WWC: B. Clay Moore on Top Cow's Iron Maiden One

Top Cow: The and Now, 1

This weekend at Wizard World Chicago, Top Cow continued their expansion with a new title by B. Clay Moore and Nelson Blake II. The tentatively titled Iron Maiden One takes the current war on terror and propels it a few years into the future. Newsarama talked with B. Clay Moore, the comic’s writer, to find out more about the story, his methods, and what readers can expect from the book.

Newsarama: First off, what's the background of this title?

B. Clay Moore: The book is actually based on an original story and treatment by a writer named Jeffrey Simmons. As I understand it, the basic idea was brought to Top Cow by Samantha Olsson and Jason Netter of Kickstart Productions, and as such it will probably eventually have a foot in other media.

Top Cow editor Rob Levin approached me with the basic story outline, and asked me what I thought. After putting together a fairly extensive set of notes, and reworking some of the concept to better suit comics, my ideas got a very positive response from all involved, and there we were. I've know Rob for some time, and I've known Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik for years, so it's nice to be working with them on this.

NRAMA: What can you tell us about the story and characters so far?

BCM: The premise is that the U.S. is still battling the war on terror in 2011, but a series of attacks on U.S. soil, combined with growing international discontent over the progress not being made, has put the administration in a bind. The White House pushes the launch of what is ostensibly a weather satellite (Weather Maiden One), to hook up with the International Space Station (ISS). The astronauts on board the ISS greet the weather satellite and its crew warmly, but before long all involved realize there's more to the satellite than they've been told. The friendly weather experts are, in fact, CIA operatives utilizing the satellite as a base from which to extract information from extremists. In nasty ways.

The story quickly escalates into a space chase terror thriller extravaganza, featuring three separate groups: The ISS astronauts, determined not to allow dehumanizing torture while keeping the terrorists in check; the CIA, determined to extract what information they can from nuclear terrorists by whatever means necessary, letting no one get in their way; and the terrorists themselves, determined to escape and do as much damage to the United States as possible in the process.

NRAMA: When starting with a new character, what does it take for you to get in their head?

BCM: They sort of flesh themselves out during the first few days (or weeks) of turning on idea over in my head. I know where they're ultimately headed, and I guess knowing that opens the door into what type of personality it would take to reach that point. As the story comes together, I tend to get more comfortable with characters, and before long they take on a life of their own. It's kind of hard to explain, but by then I "know" them, and how they'd react to situations.

NRAMA: Do you cater your writing to the artist you're working with on any given title? What are you doing specifically for Nelson?

BCM: On most books I've done, I've either chosen to work with a particular artist, or had a lot of say in the process of finding an artist. That always shapes the book to some extent.

Prior to doing this book, I didn't know much about Nelson's work, but when I mentioned his name to artist and pal Mike Norton, Norton raved about Nelson's talent. I poked around a bit, received a bunch of sketches and pages from Rob Levin, and was really impressed. Nelson can really draw, which is a rare enough skill, and his characters are fluid and well conceived. As it happens, his style fits the tone of this book perfectly, so it didn't require any special adjustment of mindset on my part. As it was when I worked with Ramon Perez on our recent Wildcat story, I can't wait to see the reaction to Nelson's work when those who aren't familiar with him discover it through this book.

NRAMA: Does this link in with anything else you've written? If not directly, what about stylistically/thematically? How so?

BCM: Only in the sense that it plays into an underlying theme I tend to discover in a lot my stuff after the fact: a general mistrust of those in authority, and a belief that many, many people in positions of power place their own interests far above the public good.

NRAMA: What's the worst thing your main character has done in their life up until this story?

BCM: The main protagonist is a pilot who's seen extensive action in wartime, and has, in fact, been a prisoner of war. There are probably things he's seen and done that he'd rather not face up to. And he does some pretty crazy stuff in this book, too.

NRAMA: Any other teases you'd like to impart before you go?

BCM: Just that I hope people are checking out my current Wildstorm book, Casey Blue: Beyond Tomorrow, with artist Carlo Barberi. And, of course, Hawaiian Dick and '76 from Image. Drop by my blog at bclaymoore.blogspot.com for occasional glimpses into new things and assorted idle chatter.

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