NYCC 2015: Classic Manga Gets Futuristic – And Fatal – In LONE WOLF 2100

"Lone Wolf 2100 #1" preview
Credit: Dark Horse Comics
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

The original Lone Wolf and Cub had a lot of danger to run from in that classic manga, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming next.

At its “Crafting the Original Story” panel during New York Comic-Con, Dark Horse Comics announced a new four-issue series titled Lone Wolf 2100. Inspired by the classic manga Lone Wolf & Cub and the previous Lone Wolf 2100 series, this new project by writer Eric Heisserer a Miguel Sepulveda and David Gomez mixes the the tenants of the original with a futuristic bent ala Children of Men.

In this new series, an android named Itto is charged to protect a young girl, Daisy, whose DNA carries a cure for a deadly disease ravaging Earth. Newsarama spoke with Heisserer, as well as series editor Randy Stradley, about this sci-fi series and its connection to the original.

Newsarama: Eric, what can people expect with Lone Wolf 2100?

Eric Heisserer: If we do our job right, this title should be a dystopian adventure with teeth and heart. Under the hood, the themes I’m trying to tackle are personal and emotional for me, and they just play out on a cyberpunk canvas with these iconic characters.

Nrama: Seeing a futuristic take on a classic series such as Lone Wolf & Cub is interesting. Why do you think it's so powerful?

Randy Stradley: Every child is potential bridge to the future—hopefully a better future. It’s hardwired into us as a species to want to protect that potential. What we’ve done with Lone Wolf 2100 is change the adult/child relationship from one of a mutual mission of vengeance, as in the original Lone Wolf and Cub, to one of a protector who is literally hardwired to prevent harm from befalling the child. It’s almost turning the original—a bleak tale of a father and son’s journey into Hell—on it’s head. Lone Wolf 2100 is a much more hopeful story, even if the android Itto’s chances of success a no better than Ogami Itto’s.

Nrama: Is Kazuo Koike involved or consulting on this project at all?

Stradley: Koike has given us his blessing to move forward, but he is not directly involved with this miniseries. Remember, Mr. Koike is in his eighties and pretty much retired.

Nrama: In this new series set in the future, there’s a plague running rampant in this book called the Thrall. What is it, exactly, and what does it do?

Heisserer: The plague is change, at its most base level. It’s caused two thirds of the world population to change, but instead of zombies it’s a kind of monstrous mutation. The survivors have a nickname for these mutants—the Thrall.

There are two schools of thought: Those who believe the Thrall can be reformed or restored to human again, and those who refuse to see them as anything but monsters, now and forever. This is analogous to some sensitive issues today, speaking to enflamed arguments on social media: Can society embrace someone who’s spent time in prison, and grant them a normal life again after? Or are they doomed to be seen as a convict? Same goes with those in the LGBT community when they come out to family and friends. Can they be embraced, or will their loved ones suddenly see them in some monstrous light from then on?

You’ll note the first chapter is titled, “The Extinction of Empathy.”

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: And the “cub” in this Lone Wolf & Cub homage is named Daisy Ogami. Who is she, and why is she so important?

Heisserer: Daisy is important in that she’s inherited the legacy of her father, one of the most vital doctors working on the cure. And she must come to grips with the fact that far too much hangs in the balance with her very survival, as she’s the key to the cure.

Nrama: So if she’s the “cub,” who is the “Lone wolf”?

Heisserer: Itto. He is is an ENCOM android (as he was in the previous Lone Wolf 2100 series) who is selected to be Daisy’s loyal guardian. Daisy’s father chose him as the one to make the most humanistic decision about Daisy’s fate. The irony is not lost on Dr. Ogami that only a droid can be trusted to choose who is worthy of humanity’s future.

Nrama: Why does she need protection? Who would want to stop the cure?

Heisserer: Dr. Ogami’s brother Jax is the other side of the argument—that the Thrall cannot be cured and the best thing for the world to do now is obliterate every Thrall and start over with the remaining survivors. Daisy represents an idea in direct opposition to Jax’s worldview, so the girl must either be controlled or killed.

Nrama: Adding the futuristic element, and the "cub" having the cure for a disease ala Children of Men -- how'd this come about for you as a writer?

Heisserer: The idea of the “cub” merely as a non-speaking innocent felt to me like we were giving the character short shrift. In the previous incarnation, Daisy was also the key to a conspiracy of sorts, and I wanted to pay homage to writer Mike Kennedy, whom I feel did a phenomenal job.

The adjustments I made here with Daisy were to give her a voice, to see how a young girl might feel about being such a crucial lynchpin for the next chapter in human history, and how that knowledge weighs on her.

Nrama: Is this at all connected to the original Lone Wolf & Cub manga or the previous Lone Wolf 2100 series Dark Horse did?

Heisserer: It’s a spiritual successor to the previous Lone Wolf 2100 series, but it’s a different narrative. So new readers can pick up the first book and jump right in without needing to have read any other books.

Nrama: What should fans of the original manga look forward to with this remake?

Stradley: If they enjoyed the dynamic of a parent/adult and child against the world, this has got that in spades. The story is also packed with violent action and adventure. But, as previously mentioned, instead of trying to take revenge on the world, the characters in Lone Wolf 2100 are trying to save it.

Heisserer: The Daisy/Itto relationship should, I hope, resonate with the old fans possibly more than the new ones. And of course, the action choreography from Miguel is amazing. Particularly in #2.

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