Frank Barbiere, writer of Solar: Man of the Atom #7, talks with Fred Van Lente about Magnus: Robot Fighter #8, both on sale now.
FRANK BARBIERE: You’ve certainly done a lot of plotting for Magnus and we’re starting to see a lot of big payoffs, like Magnus breaking down on his “big reveal” in this issue. How does it feel to see that stuff paying off? Has anything changed while working on the book that has become different or unexpected?
FRED VAN LENTE: From the very beginning this Magnus storyline was crafted with a beginning, middle and an end, and now that we’re entering the final act it’s cool it’s gotten such a nice reception from fans and critics. It has actually gone more or less as planned, which is a bit unusual for me.
The nice thing about doing stories in this field is you can read stuff in the news that you can then incorporate into your stories. When I first read about “Roko’s Basilisk” a few months ago I realized I absolutely had to incorporate it into Magnus, and that’s just what I did.
FB: This book has been a treat to look at since day one thanks to the very talented Cory Smith. I notice you’re very into big moments, whether it be double page spreads or awesome splashes (like Magnus killing “himself”). Has working with Cory changed the way you approach pacing the pages with “big art?” What’s your favorite moment so far?
FVL: Yeah, Cory is the best. He is great with spreads in general but it’s funny I’ve started doing them more with the rise of digital, and I realized the way pages are sized to fit in screens in a way that can’t replicate the impact of a DPS on the physical page. As physical page is where my income comes from, I do feel like it’s an added value for the folks who’ve stuck with analog.
FVL: We deviated quite a bit from the original Gold Key stuff, partially because of how the science of robotics and computing have evolved since the 1960s, partly to give it our own fresh take. A lot of stuff, like Senator Clane and the Gophs, come from the series. I guess the biggest shout out to the OG series is in this issue, where 1A’s hideout, both here and the original, lies deep below the Arctic Ocean.
FB: What’s one of the big moments or scenes from Magnus so far that you couldn’t wait for people to see? How did people react? I know as writers we tend to anticipate reactions from readers … was there anything that got a reaction or do people tend to just roll with it?
FVL: It’s fun that people have taken to H8R, Magnus’s jive-talking robot sidekick, so much. He was a bit of a throwaway gag that has morphed into a big part of the series. I perversely like taking things that are absurd and shouldn’t work and making them work, and that’s definitely been rewarding in this instance.
For more on Magnus: Robot Fighter #8, click here.