The stories behind the stories

Crimson Dynamo #6

“Special delivery — a package from a friend. An iron friend.” — Jennings

“Old Toys”

Devereaux’s rebel forces fan out across Moscow, certain that the Crimson Dynamo’s imminent destruction will leave the country defenseless. Gennady’s certain of the same thing — and certain that he, and only he, can do something to stop it…
Published by Marvel • January 28, 2004
Written by John Jackson Miller

Pencils by Joe Corroney

Lettered by Thom Zahler

Inks and Colors by Thomas Mason

Production Assisstance by Tim Smith and Junemoon Studios

Cover by Steve Ellis

Packaged by Marc Patten

Edited by Stephanie Moore and Cory Sedlmeier

Here, we vividly see something readers familiar with previous incarnations of the Crimson Dynamo were wondering about: Vanko’s Crimson Dynamo Mark II may be able to jump, but it certainly can’t fly. The original couldn’t, either – the flying came along later.

Once Gennady has established line-of-sight with the armor, the “telepresence” feature of the helmet works again — which makes for some interesting maneuvers. He can “remotely” operate the armor while literally hanging onto its back.

The armor is literally pulsing with stray voltage by the start of this issue, an effect which kind of comes and goes on some pages. It’s hard to know where the middle ground is — if I’d had my druthers, you probably wouldn’t even be able to read the words for all the electricity, so perhaps moderation is best!

Joe Corroney comes up with a workable look for the innards of the suit. Clearly, Gennady’s not tall enough to wear the armor, so the armor adjusts to his frame, extending (for example) controls for the robot hand to his fingertips. Extra credit for anyone who noticed that the armor’s hands were always clenched fists in previous issues; since it was a plot point, that was one of the things we always had to watch out for.

The Crimson Dynamo “wanted for murder” element, dealt with quickly here, was originally going to be a larger part of the story – but as things went forward it was clear that Gennady certainly had enough to worry about without confronting him with this additional wrinkle earlier on.

We had, in the beginning, gone back and forth on how to depict CajunAngel, at last. I wanted her as sort of a mystery friend, who we’d “Mary Jane” to some degree, never really showing her face. But later drawings revealed her a lot more, and I eventually dropped those stage directions. What we should get is that Angelica’s younger than Gennady, a funky dresser, and a girl with the strangest penpal in school.

And that concludes “Motherland,” the Crimson Dynamo story arc I first proposed to Marvel back in January 2003. It was an important learning experience. In retrospect, I may have tried to include one subplot too many in this storyline – there are something like 20 named characters — but for something intended as my “demo reel,” it gels well enough. My thanks to all the people at Marvel and to all the wonderful creators who helped make Gennady’s story a reality.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need a rest.” — Crimson Dynamo

Devereaux’s past gives us an idea of why he’s got such anger toward Russia. The grandparents he speaks with died in Poland in the Russian invasion following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, whereas his French father died in Vietnam. It was enough to motivate his career as a spy against the Soviets — and then, later, his plans to destabilize a free Russia. He doesn’t like the place, no matter who’s in charge…

The National Express package that arrives was written as Federal Express; changed, of course, to a MarvelIron Man can’t make the delivery, so how else to get the very important items around the world in time? universe company. I like the idea of working familiar, everyday items into these fantasy stories. And, it works.

The railroad-surfing trick isn’t depicted exactly as I imagined it — I visualized both feet on the same rail, with the wearer traveling sideways. Once I saw the penciled page, I had to quickly research what the Russian rail gauges were. (They’re different from all the ones in western Europe, as a means to foil invaders – something that’s causing no end of headaches today.) Luckily, with the armor exaggerating the wearer’s size, this mode of travel just barely makes sense. And given that Anton Vanko had invented a suit of armor that couldn’t fly, it’s natural he’d have come up with some way for the armor to quickly travel, inelegantly or not, the huge distances of Russia.

In the graffiti on the armor, it’s curious how Cyrillic the Nine Inch Nails logo looks…

The fact that Tony Stark is at the White House places the epilogue here at some point following “The Best Defense”Iron Man. The kill switch Stark secretly hid on the gauntlets was, to me, an absolute necessity. Even as busy as he was, he wouldn’t take the risk of totally giving the new Crimson Dynamo a completely free pass. Did he press the button? We’ll never know.

Lastly, I enjoyed having the story begin and end in Louisiana, where I got my Soviet Studies degree, all those years ago. Nice to finally come full circle…