Announced at Emerald City ComiCon, Coheed and Cambria singer Claudio Sanchez’s “Amory Wars” returns to comics in May, courtesy of BOOM! Studios. For the new volume, Sanchez, whose band has created a series of concept albums telling an epic sci-fi adventure which is fleshed out in the comics, is joined by “X-Factor” writer Peter David and artist Chris Burnham. David and Sanchez are also collaborating on a novel tying in with Coheed and Cambria’s new album, “Year of the Black Rainbow,” which arrives April 13, and BOOM! will be publishing a deluxe collection of “Amory Wars: Second Stage Turbine Blade,” bridging the gap between the prequel novel and the new comic series, “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth.” CBR News caught up with Sanchez and David to discuss both projects.
“Amory Wars: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” begins in May, but in April, Coheed and Cambria release their new album “Year of the Black Rainbow” along with a novel of the same name, also written by Sanchez and David. The album and novel go back to the beginning of the Coheed and Cambria epic to focus on the titular characters, the parents of Claudio, who is at the center of the comic series. “The novel really introduces many of the major elements, including the characters of Coheed and Cambria,” David told CBR News. “It basically tells much of the story that fans have been wondering about, it brings to full life all of the characters, Coheed and Cambria, Wilhelm Ryan – all of the major players in the universe that Claudio Sanchez has come up with.”
“This story is their origin,” Sanchez added. “The Black Rainbow is not a literal rainbow. It’s sort of an absence, a void that forms across Heaven’s Fence. It divides the people of Heaven’s Fence. Some see it as the hand of God, others feel it’s confirmation that Wilhelm Ryan, the dictator that rules over them, is truly the hand of God. It creates unrest among the people, so Coheed and Cambria are created to deal with this.”
Sanchez said that, in addition to the comics, he’s always wanted to do a novel, and the prequel nature of “Black Rainbow” made it a natural choice for the experiment. “It made sense to visit [the novel format] with this being the first story. Let’s approach this album differently, let’s try it in prose, and then chronologically continue in that medium,” Sanchez said. “The follow-up will be ‘Second Stage,’ and so on. So it’ll be in order.”
As to why he chose to partner with David, who has written novels in the “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica” universes, Sanchez said, “I’d been familiar with Peter’s work in comics, one particular that I really liked is ‘Fallen Angel.’ After reading the original first two DC story arcs, I just really enjoyed his dialogue and his characters. For me, being a new writer to the medium, and certainly with Second Stage, there’s some moments in ‘Second Stage’ where I’m just so enamored with the shock, I felt that some characters’ development I kind of lost a little bit. So I thought that Peter was certainly someone that I could learn from. As far as his prose, I wasn’t that familiar, but my wife had read ‘Tigerheart.’ She really enjoyed it. It just kind of made sense from there.”
The new BOOM! Studios series represents the third chapter in the unfolding epic, following the events of “Year of the Black Rainbow” and “The Second Stage Turbine Blade.” “At this point, Coheed and Cambria are long dead, which doesn’t stop Coheed from haunting his son Claudio on a regular basis,” David said of the series. “It deals with Wilhelm Ryan trying to put a stop once and for all to the ongoing rebellion that is still being raised up against him. It also deals with outstanding father issues that various of the characters have with certain individuals – Claudio with his father, the late Coheed; and also the new characters of Sizer and Chase, with their father Inferno, who is Coheed’s brother and the only one of these trio of original heroes to have survived to this point.
“Chase and Sizer are two artificial beings, the name for them at this point is IRO-bots, which is a name I’m sure Isaac Asimov would have approved of,” David continued. “Both of them are chronologically about ten years old, but Sizer, who’s capable of changing shape, as his name might imply, looks much older because his physical development was expedited. So he looks like he’s in his 20s. Whereas Chase, although she has aged intellectually, looks like she is about a ten-year old girl.” Noting similarities to “X-Factor’s” Layla Miller, David joked, “It’s starting to get to where it’s not a Peter David comic unless it’s got a creepy little girl in it somewhere.”
Sanchez, who had written the previous “Amory Wars” series on his own, said of the new series co-written with David, “It’s really good so far. We’ve had this story plotted out and written out for years. In finding Peter, we found a great partnership. He really helped the story grow. He’s cleaning up a lot of things, and a lot of communication, a lot of the questions he had, I think strengthened a lot of the characters,” Sanchez said. “I see them, and I think, wow, this is a powerful book. And something I always wanted out of the others.”
Both David and Sanchez noted that “In Keeping Secrets” would feature Claudio in a much more central, active role than he’d had been in previously – but in discussing the “Amory Wars” hero, Sanchez showed a bit of embarrassment. “I’m sorry, I named a character after myself. It’s all ‘cuz I sang my name in that one damn song!” he said, laughing. But, speaking of the character, “Everybody believes him to be this messiah, that he’s going to fix everything. When in reality, the character is actually the great destroyer. He’s kind of coming to grips with that. His story kind of ends on a better note, but bad things are going to happen.
“We also get to see House Atlantic, something we touched on in ‘Second Stage,’ but very loosely in the second volume,” Sanchez continued. “Ryan is doing something with House Atlantic, there’s a bigger purpose, and we get to see that come to life in the later parts of the story.”
The previous two “Amory Wars” series, volumes one and two of “Second Stage Turbine Blade,” were published through Image Comics, but Sanchez’s experience publishing “Kill Audio” with BOOM! led him to bring his sci-fi epic under the same roof. “I really enjoyed working with them on ‘Kill Audio.’ They brought a lot to the table. Ian [Brill] has been a great editor, a fun personality to work off of. My wife, who was a co-collaborator, did a lot of communicating with them, and she just found a lot of comfort working with them, with Matt [Gagnon], and everybody. Ross [Richie] is a great dude, everybody there. It just felt like the right place to be,” Sanchez said.
As to whether there are plans to complete or re-do volume four, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star,” which was released as two albums and one graphic novel, Sanchez said, “I’d like to.” “Part of me wants to redo ‘Second Stage,’ as well,” he added. “‘Second Stage’ will always be…never right for me. I just feel like there’s so much more story that hasn’t been told in those ten issues. There’s so much more backstory. In the Sketchbook, there’s a lot of programmed memories spoken of. They’re kind of major, some of those things.”
With the “Amory Wars” saga now playing out in music, comics and novels, CBR News asked Sanchez whether there are any other media he’d like to explore. “Not at the moment. I’m really enjoying the literary medium, I’m enjoying the comics,” he said. “Now that I’m putting out ‘Year of the Black Rainbow,’ I’m really enjoying that. I want to stay in those worlds for a little longer. And learn. It’s so much fun, and it’s such a challenge for me.”