EGOs, Stuart Moore's sci-fi epic from Image Comics, has been surprising critics with its smart, gutsy twists and unique-but-character-centered approach to a futuristic superhero team.
In February, Moore and artist Gus Storms are hoping to get new readers on board with EGOs #5. Launching a new storyline inspired by "whodunit" mysteries, issue #5 brings the comic back from its hiatus in a way that's new reader-friendly, but follows up on themes from the title's first four issues, now collected in trade paperback.
Image has been riding a sales surge in recent months, launching innovative new titles that are benefitting from the success of The Walking Dead. With EGOs among those titles, the creators are hoping to get out the word about the title's return in February — both to new readers and to those who enjoyed the comic's first four issues before its hiatus.
Newsarama talked to Moore about the comic, what readers will see from the new storyline (titled "Crunched"), and how he's trying to make EGOs a great value to his readers by packing it with new ideas and concepts.
Newsarama: Stuart, EGOs has been on hiatus, but you're back with a new issue in February. Is this issue for new readers, even though it has #5 on the front?
Stuart Moore: It's a new storyline, so it's a great place for new readers who want to check it out to jump on board. It ended up being a little longer hiatus than we intended, but we wanted to make sure we were back on track to get the next storyline out in a timely manner.
Nrama: For people who might not have checked out EGOs yet, what's the premise of the series?
Moore: It's about a superhero in the far future who, in the face of a giant galactic threat, decides to reunite the team he belonged to as a teenager. But to do so, he had to do a lot of things that alienated his wife, Pixel.
And that leads to what the series is really about, which is a marriage between two people who are both superheroes, both celebrities, and who have been together for a long time. And we deal with that in the first four issues, which are collected into a trade paperback.
With EGOs #5, the two of them are apart, for work reasons. And with the new story, called "Crunched," it's a rather intricate crime story — almost a "whodunit."
There are a lot of characters, a lot of suspects running around. And the giant galactic conspiracy that's threatening to topple the economy of, basically, the known planets.
Nrama: And Deuce is dealing with this mystery? Along with the team of super powered characters we met in the first few issues?
Moore: He's trying to deal with it on earth, while Pixel is leading a stealth team going to a lawless planet called Tortuga, which used to be a prison. So they're dealing with different aspects of the mystery. They're both approaching it in their own ways, and they each have parts of the team with them.
And the whole thing twists around and creates a complicated saga that will go place that, I hope, people don't expect.
Nrama: I assume your background informs this, as a fan of sci-fi and superheroes?
Moore: Yeah, I grew up with science fiction, and I've written a little of it. And I'm also a superhero fan.
What I wanted to do with the science fiction elements in this was to make them a little bit more plausible and a little bit more grounded than you usually get in this type of superhero story. It's not really hard science fiction, where the story comes out of the speculative elements. It's more of an intergalactic republic confederation background. But I've tried to make all that a little more plausible.
What surprised me again, as I started working on issues #5-9, was that it became more of a crime story. I'm actually really interested in that right now. About 10 years ago, everybody was doing crime comics, and now very few people are. I think Ed Brubaker's doing it, but that's about it.
So what I want to do is take some of the ambiance of that, some of the feel of it, where you have the main characters running into these strange encounters with weird people along the way to solving the mystery.
Even though this story is set in a completely different context, on two different planets in the far future, that was the feel I tried to get, that was the structure of it, and hopefully that's the way it'll unfold in the next few issues.
Nrama: How did you get together with Gus Storms on this comic? His art gives the book a really unique feel. Was it the type of style you were looking for?
Moore: Yeah, when I first saw his portfolio, it was full of science fiction stuff, and it was exactly what I wanted. I think I caught him at a nice point in his career where he was eager to get his teeth into something. I basically worked with him and got the first issue done, and then we took it to Image. And actually, Brian K. Vaughan made the initial introduction, which was very nice of him. Eric Stephenson liked it and had a couple suggestions, which were dead on. And we were off.
Nrama: Did you guys work together on the character designs and what the color palette would be? And the visual feel of this story?
Moore: We went back and forth on the character designs a little bit, but Gus pretty much nailed most of them right off. I'm a big believer in collaboration and in working with an artist's strengths, with whatever I write. Gus' style, as you can probably see, has a little bit of a European feel to it — more than you see in most American comics. And I love his color style.
He colored the first three issues, and unfortunately, for time issues, he had to stop. And the next few are colored by John Rauch, who's also terrific. But Gus' own style, his color style, was almost pastel-y. It's lighter than a lot of what you see.
But I pretty much let him go on that. He knew what he was doing. We did go around on a few of the villain designs, more than anyone else. The first storyline had a character called Masse the Living Galaxy, and he was a little hard to visualize. I knew that when I suggested him, when I created him, that it would be tricky thing for an artist in terms of scale, figuring out how he interacts with the other characters. But that all came together really well.
So yeah, I consider myself very fortunate to be working with a guy who's got so much talent, so I pretty much let him go on the art.
Nrama: What will readers see in EGOs when it picks back up in February?
Moore: As the story goes along, I will say that not everyone is safe. Not all the characters from the first storyline may survive. And that was actually a little bit of a surprise to me, as I read it. But if you've been reading it, it might be worth keeping an eye out for who's in danger.
I designed the next few issues with lots and lots of twists and turns. It's a very intricate puzzle. And I hope it pays off.
Nrama: I think the comic has gotten such great reviews because it's packed with unexpected twists and turns, and it's really story-heavy. You know what I mean?
Moore: Yeah, one of the things we're always trying to do with EGOs is — I really believe that if you're going to put down $2.99 for an independent comic, we have to give you your money's worth on every single page.
And EGOs has always been about packing as much in — as much stories and characters as we can — without making it seem too crowded. And there will be a lot of that.
There are a lot of new characters in this, and there are old characters put in really unfamiliar situations. But it all revolves around the two central characters, Deuce and Pixel, but everyone else is in constant motion. I think if you've been reading the book, you'll see some of the characters you've seen go places you don't expect.