Indiana Jones-style heroics intersect with high fantasy as acclaimed writer/creator Greg Rucka (The Old Guard) collaborates with writers Robert Mackenzie and Dave Walker (Lazarus Sourcebook) and artist Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, The Fuse, The Last Siege) to deliver a fresh historical adventure title from Image Comics this summer — and SYFY WIRE is offering an exclusive look at the debut issue.
Compass: The Cauldron of Eternal Life is a five-issue miniseries swinging into comic shops starting June 16 and introduces readers to the bold and charismatic Shahidah El-Amin, an eclectic mercenary who embraces life as a scholar, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, scientist, explorer, adventurer, and fighter.
Embarking on a quest beginning out of Baghdad's legendary House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, Shahi's dangerous mission brings her to 13th-century Britain, where the Welsh are rumored to possess the secret of eternal life. However, Shahi's is not the only one after it and must battle another competing tomb raider to claim the immortal prize.
For Mackenzie, part of the fun of classic adventure stories similar to Compass is seeding just enough real history with the right blend of myth and tall tale.
"Some things are very grounded in fact, but we also take — as this kind of yarn requires — some fun asides into the more outrageous," he tells SYFY WIRE. "One of the joys of putting the book together has been watching Justin and Daniela [Miwa] blend those tones and build to some of the surprises. What's a Cauldron of Eternal Life without some wonder to it?"
Artist Justin Greenwood dove into the project's unpredictable nature as the issues progressed, injecting a sense of pulpy goodness into his panels.
"From undead lords to massive spiders, abandoned castles and caverns full of secrets, forest druids to ancient guardians, each issue takes Shahi to new places with impossible challenges and drawing a book with that kind of unpredictable adventure is very enjoyable," Greenwood shares with SYFY WIRE.
Bestselling creator Greg Rucka, who had worked with Mackenzie and Walker on Lazarus Sourcebook, and colorist Daniela Miwa on The Old Guard, fell in love with their bold idea from the onset and helped shepherd the project to its completion.
"I love stories rooted in historical truth, in facts that have somehow been overlooked or — more frequently, I think — ignored in favor of another, more 'traditional' narrative," said Rucka in an Image statement. "As much as Compass is an action-adventure with all of those wonderful pulp elements I adore, its engine is personal and intimate, ultimately about the friendship between two very impressive, very capable women from two very different backgrounds. As soon as I realized that, I knew Justin was the only artist who could deliver what Dave and Robert were after. I’m very proud to claim a very small part in making this book come to life."
Co-writer Dave Walker made sure their protagonist was given an imposing adversary in order to balance out the stakes.
"One of the things we really wanted to see was a race, and so Shahi isn't the only one after the Cauldron," Walker tells SYFY WIRE. "Hua Ling is our rival, a brilliant, dangerous tomb raider who shares a history with Shahi. She was a great character to write, and in many ways, this is as much her story as Shahi's."
Now venture into our seven-page peek at Image Comics' Compass: The Cauldron of Eternal Life #1 (Jun. 16) in the full gallery below.