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Aliens in Command

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Michael Alan Nelson, writer of such acclaimed BOOM! Studios titles as Enigma Cipher, War of the Worlds: Second Wave, and X Isle, returns with another story this May titled Dominion.

If the name of the upcoming series sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s the revival of a project BOOM! founder Ross Richie was originally going to launch at Image Comics along with Keith Giffen a few years back. With Nelson now at the writing helm, we headed to the writer’s doorstep asking for an update.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Dominion was originally conceived as an Image book by Keith Giffen and Ross Richie. How did it end up in your hands?

MICHAEL ALAN NELSON: I think Ross had been itching to revisit Dominion for quite some time.  He'd mentioned the concept to me before several times in passing, I think to see if it would be something I'd be interested in doing and what my take on the concept might be (for some strange and truly bizarre reason, Ross likes my writing so he thought I would do well with the project). 
So, when he finally decided that it was time, he came to me. 

BF: In what capacity are Keith and Ross still involved in the production of the series?

MAN: I don't believe that Keith is directly involved with the project at the moment.  Ross discussed it with him and Keith gave his approval to let me run with the story, which is terribly flattering.  And also very frightening since there is a silent understanding that if I screw it up, Keith will show up on my doorstep unannounced with a burlap sack, a length of rope, and a syphilitic wolverine.

Ross has been directly involved with much of the creative process.  Even though I am doing all of the writing, he and I work together to break the story for each issue.  I'll present him my ideas for the story, for characters and where I think it should all go.  Then we'll chew it over together until we come up with a working framework.  I've got a pretty free hand creatively, but I have a tendency to go off the rails from time to time.  So he's there to keep me focused and on track. 

Click to enlargeBF: Is Dominion a little bit in the vein of X-Isle tonally?

MAN: Dominion definitely shares that sense of helplessness that X-Isle has.  But where X-Isle had small comedic moments to break some of the tension and catch the reader off guard, I can't guarantee that Dominion will have any of those funny releases.  This is due to the fact that Andy Cosby (co-writer on X-Isle) knows how to bring the funny.  Me, not so much.  That being said, Dominion does have that same popcorn/blockbuster feel to it.  It's big, fast, and a hell of a lot of fun.

But one of the ways in which Dominion differs from X-Isle tonally is the sense of urgency.  With X-Isle, the characters had to move through their environment as carefully and cautiously as possible.  With Dominion, the environment is falling down around the characters.  It's absolute chaos and, for me, that's where the fun is: watching these characters try to cope with a rapidly disintegrating world.         

BF: The book itself is about an alien virus looking to, well, dominate earth. How does it reach the planet in the first place?

MAN: How it gets to Earth is never really revealed, but we do know that it was sent intentionally.  It takes some time for our characters to realize that it's a virus and that it's extraterrestrial in nature since, at the onset, everyone's too busy just trying to stay alive. 

BF: The coin phrase that says Dominion is like 'Heroes meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers', implies average joes will stand up to the threat. Who are these characters, and why do they feel it's their 'mission' to stop the invasion?

MAN: That's an idea that I wanted to play with in Dominion.  Whenever there's a catastrophe on this level, it's the officials at press conferences that are the face of heroism.  But as is too often the case, they are simply hapless stage props fumbling their way through the tragedy.  Just being in a position of authority doesn't make you a leader.  A leader is the person who's willing to step up when they're needed.  

So, like you said, our characters are average Joes that just happen to be caught in the middle of this alien outbreak.  But they don't see stopping the invasion as a mission, they see it as survival, not just for themselves, but for everyone around them.  Our heroes are simply the ones who can function amidst the chaos, the ones who know which questions to ask and how to search for answers while the sky is falling.

BF: You're also working on another Boom! title at the moment, Fall of Cthulhu, which is steeped in Lovecraftian horror. Are there any aspects about that book that will appeal to people who intend to pick up Dominion?

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeMAN: I certainly hope so.  But I think that's going to come down to the readers' like or dislike of my writing since Fall of Cthulhu and Dominion are two totally different animals.  Fall is dark and dense, with textual and visual clues weaving through the narrative.  Dominion is more open, fast-paced and up-front (although I do use 9 panel grids in Dominion, they're offset by splash pages to help give it room to breathe). 

But even if readers prefer the lighter, energy-driven story of Dominion, I would still recommend picking up Fall.  As different as they are, my "voice" is still going to come through.  And that's what I think it comes down to. Do you like the way I tell a story?  If so, then hopefully that will translate into every project I do, regardless of the genre.  

The first issue of Dominion is set to appear in stores on May 2nd.   

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