What would you do if the world was coming to an end and you were left off the list on a lifeboat off this planet?
That's the story of the upcoming BOOM! Studios miniseries Broken World from Frank J. Barbiere and Christopher Peterson. Scheduled to launch June 3, Broken World is a sci-fi survivalist thriller that mixes the "end times" scenarios of Y: The Last Man with the tragedy of Titanic. In the story, a super-sized meteor is barreling towards Earth with all projections saying it'll eliminate all life on the planet. Scientists have a plan however, with lifeboats set to ferry people off to other worlds -- but there's not room for everyone. Especially someone with a question marks in their past like Elena Marlowe.
Newsarama talked with Barbiere about Elena's struggle in the four-issue Broken World series, how this Earth got in this predicament, as well as what the writer himself would do in his character's situation. Also, BOOM! provided us an exclusive preview of five pages from Broken World #1.
Newsarama: Frank, what can you tell us about Broken World?
Frank J. Barbiere: Broken World is a story I’ve been hoping to tell for a long time. I’m a huge fan of “survival” and “post-apocalypse” stories, and was really trying to find a way to spin it in a unique way. With Broken World I think we’ve found something new to say and built the framework for a very personal story that could go on for a long time.
Nrama: Can you tell us about Elena Marlowe, who leads this series?
Barbiere: Elena is a sharp, headstrong woman who has overcome some difficult trials in her life and is working hard to redefine herself. A big hook of the book is finding out more about Elena’s past, but her son Daniel and new husband Brian are very important foundations in her life. The thought of losing them has Elena worrying she’ll fall back into being the person she used to be—and to her, that’s terrifying. Broken World is her journey to fight for this new life she’s built, and maybe even further redefine herself.
Nrama: And what's the earth's population acting like as this meteor barrels down?
Barbiere: The book takes place in a near future, so technologically the planet is equipped to deal with this. A large percentage of the population are confident in the governments of the world working towards their salvation, but unfortunately not every person has been cleared to evacuate the planet. This has led to many people splintering off into factions, protests, and even the arrival of an enigmatic cult. Things are tense, and it’s only getting worse as the asteroid gets ready to wipe out the planet.
Nrama: Elena is barred from escaping -- how many others on Earth are?
Barbiere: Roughly 25% of the planet have been told they are sentenced to die. The government review board who decided this considered many factors, including medical and criminal histories. For some, it’s obvious why they wouldn’t be allowed to evacuate. For others, it’s simply bad luck.
Nrama: What inspired you to do this story?
Barbiere: As I get older, I grow more afraid of the things we can’t control. Broken World comes from this place, that fear of everything I’ve been working towards in my life being rendered inert by a disaster I can’t control. Whether that be disease, natural disaster—anything. It’s a really pressing thing we all think about, and I think it’s compelling to see how people would act in the face of certain doom. Humanity has a way of persevering, and I think it’s important to explore those stories.
Nrama: How'd you come to work with Christopher Peterson?
Barbiere: I had been a fan of Chris’s work, but had never thought to work together. My editors at BOOM! (Eric Harburn and Chris Rosa) had the good sense to introduce us and we hit the ground running. Chris really brings a fantastic look to the book—it’ full of emotion and rock-solid storytelling that will hopefully make it very accessible to new readers. Our colorist, Marissa Louise, is also a pivotal part of the team giving the whole book a great palette and fantastic color style.
Nrama: What would you do if you were in the situation Elena was in?
Barbiere: I would do everything I could to get off the world! I’d like to think my views line up pretty closely with Elena’s, haha. She’s a character that comes from a very honest place for me.