Last year's "Speed Racer" miniseries from DC/Wildstorm snuck in under most fans' radar, becoming something of a sleeper hit and putting series writer and artist Tommy Yune -- formerly best-known for his work on Wildstorm's Web site -- on the map.
This August, Yune returns to the racetrack with the prequel to "Speed Racer," "Racer X" and next year, he tackles curves of a different sort, writing and drawing a "Danger Girl" miniseries.
As a colorist and the interim Webmaster for Wildstorm, Yune told the Comic Wire on Friday he "had an unfair advantage, because I knew more about the ['Speed Racer' television] series than most of the folks at Wildstorm did at the time. I was a fanboy. … I think what helped me was that I had kind of an idea of what to do with the series. And that was a big question at the time when we were working on the license."
While the original television series is fondly remembered by many who saw it in the 1970s, there was some question as to how well the show had held up over the intervening decades.
"They wanted to know if we should go with the original series, or go with some new modernized spin-off, and I thought since it's been so long since 'Speed Racer' had a visible showing … I think it made sense to go with the nostalgia."
Yune acknowledges that there weren't a lot of expectations for "Speed Racer" before it came out.
"I think people were curious because Wildstorm was known for … superhero teams. Slickly produced preposterous action, Spandex everywhere. … As far as licensed products go, 'Speed Racer' at Wildstorm left people scratching their heads."
What Yune suggested was to not "regurgitate" the television series, but still play the nostalgia card by retelling the origin of Speed Racer and the Mach Five team. Starting August 30, Yune will be jumping back into the driver's seat with a series that takes place years before the "Speed Racer" series, with the "Racer X" miniseries.
"It was an insidious plan of mine from the start. There are sneaky loose ends in 'Speed Racer' put in from the start, that were going to lead into 'Racer X,'" he said. "The two together combine to form one large story."
This time around, though, Yune isn't handling art chores on the book.
"Jo Chen, the artist, she hates this term, but I think she is a fantastic shojo artist." The Japanese term "shojo" refers to girls' manga comics, which often focus on romance and other less-than-macho subjects. "Under the sneaky guise of being a testosterone-fueled male comic, it's a heartfelt romance. Imagine me trying to sneak that proposal by!"
In addition to the four issue "Racer X," Yune is also reintroducing Wildstorm's Cybernary to the post-DC-buyout Wildstorm Universe in the pages of November's "Wildstorm Thunderbook" anthology.
But perhaps his highest profile book to date will be the two issue "Danger Girl" miniseries later this winter he's writing and drawing.
"It's a cute little side story that kind of was supposed to be a little story, that grew into a big story."
Set in Asia, "Danger Girl: Kamikaze" "directly follows up Jeff Campbell's work on 'Danger Girl' #7." "They meet a new enemy … the Kama Syndicate … they, along with Hammer, form the Axis of Terror."
To help supplement the offerings of the chronically late "Danger Girl" miniseries, series creators J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell have been recruiting other creators to do standalone "Danger Girl" stories. Art Adams did just such a story for a previous "Danger Girl" one-shot.
"They think this would be a nice treat for the fans following 'Danger Girl' #7. I've communicated with Jeff Campbell on the plot, and also with Andy Hartnell, and so their fingerprints are all over it. … They were ecstatic about the pitch, because it fits in perfectly with what they're doing."
As for what fans can expect from "Kamikaze," Yune says it's pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.
"It's gonna be really, really wacky. You're going to get a great kick out of it. Everything from Hong Kong gun-wielding people in the middle of big cities, to samurais to robots. … We're going to use all the shameless [Asian action] clichés we can cram into a book. Done well, mind you."
And while the comic will have a definite Japanese manga influence, it'll still be "Danger Girl."
"Jeff was happy with my character designs. They're definitely recognizable as the characters from 'Danger Girl.'" In other words: "More scantily clad women than you can shake a stick at.
"I also thought of making this a heart-felt romantic love story, but that didn't go over well," he laughed.
As for the future beyond "Danger Girl: Kamikaze," Yune has feelers out for more projects, but won't say more at this time.
"I'm at the point where I'm having to pick my projects carefully."