Three young people wake up at the bottom of a tower, with no memory of how they got there, who put them there, or perhaps most importantly, what they'll have to do to get out. Armed with nothing but their survival instinct and some very interesting power-ups, these characters will be thrust into a video game-style world in which they'll have to fight there way to the top, but no matter how much they depend on each other, only one can win.
That's the setup that launches Tower, the new comics series from indie publisher A Wave Blue World that marks the creator-owned comics writing debut of Batwoman star Camrus Johnson. Johnson, who plays Luke Fox/Batwing on the hit CW series, has previously contributed superhero stories to anthologies like Batman: Urban Legends and DC Represent!, but with Tower he gets to delve into a sci-fi world of his own design. Working with co-creator and co-writer Kelsey Barnhart, artists ChrisCross and Loyiso Mkize, and colorist Andrew Dalhouse, Johnson was able to pour his lifelong love of video games, which helped drive his love of acting, into an original story.
"I've always said that I believe video games are a huge reason why I wanted to become an actor," Johnson said. "It's the feeling of disappearing from your world and becoming this character in a brand new, often sci-fi, universe where danger lurks around every corner and having to make in-the-moment decisions to push forward."
The heroes of Tower are Cassandra, Kimi, and Mac, three contestants who find themselves in a world that feels like video games meets Hunger Games, as they learn to grapple with the threats posed by the Tower and the various other contestants lurking along the way. But no member of the trio has to do this alone, at least not at first. Each contest has their own "animal assistant," a power-up that triggers unique abilities, and Cassandra, Kimi, and Mac are also driven to stick together as they battle to survive. In the exclusive pages below, you can get a peek at what that looks like in action, as our heroes struggle within the game to battle other players.
"A lot of beating games is trusting your instinct, in a strange way. So the idea of a large group of people waking up inside of one with no recollection of how they got there has interested me for a long time; because although there is a way to beat this one without anyone actually being harmed, it's our survival instinct that tells us otherwise," Johnson explained. "And our new concept of each player having their own animal assistant is a way to unconsciously remind them all that when trapped in a cage, they're just animals too - pushing forward via instinct and the use of in-the-moment decisions. It should also be mentioned that this project was the start of my friendship with Kelsey, and now we're best friends!"
The first volume of Tower will arrive in five parts (collected into a single graphic novel) from A Wave Blue World next summer, but that's far from the end of the story. The game's many secrets, and whose really pulling the strings behind the scenes, lay the groundwork for what Johnson suggests is a much bigger saga, one he and the rest of the creative team hope to lay out in multiple future volumes.
"What's funniest to us is that these issues of Tower are really just the prequel to the real story! What our readers will soon realize is that, in video game terms, this is simply the beta test of what the actual game will become when it goes from a secret experiment to every home and hospital on the globe," Johnson said. "This is very early thinking, of course, but if these comics were to ever be adapted for the screen we would actually start with Tower 3 and work our way backwards - and I'm so excited for everyone to see why."
Tower launches in summer, 2022 from A Wave Blue World.