Sci-fi sagas centered around a grim lone survivor traversing a post-apocalyptic landscape against all odds (The Road Warrior, The Story of Eli) are as ubiquitous as Harley Quinn and Deadpool cosplayers at Comic-Con, but every so often someone strips the familiar narrative down to its essence and brings something fresh and alive.
Dark Horse's Death Orb #1 arrives this week, and the mirthless five-issue miniseries reignites interest in these types of bleak futuristic tales. Written by Ryan Ferrier (D4VE, Secret Wars: Battleworld) and hitched to energetic art by Alejandro Aragon (28 Days Later), it follows the desperate plight of a charismatic, motorcycle-riding renegade trying to rescue his wife and dispatch some brutal frontier justice along the way.
The story follows Rider, a no-nonsense, ax-wielding wastelander who carves a blood-stained trail across a battle-torn North America ruled over by the ruthless Lords, the enigmatic Father, and their brainwashed cult followers as he tries to track down his abducted spouse and unborn child. Gleaning information from one of Father's minion mercenaries, Rider hammers down on his mission to retrieve his family, with The Lords in hot pursuit.
SYFY WIRE spoke to Ferrier about the series' envisioned futurism, how this redeeming project evolved at Dark Horse, the integration of Aragon's artwork, and what myriad misadventures readers can expect as the plot unfolds.
After the chat, check out our exclusive 6-page peek into this savage story in the full gallery below. Dark Horse's Death Orb #1 rolls into comic shops Oct. 3.
What is the origin of Death Orb and your inspirations for the style and tone of the series?
RYAN FERRIER: Death Orb came from a lot of the turbulence we’re experiencing globally right now, and extrapolating that into a vision of the future—we ask, what would that future look like, but most importantly, how is that future salvaged, and can it be salvaged? The idea here being that, no, it cannot, and as such the government, which has evolved into more of a cult, is led by a man who wishes to expedite the cyclical death and rebirth of the planet. It admittedly comes from some really grim, dark ideas, but our main character, a nameless motorcycle rider, takes us on a journey throughout this bizarre future with the last shreds of love and hope left. Also, it came from a lot of hardcore music. I've been writing a lot of licensed stuff for teen audiences lately, and I instinctively wanted to make something really violent, atmospheric, and gnarly.
Stylistically, there is a lot of elements at play here. We’re dealing with a patchwork future, balancing savagery and technology simultaneously. There’s tonal and visual elements from westerns, post-apocalypse, Japan, and even Italian film. Ale, Chris, and I are all pulling elements from these types of things and seeing how they fit and transform naturally in the story. There is a lot of hyper-violence and action, but we’re certainly balancing that with rich characters and really unusual, interesting set pieces.
How does Alejandro’s art complement your words and plot?
Alejandro’s art genuinely is the story. This book is in his DNA, and vice versa. We’re co-creators on this book, and have built this world and the story together, but without Alejandro illustrating, it would be a wildly different and far, far less interesting book. He brings such an incredible depth and realness to these characters and these locations that his work informs mine more than anything. His level of dedication and detail is, to me, unparalleled on the book shelf right now. And it’s not just his technical skill with the pen and ink, Alejandro is brilliant. His character and world designs, his page layouts, his pacing—all so crucial and instrumental in how Death Orb is experienced. He’s invested in this story, and it belongs to him as much as it does me.
I also can’t say enough praise for Chris O’Halloran’s colors. We are so lucky that Chris is a partner in this series. I couldn’t imagine our colors looking anything but his level of perfection. Death Orb has a very different, distinct, and very highly stylized palette, and Chris embraces that and executes it so beautifully and chaotically at the same time. For me, to be able to call Alejandro and Chris my partners on this story is an absolute career high.
What can readers expect as this violent story progresses?
I think readers are going to be very, very surprised with how things progress and unfold in Death Orb. We’re going in a lot of different directions and touching on some genres that aren’t exactly expected. We’re going to be showing a whole lot more of The Lords as well, who have a very weird built-in mythology that I’m so excited about. And, without saying too much, the rider’s story becomes increasingly tumultuous, but we do see him have to deal with the presence of company on his mission. I wish I could tell you all of the insane things happening in Death Orb, but alas, we’re orchestrating this series to keep people’s jaws dropping as they hit that last page.