Okay, so that's maybe not the best title for the next miniseries--but it's a pretty accurate relationship of what they've got going on in this arc--The Hidden War--as the previous Protector spends some time in a barren, monster-infested desert battling on behalf of the Council and Magistrate that fired him and hired Amelia Cole--whom they want dead.
ComicBook.com spoke with series writers Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride about the latest issue, out now on ComiXology. This is a spoiler-filled conversation, so if you haven't read the book already, buy it and read along with us!
First off, we get our friendly neighborhood creepy wraiths. they don't really do "big picture," do they?
APK: The Council have more going on than you can see in that scene. They can be distracted. But also they're just frustrated, you know? Look at the last arc. Suddenly, at least from our point of view, things are going Not Their Way. They may not be used to that…
DJK: As far as big pictures, they might see in a picture the Magistrate can't even fathom. In his mind he has everything under control, but to them he really has no idea what "everything" really is. It's a horrible working relationship.
I like the device of cutting back and forth between Protectors 1 and 2 in terms of the voiceover. Is that something you'll be continuing throughout the Hidden War or something special to this chapter?
DJK: Hector the Former Protector has had his own captions from the beginning. Sure, Amelia the Current, and, c'mon, WAY BETTER Protector is still definitely the star, and it's a little more fun being in her head, but, yeah, we like sharing Hector's thoughts. It's a fun way for readers to get his perspective on what he's doing. In AMELIA COLE AND THE UNKNOWN WORLD (in print from IDW on August 14), it was a way to show that, yeah, while he did dickish things, he had reasons and thought he was doing what's right. Now it's a good way to express his regrets and thoughts on what happened then, letting the reader in on things that they definitely wouldn't be privy to based upon his man of few words routine.
APK: And cross-cutting them to overlay the situations and show that maybe, right this second, they have more in common than not, is a very purposeful choice. They're both fallible people who want to do good. Hector fell from grace because he let himself be used. Amelia hasn't. Yet. But who knows what the future brings?
How much guidance do you give Nick in terms of designing "Big Crazy Monsters" for the desert?
DJK: I believe we were pretty general with something to the effect of, "Big, nasty, energy-sucking beasts. Maybe something with electricity," and then he goes for it. Occasional there's a little back and forth, but usually he exceeds our expectations, and often he'll design something that'll change the course of the story... like The Council, for instance. He initial just drew spooking dudes for a promo, and the light bulb Adam and I share went off in our heads.
APK: Yeah. Nick has as much input as he decides he wants. Which is, thankfully, a goodly amount.
DJK: Hmmmmmmmmmmm... yeah, all bets are kinda off at this point in regard to the Magistrate. He's certainly not the public servant he purports to be, and Amelia isn't the type of person who'd just be fine with such duplicity. Still, it's all just kinda mysterious at this point.
APK: Things sure do look fishy, don't they? Then again Hector looked like the bad guy only a few issues ago. Why, Russ, why do you trust us to play straight from the first card shown? You have to know by now there are at least five more cards - four in hand and one up a sleeve - left to dole out. Which isn't to say everything has to be some convoluted plot, because that gets old, too. But, this was the first note of a song. And it's an interesting note. Don't take your eye off it, but know it hasn't begun to play out yet.
I'm probably more amused than I ought to be by the fact that nobody got the Indiana Jones reference. Is that something you think about with her character--that all of her touchstones are gone? It's a bit like the movie Captain America, how he didn't get any of the jokes.
APK: That's a D.J. thing. I, honestly, sometimes forget that she HAS lost all her cultural touchstones, but D.J. never does. And he's always right to bring it in. It isn't something she dwells on but it is there. And this, right here, is one of the reasons co-writing is awesome.
DJK: Its kind of a tightrope. We don't want to mention it all the time, and we want to show that Amelia is the kind of hero who doesn't mope and whine but just gets on with it -- but at the same time, yeah, it's good to remind readers, and ourselves, that she's a stranger in a strange land. And, honestly, if this world doesn't have have Indiana Jones, then The Magistrate and The Council are the least of its problems...
APK: But it has Back to the Future, right? I mean... maybe recast as "Science is so dumb look at what happened" but still. It's there. Right, D.J.? I... I might not be able to sleep tonight until I rewrite Back to the Future to make it viable in that world. Crap.
DJK: What's the magical equivalent of 1.21 gigawatts?
I feel like "Jelly's Last Jam" might be one of the more obscure references that's been snuck in. Was that Nick's or one of yours?
DJK: I am embarrassed to admit that I don't know "Jelly's Last Jam," so it's gotta be either Nick or Adam. What was the reference?
APK: It's a musical. But the ref was all Nick.
DJK: But where was it? Russ... what did we miss in our own comic?
I like the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot imagery! Why does Lemmy need gloves, though?
APK: Amelia felt her magic being weakened by the monsters. If Lemmy touched them, being powered by magic, could they drain him? Who knows. A little insulation was a good preventive measure.
DJK: It also was a bit of her basic, but impressive for a mage in this world science know-how, the rubber insulating him from the shock that she got when she touched one of the beasties.
I dig the Batman '66 reference for next issue, but you do realize that you're competing with that book on the ComiXology charts, right?
APK: When we wrote that tag Batman '66 hadn't been announced yet. But knowing it is out there just makes it better. Jeff Parker, who I still maintain is a dangerous robot who wants to control Earth, Jonathan Case and Ty Templeton are killing it on that book. Great comics aren't in competition with each other. The world is more than big enough for even more things for you to read.
[Editor's note: Asked whether he's actually a dangerous robot who wants to control Earth, Batman '66 writer Jeff Parker responded, "You can't prove I'm not."]
DJK: Oh, man, are we really in competition with Batman? Because that guy ALWAYS wins....
APK: Wait, is Jeff Parker Batman? Because that explains a few things...
DJK: I still don't understand how Jeff Parker got back to Gotham from Bane's chanting chiropractor's pit so quickly. Oh well, Jeff Parker has his ways.