Modern comic books are built on the pillars of science fiction and fantasy, but as of late true fantasy comic books have been hard to come by - but now Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, and Matt Hollingsworth are out to change that.
Debuting Wednesday from Image Comics, Seven To Eternity follows the story of a dying paladin named Adam Osidis that reluctant comes out of his self-imposed exile to fight the world’s greatest evil, the God of Whispers. With limited power himself, Adam looks to recruit his world's most powerful magic-users to take on this chaotic force of nature.
Remender framed Fear Agent as an attempt to give science fiction it's "balls" back, and with Seven To Eternity he looks to be aiming for the same with fantasy.
Remender talked with Newsarama about his, Opena, and Hollingsworth's take on swords and sorcery, and how laughing about old school fantasy helped forge Seven To Eternity's world.
Newsarama: So Rick, merely looking at the images that have been posted about Seven to Eternity, are we looking at a more sci-fi or fantasy-based book?
Rick Remender: Yeah, there’s definitely no sci-fi, it’s all fantasy. It’s really an attempt to world build in a way the likes of Moebius did so where Jerome and I can get on the phone and dig up ideas and visuals and create this fantastical place. Ultimately after you do that, you want to zero in on an emotional character and their story. That’s the most possible fun you can have and we’ve been having a tremendous time doing this.
Nrama: The main character, Adam Osidis, can you tell us a little bit about him? We know he’s dying from something and he’s seen better days. Where is he when the story starts?
Remender: Adam is a member of a family that is Mosak and they are the very few people who can commune with, and derive powers from the spirits, and in Zahl, all life feeds from the spirits that also power the world and moves it around the sun.
Adam’s family was hip to some shenanigans that was going on with the Mosak and tried to warn everybody of what was going on, but the God of Whispers had well-manipulated his way and had already taken over on the inside. So Adam and his family were forced to move to the outskirts and in hiding and that’s where we find him in the first issue. His father had to bend his knee to this evil that was growing. They refer to the God of Whispers as the Mud King because he’s basically taken over the world using Machiavellian lies and manipulation, so he doesn’t send his army in, he spreads lies and I liked that because we see that so much in our lives. Anybody that hears an offer from this God of Whispers, is bonded with him and becomes his eyes and ears in the world.
Nrama: Who is with Adam on his journey here? We see he’s joined by some fantastic looking characters on the cover for the first issue.
Remender: That’s his father and daughter. You also see the God of Whispers there, too. The God of Whispers has a very terrifying assassin known as the Piper who uses various flutes to summon spirit energy and he’s quite the dastardly villain.
Nrama: Can you describe how magic works in this world?
Remender: Yeah, it’s very simple. We wanted to have a set of rules because you don’t want magic to be too prevalent, otherwise it stops mattering. What I came up with was a very simple system. So in Zahl, life is seen as the seed that gives birth to spirit energy. Life is crude and is merely a vessel to grow spirit energy. There’s a paper-thin boundary between our world and the spirit world and some people have the power to communicate between the worlds and gain powers from these spirits. They are called Mosak. Some can summon them, some can control them, some can use them for illusion or energy powers. There’s very few Mosak here. Adam’s own particular power is that he can talk to the dead and ask for gifts from his ancestors but that only really only works if he has some of their blood.
So, he has a bunch of bullets with their blood in them and in the first issue he loses all of them except four or five. I like that because it limits his abilities so when he uses them, it will have to be in dire circumstances.
Nrama: Adam has to eventually team up with the Mosak, correct? How does he find himself in that situation?
Remender: He’s a character that has been raised to understand that the Mosak have been compromised and so he is faced with a number of dilemmas that lead to compromise. That’s sort of the heart of the story though. It’s just me being a Dungeon Master and me screaming about wizards and dragons. The beating heart of the thing is this guy who is caught between his father’s ideology and coupled with a wife and child to take care for and is then thrown into this dilemma and it all comes down to what we do every day of our lives and that’s to make compromises. Every choice leads to some sort of compromise and that is the fascinating thing to me as I was developing this. Put in the same spot, how would I react? There’s a lot of good stuff coming from that.
Nrama: Whenever fantasy comic books get published, there’s a certain number of them that come across as unaccessible. There’s so much backstory and specialized jargon that you might as well include an index to go along with it. How well do you think Seven To Eternity is accessible to fantasy fans?
Remender: I think with what I explained in the power systems is pretty much about as complicated as it gets with the rest being a character-based story. The trappings and genre is aesthetic and visual, but there’s not going to be a map and long list of characters you need to know. This isn’t Game of Thrones where I’ve built an entire world with 18 different civilizations. That kind of stuff to me is fun, but as you meet people you’ll hear about other aspects of the world, but it will all be character-based and something that boils down to the micro and not the macro.
Nrama: So what exactly is the “seven” in Seven To Eternity a reference to?
Remender: It’s actually a reveal in the third issue. There are seven people on a mission, so that’s where that comes from.
Nrama: You’re back with artist Jerome Opena who you worked on Fear Agent and Uncanny X-Men with. Why did you feel like he was the guy to bring this to life?
Remender: Jerome and I have been talking about doing something like this for a while now. This goes back to our conversations during Fear Agent when we were laughing about Thundarr the Barbarian and reimagining that kind of world.
Nrama: With super science and sorcery!
Remender: Right! It’s fun stuff to draw and fun stuff to write. We developed it together with a lot of phone calls and long sessions of laughing and talking and that’s the best way to create things, I think. So this wasn’t like I cold called and worked with any artist. I had the basics of some ideas and Jerome liked some of it and we built it up together. He would turn in some designs and I would build off those designs. I would give him rough ideas and then he would come back with designs that just floored me. It’s how I work best with people. It’s all about having fun making comics. I think the fun leads to a better product.
Nrama: Speaking of designs, the ones that are shown for Seven To Eternity are great. Was there a character that came more naturally to design or was there one that stumped you two?
Remender: Well we cooked up the Piper for example. I talked about his powers and Jerome worked on it and it came back incredible like it always is. For some of the Mosaks, I gave him the basics of who they were and their powers, but then he went off and did his thing. Everything came back better than I even imagined it.
Nrama: Going from Fear Agent and taking a 180 turn to fantasy, was there something in this book you haven’t been able to use and finally get a chance to?
Remender: The sort of fantastical stuff and magic... that stuff you can sort of explain in a sci-fi world and they’re just different. Here though I wanted one world with one system and one set of rules. It comes down to the character, though. The trappings of the fantasy world has been fun. For the first issue for example, I had an idea for a dragon type creature that if you fed it crystals it would part reality like a curtain. That kind of thing works in a fantasy story, but doesn’t jive in a sci-fi story. With sci-fi, you want some plausibility, but with fantasy, it opens up the imagination more now that I’m thinking about it.
Nrama: Lastly, what are you hoping fans get out Seven To Eternity?
Remender: Like with everything I’ve done I hope I give readers characters to root for and an evil to root against. I know what they’re going to get with the Jerome Opena and Matt Hollingsworth art mix and that’s some of the very best pages that have ever been printed. There’s a lot of hyperbole regarding the writer having to publicly fiddle their artist, but I mean anybody with a pair of eyes can see that these are a magical pairing.
Beyond that, I think the fun part is not just the adventure through this crazy world, but the series of escalating compromises and dilemmas Adam is put up against and the reader thinking about what they would do in a similar situation.