Howard Shum has worked for the biggest publishers in comics, having inked such books as "Joker/Mask," "X-Men Unlimited," and a wide variety of "Star Wars" comics as well as "The Simpsons" and "Disney Adventures." In the last few years, however, he has made his name as writer with such comics as "Intrigue," "Gazillion," and the "Gun Fu" books. "Hyperkinetic" is Shum's newest project, a four-issue miniseries from Image Comics. Shum spoke with CBR news about the book, his creative team and the late Mike Wieringo's contribution to the project.
Shum's "Hyperkinetic" is a science-fiction action-comedy that plays many of the standard sci-fi tropes for big laughs. Said Shum, "It's about four female intergalactic bounty hunters and their robot. They're after an elusive alien prey that they need to capture otherwise their spaceship is going to get repossessed. They end up crash landing on a strange alien planet where they now have bigger concerns such as killer robots and weird aliens."
Readers will surely find a favorite among the crew of the Hyperkinetic, the eponymous spaceship of the series. "Alicia is the unofficial leader," Shum said. "She is sarcastic. She has this weapon that is like a yo-yo except the circle is made of laser (like a light saber) and the diameter of the circle can expand to the size of a head."
"Shirley is Chinese, born in Scotland. She is quick to anger and likes to act tough," Shum continued. "Milla is a fun bubbly girl. She seems more into fashion than bounty hunting. And Katiya is Brazilian-Russian, shy and an introvert. She is actually the best marksmen of all of them, but lacks the initiative to prove it."
Rounding out the crew is Tejigi 2057. "He's the girls' robot," the writer said. "They don't seem to like him as much as he thinks they do.
"Renpy is the bounty the girls are after," added Shum, "but they run into more 'villains' on the planet. There will be one major villain the girls will have to overcome to leave the planet alive."
Shum found his inspiration for "Hyperkinetic" in a the cult classic 1996 film "Freeway," starring Reese Witherspoon "It took the basic story of 'Little Red Riding Hood' and turned it into a whacked-out flick," said Shum. "I wanted to spin a story to that effect, but in my own style and in an entertaining manner with super intense action. I owe a lot to Lewis Carroll."
Shum isn't just writing the series, he's also serving as inker for the covers. Matteo Scalera illustrates "Hyperkinetic," with Oscar Celestini handling color. "I told my friend Emanuele Tenderini, who is also a wonderful artist, that I was looking for someone to draw 'Hyperkinetic' and he recommended Matteo," explained Shum. "I was amazed when I saw Matteo's work. He had everything I wanted for in an artist for 'Hyperkinetic.' His drawing is fantastic, especially his women, his layouts and action is actually hyperkinetic, which is good considering that is the name of the book, and his storytelling style fits well with my own. Matteo brought in Oscar to color the book and he is doing a fabulous job. There is no doubt in my mind that Matteo will soon be considered one of the top modern comic book artists."
Additionally, the first issue features a very special variant cover. Before his death from an aortic dissection last year, Mike Wieringo completed a cover for Shum's "Hyperkinetic." "I know a lot of people in comics," he said, "but Mike is one of the few I considered a friend. He did covers for 'Gun Fu' and 'Intrigue' as well. I met him early in my career. I inked him a bit on 'Tellos' and other stuff. He was a great guy."
"Hyperkinetic" features an edgy sense of humor and non-stop action that Shum thinks will appeal to young readers. "Teens to twenties tend to be the audience for my other books: 'Gun Fu,' 'Gazillion,' and 'Intrigue.' I imagine that will be the same for [this book]," he said. "I would like to see more girls and young women pick up 'Hyperkinetic.' I think they would like it. People who like cartoons like 'Cowboy Bebop' and 'Kim Possible,' movies like 'The Fifth Element,' and comics like 'Gunsmith Cats' and 'Skydoll' should be into 'Hyperkinetic.'"
If enough of those people do pick up the miniseries, Shum envisions a significant future for the property. "I would like 'Hyperkinetic' to be a series of miniseries like 'Hellboy.' The girls have many more adventures and missions. I also would like 'Hyperkinetic' to be a big-budget feature film written and directed by me. An animated 'Hyperkinetic' cartoon would be cool too. My agent needs to get cracking."
In the meantime, Shum will be keeping busy. Said the writer, "I have another science-fiction story and a horror-action story warming up in the bullpen. I also have some super cool spec screenplays that major Hollywood studios and big time producers should read and make if they like being successful."
"Hyperkinetic" lands on shelves on July 2.
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