Interview: Robots Are Just As Flawed As Humans In The World of 'Volition'

Ryan Parrott has a brand new series from AfterShock Comics called Volition, and we've got to talk [...]

Ryan Parrott has a brand new series from AfterShock Comics called Volition, and we've got to talk to him all about it.

Ryan Parrott, who fans will know from the hit series Go Go Power Rangers, is launching a very different type of robotics-filled world in Volition, but it all starts with engaging characters.

"The idea for Volition actually came out of a pretty simple question: "If a robot's world fell apart, where would it look for meaning?" When I realized it was entirely dependent on the characters, the story and world started to create itself. I'd seen a lot of stories about robot slavery or robot apocalypses, but I wanted to tell something that took place the middle, where robots made by men followed in our footsteps, for better or worse. And what that might look like," Parrott said.

(Photo: AfterShock Comics)

Creating a new world is a daunting task, but it also features plenty of chances to explore new avenues and concepts and allows Parrott to scratch a different itch than his work on Go Go.

"Oh yeah. It's just a completely different animal," Parrott said. "With Power Rangers, the architecture is basically already in place. Readers have an emotional attachment to certain characters and you know there are specific aspects you're always writing toward. So, yes, it's a different "itch" in that, with a new series, you're figuring it out on the fly. What's the right amount of plot to make the world interesting mixed with the right amount of character get readers invested? It's a challenge and one I'm still learning."

"But I will say, the focus on personal character stories in "Go Go" has definitely found its way into Volition," Parrott said. "So I guess it's an itch that scratched back? I think I'm messing up this metaphor."

While Volition features a future world full of robots, this isn't your typical tale of artificial intelligence taking over the human race, and it was important for this series to subvert that rather common scenario.

"You absolutely nailed it," Parrott said. "That was the entire conceit of the series. Robot stories seem to be at their best when they function as mirrors for humanity and society. So it seemed like setting one in a world where a portion of the population is being unjustly marginalized and treated like second-class citizens just because they look and act differently... might... not be too far off the mark."

(Photo: AfterShock Comics)

The series kicks off with the birth of a new Artificial named Amber, giving a more personal glimpse into the world of Artificials. While they won't all make sense right away, they will later on, as evidenced in meeting Amber later in the issue.

"I was a huge fan of those stylistic cold openings in "Breaking Bad" where they would do flashbacks, flashforwards or even fake restaurant commercials," Parrott said. "I loved how they opened the world and we're sometimes little puzzles you didn't understand until the end. I wanted to try something like that with each issue of Volition and Amber's "birth" just seemed like a perfect place to start."

Amber-7T is clearly a focal point of the story, but fans also meet Hale-19, and both characters will act as the reader's entryway into this future world.

"The series actually centers on two robots from vastly different upbringings," Parrott said. "The first is Amber-7T a specialized caregiving robot who was "built" to a life of privilege, but has slowly watched a consciousness destroying virus called "Rust" basically wreak havoc on the robot world. I can't imagine anything more terrifying for an "awake" robot going back to sleep. The second character is Hale-19, a construction robot who, because of the endless cycle of technological innovation, quickly finds himself as obsolete, out of the job and is forced to turn to less reputable means to find work. Kinda like if your old iPhone had a personality and wanted to stay competitive with the latest model. The fun of the series was discovering their vastly different points of view and how it would both mold their relationship and the story as a whole."

(Photo: AfterShock Comics)

As you can see in the images above, Volition #1 is gorgeous, and that's all thanks to the work of artist Omar Francia.

"I know it sounds like hyperbole, but literally every panel of Omar's work could be a cover," Parrott said. "His attention to detail and world logic is just insane. When he first came aboard the project, he asked so many fantastic questions that helped not only open up the culture of the world but also helped me focus what I was trying to say with the series. I couldn't ask for a better collaborator."

While we meet the characters in the first issue, issue #2 features an even deeper dive into what makes these characters tick...and the introduction of a robot assassin.

"Well, if the first issue basically sets up the world, while the second dives into the characters. You'll see an amazing robo-riot, the coolest drug I've ever come up with and the beginnings of my favorite emoji-faced Robot assassin... "Mr. Tin". I really hope people check it out and stay on for the ride," Parrott said.

Volition #1 is in comic stores now.

What did you think of the first issue? Let us know in the comments!