Fans of flashy interstellar odysseys can rejoice this holiday season as the premiere issue of Heavy Metal's "The Adventures of Adrienne James" sci-fi comic book series arrives later this month, carried by the cosmic wings of an enthusiastic pre-launch buzz.
Think of a gender-bent Indiana Jones darting about the galaxy searching for a priceless artifact that holds the key to universal domination and you've got the right idea of its premise.
Written by Heavy Metal CEO Matt Medney ("Beyond Kuiper") and Bruce Edwards, with striking artwork courtesy of illustrator Geraldo Borges and colorist Felipe Sobreiro, "Adrienne James" is a nostalgic romp back to the grand era when sci-fi was still pulpy-good fun. It's being presented via Heavy Metal's "Elements" line on Dec. 29 and promises to satiate readers who've been hungering for a solid treasure hunt tale amid the stars.
"The Adventures of Adrienne James #0" is a double-sized issue that acts as a prologue to the rest of the universe. The storyline ignites in a remote galaxy fascinated with exotic treasures found on countless planets, as legions of treasure-seeking clans desire a legendary object known as the E-Ra-Du, a fabled power source hidden deep in outer space by the mysterious Elders.
When the capital of AeroJ is shattered by the demise of Luman leader Waldun-Li while hunting for E-Ra-Du with the infamous scavenger Adrienne James, the galaxy is tossed into total chaos. Beginning at her funeral, Adrienne takes up the challenge of becoming High Luman and blasts off on a dangerous quest to locate this mythical prize.
Greg Hildebrandt, the internationally recognized illustrator who created the art and design for many Tolkien projects and the first "Star Wars" poster with his twin brother, Tim, has contributed the cover for next year's trade edition of "The Adventures of Adrienne James," which Space.com is revealing here today.
"After a 64-year professional career as an illustrator, I am thrilled to be a part of Matthew Medney's new graphic novel," Hildebrandt said in a statement emailed to Space.com. "As a longtime lover of fantasy, science fiction and space, I find Matthew's story to be a fantastic blending of the great adventure heroes — Doc Savage, Tom Corbett, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Allan Quatermain, and Indiana Jones — but this time in the female form. Adrienne James is a powerful, beautiful force of nature on a quest to preserve the knowledge of the universe."
Space.com spoke with Medney on the genesis of "Adrienne James," how his collaboration reaped creative fruit, the allure of the old-fashioned series' evocative artwork, and what readers can anticipate as this monthly outer space escapade evolves into 2022 and beyond.
Space.com: What was the inspiration behind this colorful space opera project?
Matt Medney: I wanted to create a female Indiana Jones in space. It was an idea I had a few years back. I just miss great adventure, great treasure hunts. "National Treasure" was really awesome and before that it was obviously "Indiana Jones." But there's never been a good female treasure hunt story. I never got into "Tomb Raider" and I wanted to fill that void and create something in another galaxy. I met up with my co-writer, Bruce Edwards, who was on the creative team for "Dark Wing," which is another one of my sci-fi books I'm excited about.
Bruce and I create this world that's in the Andromeda galaxy around a planet called AeroJ. We wanted to be a lens on our society and to have art and creative expression as a currency of this galaxy. And what if The Luman, the noble group that Adrienne is a part of, policed and protected art throughout the galaxy. That was the nugget of the idea.
We mind-melded hard and were so aligned with what this story was from day one. It just flowed out and I was so connected with my writing team. We understood what this story was at its most quantum level to be able to express it on paper.
Space.com: How does Geraldo's art best express the style and tone of the narrative?
Medney: Geraldo has this unique way of being active in his paneling, and I think it's a skill that's undervalued in comics. He's so good at making you see the movie in your mind when looking at the page. All these panels are just so fluid and active that it helps the words and the sentiment and theme unfold in your head. I even took a lot of dialogue out of scenes where the expressions did so much of the work that it would have been redundant to leave those one-liners in there.
And Felipe's color palette is just incredible. It pops and feels authentic to the expression of the story. I was really pushing to get the colors and the art to feel like an Indiana Jones story. The art team as a whole just crushed it.
Space.com: What can fans look forward to as the main series kicks off in February 2022?
Medney: More adventures in the stars, upside-down floating rock temples, and the search for E-Ra-Du. We've written over ten chapters already that we're putting to art. The story follows this high-intensity narrative the whole way through. There's really no break.
Heavy Metal's "The Adventures of Adrienne James #0" arrives at comic shops and online retailers on Dec. 29.