Last month in the pages of USA Today it was announced that writer Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Invincible) was teaming up with creator Rob Liefeld (Youngblood, Deadpool, Cable) to co-helm a new creator-owned series. Titled The Infinite, it’s a time-spanning story of a soldier from the future who comes back in time – to our time – to train someone to face the horrors that are prevalent in the near future. This chosen one is none other than himself – a 19 year old version of himself. It’s a unique twist on time-travel, told in the explosive art style that Rob Liefeld became known for years ago.
This new ongoing series is set to debut in August through Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image, and we talked with Kirkman about this potent new entry into the comics’ world.
Newsarama: How would you describe the story of The Infinite, Robert?
Robert Kirkman: Well, it is kick-ass time travel story. It’s about a rebel fighter named Bowen who has come back in time to prevent an eventual takeover of the world by a force called the Infinite that comes from even further in the future. Awesome, layered sci-fi action.
Nrama: Bowen – what’s he like?
Kirkman: He’s a guy living with a lot of regret. He endured this horrible future that was completely consumed by war, and he’s grieving over the recent loss of the love of his life. Because of those things, he’s going back in time to prevent this war – and to fix his life.
What he ends up doing is recruiting a 19-year-old version of himself, to improve his life and fix things for himself.
Nrama: So this is set more in the modern times of the 19-year-old version of him, or in the future?
Kirkman: This takes place mostly in modern times. A majority of the story is fairly “real world” stuff but Bowen brings some cool elements from the future with him.
Nrama: Tell us more about the Infinite – it’s the major threat that Bowen’s going back in time to stop.
Kirkman: The Infinite is led by a guy named Imperius. He’s kind of a mad scientist from further in the future that Bowen is from. He discovered time travel and has been using it for his benefit.
Usually in time travel stories it’s a good guy that discovers it, but I thought “what would an evil dude do if he could travel through time?”
So what Imperius does is go back in time and form the Infinite, and through that they time travel to key moments throughout history and weaken the infrastructure of the time so he can easily come in and take over.
Nrama: So what time is Bowen from exactly?
Kirkman: Twenty years in the future from the 19-year-old version of himself – Bo.
Nrama: So Bowen is 39, and his younger self is 19. Why does the older Bowen choice this particular moment in his early life to come back to?
Kirkman: That’s a plot point I’d rather not reveal. Readers will definitely find out why this specific moment in time is important in The Infinite #1.
Nrama: That’s understandable. What can you tell us about the line-up of characters released that Rob drew?
Kirkman: The guy on the left is Bo, with Bowen in the foreground. The other two characters on the far right I’d like to keep a secret for now.
Speaking about how they look, the cool thing about The Infinite is that everybody in it is soldiers, not superheroes. They wear different gear and change up their costumes over time. This is one of several looks they’ll have over the course of the series.
Nrama: We’ve seen warnings about messing around in the past – Back To The Future is required viewing for people our age. But how does time travel work in The Infinite?
Kirkman: We’re trying to break new ground on that front. There’s definitely a set of rules for time travel in The Infinite, but they’re not doing anything where you could undo your own birth or anything like that. In this series, the act of traveling through time takes you out of the timeline; you can adjust it as you see fit without screwing yourself up. I hope people find that refreshing.
Nrama: Another thing people might find refreshing is the team-up here between you and Rob. You two have worked together several times in the past – Youngblood: Imperial, the long-awaited Killraven project for Marvel, as well as on Image United. But what prompted this new story?
Nrama: Well, I like doing new stuff and I always have. I’m always coming up with new ideas for things.Rob and I have been talking about doing some new for a while. Rob and I are also both friends and kind of enjoy working together, but the projects we’ve done together were based on established concepts. Rob is best at creating new worlds and coming up with new concepts; that’s his specialty and is what I enjoy doing most as well.
So The Infinite is the two of us coming together to create something new and original that hasn’t been seen before. It was infinitely (pardon the pun) appealing to do a new creator-owned book with Rob.
Nrama: You’ve been quoted in the past as saying that Rob is “the modern-day equivalent of Jack Kirby”. Can you tell us how that notion came to you, and what things you’re doing in The Infinite to take advantage of that?
Kirkman: I’m aware that my comment has been a polarizing one for fans. Jack Kirby is Jack Kirby, and comparing anyone to him is controversial. But what I was trying to say was that when Rob came to Marvel, he re-imagined everything he did – just as Kirby brought new ideas to everything he did. When he signed on to do New Mutants, he added new characters, changed the focus and turned it into X-Force. He improved what was there before by adding new ideas.
You can’t dispute the fact that Cable and Deadpool are the only complete new iconic characters created in the last 20 years there. I don’t see anyone else with that lasting power. And aside from those two, he’s created over 150 characters for Marvel – he’s always doing something new. When he did a stint on Wolverine, he created an entire group of characters that hasn’t been used since. That’s thing Rob does, and Rob is the only guy qualified to be compared to Jack Kirby in that aspect. I can’t name any one person that fits the bill better than him.
I’m not saying that he’s more important to comics as Kirby; I don’t think anyone, even Rob, would say that. But looking at the pure creativity and volume of characters, no one comes close to him in creating new things.
And that’s without mentioning rob’s art style, which became one of the most copied styles in the medium. He art style became a movement.
Nrama: When his first issues of New Mutants came out I remember tracing those illustrations as a teen.
Kirkman: [laughs] I did the same thing.
Nrama: Anyway, with how you envision Rob’s creative force you’ve paired up with him for your first all-new project. In some creator-owned projects the writer just writes the script and gives it to the artist, or they might collaborate by phone or email. I’ve interviewed you several times over the years and know you’re drawn to in person brainstorming sessions – Cory on Invincible, Marc on Pilot Season, Todd on Haunt and now Robert here on The Infinite. Why’s that so important to you?
Kirkman: It’s funny. I never really considered that.
What being in person does is forces you to focus on one thing. If you’re on the phone or over email, you can still be creative but it’s full of distractions. Once you’re sitting in a room with a guy, there’s nothing else going on. When we’re together at cons or something, I always try to get Ryan Ottley, Jason Howard, and Charlie Adlard to sit down and have some face time to talk about what’s coming up on my books with them. It’s just good to sit there and look in their eye and talk about what’s going on; there’s nothing that compares to having that one-on-one interaction when you’re trying to create something. And it’s a lot of fun.