You can take the man out of the barbarian killing fields -- but can you really take the barbarian killing fields out of the man?
When it comes to Ardden's upcoming Atlas-revival series Wulf, the answer is still up in the air. Spinning off the original 1970s series, this book by Steve Niles and Nat Jones will focus on a barbarian warrior, transported to present-day New York City by a sorcerer's spell.
But how does this new series differ from the old one? How will the old mesh with the new? We caught up with Niles to talk about the character's expanded history, what influences went into this relaunched book, and exactly what might be awaiting Wulf in the all-too-deadly 21st century.
Newsarama: So Steve, just to start us off -- how did you get involved with Wulf? What made you decide to take a run at these newly-relaunched Atlas properties?
Steve Niles: I've been a fan of the original Atlas books since I pulled them off the spinner rack as a kid. I remember reading Cougar and Planet of the Vampires. When I heard they were coming back I made it pretty well-known that I'd love to work on them. I'm not sure but I think I contacted Jason and asked to please be considered for one of the titles.
Nrama: It's funny, because there's an entire generation of readers out there -- myself included -- who weren't even around for the original printing of the Atlas books. For you, what was the appeal of the original Wulf? And how does your new comic spin off of that original '70s vibe?
Niles: Really, we're taking a new, fresh run at Wulf. We've come up with a way to keep the original character intact but expand on it a bit and put a twist on it. It's still a story of a young barbarian, but we have also worked in some new modern elements. In a very odd way it's somewhere between Conan and Highlander with a little of The Shield thrown in, if that's possible.
Nrama: Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a lot of things have changed as far as storytelling conventions since Wulf was first released -- like, people want more details, more tactile descriptions, deeper emotional throughlines. Do you see it that way? If so, how did you approach "filling in" the character of Wulf?
Niles: I've given Wulf and his world a whole expanded history so it's much easier to pull out those emotional moments. Wulf lives in a world, a period of time, that is dying. He is losing everything and everybody, and only has a short time to undo things before the end.
Nrama: According to solicitations, you'll be taking this barbarian warrior into present-day New York City. What do you think is the biggest challenge as far as culture shock goes for Wulf?
Niles: Well, I said from day one when this idea was pitched that I wanted to avoid the whole 'Tarzan (or Hercules) in New York' thing. I didn't want him calling cars iron horses and stuff. We've seen that before. We came up with a twist so that Wulf is able to maneuver in the modern world undercover, but his barbarian sensibilities do cause trouble.
Nrama: Now, I understand Wulf will be crossing paths with a New York City cop, Sam Lomax. What can you tell us about this unlikely partner -- or would it be adversary?
Niles: Lomax is an unwilling participant in Wulf's drama. He's as hard a cop as you can find and the two have nothing in common at all...at first. Soon we learn that even people separated by centuries and different cultures, can find common ground and fight common enemies. Plus there's lots of gun AND sword action.
Nrama: Outside of dealing with newfangled contraptions like cars and subways, what are some of the other stakes behind Wulf's journey to the present? Who else will he have to take on in his journey for... what, freedom? Redemption? The good of all mankind?
Niles: Wulf is in the present day trying to track a Warlock who is fleeing through time and space and tearing everything apart as he goes. What starts out as a personal quest for Wulf winds up turning into the need to save an entire planet.
Nrama: You're working with Nat Jones on this book -- what's your take on the artwork he's bringing to this book? What do you think the visual vibe of this book is looking like?
Niles: Nat and I first worked together on Spawn: The Dark Ages so in a strange way, this is like returning to those roots. I love Nat's art and he's really turned it up a notch on Wulf. He's the perfect artist for this title.
Nrama: Finally, for those who still aren't sure about Wulf -- what would you say to get them on board?
Niles: If you like sword, sorcery, cops, demons, and even superheroes, give this one a try. I can at least guarantee it's not like anything else out there if we do our job right.