The stories behind the stories

Crimson Dynamo #4

“It isn’t a robot, is it? It’s some kind of battlesuit.” — Jennings

“Going Up!”

Moscow teenager Gennady Gavrilov’s humdrum life takes an unexpected turn when he discovers a high-tech helmet in a university warehouse. But this “home entertainment center in a helmet” activates a suit of robotic armor in a Siberian warehouse, to violent result…
Published by Marvel • November 26, 2003
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Joe Corroney

Lettered by Thom Zahler

Colored by Thomas Mason

Cover by Steve Ellis

Packaged by Marc Patten

Edited by Stephanie Moore and Cory Sedlmeier

After three iconic-style covers, this issue’s cover was the first to actually show Gennady. The Crimson Dynamo needed to be on every cover, and since Gennady hadn’t encountered it yet, finding a way to put the two together was challenging. I came up with the idea of putting Gennady in front of an old propaganda poster, and Steve Ellis carried it off nicely.

Gennady makes it so much easier to get from point A to point B in a story. Where else is he going to find an old tape drive in order to review Vanko’s notes? Anyone else would have to go to eBay… but if you’re Gennady, you just steal it. Clearly, Vanko wasn’t going to miss it…

I had originally planned yet another encounter with Gennady’s mother in the courtyard in front of the engineering building, since it was established she worked at the university. She was going to unwittingly run interference for Gennady, deflecting the pursuit of Devereaux’s thugs. But space was at a premium, so I cut the scene.

The chain-of-communication between Gennady, Angel, and Jennings was something I knew was going to be difficult to carry out. I had thought to alternate between text captions and word balloons, as the characters spoke aloud what they were typing – but we finally concluded that keeping it all in the colored e-mail text would be simplest to understand.

If there’s one thing I won’t miss, it’s having to remember to put all the background material in Russian. Jennings’ handwritten message to Gennady came directly from a scan of my own. But for all that work, something always slips through. The banner on Izvestiya this issue is one of a few places where English lettering snuck in.

Speaking of sneaking in, Gennady uses the word “hell” here — one of the last swear words in the series given tighter editorial controls on language. I don’t mind changing, as in general I do all-ages stuff – but I must admit, I can’t find any translation for “heck” in my Oxford English-Russian Dictionary

“That’s it, helmet. It’s you or me!” — Gennady Gavrilov

Chrome-eating microbes in Moscow’s sewage? Yep. Years ago, I translated a Russian article about them for this site’s original webmaster, former microbiologist Ken Barnes.

The Vic-20, for you kids out there, is a real-life artifact of our personal computer beginnings, of course. I used to fiddle with one before I got my Apple IIe. Any program you wrote stayed in active memory until you turned the thing off, unless you plugged in a dreadfully slow cassette tape drive. The Commodore was the Vic’s successor, and while I don’t know if a C-64 could really read a Vic tape, I’m pretty sure that if I went another “step” back – to say, the TI-99 or the little Timex Sinclair computer, Gennady really wouldn’t have been able to get to the data.

The canal locks scene is set at a real-life location we found on a Volga tour site.

We thought the Hotmail address Jennings uses would be a nice realistic touch – if you wanted to reach someone quickly, it wouldn’t be hard to set up the account in that name pretty fast. But don’t try e- mailing it – we found out that it’s one of the addresses Hotmail won’t let you have because it uses “reserved” characters or something. Oh, well…