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Exclusive look: Aftershock's post-nuclear series Dead Kings summons a world of folklore and magic

Contributed by
Oct 23, 2018

Steeped in the traditions of Russian folklore and injected with a Techno-Magic futurism, Aftershock Comics' new post-nuclear sci-fi series, Dead Kings, is a revenge-fueled romp into a decaying world where one brother's loyalty burns with the bonds of familial love.

Written by industry veteran Steve Orlando (Batman/Shadow, Midnighter) and matched up with striking art from Matthew Dow Smith (October Girl, Suicide Squad, X-Files), Dead Kings continues Orlando’s deep exploration of the dark nature of retribution in all its iterations and consequences. SYFY WIRE has your exclusive interior look at this engaging new hybrid adventure.

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Aftershock recruited Orlando for this new project based off his stellar work at Image (Virgil) and DC Comics (Wonder Woman, Justice League of America).

"When Dead Kings came into my mind, pulled from the bones of a concept that had been long gestating from the past, in many ways since I lived in Russia during college, it had an instant connection with Aftershock's publishing agenda," Orlando tells SYFY WIRE. "Once they were sold on the concept, they granted me another wish, and brought on my longtime friend and first-time collaborators Matthew Dow Smith and Lauren Affe."

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The storyline follows Sasha Vasnetsov in his quest to locate and recruit Maria Kamenaya, AKA Stone Mary, the hardened warrior of a long-past battle of mechs and magic, to rescue his twin brother from a brutal work camp for Chorts (The Socially Dissident). Sasha abandoned his hometown of Thrice-Nine five years ago, leaving his family and the filthy folklore world that now exists in the wreckage of a world war. Employing Stone Mary's lethal killing skills, he hopes to reunite the family he left behind and free his younger brother Gena from the secret police and return him to their mother before her 50th Birthday.

"It's True Grit meets Final Fantasy, in a Russia, and a world, that is just clawing back from having destroyed itself," Orlando adds. "It's influenced by the now — detention centers for LGBTQ+ folks in Chechnya — and influenced by the far past, folkloric cautionary tales and inspirational adventures. And it's an ode to the strength of the Babushka, the Russian Grandmother who is tough as hell, and can humbly kick the s*** out of whatever life throws at her. It's a promise to a mother, an apology to a brother, and a plea to a future friend — all on Sasha's part".

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Orlando also considers Matthew Dow Smith's arresting art to be key to this world and Dead Kings' overall aura and distinctive feel.

"His work is rich, the worlds he builds angular and bold," Orlando explains. "He's a longtime friend, and it's amazing to build this world with him. Having Lauren Affe on colors adds incredible texture and vibrancy to Dead Kings, and working with my longtime collaborator in Thomas Mauer is always fantastic. He is the perfect unifying force in my work. We're all a team bringing you a world like any other, built on excitement, tenacity, and fresh ideas. Come see it!"

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Check out our exclusive seven-page preview of Dead Kings #1 (out Oct. 24) and tell us if this fresh series from Aftershock Comics gives you a jolt of buyer's enticement.

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