Red Robin Artist's SOUL[FIRE] is With Aspen

For fans of Aspen's fantasy comic series Soulfire, there's going to be a deluge of new material and big changes to the futuristic Soulfire world in the next few months as Volume 2 begins with art by Marcus To.

Working with Soulfire writer J.T. Krul, To has been working on Volume 2 of Soulfire for some time now while Volume 1 was on hiatus, waiting for Michael Turner to come back to the series he created. After the artist passed away in June 2008, Aspen ended up finishing Soulfire's first volume with art by Joe Benitez.

"I started Soulfire volume 2 about 2 years ago after finishing the Fathom: Kiani mini series, but with all the health problems that Mike had and some other issues with the first volume, my run on the book wasn't able to be put to print," To said. "But with Joe Benitez, who finished up the last bit of volume 1, the book is back on track and I'm really excited about them being released."

To started with Aspen as an intern after showing his work to the publisher at San Diego Comic-Con in 2004.

"Aspen decided to bring me in as an intern for a bit and then I started on my first book, Fathom: Cannon Hawke," To said. "I've also worked on books such as Fathom: Kiani, Soulfire: Chaos Reign, Black Panther: Civil War and the Heroes online graphic novels for NBC."

[To will join DC's Red Robin creative team starting in November. Click here to hear To talk about that series]

The artist said he got into comics much like many people his age, "watching the '90s X-Men and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and from there moved onto the comics."

Since then, he's been developing his artistic style, particularly as he worked with Aspen over the last few years, and he's hoping that the Soulfire fans who are used to Turner's work on the series will still enjoy what he and Krul are doing with the comic.

"I think that my style can bring a lot of excitement and action to Soulfire," To said. "JT and I have been coming up with a lot of visuals and cool things that should make this book look different but in the same vein as the original series that so many people cared so much about.

"It's always been a lot of fun drawing the characters that Mike created," he said, "but at the same time it can be a daunting task. Mike was loved so much by his fans and so were his creations. I just hope that old and new fans alike enjoys my take on this book."

As the story picks up in Volume 2, Malikai has grown up quite a bit, which influences the way To draws him. "He's more confident with his powers and his role in this world," he explained. "So I approach him differently than Mike may have drawn him -- a bit older and seasoned.

"As for Grace, I really wanted to try to put my stamp on her but keep the same flowy, beautiful, majestic traits. Mike always drew her larger than life and I hope to keep that in my version," he said. "I'm really liking Benoist, drawing his cybernetic body and the tech in his arsenal is pretty cool."

To said readers will also see a lot more cities and settings that will really show the futuristic world of Soulfire. "Also we'll see lots of changes with the characters and how the group has evolved," he said. "I think a lot of fans will be surprised with how they all come out of the events of this book."

And as Aspen gears up to begin releasing the second Volume, starting with a #0 issue that debuted at Toronto Fan Expo last weekend, readers will see a steady stream of comics being released by the publisher for Soulfire, continuing the monthly shipping schedule that was established with Soulfire: New World Order, the five-issue mini-series that bridged the gap between Volumes 1 and 2.

For To, he's just hoping readers will give his art a try, because he and Krul are trying to give Soulfire a brand new life.

"All I can say is that this book will knock your socks off," To said, "and we're doing things that will surprise lots of people."

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