Marz Runs At Full "Velocity"

Ever since "Velocity" won Top Cow's initial "Pilot Season" competition, fans have eagerly anticipated the Cyberforce speedster's return to the spotlight. That time has finally come in the form of Ron Marz and Kenneth Rocafort's forthcoming "Velocity" miniseries, with the first issue debuting on June 30 - and even though readers will get to enjoy Velocity's company for four issues, the hero herself only has one hour to save the day.

"The majority of the series takes place over an hour, and each page is roughly a minute," Marz told CBR of the premise behind the "Velocity" miniseries. "Some of the first issue sets the gears into motion, and once that happens, at the end of the first issue, we start a countdown - literally a ticking clock on every page from there on out. The set up is that there's a threat that will kill not only her, but the entirety of Cyberforce when an hour elapses. Her mission is to save her teammates and herself and it's relatively impossible for her to do that in an hour, so that's what drives through the rest of the story."

The mission might be impossible and time might not be on her side, but Velocity has one key advantage on her side: lots and lots of speed. "Velocity is another in the long and proud tradition of speedsters in comics," said Marz. "She's the fast girl like the Flash or like Quicksilver or any of the other speedster characters out there. She's blessed with the ability to run really fast and do everything else really fast."

Real name Carin Taylor, Velocity is the sister of another Cyberforce member, Ballistic. But beyond those two, Marz views the entirety of Cyberforce as a family story of sorts. "Whether there are actual family ties in the team or the team is only treated like family, I think that's always a component of a successful team book: that sense of family that you get from the X-Men or the classic Titans," said Marz. "While this is mostly a Velocity solo story, it really is about her having to save her family, that extended family of Cyberforce."

But a word of warning to Cyberforce: the vast majority of the team is staying on the sidelines for this miniseries. "We'll see them, but for the most part they're incapacitated by this threat that has descended upon them," said Marz. "Velocity is, in a very real sense, the last hope for all of them."

Not that many fans would complain about a Velocity-centric tale. The miniseries is long overdue for the fans that elected the Joe Casey and Kevin Maguire-crafted "Velocity" one-shot to win the inaugural "Pilot Season" in 2007. But while this miniseries spins out of the promise of that "Pilot Season" victory, it's not a continuation of the same "Velocity" story. "It's a new story," said Marz. "The first issue makes reference to the one-shot, so we have a sense that it's all kind of following in a line, but if somebody didn't see the one-shot or doesn't know anything about Velocity, this is a perfectly fine place to jump into the middle of it."

When Top Cow first approached Marz to kick-start a new "Velocity" miniseries, the writer said he accepted the task due to his affinity for the speedster. "I've always had an affection for the character," he said. "Out of everybody on Cyberforce, she's the one that has appealed to me the most, both visually and in terms of personality. Her personality is a little bit more bubbly and fun, which is something that's been lacking overall in superhero comics for a little while, that sense of fun. Superhero comics are now the books where people get their hearts ripped out in a bloody and literal sense. That wasn't the kind of story that I wanted to be telling here. I'm certainly not above doing graphic sort of stuff, but I didn't feel like this was the venue for that. If we could do a superhero story that, yes, had life and death consequences, high stakes and all of that stuff, but still had a sense of fun to it, I felt we'd be doing something that maybe wasn't quite so common on the market anymore."

The stakes are clearly high thanks to the book's real-time conceit: Velocity only has one hour to save her friends and herself from certain doom. "She's got to be in a lot of different places at once, because her teammates are scattered," said Marz. "She literally has to be in different corners of the world at the same time. I don't think I'm giving away too much by saying that the task in front of her is essentially impossible."

According to Marz, the story's real-time component was first developed years ago for a DC Comics "Hourman" story he was going to write alongside artist Cully Hamner. "The idea has been sitting in the back of my head ever since, just because I like the format," said Marz. "The ticking clock aspect is a trope you see in a lot of stories, but this one is a literal ticking clock on every page. ['Velocity'] felt like the right venue to use it, so I called Cully to make sure he was okay with me co-opting the notion we had talked about years ago. He was absolutely fine with it. As things unfolded, it really turned out to be the perfect way to tell the story."

Perfect? Perhaps. Easy? Don't count on it. Marz said that the real-time format presents some serious challenges - challenges that he's enjoying tremendously. "It's actually been fun in a sort of self-torture kind of way," he laughed. "It has been a pain in the ass to figure out the beats and keep that kind of metronome ticking on every page, but on the other hand, in a weird way, jumping through those hoops has been fun. It's not the kind of thing you generally do all of the time in a story. It's a pain in the ass, but it's been kind of a fun pain in the ass because it's a little bit different."

Keeping up with the fast-paced heroine is artist Kenneth Rocafort, Marz's partner-in-crime and an outspoken "Cyberforce" fan. "I've been wanting to work with Kenneth ever since, well, ever since I saw Kenneth's work for the first time," said Marz. "I think he's just sensational, and I don't throw that term around lightly. I think he's probably one of the top four or five guys working right now. The sensibility that he brings to the work is unlike anything anybody else is doing and, to a large extent, unlike anything that's been done, period. It's just really, really cool looking stuff. When Kenneth's schedule opened up enough that it looked like he could jump on this thing with me, I was absolutely thrilled. That just further solidified the direction of the story. The stuff he's turning in is just amazing. He's one of those guys where I could give him the phonebook to draw and it would come out looking amazing, so if I actually come up with something cool for him to draw, it's that much more amazing. There are sequences in the first issue that I can't imagine anybody else drawing them, having seen them now."

While the fate of Cyberforce certainly depends on Velocity's top speed, the possibility of further "Velocity" adventures depends upon something else. "I'm having a lot of fun doing it and obviously I'm really enjoying working with Kenneth. If there's an opportunity to do more, I would never say never. But as with all things, it ultimately comes down to the market's response to the book," said Marz. "On the creative side of things for the writers and artists, this is an art form and we're trying to tell stories that mean something. The flipside of that coin is that this is a business, and for the publishers, it has to be conducted like a business. Ultimately, the sales have the biggest say in whether something comes back or not."

Of course, there's another big reason that Velocity may not appear beyond the upcoming miniseries: she dies on page five of "Velocity" #1.

"She dies on page five! It's the first issue - you gotta give people some reason to come back," Marz laughed. "There's an unfortunate death scene on page five of the first issue. If somebody wants to see what that's all about, you've got to plunk down your pennies."

"Velocity" #1, written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Kenneth Rocafort, hits comic book stores on June 30, 2010.

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