The stories behind the stories

Crimson Dynamo #3

“A madman created it. And there is no shortage of madmen today who would use it.” — Vladimir Putin

“Game Off!”

Now that he knows he’s actually been controlling the giant robot armor out in Siberia, Gennady goes into denial. But Devereaux won’t let him stay there long, as he announces, through the helmet, that he’s coming to Moscow to get him. And things at home get worse, as Gennady gets expelled…
Published by Marvel • October 29, 2003
Written by John Jackson Miller

Pencils by Steve Ellis and Joe Corroney

Inks by Mark McKenna

Lettered by Thom Zahler

Colored by Thomas Mason

Cover by Steve Ellis

Packaged by Marc Patten

Edited by Tom Brevoort

This is the only issue Tom Brevoort‘s office handled in its entirety. Stephanie Moore would be back on #4, coinciding with Marvel’s paring down of the Epic line. This issue also featured an artist change, midstream.

Steve Ellis, our artist since day one, informed us that his commitments at home weren’t going to allow him the time to do a monthly series any more. We were sorry to hear that – but fortunately, packager Marc Patten‘s magic Rolodex met the news with a quick answer: Joe Corroney, an artist who’d done several licensed Star Wars projects.

Marvel approved of Joe’s portfolio, but even so, we were going to have to hurry to get this issue out. Steve was able to pencil some early pages (and would continue doing covers straight through to the end) and to ease the transition between the two artists, Marc called upon Mark McKenna, an experienced inker, to fill in.

And Joe softened his realistic style to mesh better with Steve’s pencils. Many readers remarked they didn’t notice (or mind) the change, which is wonderful, as it’s what we were shooting for. Joe’s style grew more realistic as the series went on — matching the change in mood, as things got more serious. (If you’re not sure of the difference, compare Steve’s Vladimir Putin, this issue, with Joe’s in #5.)

Still, this is the issue I’m most ambivalent toward, in part because of these and other production issues. A font problem screwed up some of the joke captions on the “recap page,” and balloon placement in the “embassy row” scenes wasn’t optimal – all the sort of stuff we’d have customarily dealt with had we not used up our cushion in the change.

I also felt I’d written a scene, in the railway station, that was, in retrospect, too complicated to stage. (I actually wrote it while riding on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Wisconsin, so I had railway stations in the tundra on the brain.)

Still, there was a lot of fun to be had in crafting this issue. Reality hits Gennady like a ton of armor, and we enjoy torturing him here. There’s the transition from the “embassy row” flags to the McDonald’s flag — what’s a restaurant doing with its own flag, anyway? And we meet Jourdain, the good guy counterpoint to Devereaux, just in case anyone thought we were Franco-bashing around here…

“The armor is coming to get the helmet. And so am I.” — Devereaux

That’s the real Moscow MakDonald’s depicted here — sketched in late in the game by the ever-helpful Thomas Mason.

We leaned a lot on the International Herald Tribune, the overseas New York Times publication, in this series, just to give us some headlines that didn’t have to be in Russian. Gennady reads English fluently, so that was convenient.

North of Lake Ponchartrain, Angel’s home of Abita Springs, Louisiana, produces a lot of beer and was the site of the most expensive wedding chapel I’ve ever seen. (I don’t know the name of the place, but there was a reflecting pool between the bride’s side and the groom’s side. Or maybe they consider it a moat…)