For many fans, Invincible has become a defacto flagship title for the long-running publishing company known as Image. Co-created by writer Robert Kirkman early on his career, it's been one of the key titles in his meteoric rise in comics – just as the title's main hero, Mark Grayson a.k.a. Invincible, has risen in the ranks of the superhero community. Well into its fifth year of publication, the title has introduced a whole world of superheroes – I lost track at around thirty – and the title's success has spurred spin-off several miniseries and even a two-issue Index of the Invincible Universe. And that continues with the upcoming release of Invincible Presents: Atom Eve & Rex Splode from writer Benito Cereno and artist Nate Bellegarde.
Scheduled to begin this October, this three issue miniseries is a sequel of sorts to the 2007 miniseries Invincible Presents: Atom Eve. That miniseries, also by Cereno & Bellegarde, explored the unlikely origin of Atom Eve – before being a hero, and before meeting her current beau, Mark Grayson.. In this new miniseries, the story of the first meeting and eventual courtship of Atom Eve with fellow superhero Rex Splode is explored; Invincible readers will remember Rex Splode as Atom's original boyfriend who was at times, hot-headed, to say the least. This miniseries is about their relationship, as well as Rex Splode's own origin – what led him to become what he is in Invincible, all up until his death in the recent "Invincible War" story arc.
For more on this, we talked with the creative duo behind this to find about Rex & Eve.
Newsarama: It's good to talk to you again, Benito.
For a long time, Rex Splode was viewed (by me at least) as the hot-headed ex boyfriend in the bigger picture of Invincible. But what's he really like, to you as the writer of this?
Benito Cereno: He's the hot-headed potential boyfriend!
But, seriously, yeah, Rex is a jerk. Which is why he stood out to me from the beginning of Invincible as one of the most interesting characters. He's impetuous, self-centered, insensitive... all wonderful character traits. But he's also that bad boy that your dad hates that all girls have some desire for at some point in their lives. So he's got that going for him.
I mean, we've seen hints in the main Invincible book and we'll see lots more in this series that show that Rex has had a lot of tragedy in his past that might give some reasons for his repellant personality. But still, yeah, he's a jerk. And that's great.
Nrama: And you Nate, what do you think of Rex Splode? As I told Benito, I seem to always pigeon-hole him as the angry-ex.
Nate Bellegarde: Aw, I guess I have more sympathy for him than the bothof you! I guess there are lots of "reasons" for why he acts the way he does that aren't necessarily "excuses." I think of him less being a jerk than having absolutely no reason to stop believing that he is an utter and consummate bad-ass. Even though he does occasionally get the crap knocked out of him.
Nrama: The previous mini was Atom's origin story – and with Rex Splode currently dead, will this be another flashback story or a zombie Rex Splode? Kirkman's involved, so it's not entirely outside the realm of possibilities…
Cereno: This book picks up more or less where the Atom Eve mini series left off. It is set in the past, a few years before Mark Grayson gets his powers and takes up the identity of Invincible. Eve, as we saw in her series, has been fighting crime for some time by herself, and in this series we see how Rex gets his powers and finds himself entrenched in the life of busting supercrime.
Nrama: For a time, Atom Eve and Rex Splode dated – before she found him cheating on her. Will their relationship be explored at all in this?
Cereno: Oh yeah. Besides giving an origin for Rex himself, this book is also the origin of the Atom Eve-Rex Splode team! Before Rex and Eve joined the Teen Team, they fought crime as a duo, and this book tells the story of how they meet for the first time, and how they subsequently become partners in crimefighting and partners in makeouts.
Nrama: Eve recently died – and came back – in the pages of Invincible after squaring off with Conquest. Will her death and resurrection – or just how she could do that -- be dealt with in this mini?
Cereno: Eve's ability to repair her damaged body is foreshadowed in the second issue of her own origin series, and recapped a little in this series, but since this is a story set in the past, she doesn't even know who Conquest is. No one on Earth has yet heard the word "Viltrumite."
Nrama: Nate, you've had some significant experience drawing Atom Eve, what with the previous miniseries, so I feel like you know her a bit. What do you think of her as a character, both visually and the way she acts?
Bellegarde: I love Eve's design. I think Cory Walker hit on something great that's cute and feminine without resorting to showing off a lot of boobs or whatever. I knew going in that I didn't want to stray much at all from the original design of the costume and muck everything up. Her suit has been tweaked once in the main Invincible series, and I wanted show that there's been a history of tweaks that have brought it from something a pre-teen would wear to a more confident young woman.
Since the events of the last mini, I think she is someone who is finally at peace with who she is, and is kind of well adjusted in spite of how things turned out. All the cards are on the table for her, so she's no longer the unsure and reckless adventurer we've seen her as before. But at the same time she is still a teenager, and she is still trapped with her parents and her secret identity, so she may be prone to acts of juvenile rebellion. It's all part of what makes her the future super awesome dream girl we know in the regular Invincible series.
Nrama: This is a follow-up to the recently collected Atom Eve two-issue mini you did last year. Was this new mini in the cards right after the last one, or did something else prompt it?
Cereno: Rex has been my favorite Invincible character since he first appeared, so I've been pestering Robert to let me write a Rex Splode miniseries for about five years. Being able to do it as a sequel to the Atom Eve series just gave us the right context and the right excuse to finally do it.
Nrama: Nate, on your blog you mentioned drawing new characters and how learning them slows you down. Who are the new characters you're drawing?
Bellegarde: Well, aside from Eve, basically everyone in the book. I've only ever drawn Rex in sketches and doodles, and briefly as an alternate-universe version in Brit, Hex Splode. Being the main character, and shown through several stages in his life, it's important to have much more than a passing familiarity with the guy. I had to know him up and down, but I had a while after finishing Brit to prepare. Former GDA Director Radcliffe plays a big part in Rex's life, and that character had only ever appeared briefly in Invincible. And even with Eve, the story takes place almost a year after the last mini, so I had to show how she had matured both physically and in confidence and experience as a superhero. So it's a little like adjusting the seat before jumping on the bike.