Once and Future King: Becker talks "Last Reign"

In a post-apocalyptic world divided into feudal fiefdoms, only a new king of Avalon can unite the warring factions against the greater threats to mankind. This November, BOOM! Studios will launch "Last Reign: Kings of War," a five-issue miniseries written by film director Walt Becker and comics scribe Michael Alan Nelson, with art by Ed Estevez and Karl Richardson on covers. CBR News caught up with Becker, whose credits include the comedies "Van Wilder" and "Wild Hogs," to discuss the new series and his turn to the realm of science fiction/fantasy.

"Last Reign" is a science fiction take on feudal society, with futuristic knights ruling distinct territories across the Earth. Just as a kingdom's knights once passed their armor down throughout generations, Becker's story sees the body armor of Special Forces soldiers inherited by the successive lords of a post-apocalyptic world. "The genesis to our story happens eighty to 100 years in the future, so if one could extrapolate what we see our Special Forces guys in their full body armor wearing now, imagine that in eighty years," Becker told CBR News. "Then there's the Apocalypse, and the armor gets passed down. So what ends up happening is, we have an old knight's tale in the whole Arthurian tradition of people passing stuff down, but it's actually futuristic body armor that does futuristic things."

The return of feudalism comes from necessity, the need for security in a deadly world. "People sort of rally around the knights as their only means of protection," Becker said.

One of the feudal lords is the story's hero, Darius, who is descended from a group known as the Elite Eight and possesses one of eight pieces of special armor. "He's lost his wife, and in the opening book he also loses his son," the writer said. "He is kind of the Arthurian character who decides to reunite these eight kingdoms to fight a bigger foe."

Though primarily known for his comedic films such as "Van Wilder" and "Wild Hogs," Becker has some experience in the world of high adventure. His 1998 novel "Link," published by William Morrow, blended elements of sci-fi and pulp action. Becker is also interested in getting back to the action-adventure genre in his day job, but the moviemaking industry can be difficult to navigate. "I started as an action screenwriter, so most of my early stuff was action or science fiction," he said. "I only got into the comedy business because I wrote a romantic comedy with a writing partner, called 'Buying the Cow,' that I directed, that was my first film. And once you direct one comedy you kind of become a comedy director, so you're doing more comedies and more comedies! So for me, while I love comedy, one of my other passions is science fiction and adventure. Those kinds of movies now are started to present themselves, and it's something I wanted to do, as well."

Eventually, Becker hopes "Last Reign" will be one of these movies. "I came up with the idea for 'Last Reign' as not only a great idea for a movie, but a movie universe, in the same way of 'Lord of the Rings' or one of these epic tales," he said, "and the best way into this world, the best way to conceptualize it to studios, would be to do it as a comic, because the story is so big. For me, the comic book world has such great fans and in terms of building a following for a universe, that was the whole idea behind 'Last Reign,' let's build a base now and then do the movie, and that's a movie that I want to direct. That was kind of the end game there. The more I've gotten into it with these BOOM! comic guys, the more I want to keep coming out with other books, maybe in that same genre, maybe possibly comedy."

There are, of course, other advantages for film writers and directors to make the leap to comics. "I think the reason more and more are coming from the film side is that comics are a very cost-effective way to tell a story," Becker remarked. "The movie version of 'Last Reign' would cost $150 million, the book would obviously cost significantly less. For me, the attractive part is just dealing with such talented artists and talented writers, and even in that sense it's the same thing as a film, you're telling a story with pictures. It's just in film they're moving pictures, in comics they're not.

"For me, I also looked at it as storyboards for the eventual movie, and when you see things like '300' or any of these Frank Miller things that have been adapted, they're pretty faithful to the essence and the heart of the graphic novel. I think the reason it's so fun and attractive is not only the people that are working in the industry, and you don't need a thousand people to greenlight a comic like you would a movie, but also just that you can flesh out a world in its entirety without breaking the bank."

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