A Writer’s Commentary: Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1, on sale this week from Dynamite. Cover by Ron Salas.
I wanted a jarring opening. Seemed like a great place to go in media res, right into the action. And I loved the call back to the great opening of the initial TV movie that kicked this franchise off, as Steve suffers the accident that turns him bionic.
I also wanted to establish some layers from the get-go. This is a story with a lot happening on the surface, but a great deal of interiority as well. Which manifests, in part, with this voice inside his head. A voice that swears in binary…
Pages 2 and 3
Again, jarring. Horizon line thrown off. Plane going down. Steve plummeting toward death. Cartel gangsters in the air around him. This is bad.
Great work by Taylor Esposito on letters. We worked a lot on getting the right font for the computer voice, and he nailed it.
But Steve Austin is a pro. Even in this situation, he doesn’t panic. Here we see that going into action, as well as a little perspective on how he analyzes the world through his cyborg eye (nice grid layered in that panel from Ron).
Pages 5 and 6
A lot of times, I try to craft moments that are both funny and really serious all at once. I never quite know how well it works. That’s what I was shooting for here. Steve is basically just calling out the extreme absurdity of the moment, even while heading toward possible death.
And, it’s 1979, I had to make at least one reference to cocaine. It’s required.
Pages 7 and 8
Another homage to the first TV movie that kicked off the franchise. Some direct references to dialogue of the scene in which Steve’s injuries (and new cyborg parts) are revealed.
Great work here by colorist Michael Atiyeh on heightening how weird and unnatural Steve is, when he’s fully revealed.
On page 8, we establish the emotional conflict central to this story. Steve wants nothing more than to be human, but every mission he goes on pushes him more toward machine.
It was editor Matt Idelson who reminded me we needed to add the slow motion jumping sound effect. Really like how it turned out.
Barney Hiller was the other cyborg from the TV series. I thought he’d be a good addition as a counterpoint to Steve. Barney doesn’t look back. He’s happy to be bigger and better than human. Of course, he’s also a little unhinged.
Look for a lot more of Barney, especially in issue 3.
In that middle row of panels, you see something new. Information being fed electronically into Steve’s brain.
1979 marks the advent of the Internet age in a lot of ways, so that’s what we’re exploring. How information and technology intersect, and the implications for Steve.
More critically, this information reveals a troubling clue about some secret O.S.I. history…
Pages 12 and 13
Steve Austin sneaking into O.S.I. headquarters! A pretty stunning moment right out of the gate. But we are not playing it safe in this series.
And, lasers! Because why not?
Pages 14 and 15
I always love those 1970s baseball cards, where every player has epic facial hair. So I just had to make a Steve Garvey joke. Seems like Oscar Goldman would be a baseball guy.
Again, trying to inject some levity in a very serious moment. A lot of that is the computerized voice in Steve’s head.
Pretty much always cool when a character jumps out a window, right? That’s one of my favorite action movie tropes.
Really love the way Ron framed the action with Steve using his cyborg arm instinctively to protect himself from the gunfire.
And here we meet Aguirre. He has a gun and an eye patch. Again, because why not?
Pages 18 and 19
We’re dealing with some heady stuff here. Steve has learned that the agency he serves seemingly is planning to use him as the prototype for an army, which completely crushes his sense of who he is and the purpose he serves.
But, again, this is comics, so it should be fun, right? And what’s more fun than ninjas? Nothing, I say.
The language the ninjas use is pretty stilted and over the top here. I was trying to channel ninjas as they’d appear in the 1970s, which was super over the top and ridiculous. Hopefully that comes across.
Pages 20 and 21
And now we meet Mick Gentle. Kind of envisioned him as a 1970s version of Elon Musk.
Some back story on that name: When Rob Venditti and I were working on The Flash, we would meet up and work through outlines. One day, I said something, and he misheard me, thinking I had said, “Mick Gentle.” We both loved the name, but I claimed it. Suck on that, Rob.
Laser eyes. Laser. Eyes.
Love how Ron drew this.