Amelia Cole takes most of the spotlight in this month's issue of Amelia Cole and the Hidden War, leaving the Omega Company fighting their "hidden war" mostly in the shadows--although it seems as though the two stories will start to bounce off one another soon.
In an action-driven issue that saw Amelia Cole hit a few different settings around the (newly-christened) city of Otysburg, we start with a bomb and move toward the war--and along the way, ComicBook.com spoke with writers D.J. Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave (and artist Nick Brokenshire, our special guest) about the story, the future...and the handful of cool pop-culture references Brokenshire built into his pages.
The conversation ahead is very spoilery, though, so go buy the book first, and read along with us if you haven't read it already. Everything will make a lot more sense.
ComicBook.com: I'm a little surprised, at the outset, that Amelia isn't slightly more skeptical just of the practice of going after non-mages in particular. It seems almost like she's reinforcing discrimination or something.
DJK: Amelia is all about helping anyone out, so while that means she won't favor mages over non-mages, it doesn't mean she won't stop a non-mage who is doing wrong. She basically splits people up between good and bad, not mage and non.
APK: You also have to remember that she works for the magic side of things, so she can become skeptical along the lines of "there are non-magic cops too, why would they bring me in?" It, intially, doesn't seem to fit.
ComicBook.com: Would learning to fly really help if she hates heights? It seems like that would just be a different kind of uncomfortable.
DJK: Fear of heights is kind of a fear of falling down, so if she could fly, she wouldn't have to fear that, right? That's kind of her thinking, anyway, but, yeah, it'd still probably freak her out. I picture Greatest American Hero-style floundering and lack of Superman-esque grace.
APK: She could totally hate it just as much, but maybe it would be something more stable she could rely on. That's her thinking anyway. Also, hey, something cool she can't do. That annoys Amelia, generally.
ComicBook.com: Blondie seems very cheery for someone who just got caught. Is he, do you think, underestimating Amelia's odds of catching him/deactivating the bomb?
APK: There's a lot of "science is better / no magic is" in the book. It's a class and power struggle. So either side, planning things like this would, of course, be confident. Sometimes overly so. Also, you have to be a bit unhinged to try something like this, wouldn't you say?
DJK: And he got the Protector's attention. That means to him that the mages are scared. If they're scared, that means the non-mages are a threat, and to him that means a step closer to equality. I don't personally agree with his way of thinking.
ComicBook.com: Do you know whether Nick patterned the bomb after anything in particular? My mind immediately went to the bomb from Batman: The Movie in '66, but I think that's just my mind.
DJK: Well, the preview blurb in issue 9 for this one was "Some Days You Just Can't Get Rid Of A Bomb," so... yeah, we're fans of Batman '66 (movie, show, comic, toys, pajamas, lifestyle).
ComicBook.com: The lab tech working on deactivating the bomb has a distinctly mad scientist vibe. He actually kind of reminds me of Dr. Clayton Forrester...is that just kind of part and parcel of being part of the Unknown World?
APK: He does, but I admit I didn't catch it as anyone, just a science dude. Science Dudes!
DJK: Oh, man! I don't know... It was all Nick, and I assume he is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan due to the fact that he is a man of the finest tastes. So, Nick, is that Dr. Forrester? And, if not, who is it?
SPECIAL GUEST STAR NICK BROKENSHIRE: It's Young Frankenstein as played by Gene Wilder!
DJK: You mean "FronkenSTEEN," right?
ComicBook.com: And now that it's not in the title anymore, is "The Unknown World" kind of like "The OC" in Arrested Development, where nobody calls it that?
APK: No one, in story, ever really did. It was unknown in a larger story sense and for Amelia, but certainly by now she knows where she is.
DJK: Yeah, Malone and George and Mike and Freeman and all the folks living there don't call it "The Unknown World." They've known about it all their lives. (Of course, most of them don't know about "The Hidden War," so that title's a little different.)
ComicBook.com: Meanwhile, I wondered when I first saw the heavyset African-American doctor with a bow tie if that might be an homage to DC's Chunk.
APK: I thought the same thing, but no Nick meant someone else. But man, I loved Chunk!
DJK: I'm pretty sure that guy was an homage to Eddie Murphy's The Nutty Professor. Nick...?
SPECIAL GUEST STAR NICK BROKENSHIRE: Indeedy!
ComicBook.com: So why was Amelia the only one wearing a hairnet?
APK: True story - when Nick first drew the page there was an issue with Amelia's hair. So he patched it with a hairnet, since she was in a lab. After that we just thought it was a funny little joke to drop in. But really they all should be, that's a lab, there are requirements about that sort of thing.
DJK: Yeah, all the other folks in there should be written up.
APK: It really can be. We have to stay inventive but within our own rules. It's easy to fall back on the same old tricks so we work to find new solutions to things where we can and make it exciting and fun for everyone, including us. Green Lantern rules apply: boxing gloves are easy, but you want to show imagination and use the unlimited budget of comics.
DJK: Having said that, Adam, we should really work some magic wrench wand boxing gloves into the book at some point.
APK: As if I'd say no?
ComicBook.com: While we're on the Nutty Professor train of thought...is that dog he's walking Snoopy?
DJK: I don't think George's dog is Snoopy... unless he is either a grown up Charlie Brown in witness protection, or Charlie had to give him up when he went to prison for finally snapping and murdering Lucy at a football game... Nick...?
SPECIAL GUEST STAR NICK BROKENSHIRE: Actually, I wasn't consciously going for Snoopy although he is one of my all time favourite cartoons and I've always kind of got him in my head when I draw dogs, so I reckon my subconscious was doing it's own thing in this case.
APK: Snoopy lives in our hearts. We see him everywhere, because he is everywhere.
ComicBook.com: People still use microfiche where Amelia is? Truly, it is a whole different world...
DJK: One of our initial conceits, that goes back to no one using credit cards in issue two, is that their technology is a little bit behind in some ways. They have magic as their primary sources of innovation, so they haven't invented the internet and stuff like that yet. We haven't harped on it much, but we try to keep it in the book just for some texture.
APK: Also I, for one, miss micofiche. There's something about scanning endless film looking for clues that makes the world a more fun place, don't you think?
ComicBook.com: Is this the first time we've been made aware of the name of the city she's in? I don't distinctly remember it and I feel like "Otysburg" would have stuck with me.
APK: We, uhhh, we knew the name of the city back in the first six issues and never dropped it in because we, quite honestly, kept forgetting. It was going to be on signs and such as well, but things happen. It's a hard thing to drop in without sounding like we're forcing it. "Oh, yes, now that we are here, in the great city of" sort of clunk didn't appeal. So, sadly, it ends up here for the first time. As we expand our world it becomes important to mention places by name, whereas prior to this it simply didn't matter as much. For the record, while we're talking about it - the city's main sportsteam is named The Otysburg Fat Dragons.
DJK: I kinda wanted to never mention the name, but Adam pointed out that that'd make it weird when we mentioned names of other areas and places, such as The Dunes of Forgiveness, so... I jokingly said "Otisburg" in reference to Superman: The Movie. It was laughed off, then I was like, "C'mooooon...!" then they agreed, then I went, "Uh, really? I was joking," but it's in there. That's where she lives. We changed the spelling a little, but, basically, I'm a doofus, and they called me out on it.
APK: Chances are if we have a silly idea we will find a way to run with it. That's part of the fun of this book - we can tell our story with all the flourishes saner people would shoot down.
ComicBook.com: Man, it seems like just about every page this issue has something that (at least to me) looks like a pop-culture reference. Is that just part of the package with Nick getting more time to pour some detail into each page?
DJK: Yeah, Nick does it to amuse himself when drawing. Like you said, he really packs in a lot of detail and character, and I think this is his way of kind of letting off steam and having fun. He also often quizzes us later, and I slap my forehead at all the awesome references I miss.
SPECIAL GUEST STAR NICK BROKENSHIRE: Wellll, for me the references tend to appear unbidden when I start designing a page. I don't set out to put them in, they just occur to me as I draw. I'm tickled by having things to find in a comics page. When I was a kid I would spend hours poring over Druillet and Moebius's comics, looking at what was going on in the background. Also Brit comics like The Beano and 2000AD always had a ton of Easter eggs so I like to do a bit of that too. It's in my comics genes.
ComicBook.com: It feels like Omega is getting a bit less page time this issue. Are you building to something big?
APK: Always! But we have only so many pages a month and a lot of story to tell. This month needed a lot of Amelia and so Omega Company took a bit more of a backseat buit Very Big Things are on the way.
DJK: While the two storylines are running concurrently and are both part of a larger picture, the book is called Amelia Cole, so she's gotta earn that billing.