By Michele Brittany, a West Coast Bleeding Cool Correspondent
What if, through a series of serendipitous events, you were mistaken for a superhero in a world where superheroes are the norm and are considered celebrities? What would you do? Would you embrace your superhero status and revel in your power? What are the benefits? And, what would you have to give up? These are just a few of the questions facing our hero, Greg, in Darby Pop's Indestructible. During San Diego Comic Con, I got an opportunity to sit down with the series creator and writer Jeff Kline, writer Ken Kristensen, and cover artist Jose Lopez to discuss in depth the first title release from the one-year-old publishing company.
Kline, who developed and produced Transformers: Prime and G.I. Joe Renegades, stated he has a long time love for the superhero character. In a world where superheroes exist and have celebrity status, Kline is able to explore the psychological aspects of superheroes and to "up end them, not to make fun of them, but to shine a light on them." In this world, our hero Greg, faces challenges such as finding an insurance company willing to cover a superhero (gosh, his deductible is probably astronomical!) or being treated like a celebrity, not a genetic freak for example. In Greg, Kline wanted to explore two questions: "What do you have to do to maintain celebrity? And, is it more work to maintain it [celebrity status], or to have a job?" Kline believes this to be the crux of the ongoing series and what sets it apart from the pack.
The first story arc, issues one through four, introduces the readers to the main cast of characters: Greg, the initially reluctant superhero, best friend and roommate Barry (who reminds me of Alan Wake's "loveable" literary agent Barry), Greg's brother, and Greg's mother, June. Greg has to come to terms with his superhero notoriety, overcome a villainous event, and just maybe get the girl. As the first arc was coming to a close, Kline decided to find a writer who could take over the series as he wanted focus his attention on the business needs of Darby Pop.
Kristensen was an established name in the comics industry with Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth (2013, Image) and has a forthcoming Dark Horse graphic novel, The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist due out later this year. Kline found his writing twin and they chuckled during the interview about being brothers and having the same mom. Kristensen was attracted to the "delightfully flawed characters" in Indestructible.
Kristensen started with issue five and he describes the second story arc as Greg's "self discovery from living the fake life." In the arc, Greg mistakenly invites two women to be his date at the People's Choice Awards. His mom, June, automatically assumed he would be taking her. The awards categories include honoring superheroes – Best Underwater Rescue for example, however, chaos ensues when there is a terrorist attack made on the awards ceremony.
Shifting focus, the engaging covers have captured well the evolving notoriety and associated psychological state of Greg and the reactions of the ensemble cast of characters. I asked cover artist Jose Lopez his approach to the covers. From the script, he builds a scenario that has Greg in the center of the action and "puts [supporting] characters in how they see themselves." In particular, in issue seven, Lopez plays with the fantasy side of the issue's story and channels a bit of suave sophistication reminiscent of James Bond. With issue six, Greg models for Super Illustrated, which just so happens to focus on the body, the nude body, hence Lopez puts Greg on the cover with a bulls eye strategically placed to protect his modesty.
Kline chose Indestructible for the first title release for Darby Pop because "I knew I would make mistakes and I wanted to make them with my book." He said that so far, Indestructible has had "shocking good reviews." It is a testament to the seamless transition between Kline and Kristensen, as well as an entire change in artistic personnel. That said, Kline wishes he could get the series into more hands.
Since we were talking superheroes, I asked the three what would they choose for their super power. Kristensen said he would want immortality because he would "love to have the perspective like The Watcher." Kline said he would like to see into the future and then wondered if Kristensen would get tired from the elapse of time. Kristensen didn't think so. Lopez was a bit more real world with his super power: "draw faster and have no notes."
Issue eight will be out in August. If you cannot find Indestructible in your local comic book store check Darby Pop's store, Comixology, and Amazon. However, if you really want to make your dollars speak, pre-order the series (this Darby Pop title is ongoing) and add it as an ongoing pull on your subscription list.
Michele Brittany is an independent popular culture scholar and semi-professional photographer and editor of the forthcoming title James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland & Company). She regularly posts reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage genre on her blog, Spyfi & Superspies. And you can follow her on Twitter @mcbrittany2014.