After writing her initial appearance in 2011, Brian Lynch joins with “Glory” artist Ross Campbell to give Alopex a starring turn in her own solo adventure with “TMNT Villains Micro-Series #4: Alopex.” In the IDW Publishing one-shot, the fiercely loyal mutant fox returns to further complicate the lives of the Turtles and their allies.
Lynch spoke with CBR News about the origin of Alopex and what it was like to find himself working with TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman on designing the character. We also discuss how the “Alopex” one-shot ties-in with the current TMNT “City Fall” storyline and venture beyond the TMNT universe to touch on his other projects, including his “Despicable Me” prequel, “Minions,” and hope to return to the Buffyverse for a new “Spike” story.
CBR News: You introduced Alopex in the “Raphael” one-shot — was she a character you initially pitched to IDW? Can you talk about how she come to be?
Brian Lynch: She was a character I pitched to IDW, yessir. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original “Raphael” one-shot was the first appearance of Casey Jones. Casey burst onto the scene fighting with Raph, but then quickly became an ally. I thought it would be fun to reverse that storyline — we introduced Alopex as a potential ally, and then have Raph deduce that she’s the enemy.
Alopex was to be blindfolded and taken to the Turtles’ home, but she could still find her way back because of her abilities. For this plan to work, we needed an animal with an incredible sense of smell. I checked out this new site called “wikipedia” (you should go look, it’s amazing!) and learned foxes have insane senses of smell. The white arctic fox lent itself to two visuals we liked: a pristine white fox in the middle of grimy New York — that seemed cool — and if she got blood on her paws, it would really pop and stand out.
Alopex is an arctic fox that was mutated and trained by Shredder — everything she is, is because of him. She’s one of his most loyal soldiers. The humans in the Foot don’t know what to make of her — they’re a bit weirded out by her, but she doesn’t care. As long as Shredder is okay with her, she’s happy.
Her personality, her powers, her name — that was all in the original pitch. Bobby Curnow helped flesh out the story details. The brilliant Kevin Eastman came in and designed her, coming up with the idea of war paint on her face and the shark’s tooth, among other things. Then Franco Urru brought her to life so beautifully when he illustrated the issue. That first issue was a fun process. Alopex had an easy birth.
Alopex seems to have a unique relationship with Raph — not only is he the first Turtle she ever encountered, but they usually pair off against each other when the fighting starts. Are there other attributes connecting the two?
She began her relationship with Raphael by lying to him, so at the very least, he’ll always have that chip on his shoulder. She works for the man who actually, literally killed the Turtles back in feudal Japan. That said, they’re somewhat kindred spirits — Raphael and Alopex are both easily angered, fiercely loyal soldiers. So when they look at each other, it’s a bit of a cracked mirror scenario. It’s something I’d like to play with in the future, assuming everyone survives.
Considering how formerly loyal mutations Old Hob and Slash have defected from Shredder and Krang — and even how the Turtles and Splinter fight against the evil duo — does Alopex have any reservations surrounding her current master?
None at all — Shredder made Alopex what she is today. Like Splinter is the Turtles’ father, Shredder is Alopex’s.
What can you tell us about Alopex’s life prior to her mutation?
She was a hunter even before the mutation. In fact, she was the hunter of her family when she was just a pup. The killer instinct came early.
Since you called it out specifically, what’s the significance of the necklace she wears?
You know, Bobby, Ross and I talked about that. We wanted to go into it, but there was no room and it didn’t fit the specific story this time out. We’re saving it. Let’s just say she’s had lots of battles with lots of different kinds of creatures.
Does your story tie-in with the current “City Fall” storyline in the main “TMNT” ongoing?
I can’t say how, specifically, but yes — absolutely it fits in with the “City Fall” storyline. It becomes clearer after you read the issue, but some important chess pieces are moved. Bobby, Tom Waltz and Kevin make sure all the micro-series tie into the main series, so they’re not just superfluous spin-offs. It makes for a more enriching experience all around.
Can you tease if the Turtles or other characters play a role in this one-shot?
The Turtles make an appearance, a certain pair of pre-mutation Foot soldiers pop up briefly, but if you’re a fan of the Shredder (and who isn’t really?) you’ll love this issue. He’s in it a lot — he dominates the proceedings.
What was your working relationship like with artist Ross Campbell, and what does his style bring to the table for a TMNT story?
Ross brings so much to the table. First of all, he’s incredibly passionate about these characters and insanely knowledgeable. I remember when Alopex was first introduced — he was one of the first people to declare his love of the character. He was excited about this specific story from the get-go and was a cheerleader in so many ways. He had some wonderful ideas that enriched the story.
Beyond that, I mean, he’s one of my favorite artists ever. His work is beautiful. I remember getting his pages from the “Micro-Series: Leonardo” issue we did and being knocked over — and this new one surpasses that. Bottom line is, every moment in this issue is elevated because he’s the guy drawing it. I hope we work together again and again.
Given Alopex is the first new TMNT character designed by Kevin Eastman in over a decade and a half, did you work with Kevin at all on this story?
I’m not sure if he read this issue yet, to be honest. Kevin did read the “Raphael” one-shot which introduced Alopex, and he was over the moon about it. I’ll always remember what he said about Ross and my first work together, calling the “Leonardo” issue a “perfect storm of action and emotion.” To get that feedback from one of your heroes? From the creator of the characters you’re writing? It’s a great feeling, to say the least.
Have you ever read the “TMNT: Adventures” series published by Archie Comics in the late 80s/early 90s featuring mutant fox Ninjara? Is there any influence from that character on Alopex?
I have read stories featuring Ninjara. The Archie series is one of the few TMNT related works I didn’t check out as it was coming out, and I’m not sure why. Recently I’ve caught up with it all and I like Ninjara a lot. She wasn’t an influence on Alopex, but I’d kinda like to see them square off, wouldn’t you?
As for a non-TMNT related question — do you have any new Spike stories from the Buffyverse in the pipeline? Or anything else going on?
You know, I had an idea for a “Spike” series just the other day. I started laying it out in my head, and then had to get back to work on “Minions.” I wish I had more time for comics, as they’re so rewarding and fun, but the movie is coming out next year and it’s dominating my headspace.
“Minions” comes out December 2014. It’s a prequel/spin-off of the hit indie film “Despicable Me” and it’s about the Minions before they met Gru. The Minions have been here since the beginning of time, just looking for an evil master to serve. I’m the screenwriter and Pierre Coffin (“Despicable Me” 1 and 2) and Kyle Balda (“The Lorax”) are directing, while Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm star. I’m thrilled with how it’s coming out. Chris Meledandri, who is kind of the Walt Disney of Illumination Entertainment, has let me be a part of every facet of this movie — from watching animation at every stage, to being with the actors so we can come up with new jokes in the recording studio, to playing trumpet while we record the score. OK, that last one isn’t true. It’s been a great experience.
Brian Lynch & Ross Campbell’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Villains Micro-Series #4: Alopex” goes on sale July 17 from IDW