Bernardin & Freeman talk Top Cow's Genius

What if the greatest military genius of our generation was born and raised on the battleground of South Central, Los Angeles? That’s the question that writer Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman set out to answer in “Genius,” their entry in Top Cow’s second annual Pilot Season competition. Now that their fan-favorite entry has emerged as one of the top two vote-getters of Pilot Season 2008, Bernardin and Freeman are being given the opportunity to continue the story, and CBR News caught up with both writers to get the details.

The military genius in question is a young girl named Destiny Ajaye, who Bernardin likens to Hannibal, Alexander, Patton or Washington. “She’s a savant-level military genius,” Bernardin told CBR. “Now, she was born in South Central, L.A., into an environment that has been known to eat its young, or have its young taken by the authorities. She decides that enough is enough and secedes a two-square-block area from Los Angeles proper. And given her natural skill set, that involves lots of blood.”

“This is a young woman that found her calling regardless of the implications,” Freeman added. “And it addresses the larger question, ‘Does someone with a God-given talent have a responsibility to use it?’”

What’s in store for Destiny’s war in the new series? “We’re going to explore Destiny’s origin: How she came to power in the first place, and why she’s as mad as she is,” Bernardin said. Of course, a villain is only as good as her heroes, and Bernardin said that readers would get to see the fight from law enforcement’s perspective as well.

“Whereas the first issue was mainly setting up the conflict and establishing the characters, we will now explore the ramifications, on both sides, of this war,” Freeman added.

The writers believe their success in the competition was due in no small part to a plug by Warren Ellis. “He gave us a good review on his blog, and given that the entire learned world reads his blog, a lot of eyes were exposed to ‘Genius,’ and I guess those people responded to what they saw,” Bernardin said.

“And then we did a little dance,” Freeman remarked.

A week after the polls closed and the writers were informed that “Genius” had emerged one of the winners, Bernardin and Freeman danced some more.

And will Afua Richardson, who penciled the pilot issue, return for the new ongoing series? “She’d better,” Freeman said.

“That’s the plan,” Bernardin confimed. “Unless the bribe-crates of precious metals, spices from exotic Asia, and baby pandas went to the wrong address.”

Top Cow is targeting Fall 2009 to launch the new “Genius” series. “But we’re going do everything we can to try and get it out earlier,” Bernardin said. “I’ve still got more bribe-crates.”

In the meantime, Freeman offers to read the script pages to fans out loud, as each page is finished.

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