In the upcoming miniseries Never Ending, Dark Horse is turning a hero against himself. As the title suggests, the lead character of Never Ending is a superhero named Charles Baxter gifted with numerous powers – including immortality. But as the years go on and friends live and die, this hero fights that the one battle he can’t win is with time itself. So he reaches out to his arch nemesis in a bizarre team-up to put an end to it once and for all.
Never Ending is by Amelia Cole & The Unknown World’s Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and illustrated by Number 13 artist Robert Love. The series is set to kick off on November 27, and run for a total of three issues. Newsarama spoke with all three of the creators about this this shocking twist on a superhero story in comics.
Newsarama: So guys, what can you tell us about Charles Baxter and Never Ending?
D.J. Kirkbride:Charles Baxter, who likes folks to call him Chuck, is a good fella. He was a mechanic who very randomly gets powers. His invulnerability and strength and flight become apparent quickly. The one he didn't realize he'd gotten is immortality. He sees his loved ones aging as he doesn't change. It takes its toll on him.
Robert Love: Chuck is just an ordinary guy who works hard for a living and falls in love. He's your everyday average guys who has these amazing powers thrust upon him. He sees it as a blessing at first, but eventually finds out that it's a curse. I love stories like these. Stories that have average everyday people face challenges of epic proportions.
Adam P. Knave: Chuck isn't a man of destiny. Nothing prepared him for the life he has, so he has had to come to terms with it and learn to be the person he is by living, like all of us. He's a hero because it's the right thing to be. But at the same time, don't we all deserve a break?
Nrama: So what’s Charles’ problem? That he can’t die?
Knave: And it's a big problem to have. Imagine knowing you'll out live everyone you love, every friend you make, every bit of culture you grew up with. I love my cats but knowing that I will, generally speaking, keep out living them always makes me hesitate. My love for them outweighs the sadness I can see coming down the road. But imagine if that was everyone and everything you knew.
Kirkbride: Exactly. While most of us, I think, feel that mortality is scary, immortality has the potential to be just as bad. This isn't a new conceit, but it's one we felt was worth exploring, especially in a superhero comic with a hero and arch-nemesis kind of relationship.
Nrama: That arch-nemesis is a villain named Archibald Crane. How could Crane, his enemy, help Baxter?
Knave: Well that's the story. So we can't give a pat answer but also I hate those "Wait and see!" answers so instead I will reveal, exclusive to Newsarama, that in a scene we didn't put in, Archie helps Chuck learn to make a perfect meringue. How much of an enemy can you be if you help a man learn to whip a meringue into shape, I ask you?
Kirkbride: The meringue scene was in, but we had to trim the series to three issues. I miss the salsa lessons montage more, but... okay, getting off track here, sorry. But, yes, there are reasons that'll make a lot of sense in the context of the story. We promise.
Nrama: So when did Chuck get his powers in the first place, and how long has he had them at this point?
Kirkbride: Chuck got his powers in 1950. The book bounces back from then to 2036 and some time in-between. We have three distinct stages of Chuck's post-powers life.
Nrama: This series concept sounds pretty dark – but I’ve seen you guys do some light, fun and comedic stories. How would you describe the tone of Never Ending?
Knave: It is dark. It's fairly bleak but, as anyone who knows us will already be sure of, there are notes of hope as well. We don't blot out the sun just to blot it out. We're going somewhere with this one.
Kirkbride: We have plenty of moments before Chuck's life became a curse to him. By making the story nonlinear, we avoid getting too mired in the darkness. Like Adam said, it is important to find notes of hope, no matter how faint.
Nrama: How did you three come together to do this story?
Love: These are guys are super creative and everything is so thoroughly thought through. Once they told me the concept, I was sold. It's a story that I've never read before in comicdom.
Kirkbride: Robert's a good friend of ours, and we're big fans of his work. We have talked about the concept that has become Never Ending for a few years now, off and on. When he was talking with Dark Horse about his follow up to Number 13, he told them about our comic, and they signed us up. It's great to be working with him and also to have a comic at a company like Dark Horse. Very exciting!
Knave: No one actually likes me, so I rely on D.J.'s friendships to see me through. OH, wait, no, sorry. Robert is awesome though. A great pal that we're lucky enough to also get to work with. That's not always the case, and when it is you have to celebrate it.
Kirkbride: I like you, Adam. You are my imaginary friend.
Nrama: Robert, people seemed to have enjoyed your designs on Number 13, so let me ask you – how was it designing Chuck?
Love: I wanted to make him heroic, but with boyish good looks. I used Chris Hemsworth as a model. Chuck goes through three phases of looks for the book. In his first costume I wanted to show the excitement that he has in being a super hero. The slick costume with a cape. Pouches for different items that he wants to carry, and the pirate type boots. The second phase is more of a depression phase. He still has a costume, but I through a trench coat on him to represent his "not carrying" about the way he looks. He's gained weight in this phase and I changed his posture a bit. He's more hunched over in this phase. For the third one, I wanted to show confidence, strength, and wisdom. By this phase he seen it all, thus is costume is more practical. He's even cut his hair, the flash is all gone. He's a weathered hero at this point. I really had a lot of fun designing each phase.
Nrama: Guys, wWith a series title like Never Ending how can it fit into just one three issue series?
Kirkbride: That's a legitimate question... the title more refers to Chuck than to the series itself. It was always designed to be a single story, either an OGN or mini-series. We were thinking of something a little longer, but Dark Horse likes the 3-issue format, and once we got thinking on it, the story fit very well into that structure. It forced us to trim the fat, and what we have left is a very lean, fast-paced, and emotional comic.
Knave: I'd actually say it refers to Chuck, to Archie, to characters we can't name just yet... so many things never end - hate, love, senses of duty, a good meringue....
Kirkbride: Now I want dessert...