In this week’s launch of the new DC Comics limited series Electric Warriors, readers will get a peek into the future of the DCU, one that aligns with Jack Kirby’s story about a future “Great Disaster” but tells new stories set in the year 2735 A.D.
Created by DC 'exclusive' writer Steve Orlando with art by Travel Foreman, the series will honor concepts familiar to fans of Kamandi and the Legion of Super-Heroes, but will populate the time period between those series with new characters and ideas.
As the series launches with a new #1 issue this week, Newsarama talked to Orlando to find out more.
Newsarama: Steve, I know what a huge comic book fan you’ve been most of your life. Were you already into this idea of exploring DC’s future?
Steve Orlando: I have always loved the possibility of the future, especially in comics and science fiction! Coming in between “Days of Future Past” and JLA's “Rock of Ages,” I loved the anything-goes storytelling of these possible futures.
Comics are wild, and when all bets are off in the future, they're at their wildest! “Rock of Ages,” especially, has always been a benchmark for me, as long as in the wild futures of books like Justice League 3000 and OMAC.
So I was, suffice it to say, a fan of DC's future timeline, all awaiting us as we read in the present, waiting for the future to solidify as it meets us day by day.
This particular timeline is pretty new, coming after Kamandi and before The Legion of Superheroes, but I love both of those times and worlds. And with Electric Warriors, we're bridging the two, despite their disparate tones. And the challenge of getting from the DC Future's Dark Age to its Age of Enlightenment and unity? That's what I love most of all.
Nrama: So how did this project come about?
Orlando: Electric Warriors came from looking at the DC timeline and seeing possibility. This time period between two iconic eras was largely unexplored, and it gave us a chance to create a new world and new stories that would welcome in longtime readers with its rich foundation of DC lore, as well as welcome new readers since every single character is brand new. We've remixed the DCU into the future, and we can't wait for you to see it.
Nrama: OK, so you explained a little bit about the time period we’re talking about here. Can you explain the setting and what the world is like?
Orlando: The world of Electric Warriors is one of turmoil. Intergalactic resources are at a premium, and to stop intergalactic war, The Gil'dishpan, who will one day be the galaxy's foremost diplomats, enact the Great Compromise, wherein each participating planet sends a champion, an Electric Warrior to represent their entire planet in Trials by Combat. An Electric Warrior battles, one hero risking their life, so that billions may live.
And in this setting...we find Earth, pulling itself out of its greatest failure in the Great Disaster. Earth is just about to rejoin the civilized galaxy and send an Electric Warrior. The only problem is, our humans cannot truly reconcile with our animal tribes, and so for the first time in the history of the Great Compromise, an Electric Seed is split. Earth, even in the future, continues to make history.
Nrama: So how much does this tie into Jack Kirby’s work?
Orlando: His work is the springboard for this. Earth has survived the Great Disaster as seen in Kamandi, and we are now pushing forward into the future as liberated humans attempt to live side-by-side with the intelligent animal tribes that kept them in cages for generations. The Wild Human Reserve of Kamandi has been torn down, and the next generation of humans who were born free has to reckon with the pain fo generations past.
For someone as much of a creative font as Kirby, we are doing our best to pay tribute to the King by putting as much raw wonder and possibility into each page of Electric Warriors, just like he did for every page, every day (or multiple times a day, in fact).
Nrama: What characters are at the core of the story you’re telling?
Orlando: The core of the team is War Cry, our human lead who comes from parents who lived until the rule of the Lion Tribes before the Human Personhood Accords. War Cry has the power to manipulate sound, as well as a powerful cultural artifact, the Shroud of Kal-El, Superman's indestructible cape.
War Cry has anger to encompass that of the whole human race, but he'll have to find compassion because he's sharing his Electric Seed with Deep Dweller, the animal Electric Warrior from Earth who comes from the deep sea Octopus Tribes.
There may be more side effects of their splitting of their seed than they know, so they better find a way to get along before it's too late.
And don't even get me started on Serene, the Electric Warrior from Khundia. She just might be the strongest person in the universe... too bad her powers only activate in service of others, and defending someone other than yourself is a mortal indignity on Khundia.
Nrama: Are there any themes that have arisen within this story? Anything you’re exploring in the future that might apply to humanity today?
Orlando: Compassion, I think, is the overall theme, along with sacrifice. Each Electric Warrior, in theory, has enough empathy for everyone else on their planet to offer up their lives for people they sometimes haven't and will never meet.
The future of the DCU has exacerbated the tensions of today, and so the compromises must be greater, bigger, and more dangerous. But at the core, this is a fight for compassion, for connecting and feeling for those around us and sharing in sacrifice, sharing in honor and heroism, the only path to the future whether we're talking about today, or a day a thousands tomorrows away.
Nrama: What’s it been like working with Travel Foreman on this?
Orlando: Travel has been incredible!
When I approach a comic like this, I work to make the collaboration as true as possible, and with these scripts I opened up the world, and the page, for Travel to innovate. He overdelivered, a thousand times, and the end result is something I'm truly lucky to be a part of.
Electric Warriors looks like no other comic on the stands, it's truly unique, and that is thanks to Travel's wild, creative mind bursting through on every page.
Nrama: What’s your hope for the future of the title? Any plans you can share or familiar characters that might guest star or show up in the future?
Orlando: Electric Warriors is an action epic. It's part Battle Royale, part Spartacus and part Gundam, and we have so many stories to tell in this world. But we're not waiting — each issue is packed with action, character and reveals. As for familiar characters - you just might see some faces you think you know, but thousands of years in the future...do you really?
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Electric Warriors?
Orlando: Follow Electric Warriors for you dose of unadulterated energy every month from me and Travel Foremon, and Hi-Fi colors. These pages are crackling, no pun intended, and these characters scream for you to find out more about them. This is your future pop culture dose to power you through your month, the energy living in your veins and the fight for the future — really, the same fight we're fighting today.
And fighting? I think maybe...that's just being human.