The fourth of our week-long look at Dynamite’s four new series debuting this December is Voltron, by Miranda Mercury writer (and former Newsarama columnist) Brandon Thomas and The Green Hornet Strikes! artist Ariel Padilla.
Voltron is the latest comic book revival of the ‘80s cartoon and toy property — you know, the one where five lion-themed robots, each guided by a spunky young pilot, combine to form one super robot. The comic book license was previously held by Devil’s Due, who published several Voltron comics from 2003 to 2008.
Newsarama talked with Thomas about updating the cast, the artistic contributions of Padilla, and his own personal history as a Voltron fan. And check back on Friday for exclusive art and cover reveals from these four new series — which also include Nowhere Man, Lord of the Jungle and Robocop: Road Trip.
Newsarama: Brandon, beyond the solicitations and anything else immediately obvious, what do you think make this take on Voltron unique?
Brandon Thomas: Something I’m really looking forward to doing is making the term “space explorer” actually mean something. In our take, Keith and the rest of the Voltron Force are highly trained and highly experienced astronauts, adventurers, and fighter pilots. Even when not behind the wheel of their famous lions, these are some of the most dangerous people alive and I really want to get away from this idea that the team is completely defined by their lions, or that they’re significantly less impressive without them. I think this will allow them to become stronger characters and personalities as a result, and make them even more dangerous when it comes time to hop into the lions and take the fight to the skies.
Nrama: How would you compare this series to your previous work?
Thomas: It’s similar in that it’s packed with high octane action throughout, and that that action starts on page one. Anyone that liked the Robin fill-in I did, or Miranda Mercury, will find this has a similar feel and velocity to it. I understand there’s going to be a certain expectation that this book brings it visually, and we’re doing our best to answer the bell. The action is big, the Robeasts are bigger, and the stunts are appropriately impossible. But just like that Robin issue or Miranda, this is all going to be balanced out and punctuated by strong character moments that hopefully make you feel something about what you’re reading.
Nrama: Why is artist Ariel Padilla right for the book?
Thomas: Very impressed with Ariel’s work thus far and what makes him perfect for this book is that he’s really going after it full throttle. The first issue would be challenge for any artist, there’s a lot of moving parts, set pieces, and complicated backgrounds throughout, but he’s drawing every single bit of it. No barely there backgrounds, no strategic silhouettes — it’s Voltron fighting a Robeast in the middle of a giant city, that’s being torn to pieces with the people still in it. There’s also something we’re doing with the layouts that will give the big action sequences a bit more of a punch, that he’s also fully embraced.
Also think people will love his slightly updated looks of the main cast. But had high hopes and he’s blown my expectations out of the water, even though he might want to kill me by the time we’re done with this first arc.
Nrama: What's something about this Voltron series that might take readers by surprise? Are you looking to draw in an audience beyond folks who are already fans of the property?
Thomas: I know this is a big target to aim for, but the thing that most closely approximates what my overall goals for this is J.J. Abrams’ recent Star Trek revamp/reboot. For people that were maybe a little familiar with the broadest strokes of that story and universe, but had never fully plugged into it, it was a terrific and effective primer for what makes Star Trek and its characters enduring. For folks that knew any and everything about it, there were moments and elements inserted as kind of a wink and a nod to the audience, all without jeopardizing the film’s overall accessibility. My mandate is to acknowledge and gently tweak the established history, while allowing new folks that are already fans of sci-fi adventure stories to jump on board along the way.
But there are things in this series that longtime fans have never seen from Voltron before and because of that, I think it places established fans and new fans on somewhat similar footing.
Even if you think you know Voltron and what this book is going to be, we’re going to surprise you, and if you have no idea what it even is, you’re going to be able to quickly understand who the characters are, what the major stakes are, and why you should care. As always, you want to have the best of both worlds and deliver the ultimate Voltron experience to as many readers as possible.
Nrama: OK, time for a personal question: How much of a Voltron fan are you? Do you have a completed Voltron toy anywhere in your house?
Thomas: Ha, I wish some of those old toys survived my childhood, but by the time I hit high school most of it was gone or in scattered pieces somewhere. Luckily, they’re re-releasing the figures so hopefully I’ll be able to reconstitute everything. Right now I just have a couple shirts and thanks to the good folks at Classic Media, I have the complete Go Lion set as well. But Voltron is one of my favorite cartoons of all time, one piece of a “holy animated trinity” which also includes Transformers and Thundercats. Having the opportunity to contribute to the larger story of these characters is an absolute honor, and even though we’re aiming to push the boundaries of the property a bit, this Voltron is going to be very recognizable to everyone that fell in love with the character and the universe just like I did years and years ago.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!