A Writer's Commentary: Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #5, on sale this week from Dynamite. Art by Ron Salas.
We make a bit of a leap from the end of last issue. Steve has lost. He went on the run from OSI and found no allies, only enemies. Mick Gentle is in league with a rogue OSI agent, all working to create their army of the future. And to do that, they need to tear Steve apart to see how he ticks. I love here how Ron Salas draws the robot limbs. So creepy.
Pages 2 and 3
The conversation with Gentle here takes us back to the theme at the center of this story arc. Steve is viewed as the next stage of human evolution, a union of robotics and biology. But Steve understands the cost of what it is to be him, to have your humanity stripped away. He knows that the true key to humanity is emotion, not the cold rationalism of machines. Also: Check out that giant robot army!
And a giant robot vivisection device (The Vivisector??). Kind of a shame that it only appears in this one issue. Note to self: Create a comic series about The Vivisector.
Steve has been hearing this robotic voice in his head, and it's controlled by N3TWORK, a teenaged boy who's super immature. (Which is why the voice swore like crazy, BTW.) But Steve can also hear specific robots. Here, he discovers he can talk back to them.
Robot Holly Green to the rescue! Holly Green, BTW, is named after a former coworker. One of the great pleasures of writing comics is naming characters after friends…
…and then killing off those characters. Farewell, Holly. (I'm a monster.)
This is really the first point in the series when we get to see Steve fully unleashed. He knows who is good and who is bad, and he's not holding back. I love how Ron brought that emotional turn to life.
Ramping up the action here, plus showing that human/robot difference in a very concrete way. Which is a pun, you see, because Steve throws some robots through a concrete wall. CLEVER.
OSI returns to the scene! Oscar Goldman and Steve are BFFs again! (Well, sort of.) Anyway, government agents with guns vs. robots with guns.
Here, N3TWORK reveals that he can completely take control of Steve's robotic parts. Which is bad news for Steve, until…
Ouch! Steve rips his cybernetic eye out of his own skull! Pretty crazy, right?!
Steve (minus his eye) vs. Robot Wolverine Guy. This issue has everything.
I wish we'd had more time to develop N3TWORK as a character. He ended up being one of my favorites, even though we only really met him last issue.
And here we see a big character reversal for him.
Oscar Goldman's revenge! It was so fun getting to write some action scenes for him.
Steve's last stand against Mick Gentle, as he shows yet again that he's a hero, willing to do whatever he can to protect others. He's missing a leg, an eye, has been stabbed, bludgeoned and shredded. Yet, still, he fights. To me, that was his ultimate quality and what I wanted to bring through in writing this.
The final battle. Ron really brought it here. Great design and emotion.
Another super fun design from Ron. I miss working with him already. The guy is incredible. If you're in the business of making comics, you should hire him. Like, yesterday.
We wanted to set up a very fractious future for whatever comes next. That won't be my story to write. I hope someone else can take this and use it as inspiration for an even bigger, weirder journey.
I wanted to end with Gentle, because this story was as much his as it was Steve's. His wish is granted. Which is probably the most horrific thing for him (and the rest of the world). And, well, that's it for me. It was a true pleasure exploring this world, and I so appreciate all of the kind words people have had for the series. Now, time for me to close this out and dive back into another world, another story…