Writer Phil Hester talks about Gold Key: Alliance #2 (of 5), on sale in May from Dynamite. Cover is by Felipe Massafera.
PHIL HESTER: I don't really think of it like that. I'm most concerned with telling an exciting, moving story. If we're true to the core of the characters and approach the story with an honest effort to entertain, the "epic" aspects will take care of themselves. I hope!
BB: I know there have been some revamping of the characters. For the uninitiated, can you kind of re-introduce the cast please, tell who they are as apart from what readers may expect?
PH: In the classic Gold Key books, Magnus is a human hero raised by an enlightened robot to battle the wicked robots and general human complacency rampant in the year 4000 A.D. In this run, Magnus is an agent with the Diplomatic Security Service tasked with investigating the use of A.I. and robotics in foreign militaries around the world here in 2016.
Classic Samson is a barbarian hero defending the last remnants of humanity in and around the post-apocalyptic ruins of New York, now known as N'Yark. In our current continuity, Samson is the product of a covert scientific project called NY: Ark created to safeguard the existence of humanity should a nuclear war break out. Sadly, he was badly injured by a renegade scientist from the project and now wanders the streets of New York like a mentally unstable homeless man.
Turok and his kid sidekick Andar were valiant Native American warriors who found themselves cut off from their tribe in the Lost Valley, a hidden ecosystem still populated with dinosaurs, cavemen, and an abundance of peril. In our new continuity, Turok is the star of a nature show produced by Andar. The show focuses on Turok's role as a ranger protecting endangered dinosaurs in the tribal park administered by Turok's people. How and why dinosaurs survived in this corner of the southwest remains a mystery, but it has greatly enriched the tribe.
The classic Dr. Solar was a nuclear physicist transformed by an act of sabotage into a being capable of transforming his body from matter to energy at will, making him an almost incalculably powerful super hero. Our modern Dr. Solar is nearly the same, except she is a young woman who has decided to use her powers to directly benefit the oppressed rather than dress up in long underwear and electrocute bank robbers.
BB: In a non-spoilery manner, can you tell us anything about the "sinister force" threatening this universe?
PH: While all four heroes seem to be dealing with their own separate menaces, it soon becomes clear that they all trace back to the same source, a source that seems to know how the classic Gold Key versions of the heroes and the current ones are related.
BB: How is it working with artist Brent Peeples?
PH: It's a joy to watch him grow with each issue. It's always exciting to collaborate with someone who is on an upward trajectory, and I think anyone who picks up the book will quickly see that Brent has a bright future in the superhero business.
BB: What are the challenges facing you here, Phil, handling classic characters seen through a modern lens?
PH: Mostly fan expectations. When dealing with characters with such long histories, you are always going to encounter fans who are locked into a very specific era of that character's history. With Magnus, you'll get old coots like me who are fans of the Russ Manning era, then a second subset who are rabid for the Valiant era, then younger readers who were introduced to the Dark Horse effort and even the recent Dynamite reboot. My goal is to approach the character in a way that's respectful to all those past experiences, but introduce some new angles that will let the core truth of the character shine in a new environment.