How did the return of magic go so wrong?
It's a question that J.T. Krul aims to answer with the third volume of Soulfire, his series from Aspen. With the first issue of Volume 3 having recently hit the stands, Krul has returned to the world of dragons, strife and a Chosen One destined to bring back magic to a world that desperately needs it. But the final issue of Volume 2 shows that the Chosen One, a boy named Malakai, isn't always capable of making the right call - his power exploded into a scene of violence, causing his one-time associates to question their very purpose.
With Krul teaming up with artist Jason Fabok on the latest series, we caught up with the writer to fill us in and bring us up to speed, discussing what Soulfire means to him, how a little bit of Stan Lee can be felt even here, and how the most important new faces in the book are going to be returning characters.
Newsarama: J.T., just to start -- you've really had a surge in your career since you started with the Soulfire series five years ago. What's been the appeal of these characters and this world for you, and how do you feel that you have evolved alongside these characters?
J.T. Krul: Aside from Mindfield, I'd say Soulfire is the title I've been most involved with over my career. I came on board toward the beginning of Volume 1 and have been with it ever since. Michael Turner created a great world to play in - it's that simple. I often give the quick pitch as something along the lines of Lord of the Rings meets Blade Runner. The merging of future technology and magic, and more importantly the danger in losing our spirituality in the face of such advancements is a very engaging concept.
I think each book has allowed me to stretch different muscles, whether it be epic action, dark internal strife, or the relationship between people trying to make sense of the changes in the air. It's definitely given me the opportunity to juggle a lot of characters and story threads - which is fun and challenging.
Nrama: For those who are catching up on the previous two volumes of Soulfire, can you bring us up to speed a bit about how the previous arc concluded?
Krul: After Malikai fulfilled his destiny to spark the next age of magic, he thought his work was done, but Grace enlisted him to help stop Rainier again, this time from exploiting the power and magic of the dragons for his own cruel designs. As volume 2 ended, Malikai unleashed his power in ways never seen before. He was severe and brutal, and it scared him. The look on his friends' faces said it all, and he fled - ashamed and confused at what he had done.
That's where we pick up volume 3. Malikai is alone, struggling to come to terms with what he did, while Grace is in the Everlands. Her people are rejoicing the new age of magic, but some see magic's return as a chance to reclaim control - as Onyx surfaces to become a key figure in the future landscape of the Soulfire universe.
Nrama: Bouncing off of that last question, how are our heroes coping after Malikai killed the dragon Marigold? What's going on in their headspace?
Krul: They have definitely been affected by Malikai's actions, but for now we'll be focusing more on Malikai and Grace. Volume 3 is their story for the most part. Although, we'll also be seeing the return of Miya, the amazon warrior from the Chaos Reign miniseries.
Nrama: It seemed like at the end of the last volume of Soulfire, you were weighing about the morality of power, of Malikai struggling to control himself. Will that struggle continue in the latest volume of Soulfire, and if so, any indications on what direction you'll take it?
Krul: Absolutely. Stan Lee said it better than anyone - with great power comes great responsibility. And it's so true for Malikai. He's one of the most powerful magical beings on the planet, but he's still a kid in many ways. He's seen the good and the bad that he can do, but where exactly he'll go has yet to be determined. As for any indications, you'll be seeing a lot of chaos and darkness in this volume, though not quite in the way you might expect.
Nrama: As far as continuing to explore the world of Soulfire, are there any new additions or people we will met that you're excited to see?
Krul: Like I said, the two key new faces are really returning faces - Onyx, Rainier's Sethoru assassin from Volume 1, and Miya from Chaos Reign - both are coming back in a big way and play a major role in the events of Volume 3. In addition, we'll also be seeing some new creatures from the Soulfire universe, which look awesome.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about working with Jason Fabok? What kind of strengths does he bring to the table?
Krul: He's great. One of Aspen Comics' key strengths is its ability to find amazing new talent for their projects. And, Jason is one such artist. He's got a very detailed, textured, and energetic style. It's probably the closest to Michael Turner's look with Volume 1 that the book has ever been - and we're taking full advantage of it. I can promise that Jason is going to blow people away with his art, and it's a name you won't have to remember, because you'll be seeing it for a long, long time.
Nrama: Finally, just to wrap things up -- for those who still aren't sure about about this new volume of Soulfire, what would you say to bring them on board? Or maybe we should ask: Can you tell us anything about how the return of magic went so wrong?
Krul: This volume is all about the action and the epic scope. It's a big, loud, intense story with lost of magic and mystery and creatures that do a hell of a lot more than go bump in the night. Malikai and Grace thought they already faced their greatest challenges before - but they have no idea what is coming their way.