Fred Van Lente, writer of Magnus: Robot Fighter #8, talks with Frank Barbiere about Solar: Man of the Atom #7, both on sale now.
FRED VAN LENTE: It's been a while since we've checked in, and I'm happy to report the arc of this book is still awesome. What's the most exciting or surprising thing you've discovered about Erica on this journey?
FRANK BARBIERE: Really just getting to know the character has been the best part. You come into any project with these preconceived notions of how you want a certain "character" to play out—basic values like "he/she is afraid of spiders," etc., etc. It's when the book really gets going and the character, pardon the romantic phrase, comes "alive" you start to really see them. I love comics because you get to see an artist interpret acting and really bring someone to life on the page—this starts to inform my writing as I see who the person is and how they physically act. We had a lot of ideas for Erica to be a more relatable, artistically-driven Solar and I'm glad I've had a chance to really show who she is in these newer issues. With all the origin stuff out of the way, we're given a chance to shower her acting and solving problems, and that's really shedding some light on the core of her character. I'm still surprised by the ways thinking like she would, i.e. not necessarily the "punch my problems" method, has led to some solutions to the story's various challenges. Issue #8 will see a big step for Erica.
FVL: Erica has stowed away on an alien spaceship to try and get herself back to Earth from deep space. She doesn't initially realize these aliens got their asses handed to them by her father, the previous Solar, and so they take an immediate murderous disliking to her. What's the craziest thing you did in college?
FB: Haha, this is why you're the best interviewer. I was really happy to get a chance to show some of what actually went down with these aliens and Phil because we've been teasing it from the very beginning. It's great to be far enough along in the series where we've got these long-term payoffs starting, and hopefully shows our readers we have a plan. Also, I'm a pretty lame dude so I'd have to say the craziest thing I did in college was try to move a mattress down the street by taping it to the roof of my car. It did not go well.
FVL: Erica commandeers a (seemingly) well-meaning robot to lead her through the massive ship, even though he remains chummy with his alien masters. If you had a giant robot at your command, what are the main tasks you would cede to it? Would any of them involve making Gold Key group editor Nate Cosby do stuff? Like punch himself, perhaps? Please show your work in your answer.
FB: I would make the robot a sweet chef and have personalized meals for life. Yes, that's how I roll. Also give Nate Cosby a giant wedgie.
FVL: Erica's dad, Solar 1.0 Phil, continues to follow her around as a Science Ghost, giving her advice. Great interplay between the two. Who would you most like to haunt and give advice to after you exploded? Remember, because you are a Science Ghost, you can haunt people in the past as well as in the future.
Also, the response "I'd rather just not explode" is not allowed.
FB: The verb we tend to use during "internal discussions" is "Caspering." Or at least I say that. Hmmm, I would like to just be present and watch the world change … maybe some kind of future descendent, my own kid … tell them what's what, try to teach them about the world. Well, I don't actually want kids so that's not gonna fly. Man, I'm just gonna haunt you through text message, Van Lente. Check your inbox.
For more on Solar: Man of the Atom #7, click here.