This week, Aspen's hit series Soulfire is reaching out to new readers as it kicks off a summer event about what happens when Malikai leaves the magical world created by the late Michael Turner and Jeph Loeb.
With this week's release of a Soulfire Primer for only a dollar, new readers can get caught up with the story so far. Then a series of five one-shots will follow in an event that Aspen Comics is calling "The Search for the Light" — all leading up to the launch of the next volume of Soulfire in August.
The weekly one-shots will start on June 27, with each issue spotlighting one of five magical "Masters" within the Soulfire universe — while introducing a new one — as they band together to rescue Malikai.
- Soulfire Hope #1, written by J.T. Krul with art by Jose Varese.
- Soulfire Despair #1, by writer David Schwartz and artist Jonathan Marks.
- Soulfire Faith #1, written by Amanda McMurray with art by Siya Oum.
- Soulfire Power #1, by writer David Wohl and artist Khary Randolph.
- Soulfire Grace #1, written by Krul with art by Pasquale Qualano.
Krul, who's been guiding Soulfire for the last few years, will open and close the event with two one-shots, then he'll pick up the story later in the summer with Soulfire Volume Four, bringing along Mike DeBalfo on interior art.
Newsarama talked with Krul to find out more about "The Search for the Light" and what readers can expect from a world without Malikai.
Newsarama: J.T., what led up to this event, both as creators behind the inception of this world, and within the story of Soulfire?
J.T. Krul: The end of volume three came with a big shocker as Malikai seemingly sacrifices himself to stop the creature of Chaos from destroying the Everlands and perhaps the entire world. Moving on with the story, we knew it was a great opportunity to open the universe up by exploring some of the characters we've come to know — specifically the five masters in the Soulfire mythos. With these one-shots, we are focusing on each master and bringing some other talent to help us tell the stories.
Nrama: Have you been working in conjunction with the other writers and artists? How are you guys coordinating everything, and who all is involved?
Krul: Frank and I worked up the general story for the event and the elements that would run through each issue, but also tried to leave as much room as possible for the other creators to spread their own wings — excuse the pun — with their individual efforts. As the project moved along, I stayed up on all the scripts, making sure it all flowed nicely, while also maintaining that self-contained story.
I'm writing the opening book Hope, with art by Jose Varese, and the closing book Grace, with art by Pasquale Qualano, so it was easier for me to help navigate the books in-between.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the story of the "Search for the Light?" Is it centered around the loss of Malikai? And what does his loss mean to the world?
Krul: Malikai is gone. But the question remains — what exactly happened to him? Is he alive? Dead? Somewhere in-between?
The masters, who helped guide him in his efforts to bring magic back, are dealing with the ramifications of his absence. The magic of the world is running somewhat amok, threatening to overwhelm the world in chaos.
In the Everlands, the queen Faye is struggling to keep the peace between the two races, the Rahtumi and the Sethoru, in the wake of the murder of the king Arlin and the civil war started by Onyx. "The Search for the Light" is just that — the search for Malikai. They need his spirit to restore the balance to the magic in the world.
Nrama: What characters are the main players in the story, and what's their mindset and situation as they go into it? And how will it impact them?
Krul: Each book focuses on a different master. Hope focuses on Faye and actually introduces a new character in the Soulfire universe that will take the place of the fallen Arlin. This new character will also be the foundation of the following book, Despair. Faith features Pili, while Power focuses on Ren. And, of course, the last book Grace centers on the woman herself — Grace.For Faye, she is simply trying to keep the Everlands together, trying to keep the peace and she makes a bold decision in her efforts, one that may not have the outcome she was fully prepared for.
The new Master being introduced is Sarin. He's something of an unknown who has his own plans and worldview and isn't necessarily into all this Master stuff. But, there is something he wants — and is driven to get it.
For Pili, the turmoil of the magic wreaks havoc with her and she must find a way to be stronger than ever.
As for Ren, his duty was to help Malikai maser the power within, but now he's finding that control is not always the best bet. Sometimes, a storm needs to run it's course and trying to get in the way will only hurt — a lot.
And finally, Grace's entire mission has been to protect and guide Malikai. She's been there beside him every step of the way, but feels she failed him. Of course, she's a resilient girl and isn't used to giving up or failing. But the question remains, whether or not she'll be prepared to do what's necessary and pay the price to get Malikai back.
Nrama: What's the overall tone of the crossover? With the loss of Malikai, it's hard to know what the tone will be. Is this action packed or more mystery or what?
Krul: The stories have and ebb and flow to them. Some are focused more on character and their turmoil, while others feature a more visceral experience.
Overall, I think each story packs an emotional punch and showcases the visual dynamic that the Soulfire universe is known to bring to readers.Obviously, there is a dark tone to the book, given the fact that we are seeing our characters somewhat lost in the absence of Malikai, trying to move forward through the darkness and come out into the light once more.
Nrama: Does the story carry over from one issue to the next?
Krul: Each issue is designed to be a stand-alone story highlighting one of the five Masters of the Samusara, but there is a definite structure carrying over from one issue to the next — building the tension and the drama as we move forward.
Nrama: What does this represent for the overall plan for Soulfire going forward? Does it lead into Volume Four?
Krul: Yeah, the whole event is a bridge between our main volumes of Soulfire. "The Search for the Light" leads directly into the premiere of Soulfire Volume Four. I'm thrilled to be working with Mike DeBalfo and Nei Ruffino, as we set to tell our biggest story yet as our favorite characters are forced to deal with something they never imagined — Dark Grace. Mike and Nei are super-talented, and super-nice, which makes it all the more rewarding to work with. We're all putting our very best into making it the most epic, fun, and exciting volume for Soulfire yet.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the crossover?
Krul: "The Search for the Light" is a great opportunity to dig deeper into the Soulfire world, but it's also a great time for new readers to get onboard, offering a glimpse into what the world offers as we get ready to go completely nuts in the upcoming volume. I've been writing Soulfire for eight years now, longer than any other work to date, and nothing gives me more joy than to continue the amazing world Michael Turner created with the very best people out there. I hope readers will join us for the ride.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!