June 7, 2010

Jim Shooter Discusses Solar, Magnus, and More!

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Written by: Aron
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This year on Free Comic Book Day, Dark Horse Comics gave us a sneak peek into the return of some classic Gold Key Comics characters with Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom/Magnus, Robot Fighter!  At the helm of the triumphant return of these two classic characters is none other than comic legend, Jim Shooter.

Many fans are familiar with Shooter’s work in the early days of DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes and Marvel’s Avengers and Secret Wars.  With VALIANT Comics, Shooter brought to popularity Doctor Solar and Magnus, and also had a hand in creating  X-O Manowar, Harbinger, and Archer and Armstrong.

With Dark Horse Comics set to launch Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom on July 14 and Magnus, Robot Fighter on August 4, Jim Shooter was kind enough to give an interview with an inside look on all of the upcoming Gold Key relaunch awesomeness!

Legendary Scribe, Jim Shooter

Comic Attack: You have been a fan-favorite writer for many years, and your list of works is a long and legendary one. With the readership of comics growing more and more each day, how would you introduce yourself to a new generation?  Who is Jim Shooter?

Jim Shooter: Thanks for the kind words.  How would I introduce myself?  I don’t know.  I hope my work speaks for me.  The redevelopment of the Dell/Gold Key characters for Dark Horse Comics is a new beginning for me, so it’s a good time to renew old acquaintances and meet new people.  Welcome, New Generation.  I’m Jim.  Pleased to meet you.

CA: How does it feel to be back at the helm of Doctor Solar and Magnus, two characters you helped soar to popularity in the 1990s?

JS: I love these characters.  There was so much I wanted to do with them, so many big plans for them that I didn’t get to fulfill last try.  Now, I have another chance.  It feels like being wide open in the end zone in overtime.

CA: For some time all that Dark Horse was doing with these characters was producing archives; can you tell us how these new projects came about?

JS: For almost three years previously, Mike Richardson and I had occasionally discussed the possibility of my redeveloping the Dell/Gold Key characters.  For one reason or another—I was busy, Mike was busy, whatever—we never got around to it.  Then, last July, I needed a gig and called Mike, and it just so happened that he was ready to pull the trigger.  Next thing I knew, I was standing onstage with Mike at the San Diego Comic Con as he announced the project.

CA: Are you merely setting these characters up with origins and background stories only to turn them over to new creative teams, or are you in it for the long haul?

JS: The understanding I have with Mike—and an understanding with Mike is better than a contract with anyone else—is that I will write as many books as I can, and when there are too many for me to write them all, I’ll supervise the other writers we bring in.

CA: Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom is set to debut on July 14 with Dennis Calero doing the art. Magnus, Robot Fighter is slated for August 4 with Bill Reinhold creating the art. It has also been said that Turok, Son of Stone will be making a return. Is this true? If so, who is the slated artist on the title?

JS: Issue #1 of Turok, Son of Stone is being drawn as we speak by Eduardo Francisco.  He’s amazing.  If you’re not familiar with his work, check out Glorioski, he’s good!

CA: Can you tell us a little bit about the Turok series?

JS: Turok, Son of Stone tells the story of two Pre-Columbian Native Americans swept away by a force beyond comprehension to a Timeless Land.  In Turok’s own words:

Far have I traveled from the north and east, and I have learned many things.  In the western desert, I saved the life of a young warrior.  Fleeing the raiders who murdered his father, we sought refuge in a cavern, but we were swept away to a strange world by a magic unlike any I have ever seen.  Here are thunder-lizards and nightmares, miracles and dreams.  For the sake of the boy, Andar, I must find a way back home.  I am Turok, Son of Stone.

These are some cobbled together excerpts from my series overview:

Turok is Algonquin, born in what is now Quebec.

In his time, no native of North or Central America has a metal weapon except him—a seax, or Viking long knife, made of Damascus steel, given to Turok by a Norse trader whom he befriended during his sojourn to Newfoundland, where Vikings came to trade and forage, and where Viking settlements once stood.  The seax is an heirloom, handed down through generations to the trader from an ancestor who, as a mercenary for the Byzantine Empire journeyed as far as Baghdad.

Another gift from the Norse: while in their company, Turok learned the art of making composite bows with bow staves reinforced with sinew and bone or horn that can propel an arrow nearly half a mile, like the legendary bows of the Turks.  At closer range, they have devastating power, unrivaled by any wooden stave bow.  There is not the like of Turok’s bow in the Americas.

He has traveled far.  Along his path, Turok learned much from the shamans he encountered: first, the secret language they share, but more importantly, that most of what they do is trickery and illusion—though some things he has seen he cannot fathom—and most importantly never to fear the unknown or unfamiliar.  To do so is to give power to the tricksters or more power to what is real but strange.

To banish fear is to be formidable, almost unconquerable.  Now, if he can just keep the young, headstrong Chiricahua Andar out of trouble….

Turok is strong, capable and skilled.  Just a man, but what a man.  Best of all, he’s smart.

There is a new force in the Timeless Land.  A fearless man who will find a way.

CA: It seems as though you are setting up a past, present, and future for this new universe of Gold Key characters.  Are the new books to be tied together in any way?

JS: So far, we have one title set in Pre-Columbian times, one set in the present, one set seven hundred years in the future and one set two thousand years in the future.  They’re all set on Earth (except for Turok, Son of Stone, which starts on Earth and progresses into a parallel continuum much like Earth in its Cretaceous Period but with anachronistic people and things swept there from other times).  So, they’re all related, they all share the world in the same sense that you and I share the world with Alexander the Great and generations to come.  Said another way, Doctor Solar’s era is part of the history of Magnus’s time.

CA: In updating these characters for Dark Horse, you’ve been given a clean slate.  Will you be keeping any established, familiar elements to these characters, or are we to forget what we know about any previous incarnations?

JS: I intend to keep all the “established, familiar elements.”  People who know these characters will be happy to see that all the things that they love about them are still there, including all the characters people remember from each of the original series.  I think about the things that are essential to these titles, the things everyone would mention if asked about them, and those things I don’t change.  Everything else is fair game for gentle improvement, only if it helps.  There will be new characters introduced, as well, like Doctor Solar’s family, for example.  That said, of course, we’re updating everything, ratcheting up the human drama and intensifying the action—it’s spectacular.

CA: Which Gold Key characters will be returning?  Only those that were once owned by VALIANT?

JS: So far, we have Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom; Magnus Robot Fighter; Turok, Son of Stone; and the Mighty Samson on the schedule and in production.  There will be more, but I’ll let Mike announce what’s next, when it’s time.  I believe we can use any of the original Dell/Gold Key properties.  Just between us, I suspect Doctor Spektor may be along soon, and I’m hoping to get a crack at Jet Dream and Her Stunt-Girl Counterspies.  No, really.  I have ideas for that.  And we may add some new things.

CA: Will Doctor Solar be creating another universe like he has in past incarnations, making way for new characters and titles?

JS: No…but that’s not to say that Doctor Solar doesn’t have an effect on our universe.  When Doctor Solar is empowered, or, more accurately, when he empowers himself, there are ripple effects across the quantum field.  But he doesn’t reboot the universe, as he did in the series published by VALIANT.

CA: The loyal fans of the VALIANT days have not gone away.  They are still very passionate about those characters and have a deep longing to see the day that they make their return.  It seems that the new universe you are creating would be a perfect fit for characters such as X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Ninjak, and Quantum and Woody. Are there any efforts in place to obtain the rights to those characters and restore their glory?

JS: None that I know of, and I’m sure Mike would let me know if he had any inclinations in that direction.

I worked for the putative holders of the rights to those characters for seven and a half months before coming to Dark Horse and, during that time I was asked to attempt glory-restoration on a number of them. I wrote quite a bit of material—mostly treatments and overviews, plus a few scripts. Whether any of that will ever see the light of day, I don’t know. I like those characters, and I wish them well, but I’m very much into what I’m doing now—there’s so much to be done with the amazing Dell/Gold Key properties, other things available to us, ideas Mike has and new creations of my own. This is it.

VALIANT's Harbinger

CA: Day dream with us for a minute:  Who is the one character or group from your Valiant days that you would love to bring back to prominence?

JS: Doctor Solar.  If you mean one that I created, I suppose I’d say Harbinger.

CA: Any final words about the new Gold Key relaunch or anything else related to the project?

JS: I guess we’ve stirred up some interest, because there’s a very cool dedicated fan site already in place and being expanded every day.  It’s Very groovy.

Dark Horse is a great company.  Mike has been fair, honest, honorable and generous, because as my grandma Elsie used to say, “That’s the kind of hairpin he is.”  He has also contributed some great ideas.  Chris Warner, the DH Senior Editor who’s coordinating this project, is fantastic.  I’ve never felt so good about working at any company, even my own, which were always limited by, compromised by or stolen from me by the investors.

Mike and I are probably the two most fervent advocates of the comics medium alive today.  All right, we’re tied with Chuck Rozanski.  All right, there are a few others who will be mad at me for not mentioning them, but I don’t have all day, here, and you already know who deserves recognition.  Give me a break, people.  Anyway, Mike and I both love these characters and this project.  Look out, world….

CA: Okay, last question. Don’t tell him I said this, but are we ever going to see Magnus wear pants?

JS: We wanted to start the series with Magnus attired as the great Russ Manning established, but people change clothes, and I don’t feel that it’s blasphemy for Magnus to do so.  See issue #3.

Great, Mr.  Shooter!  Thanks so much for your time!  We’ll all be looking forward to Magnus in pants and everything else that Dark Horse has coming around the corner!

Aron White



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dark Horse Comics, Alan Rapp, Dan's Comic Shop, Gid Freeman, Aron White and others. Aron White said: JIM SHOOTER Talks with @ComicAttack! @DarkHorseComics @EnemyOfPeanuts #comics […]

  2. Turok is one of my favs and to know that Eduardo Francisco will be drawing the book i’m already sold!! That’s actually the one I’m most hyped for and though I admire Calero’s work I’m not that big of a Solar guy but since he’s on the title I’ll see about giving it a shot. Great interview Aron!

  3. Aron

    Thanks, Speech! I knew you would be on board for sure, once I found out the Executive Assistant guy would be on the book.

  4. Well it’s Turok period man! I was just hoping that there would be a decent artist on the series to get the book going but I’m hoping that he’s just not on for a small number of issues kind of like Bart Sears was on the Valiant run before being replaced by an artist who has a style I don’t like.

  5. Magnus

    Magnus in pants! Blasphemy!

    Just kidding, this looks great. I’m happy they found an artist for Magnus with an old-fashioned solid style, and the writing we all know will be solid.

  6. Eli

    I’ve never read any of these characters, but I’m looking forward to trying out Solar & the dress-wearing robot fighter.

  7. Billy

    Wow, both look absolutely awesome!

  8. […] here to read an interview with series writer, Jim Shooter, and here for all things Dark […]

  9. […] be sure to read our interview with writer of both Magnus and Doctor Solar, Jim Shooter! Click here for all things Dark […]

  10. […] Babe”) saved me, how Iceman pissed me off, and how my conversation with the legendary Jim Shooter went! ‘Till then I leave you with pictures of lines and an anti hero with a serious dilemma! […]

  11. […] What’s up Comic Attackers! It’s time for part two of my New York Comic Con experience from this past Saturday. If you missed the first installment click here!  Now, if you remember, I had just fought my way through one of the thickest clouds of B.O. known to man and was making my way to check out the various comic exhibits. Not knowing who to hit up first, I just walked around and took a couple of pics of Cosplayers, and while doing that I realized that I was being pulled. By the Force? Maybe, because looming over me was a pissed off Darth Kryat and above him it read: Star Wars Legacy: War! That’s right Star Wars Legacy fans, it looks like all of that complaining was for nothing because the best SW title is coming back! It was at that moment that I turned around and walking right past me was the legendary Jim Shooter! […]

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