Nearly two years after Coheed and Cambria's last adventures, Heaven's Gate reopens once more with the release of The Amory Wars: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, in stores this week. An intense science-fiction epic by musician Claudio Sanchez (Kill Audio) -- who is now joined by prolific "Writer of Stuff" Peter David -- the series has moved to BOOM! Studios for its latest chapter.
The book follows the character of Claudio, who is the son of previous series protagonists Coheed and Cambia. The previous stories were "basically Coheed and Cambria in their middle age, they basically find out they weren't born into the colony of Heaven's Fence, but they were made there, as a weapon. And finding that out that led them down a series of downward spirals -- they end up actually passing away creating a system out of Sector 12 called Silent Earth, which kind of resembles our system, with our planets and our sun," Sanchez said. With In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth, "you start to see their son Claudio -- we start to follow him a little bit, and that brings us to In Keeping Secrets, where he's trying to come to grips with the fact that there's something special about him."
With abilities inherited from his extraordinary parents such as phasing through solid matter and even being able to temporarily raise the dead, Claudio has the potential to tip the scales in the intergalactic colony of Heaven's Fence -- as well as the system's overlord, Supreme Tri-Mage Wilhelm Ryan.
"He doesn't really know what's going on until In Keeping Secrets, where we find that ten years have passed, and Wilhelm Ryan has really manipulated the media to actually believe that Coheed and Cambria were actually these great terrorists, when really he was kind of behind the whole thing. He just doesn't know, he has all these unanswered questions, and with that story, he starts to get a lot of attention because he's almost kind of part of this myth in their bible," Sanchez said. "He's the Son of Three. He's the son of Coheed and Cambria, so he's actually the first born of theirs. He starts getting all this attention -- you're the son of Coheed and Cambria, you have these abilities, there's something special about you -- so people start to think that he might be this savior, that he's here to correct everything....And so they think that Claudio is this great savior, and that his abilities are to be used to overthrow Ryan -- where in reality, it's not."
Sanchez said that the inspiration for his character came from his experiences traveling on the road with his band. "I had this separation -- actually it was my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife -- that kind of tipped the scale. I could never be around for her, because of the touring and because I was so busy with writing the story that that was kind of the tipping point. I can't have a normal life," Sanchez said. "And it's funny, it was right around the time of Warp Tour, and I saw Spider-Man 2, right, and I saw this parallel between myself and that story. I actually started to cry at the movie at that moment in time, the struggle between juggling all that stuff. And I think that helped me to say, 'y'know, this is really the end. This is going to be the catalyst that I'm going to destroy everything.'"
Peter David, meanwhile, said he jumped on the chance to do "a science fiction venture that isn't Star Trek." "The world that Claudio was explaining to me has a lot of science fiction elements while at the same time there is a bit of fantasy attached to it, but mostly it's science fiction. That seemed to be fairly compelling to me," David said. "And I liked the fundamental good versus evil concepts that Claudio was engaged in and how none of the heroes was necessarily black and white, nor were any of the villains -- everybody had their own point of view, everybody had their own goals that they felt were important not only to them but the entirety of the universe in which they lived."
That's not to say, of course, that David didn't have a little bit of a learning curve to master, first. "I have to confess that at the time I had not heard of the group because I'm not the target audience, y'know? But since then, I've really gotten to know the entire world that Claudio's put together, and I attended a concert and saw first-hand how the fans absolutely love Coheed and Cambria, and the entire universe that he's created," David said. "It's really been something of a learning experience, and I've pretty much gone from zero to sixty, from knowing nothing about the world to be pretty much as up on it as anyone could possibly be."
David said that his collaborations would do little to change the tone of the piece. "It's not my job to put my mark on it, actually -- it's my attitude that for something like this, I'm a character actor: my job is to serve the material, not to make it 'Peter David Presents Coheed and Cambria,'" David said, describing the back-and-forth between the two writers. "It's my job basically to put all -- what I laughingly refer to as "my talents" -- to service the story that Claudio wants to tell. My contribution more of comes in from the nuts and bolts -- there's more to telling a story than just creating characters, and my contribution really comes from looking over the concepts that Claudio has, saying 'this is going to work in a book, this is not going to work in a book, this concept that you've come up with don't work for me at all, have you considered going in this direction instead?'"
"I'm still new to the medium in terms of writing, and I just get excited... there's a lot of dialogue, I love to load lots of stuff in, I like the images to be wacky and bizarre -- it's just loaded with a lot of stuff. I think Peter brings a lot of pacing to the book, and his dialogue is very strong -- I got that from Fallen Angel," Sanchez said of their collaboration. "He also brought a lot of questions to the table -- about the contents, about the characters, a lot of things I didn't even ask myself. And I think that really helped strengthen the story and really narrow the path of where we wanted to go, and the story that we wanted to tell."
Sanchez also talked about artist Chris Burnham, saying that his style "almost reminds me of Kirby -- when I got the inks back for Pages 4 and 5, the first page is actually a picture of the new Heaven's Fence, with the separated Star VII in Sector 12, and it's just a picture... there's something about it, it's traditional, but it's not traditional if that makes any sense. It's definitely stylized, it's going to be really good."
David said that while he had only recently gone from "zero to sixty" in learning about the world of Heaven's Fence, he said that the fan anticipation was surprisingly palpable. He recalled a story about picking up his daughter from college, when he mentioned to her and a friend off-handedly that he had finished the second issue of "the Coheed and Cambria comic."
"[My daughter's] friend immediately jumped as if she had just been jolted with an open wire, and she said 'In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3? The comic is going to be coming out? I didn't know it was coming out, I've been totally waiting!" David recalled. "This girl, the fans have been waiting for this material -- she was rattling off 'In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3,' I had just written down two issues, I didn't even have the title down, because Claudio's titles tend to go all over the place... My attitude is that any project that has fans that are so rabid for the material is certainly worth checking out, just to see where all the excitement is about."