Chicago, Day 2: College Experimentation: Wolfman talks "Defex"

During Comic-Con International last month Devil's Due, the publisher of the popular "G.I. Joe" series of comics, unveiled their latest comics offering, a new super hero universe published under the Aftermath Comics name. Fans got their first look at the Aftermath line in a special "Aftermath" #0 issue, which premiered at Wizard World Chicago this weekend. In all, four different books make up the launch of this universe.

Writer Marv Wolfman is handling the writing chores on "Defex" and is joined by artist Sergio Cariello on the title. Wolfman sat down with CBR News to talk about the series.

Wolfman got involved in the Aftermath line after Devil's Due head honcho Josh Blaylock approached him.

"I was shown Josh's ideas, he had ideas for about five or six projects, and he asked which one I was most interested in," Wolfman told CBR News earlier this week. "I decided on 'Defex' because I thought it was the one I'd feel most comfortable with to try something different."

Blaylock came up with the core concepts for each book, but was more than willing to let his writers expand on his original ideas.

"He had an origin in mind, but I asked if I could come up with my own and he had no problem with that. The stuff I write the best is the stuff where I get to come up with the background of the characters. That allows a certain amount of story detail to be delved into for years. I also know what my strengths are, so I like to play to those to make it the best possible."

Wolfman described the series for CBR News.

"'Defex' stars a number of college students who've found themselves put together in their science lab. They were asked to explore something called rosette nanotubes and the medical and biological implications of nanotube technology. One or two of the students have done research previously. A couple of the students are really bright, some of the others are not so. They are provided a laboratory to work in, as have all the students, except that theirs is a little bit different. It's very high tech and we're not quite sure why. Slowly the story line will come together. They start realizing that because of the research they've done that they may be entering territory they're not too familiar with. Let's just say that because of some college behavior, they get roaring drunk and do things they probably should not. That sort of creates the situation that changes them. It doesn't change them in ways that they expect. It doesn't change them in ways that are normally good. Then we discover a lot of this was being set-up without their knowledge."

Wolfman shared a run down of the initial characters in "Defex."

"Haley Rin, 22. Chimera - Thinly built, ordinary height, long jet-black hair, half Japanese, half Caucasian. Incredibly intelligent. Goth personality and dress. Powers: There's a theory that every vertebrate in the animal kingdom is derived from the same organism - hence, even Whales have 'hands' if you look at the bone structure of their fins - everything has the basic similar skeleton of arms, legs, etc. Chimera has the ability to tap into this primal part of our DNA, and unlock other animal traits (limited to vertebrates).

"Ariel Davis, 23. Six - Black. The 'manager' of the group. Tries to keep them all together. Has all of her senses heightened to a super human level. Touch, Smell, Hearing, Sight, and Taste. This has somehow opened up an unexplained 'sixth sense' ability.

"Tristan Warfield Jr., 21 - Black. Military family. He has been changed into something monstrous. Exactly what can't be revealed yet.

"Mia Sanchez, 21. Rush - Latino. Able to control her adrenaline, sugar levels, and other chemicals necessary for 'fight or flight' responses, Rush is able to tap into the ultimate of human abilities.

"Jack Morgan, 22. Idol - Caucasian. The ability to control pheromones and hormones at will. He also gives off a pheromone that makes him irresistible to women... all except for the one woman he wants more than anything, Rush."

Wolfman noted that the powers have been kept to a minimum level with each member of "Defex," the characters being more important than what they can or can't do. And these characters may not turn out exactly like you'd expect.

"One of the things what I wanted to do was not what I did with 'Teen Titans.' I wanted older students. The Titans were in fact teens. I wanted characters who were not necessarily together because of any situation other than they were put together the way most of us are in school. It's not necessarily people who like each other, but they suddenly find that for their mutual protection they have to be together because of what's happened to them. We can explore a little bit more of the characters that way. These are characters whose lives have been radically changed and who are going to be interfacing with each other in ways they did not expect and now have to depend upon each other."

Wolfman noted that these five are not crime fighters. Right now they're just trying to figure out what's happening with and to them and staying together as a group seems to be the best way to find the answers to their many questions.

"One of the things I was told early on was it should be realistic, as if it happened in the real world, plus being able to have the big types of fun stories you have in super hero books.

"Most of the other books in the Aftermath Universe are single character books and a little bit easier to handle because it's just one person facing whatever the situation is. Here you have five different characters with a lot of background."

You might have noticed that "Defex" shares some qualities with the 1990 Kieffer Sutherland/Julia Roberts film "Flatliners."

"'Flatliners' was one of my influences," said Wolfman. "Obviously the characters are all different because Josh came up with who these people were, the visuals and the super hero names, which by the way won't get used for a long time.

"Most super heroes either fall into a vat of something, as a friend of mine used to say, whether it be cosmic rays, a radioactive spider, you get sent someplace or one of your relatives gets killed. Those are pretty much the origins of most characters. What I wanted was more of a deliberate action and I actually used 'Flatliners' as an example because they're the same age group, and makes it easier to understand what I'm working on. That was a very easy way of saying real college kids have found themselves caught up in a scenario that they didn't expect because of what they're doing."

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