“Can’t Talk, Punching” – Christopher Hastings’ Writer’s Commentary For Six Million Dollar Man #2

A Writer’s Commentary: Christopher Hastings on Six Million Dollar Man #2, on sale now from Dynamite.

Hello! Your old pal, C. Hastings here. It’s time once again to look at what I have wrought, give you any juicy behind the scenes I might remember, and say, “Hey look at that cool thing,” when you look at the cool thing.

Please grab your nearest copy of The Six Million Dollar Man (2019) #2 and follow along.

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Here’s my commentary on the covers. The covers looks cool as hell. NEXT QUESTION.

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RECAP PAGE
Steve Austin, having lost a very expensive cyborg leg, is now the $4,289,512 man. His dropping value was a core part of the initial pitch, a big part of what editor Nate and I thought would be fun about the book. I originally wanted the title of the series to change every month with the depreciating number, but that’s apparently “stupid” and “a waste of everyone’s time and efforts and will actively make it more difficult to sell this title.”

I’m glad it’s inside the book though! Good work, Nate.

ONE

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Ha ha, look at all these different languages! I think my note to Arianna and Zack was that all of these different translations going off on the same page “might be an interesting challenge,” which looking back I might as well said, “not my problem.”

They killed it, though, naturally.

One of the Soviet guys gets spooked by a weird two-headed snake, one of the strange flora and fauna around that gets chopped up and blended into powders and smoothies to keep shadowy guy’s mutated body alive. How do two-headed snakes keep you alive? I dunno, their brains are antioxidants?

TWO

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Something we’ve tried to convey is that when Steve’s in trouble, he sort of retreats to a more rigid way of speaking, he goes to his old NASA pilot lingo. When things went bad in a cockpit, he talked like this, so now when he’s leaking fuel and passing out because his battery’s damaged, he does the same thing.

THREE AND FOUR

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The mechanics of the rocket blowing up were inspired by the real life Damascus Titan missile explosion that happened in Arkansas in 1980. It’s a fascinating story, and if you want to know more, it’s covered in episode #634 of This American Life.

SIX
“Can’t talk, punching” is the kind of stuff that gets added when I see David has added a panel of Steve punching.

PAGES SIX – TWELVE
*The explosion and mine cart sequence*

A lot of writing this was figuring out how to get Steve and Niko from point A to point B to point C. They are constantly hopping from one dangerous scenario to another, and it’s no fun to just have them walk to each thing like they were Disneyland attractions. Especially since I decided to remove a leg in the process.

Hence, my utter glee at blowing up the missile and treating a mine shaft like the barrel of a gun with Steve and Niko in a mine cart bullet.

COMICS.
ARE.
FUN.

PAGE TWELVE
Okay, here’s the secret dialogue for those of you who might not be able to read Japanese:

AMARI (Japanese): Don’t let them go. We need to make sure those spies are dead.

CARETAKER (Japanese): But you don’t have time to build another rocket.

AMARI (Japanese): They don’t know that! I have another way. Make them help catch the spies.

PAGE THIRTEEN
Time to set up another preposterous action set piece. Rain *now* means lightning *later* which means we’re going to electrocute Steve in issue *three*

PAGE FOURTEEN
I like switching up the the story so that at this point, Steve isn’t the hero anymore. He’s a liability. He’s Niko’s escort mission. He’ll recover, but for now, he’s not help. He’s trouble.

Throughout the story we flip Steve back and forth between being an asset and a hindrance. Shine a light at a guard? Hindrance. Fight off a CADRE of guards? Asset. Lose a leg? Hindrance. Blow up the bad guy’s missile? Helpful! Etc, etc.

Right now, if Niko had her choice between leaving the island with her little camera or Steve, she’d choose the camera.

PAGE SIXTEEN
Just gorgeous work from David and Rosh here. The monastery feels so real.

PAGE SEVENTEEN
I think Niko is saying the equivalent of “Holy sh*t!”

PAGE EIGHTEEN
Enos, the first chimpanzee to achieve Earth orbit… was apparently a real pain in the ass! The specifics are surely too rude for me to repeat here. But, I highly recommend you read Mary Roach’s book, Packing For Mars, for the stories of chimps in space exploration, and more on all the weird stuff science has had to do to make outer space slightly more hospitable to human life.

PAGES NINETEEN AND TWENTY
Aaaand that’s it for this month. Be sure to come back in May as Steve has to dodge helicopter fire while tethered to a slippery roof in a thunderstorm, meanwhile ACTIVELY ATTEMPTING to get struck by lightning.

…and that’s just the first third of the issue!

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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