Secret Wars Exclusive: James Robinson and Marcio Takara Armor Up for ‘Armor Wars’ [Interview]
Armor Wars was one of the first batch of titles teased by Marvel in the early days of its promotion for the upcoming Secret Wars summer event; with only a few spots left to reveal on the Battleworld map, Armor Wars is now one of the last titles to be formally announced, and ComicsAlliance can exclusively reveal that the creative team of writer James Robinson and artist Marcio Takara will be the readers’ guides for this corner of Marvel’s strange new universe.
The original Armor Wars story in Iron Man #225-#231, by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, Mark D. Bright and Barry Windsor-Smith saw Tony Stark tracking down villains and rivals who had built armor based on stolen Stark designs. In this new Armor Wars there are two Starks — Tony and Arno — going head-to-head in a world where everyone has to wear armor, and one of the armored heroes has been murdered.
It’s a high-tech murder mystery, but Robinson promises “a big armor war in each issue.” We spoke to Robinson and Takara to learn more about the Armor Wars world of Technopolis, and we cracked open Takara’s sketchbook to see some of his awesome armor designs.
ComicsAlliance: To what extent does your Armor Wars tie in to the classic Iron Man Armor Wars storyline of the late ’80s?
James Robinson: Well the original series was a (relatively) short saga that featured Tony, fearing that his armor designs were being misused, going after/defeating all his armor designs that were out there in the Marvel Universe being worn by others. It was a simple tale with a beginning and end.
When it came to turning this title “Armor Wars” into enough of a concept it was worthy of a whole area of Battleworld, I felt there should be more to it. So there will be a lot of Armor Vs. Armor action in it, but this tale is so much more than the original series in terms of its scope.
CA: How do you describe the high-tech setting of Technopolis? How is it different to the world we know?
JR: For reasons that will be revealed in the story, Technopolis is a world where every single person living here has to wear armor all the time. It’s a super-high-tech world of armor and robotics and science, very much advanced to ours or even the normal Marvel Universe. And all of it overseen by Tony Stark and the resident Thor who acts as the chief of police here, maintaining order.
CA: The Stark brothers, Tony and Arno are rivals in this story. Are we looking at an angel and a devil, and is it clear which is which?
JR: Yes, Tony and brother are rivals in their manufacturing of the armor that everyone in Technopolis needs to wear in order to survive. As to whether one is angel and the other the devil, I think it’s better if the reader discover that as the story unfolds.
CA: Why did you decide to place a murder mystery at the heart of the story?
JR: I just wanted to give the readers something they might not expect. Don’t worry, there will always be a big “armor war” in each issue. But I love crime fiction, so the idea of making the series a murder mystery where it’s the solving of the crime that leads to so much action, is, I think a novel twist.
CA: I notice this domain’s version of Thor has a surprising alter ego in Jim Rhodes. Is this a world without magic, and should we prepare for any similar surprises?
JR: No magic. This is a world of science. And yes, you’ll see a few more surprises like the identity of Technopolis’ Thor. A few familiar characters in unfamiliar roles… most specifically our murder victim who starts the whole drama in the first place.
CA: Marcio, designing all these armored characters sounds like a great gig. How do you approach the design aspect?
Marcio Takara: It is an awesome project to be part of. The idea was to incorporate as many Iron Man visuals as possible to each character. Since everyone has armor, I did my best to make at least the most important characters visually distinct from each other. I usually spend hours just picking reference from all over the place. So for Armor Wars, I have folders like “steampunk”, “dieselpunk” and “noir”. Along with lots and lots of Iron Man armors from the past. I love it.
CA: Which artist’s take on the Iron Man armor is your personal favorite?
MT: Well, I grew up reading [John] Byrne‘s and he’s fantastic. Of course it’s hard to stay away from Adi Granov‘s work. But since I’m trying to incorporate a lot more shadows on this project, guys like Ryan Sook, Alex Toth, Adam Hughes are big influences.
CA: Who are the most interesting characters to work on?
MT: There’s Micki and I’m not sure I can talk about her much. But she’s so fun to draw! A mixture of punk and cool tech. I wish I could show some of the pages she’s in. I think people are going to like her.
CA: I know you still use pens and brushes for much of your work; do you plan to take a more high-tech approach to this story?
MT: Not really. I love to work traditionally and I don’t see myself working without the brush. That doesn’t mean I’m not using rulers here and there, but I try to avoid as much as I can to draw directly on a computer.
Also I’m using a little ink wash for grey tones and textures, which I’ve been doing for years on commissions and con sketches. This is the first time I’m doing it on comic pages. I think my work will look a bit different than whatever has been published before.
CA: James, what’s your relationship with technology?
JR: I had so much work to do at the moment, I am turning into a robot.
Armor Wars #1 goes on sale June. Here’s the solicitation, and more character sketches from Marcio Takara:
ARMOR WARS #1
JAMES ROBINSON (w)
MARCIO TAKARA (a)
COVER BY PAUL RIVOCHE
A SHADOW FALLS OVER AN ARMORED UTOPIA!
• TECHNOPOLIS: Amazing Domain of science and wonder created by rival genius brothers TONY AND ARNO STARK. A utopia except…a unique disease forces EVERYONE to wear armor to live and breathe.
• In this armored land a hero is murdered and the killer’s identity a mystery Baron Tony Stark must solve.
• But in doing so, will Technopolis be forced into a civil war?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99