Soulfire, one of the most delayed yet beloved series created by Michael Turner, is back this month with a new #1 issue launching the second volume – and the delays are all gone.
Written by J.T. Krul, who has impressed DC fans with his work on Blackest Night: Titans, Soulfire ended its first 10-issue volume when artist Joe Benitez stepped in to complete Turner's unfinished work on the last few issues.
Now with the second volume, Krul is working with artist Marcus To (Red Robin) to move the ongoing series into its next phase as magic returns to the futuristic world of Soulfire, bringing big changes to the fantasy universe.
And readers will have a deluge of new material after the comic experienced so many delays over the last few years. Krul and To started two years ago on this story, so there will not be a break for the now-monthly series.
Newsarama talked to Krul about Soulfire, how it feels to have the second volume finally coming out, and how he's honoring Turner's vision for the series.
Nrama: To start, J.T., you wrote this volume awhile ago, didn't you? Has it been ready for some time?
Krul: Yeah. Marcus and I started on volume two almost two years ago. We decided that we wanted to roll right from Volume One into Volume Two, so Marcus and I clipped along on the new volume while Mike and I worked on finishing up volume one. When Mike's health took a turn for the worse, the rest of volume one got put on hold. Marcus and I continued on with Volume two for awhile, but then we got way ahead of the schedule. We finished five issues before stopping. Now, that the series is starting to come out, we'll get back to work with the rest of the issues.
Nrama: What does it feel like to know Soulfire's going to be coming out regularly now?
Krul: In a word – amazing. It was so hard during Mike's final year or so because he'd have good weeks where we would talk story and he'd do incredible pages and layouts. He was really energized. But then, there were weeks where he just couldn't do it. From a personal standpoint, it was difficult watching the books get delayed again and again because it was reflective of Mike's condition. You know?
Delays hurt any book, and they hurt independent books even more. Soulfire needs to come out every month. Readers need to keep seeing it on the shelves or else the story (no matter how enthralling) eventually gets lost in the shuffle. I always think about Battlechasers. It was an amazing project, and when the book came out it was awesome, but the months passed and eventually I just stopped asking about it at my LCS because it became a bad joke.
So, obviously, it's great to see the story unfolding month after month aned see how the readers enjoy it, but again it's also vital from a business standpoint.
Nrama: How do the events of New World Order lead into this volume of Soulfire?
Krul: New World Order was always meant to bring the gap between the two volumes. We wanted to show what was happening to the world outside of Malikai's adventures, so it was separate in that respect. But, some of the characters from it will be turning up in the pages of volume two.
Nrama: As we pick up Volume 2, what's the Soulfire story concentrating on?
Krul: Essentially, magic has returned. Malikai's fulfilled his destiny and the power of magic is manifesting itself around the globe, but it's still very much concealed. The general public isn't aware of it, but those in the know find themselves adjusting to their new realities. Malikai is trying to find some sense of normalcy, but Rainier is still out there and plotting his next step – the epic battle for the return of magic in volume one was just the first in a long war.
Nrama: How have you, as a writer, come to identify with Malikai and Grace? What is unique about each of those characters?
Krul: Malikai has been a lot of fun to write in particular. In many ways, his journey – his story – is about the loss of innocence in the face of adversity. The wide-eyed kid we saw in the beginning is not the same person he is today. He's changed. There are still glimmers of that kid inside, but he's aware now of the world around him. I relate to that. Having kids of my own, I find myself constantly wavering between the pure joy of their innocence and playfulness and sense of discovery and the numbing stress over the world they are living in. It's an interesting balancing act.
As for Grace, she's going through a transition as well. Just because the magic has returned doesn't mean her duty is an less daunting. Now, she's got a new mission – protecting the magic. Before, she was responsible for just one boy, and now she sees herself responsible for an entire people.
Nrama: Will Ranier have a significant role in the upcoming story?
Krul: Absolutely. Rainier plays a major role in volume two. Like i said, he may have lost the first battle in this new age of magic, but there's a reason he's lasted for all these years. Plus, we'll be seeing some new villains to Malikai and his friends, as well as the bounty hunters, Blackjack and Saxon, from New World Order.
Nrama: Does any of this volume still line up with Mike's original story notes or vision for the series?
Krul: All of it. We had this story fully plotted out well beforehand. I even have a sketch layout he did for a double spread for issue #4 i think.
Nrama: What can you tell us about what the future holds for the world of Soulfire?
Krul: Volume One was very fast-paced as we introduced new characters, a new world, and put Malikai on his epic journey. With volume two, we have plenty of action and conflict, but we also wanted to take some time to really explore the relationship between the characters. You'll see Malikai and Sonia's romance blossom but also face challenges. P.J. and Benoist strengthen their bond as we dig a little into Benoist's past. And, Grace...well, she finds herself on the front lines again – trying to ensure that this age of magic lasts a long, long time.