BYRON BREWER: Ian, how well do you think the Killer Instinct franchise lends itself to the comic book medium, and why or why not?
IAN EDGINTON: I think Killer Instinct is an ideal property to cross over into the comic book medium. It’s more than simply a fighting game. The characters have deeply involved backstories and overlapping histories, the actual combat part is just the tip of a humongous iceberg! That’s the reason I was drawn to working on KI in the first place. It’s essentially a fully-developed superhero universe but one that’s barely been explored. There’s so much untapped potential here, so many stories to tell and such a wealth of material, I’m seriously spoilt for choice!
BB: Has it been an easy translation for you as writer of the series?
IE: It’s been easier than I thought it would be. When you work on a licensed title, while you get to play with a cool property you still have to be aware these are other people’s toys and you have to treat them with respect. Everything is filtered through Dynamite editorial and then the Microsoft Studios team whose feedback has been fantastic. They’re really amenable to new ideas and are happy with the way I’m opening out the KI world. There’s a free exchange of ideas back and forth and it’s really been inspiring.
BB: So, in October’s issue #2, the Coven seems to be in the catbird seat, so to speak, with the fall of Gargos, the Shadow Lord. If you can tell us in a non-spoilery manner, what will this mean going forward for this reality?
IE: Yeah, in this issue we see the Coven show their hand albeit in a shadowy way. They’ve worked behind the scenes for years but now with the Earth’s governments in such a shaky state, they know it won’t take much for them to seize control. Even so they’re still playing a subtle game. They never fully reveal their motives until it’s too late for their opponents to respond. Being primarily run by vampires, they have time on their side and think nothing of playing a long waiting game to achieve their goals.
BB: Who is the Vampire Tsar? What can you tell us of this entity and its motivations?
IE: The Vampire Tsar is the head of the Coven and is a supreme manipulator of people and events. The world is his chessboard. For him it’s all about power and control. He knows that there’s more than one way to win hearts and minds. You can rule people with fear but that breeds resentment and eventually rebellion, but if you feed them and their children … if you keep them safe and warm and give them a sense of security, you can win their loyalty all the more. By the time he shows his true, predatory nature, it’s too late.
BB: In like fashion, can you briefly introduce us to ARIA? What is he/she/it and why does the Vampire Tsar hunger for its corporation, Ultratech?
IE: Well, briefly, ARIA is the humanoid artificial intelligence created by Ryat Adams – founder of the mega-corporation Ultratech – using alien technology stolen from a crash site in 1947. Cut to present day and ARIA has become so powerful that she has more knowledge and brain power than all of humanity combined. She is the physical manifestation of Ultratech, she’s in its systems, she’s everywhere. She rules her empire from The Pinnacle, the very top of the Ultratech tower. She is focused on evolving herself from a mechanical AI to an organic body.
After the fall of Gargos and the scouring of the Earth, Ultratech is one of the few places that has its technology intact and the Tsar needs it to put his plans into effect. ARIA appears to be in a diminished state and vulnerable to a hostile takeover but she’s a wily opponent. Where the Vampire Tsar is a cunning predator, ARIA has a cool machine logic. She knows that sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war.
BB: Jago has renounced violence?! Wassup with that?
IE: Jago has renounced violence and is working on a farm as a manual laborer. He feels that he needs to divest himself of everything that’s gone before – being tricked into worshipping the false god etc. – and find who he really is. He’s also painfully aware that despite being one of the good guys, he and others like him did tremendous damage in combating Gargos. So much so that to many people there were no good guys, just two immensely destructive forces battling it out with little thought for the chaos they were wreaking and the lives they were destroying. In superhero books, cities being trashed is usually par for the course but in reality those are people’s homes, livelihoods and businesses being destroyed. In such a situation, you wouldn’t care who was the hero or the villain because they’re both causing havoc with little thought for the people in the way. Jago has realized this and decided to turn away from violence.
BB: So how would you describe artist Cam Adams’ feel for these characters and this world?
IE: Cam is doing an amazing job. He’s really caught the feel of the characters and the bleakness of the world their war with Gargos has left behind.
BB: What else is up for readers from Ian Edginton?
IE: The big news is the upcoming release of my series from Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast. It’s a five issue miniseries by myself, Lexi Leon and Kevin West. There was a variant promo issue launched at the San Diego Comic-Con, limited to 666 copies which sold out, I believe. Heavy Metal also did an edition for the London Film and Comic Con last week, which I was lucky enough to go and sign for. In addition, there’s also a promo of it in the new edition of Heavy Metal magazine, the music edition.