooler than a guy dressed in black with night-vision goggles decapitating a gaggle of Russian soldiers? That's right, kids…there's nothing cooler. The silhouetted heads-n-blood bit is nice and gory in a subtle way. We could probably afford to be more graphic about it, but I think there's a fine line between violence and gratuitousness. I'm more inclined to be subtle.
Well, I don't have to be subtle all the time! Note the lopped-off heads in panel two of page 8.
I'm using this sequence in the commentary because I like the nice, quick transition that takes place between 8 and 9. It's not the standard flashback mechanism that we've been employing thus far, but it serves its purpose and adds a little variety, I suppose.
I'm sure we'll have a few folks a little confused about the 1960s Kurgan; he's clean, fairly well-spoken and doesn't stick his tongue out once! The way I see it, the Kurgan is just as adaptable as his fellow immortals. In this circumstance, he's playing more of a military role because it serves his purposes at the time. Besides, I can promise you the story-arc won't end without a reasonably clear set-up for the 1980s Kurgan that appears in the first movie.
Back to the '60s again, this time with Connor and a sergeant he knew for World War II. This smarter-than-average mortal has been on to Connor for some time, and he comes looking for help; this is a big part of the set-up for the whole tale, really. Again, it's art and color to the rescue, bringing us right into the time period and making it all feel right.
Part of the difficulty in writing Highlander is trying to put the characters into situations that the readers will actually feel genuine tension over. You know they can't be hurt or killed by anything other than a head-chop, so we're always looking for ways to deliver a thrill without pandering to the "Oh my God, Connor's gonna die for real this time." This sequence has nice pre-ass-kicking buildup, and there's also the added risk of having a mortal along for the ride.
Ah, it's just not a fight scene until someone gets kicked in the grapes! I like the exchange in the last two panels: "I've had enough of you," Connor says, backhanding the guy…and then Connor takes a hit in the face himself, with "Then have some more" as a witty villainous retort. I love it when the bad guys talk smack and actually back it up.
Hey, don't spoil the ending if you haven't read it already! Needless to say, we saved the splash page for this last "oh, crap" moment. It's a doozy, setting up a nice dilemma for Connor and his friends…are they going to plow right through the Russian army just to save their own skins?
That concludes the "Director's Commentary" for issue # 1…thanks for picking up the book and I hope we'll see you back here next month!