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A Writer’s Commentary: Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1

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  • A Writer’s Commentary: Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1

    A Writer’s Commentary: Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #1, on sale this week from Dynamite.

    Page 1

    I wanted a jarring opening. Seemed like a great place to go in media res, right into the action. And I loved the call back to the great opening of the initial TV movie that kicked this franchise off, as Steve suffers the accident that turns him bionic.

    I also wanted to establish some layers from the get-go. This is a story with a lot happening on the surface, but a great deal of interiority as well. Which manifests, in part, with this voice inside his head. A voice that swears in binary…

    Pages 2 and 3

    Again, jarring. Horizon line thrown off. Plane going down. Steve plummeting toward death. Cartel gangsters in the air around him. This is bad.

    Great work by Taylor Esposito on letters. We worked a lot on getting the right font for the computer voice, and he nailed it.

    Page 4

    But Steve Austin is a pro. Even in this situation, he doesn’t panic. Here we see that going into action, as well as a little perspective on how he analyzes the world through his cyborg eye (nice grid layered in that panel from Ron).

    Pages 5 and 6

    A lot of times, I try to craft moments that are both funny and really serious all at once. I never quite know how well it works. That’s what I was shooting for here. Steve is basically just calling out the extreme absurdity of the moment, even while heading toward possible death.

    And, it’s 1979, I had to make at least one reference to cocaine. It’s required.

    Pages 7 and 8

    Another homage to the first TV movie that kicked off the franchise. Some direct references to dialogue of the scene in which Steve’s injuries (and new cyborg parts) are revealed.

    Great work here by colorist Michael Atiyeh on heightening how weird and unnatural Steve is, when he’s fully revealed.

    On page 8, we establish the emotional conflict central to this story. Steve wants nothing more than to be human, but every mission he goes on pushes him more toward machine.

    Page 9

    It was editor Matt Idelson who reminded me we needed to add the slow motion jumping sound effect. Really like how it turned out.

    Page 10

    Barney Hiller was the other cyborg from the TV series. I thought he’d be a good addition as a counterpoint to Steve. Barney doesn’t look back. He’s happy to be bigger and better than human. Of course, he’s also a little unhinged.

    Look for a lot more of Barney, especially in issue 3.

    Page 11

    In that middle row of panels, you see something new. Information being fed electronically into Steve’s brain.

    1979 marks the advent of the Internet age in a lot of ways, so that’s what we’re exploring. How information and technology intersect, and the implications for Steve.

    More critically, this information reveals a troubling clue about some secret O.S.I. history…

    Pages 12 and 13

    Steve Austin sneaking into O.S.I. headquarters! A pretty stunning moment right out of the gate. But we are not playing it safe in this series.

    And, lasers! Because why not?

    Pages 14 and 15

    I always love those 1970s baseball cards, where every player has epic facial hair. So I just had to make a Steve Garvey joke. Seems like Oscar Goldman would be a baseball guy.

    Again, trying to inject some levity in a very serious moment. A lot of that is the computerized voice in Steve’s head.

    Page 16

    Pretty much always cool when a character jumps out a window, right? That’s one of my favorite action movie tropes.

    Really love the way Ron framed the action with Steve using his cyborg arm instinctively to protect himself from the gunfire.

    Page 17

    And here we meet Aguirre. He has a gun and an eye patch. Again, because why not?

    Pages 18 and 19

    We’re dealing with some heady stuff here. Steve has learned that the agency he serves seemingly is planning to use him as the prototype for an army, which completely crushes his sense of who he is and the purpose he serves.

    But, again, this is comics, so it should be fun, right? And what’s more fun than ninjas? Nothing, I say.

    The language the ninjas use is pretty stilted and over the top here. I was trying to channel ninjas as they’d appear in the 1970s, which was super over the top and ridiculous. Hopefully that comes across.

    Pages 20 and 21

    And now we meet Mick Gentle. Kind of envisioned him as a 1970s version of Elon Musk.

    Some back story on that name: When Rob Venditti and I were working on The Flash, we would meet up and work through outlines. One day, I said something, and he misheard me, thinking I had said, “Mick Gentle.” We both loved the name, but I claimed it. Suck on that, Rob.

    Page 22

    Laser eyes. Laser. Eyes.

    Love how Ron drew this.

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    So we ignore everything that happened in SMDM: season 6 then?? So will Jaime be in this miniseries??? And a computer in Steve's brain..when did this happen???

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
      So we ignore everything that happened in SMDM: season 6 then??
      I don't know about that. Barney appears, and there seems to be a vague reference to what happened to him in SMDM:S6.

      Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
      So will Jaime be in this miniseries???
      She's not in the first issue.

      Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
      And a computer in Steve's brain..when did this happen???
      Apparently in issue #1 of this series, and Steve is somewhat disconcerted to discover he has a passenger along in the front seat. It's a bit weird, as that kind of advanced AI isn't believable in the context of a sequel to the original series set in 1979. Reminded me a lot of Marvel's DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER with an ongoing internal conversation between the organic and computer brains of the character, but Deathlok's series was set in an alternate future timeline (of the Marvel Universe, where that kind of AI fits in the context of that universe, but not in Steve Austin's, which is more like the real world).
      Last edited by positronic; 07-16-2016, 03:08 AM.
      DE pull list: Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse Makers, ERB's The Greatest Adventure, Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit, PSP: Herokillers, KISS/Vampirella, Mighty Mouse

      Comment


      • #4
        G'day,

        In general, a good opening issue. The AI in brain was a new addition and no explanation as yet how he got it. I also liked the Easter eggs,- the female doctor was called Wagner and one of the men Caidin.

        Ralph


        Originally posted by positronic View Post
        I don't know about that. Barney appears, and there seems to be a vague reference to what happened to him in SMDM:S6.



        She's not in the first issue.



        Apparently in issue #1 of this series, and Steve is somewhat disconcerted to discover he has a passenger along in the front seat. It's a bit weird, as that kind of advanced AI isn't believable in the context of a sequel to the original series set in 1979. Reminded me a lot of Marvel's DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER with an ongoing internal conversation between the organic and computer brains of the character, but Deathlok's series was set in an alternate future timeline (of the Marvel Universe, where that kind of AI fits in the context of that universe, but not in Steve Austin's, which is more like the real world).

        Comment


        • #5
          There was a SMDM episode called "The Ultimate Imposter" which was a backdoor pilot ....It wasn't AI exactly...



          http://bionic.wikia.com/wiki/The_Ultimate_Imposter

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
            There was a SMDM episode called "The Ultimate Imposter" which was a backdoor pilot ....It wasn't AI exactly...
            That episode didn't have anything to do with computer intelligence. Joe Patton's brain is only "computerized" in the sense of his having the ability to store and retrieve vast quantities of information, something any computer that has been given the right data can do easily, but most humans cannot. What humans can do easily, but computers cannot, is to synthesize new ideas by comparing or combining bits of known data, something we do all the time called "thinking". We're not even sure exactly how the process works, which is why it's difficult to program a computer to imitate that ability.

            I'm going to say that the AI connected to Steve Austin's brain in "Fall of Man" is more similar to something like Maskatron (in SMDM Season 6) or Dr. Dolenz' lifelike androids (one of which was even capable of passing itself off as Oscar Goldman), or Dr. Franklin's 'fembots'. That would lead to the conclusion that OSI somehow got hold of Dr. Dolenz' or Dr. Franklin's research and data (or even recruited Dolenz himself, after he was taken into custody at the end of "Return of the Robot Maker"), or reverse-engineered their captured technology, then secretly implanted it in Steve when they repaired or upgraded his cybernetics. Dr. Franklin's "son", Carl Franklin, is actually a true AI android, so maybe that's where OSI reverse-engineered the AI tech, and later implanted it in Steve, running in some 'silent mode' until it began to communicate of its own volition with Steve's organic brain's synaptic impulses.

            Reference the following episodes of SMDM for Dr. Dolenz:
            • "Day of the Robot"
            • "Run, Steve, Run"
            • "Return of the Robot Maker"

            And the following Bionic Woman episodes for Dr. Franklin and "Carl Franklin":
            • "Kill Oscar" (Parts I, II*, & III) *Part II is a SMDM episode; this was a crossover.
            • "Fembots in Las Vegas" (Parts I & II)

            Another artificial intelligence in the form of a computer dubbed ALEX 7000 by its designer Elijah Cooper, appeared in the Bionic Woman episodes "Doomsday Is Tomorrow" (Parts I & II). Although Jaime destroyed ALEX by activating the sprinkler system, which caused its unsealed circuitry to short out, OSI did recover its damaged components and was perhaps able to analyze them to create an AI of its own design.
            Last edited by pulphero; 07-17-2016, 12:08 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Like I said Ultimate Imposetr isn't AI, plus Steve mentions Barney being back to normal doesn't reference SMDM:S6 at all but the SMDM episode "Return Of the Seven Million Dollar maN'....Fall OF Man will avoid anything from SMDM:S6 just to be their own continuity...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
                Like I said Ultimate Imposetr isn't AI, plus Steve mentions Barney being back to normal doesn't reference SMDM:S6 at all but the SMDM episode "Return Of the Seven Million Dollar maN'....Fall OF Man will avoid anything from SMDM:S6 just to be their own continuity...
                Maybe it's referencing the television episode and maybe it's referencing Season Six. It's not conclusive either way.

                I think Season Six was originally designed to run 12 issues -- there were far too many overlapping plotlines going on for a 6-issue arc. The alien plot got wrapped up by issue #6, but it seems like poor sales forced many of the other plotlines to condense a lot in the last couple of issues, and even at that we were left with plenty of unresolved plot threads -- but the stuff with Oliver Spencer, Maskatron and Barney definitely seems like it could connect up to the new AI stuff in Fall of Man.

                Since it seems like far too few people bought the Season Six series, it's unlikely that they're going to make a direct reference or a footnote or something. There definitely needed to be a series beyond Season Six #6 to explain what happened with Bigfoot, so obviously quite a bit would have needed to happen between SMDM Season Six #6, and the beginning of SMDM Fall of Man #1 - so of course it doesn't seem like they're picking up where they left off. Season Six was written by a different writer, James Kuhoric. We obviously did not get to "watch" the entire run of "episodes" in Season Six... and "Fall of Man" would be in effect Season Seven, or even the second half of Season Six, returning from hiatus (after we'd missed the last half of the episodes from the first half of Season Six). Just consider it as though there were at least 6 issues/episodes of Season Six that you missed, during which a lot of stuff happened to Steve.

                Whether Steve's new bionic-AI interface has something to do with Maskatron or Barney from SMDMS6, Dr. Dolenz, Dr. Franklin/Carl Franklin, or ALEX7000 -- or some combination, reverse-engineering, or extrapolation of technology from all of them is open to interpretation, and maybe doesn't even require a detailed explanation. For now we can just assume that something along those lines occurred, and it seems likely that at some point there will be a flashback or Steve will get an explanation from someone as to when exactly this mystery upgrade to his bionic components occurred -- but that doesn't mean the exact genesis of the AI technology will be or needs to be explained.
                Last edited by positronic; 07-18-2016, 02:08 AM.
                DE pull list: Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse Makers, ERB's The Greatest Adventure, Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit, PSP: Herokillers, KISS/Vampirella, Mighty Mouse

                Comment


                • #9
                  It's fun how we're debating whether AI tech is possible in 1979 when SMDM had encounters with 3! alien races (Straight On 'iIl Morning, Secret OF Bigfoot I and II, Return of Bigfoot I and II and Lost Island)..Although it could just be a computer-brain link where the computer is communicating and its not an actual AI..

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Alchemist View Post
                    It's fun how we're debating whether AI tech is possible in 1979 when SMDM had encounters with 3! alien races (Straight On 'iIl Morning, Secret OF Bigfoot I and II, Return of Bigfoot I and II and Lost Island)..Although it could just be a computer-brain link where the computer is communicating and its not an actual AI..
                    I was assuming the AI to be of the indigenous variety (i.e. Earth-tech circa 1979), not alien. I definitely got an impression in that opening scene where Steve finds himself having an internal conversation that the AI seemed to be along for the ride. A little too much personality in that side of the dialogue for just a computer, too. I guess it could turn out to be some alien technovirus that has insinuated/bonded itself into Steve's bionics.
                    DE pull list: Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse Makers, ERB's The Greatest Adventure, Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit, PSP: Herokillers, KISS/Vampirella, Mighty Mouse

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by positronic View Post
                      I was assuming the AI to be of the indigenous variety (i.e. Earth-tech circa 1979), not alien.
                      Yes, but Earth-tech circa 1979 for science-fictiony TV shows, which pretty much could mean whatever the plot requires. Remember, this is a world with Maskatrons and Fembots.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Here's what was featured on the 2 Bionic shows....

                        All of the following are from I remember, so there might be errors)

                        (N)ational (S)ecurity (B)ureau...Government agents


                        sonic weapon (SMDM:Population Zero)
                        laser weapon
                        ESP
                        First US female astronaut (SMDM: Athena One)
                        space accident ...ability to talk to dolphins and high INT...SHATNER!! (SMDM: Burning Bright

                        hibernation? (SMDM: The Pioneers)
                        alien race #1 (SMDM: Straight on til morning)
                        alien race #2 +Bigfoot! (SMDM: Secret of Bigfoot I & II, Return of Bigfoot I & II crossover with BW, and Bigfoot V)

                        water breathing device ? (SMDM: H+2+o=Death)
                        robot (SMDM: Day of the robot, Return of the robot maker)
                        downloading skills and info from computer to brain (SMDM: The Ultimate Imposter)
                        mining the Moon (SMDM: Dark side of the mon)
                        radar stealth (SMDM: Cheshire project)
                        mind reading computer
                        basic AI(SMDMate with Danger)
                        bionic woman (SMDM:The bionic Woman,)
                        prototype (SMDM: Seven million dollar man, bionic criminal)
                        -----------BW--------------------------------------
                        jetpack
                        fembots+weather control device (BW: Kill Oscar I-III crossover with SMDM)
                        space laser +Fembots (BW: Fembots in Las Vegas I & I)
                        truth serum shampoo ?!? (BW: Brainwash)
                        adrenalizine (BW: Deadly ringer)
                        mind controlling space germ (BW: The Vega influence)
                        biofeedback..(BW: Bofeedback)
                        --After Star Wars was released , BW had alien stuff featured in the folowing----
                        alien princess (BW:??)
                        ancient astronaut (BW: The pyramid)
                        ==================================================

                        Imagine if Dynamite was actually able to do a BW/SMDM comic book...If they include the 3 TV movies as part of the backstory then...

                        Steve Austin (Retired, charter boat captain married to Jaime Sommers)
                        Jaime Sommers (Retired, psychologist married to Steve Austin)
                        Michael Austin (Steve Austin's son from AF academy days, current OSI agent, bionic)
                        Kate Mason (bionic, current OSI agent)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Looking forward to WONDER WOMAN '77 MEETS THE BIONIC WOMAN.
                          DE pull list: Will Eisner's The Spirit: The Corpse Makers, ERB's The Greatest Adventure, Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit, PSP: Herokillers, KISS/Vampirella, Mighty Mouse

                          Comment

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