Josh Ortega Talks "Gears of War"

Gears of War

"Gears of War" #3 on sale now

When Epic's "Gears of War" burst onto the gaming scene in 2006, millions of gamers took on the role of Marcus Fenix and led Delta Squad against the Locust Horde in a fight for human survival. The game was a huge critical and retail success, and has continued to be one of the most played multiplayer games on Xbox Live since its debut.

Fans rejoiced when Epic announced in February that "Gears of War 2" would be arriving this holiday season, and like its predecessor, the game had a huge debut. Selling over two million units in its first weekend, "Gears of War 2" is being hailed as an improvement on almost every facet of the original "Gears of War" experience.

The storyline in "Gears of War 2" picks up six months after the original game. Entire cities have begun to sink underground, and in order to save one of the last save havens for humanity, Delta Squad has to head underground to battle the Locust on their own turf.

But what happened in the time between "Gears of War" and its sequel? That's a question the new "Gears of War" comic from Wildstorm seeks to answer. The book is written by "Gears of War 2" scribe Joshua Ortega, and serves as a bridge between "Gears of War" and "Gears of War 2," filling in some of the details about the six months that separate the storylines of the two games.

Issue #3 of the series is on sale now and CBR recently spoke with Ortega about working on the comic, and the plans he has for the series.

It was fairly early in the process of writing "Gears of War 2" that he came on board with the comic book. "I knew I'd be involved in the comic in some capacity, but it wasn't until a meeting with me, Mike Capps and the Wildstorm crew that everything was finalized," he told CBR news. "We all clicked, had the same vision, and we're really happy with the way the comic is coming along. And a quick shout-out to Liam Sharp, he's doing an amazing job on the art!"

"Gears of War" is intended to be accessible to fans of the games as well as people new to the Gears universe. "First and foremost, by offering a compelling story, interesting characters, and the kind of raw action and visuals that made Gears such a successful franchise in the first place," Ortega explained. "We also chose to create a new Gear to lead the story, that way, folks who don't know Gears as well as hardcore fans would get something new right off the bat."

The new Gear introduced in the pages of the comic book is Jace Stratton, and as Ortega notes, he's not your typical new guy. "He's younger, less experienced, but unlike the Carmine brothers, he's definitely not a green rook. Jace has been through a lot in his life (as we learn through flashbacks through the story), and he's seen death up close and personal since he was young. So Jace may be young, but he's definitely a survivor like the core Delta Squad."

As he was working on the game, Ortega took note of plenty of characters he planned to revisit in the pages of the Wildstorm comic. "From Tai to Dizzy to even Jon Harper (whose story is told through the Collectibles found in the game), there were a lot of characters that I was looking forward to fleshing out more in the comic," he said. "And since I co-directed the voice-over sessions for the game as well, we were able to do cool stuff like have Jace 'appear' in 'Gears of War 2' and talk to Marcus Fenix over the radio. You can tell they know each other, and readers of the comic have definitely been digging the fact that they can hear Jace in 'Gears 2.' I've always loved that kind of cross-media coordination, so it's been nice to put a lot of that into the Gears franchise."

While the new series will be exploring some new characters, there's still plenty of emphasis on fan favorites as well. Fans will get some insight into the relationship between Marcus Fenix and Anya Stroud. "You'll definitely see more of Marcus and Anya's relationship and learn more about what exactly they're relationship is, Ortega explained. "Anya's a cool character, but she hasn't had a lot of time to shine in the games, so we'll be looking forward to fleshing her out more as the series continues."

Fans can also expect to see more about Dom's search for his wife, who went missing on Emergence Day. "I think we'll be exploring some of that backstory in the next year or so," Ortega confirmed. "It's really a good, emotionally tragic story, and I think it'll add a lot of context and layers to the story we told in Gears 2."

Ortega also said fans can expect to see "lots more" of the world of Sera, and perhaps even learn more about the Locust. "Don't expect to get the whole story behind the Locust anytime soon..." he cautioned, "[as] there's a lot of rich material there and we like keeping some of it a mystery, at least for a little bit longer..."

Finally, Ortega told CBR that while the comic will initially be focusing on the six months between "Gears" 1 and 2, there is potential to expand beyond that. "Don't be surprised to see us jumping around various eras in Gears history as the series rolls on. There are tons of stories to tell and we're pumped to get 'em out there to Gears fans, new and old!"

"Gears of War" #1 and #2 are on sale now from Wildstorm.

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