Note: Robert Napton is the writer for several Dynamite Entertainment titles including WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS.
ROBERT NAPTON: Aaron, you joined the Bionic team with the "Bigfoot" story and are now the sole writer. What did you like about Kevin Smith's and Phil Hester's approach to re-imagining Steve Austin for this series and how is this Steve Austin different from the classic Six Million Dollar Man?
AARON GILLESPIE: I loved the balls-to-the-wall action Kevin and Phil threw into that book. Since they weren’t constrained by a TV budget, they were able to take Steve Austin and place him in situations that only a comic can get away with. Bionic zombies, giant gun battles on the streets of Washington D.C.? No problem. And with Jonathan Lau providing the artwork, it raised the bar for all action comics on the stands.
Other than the obvious differences, I think the comic and the show are very similar. Sure, the comic is set in modern day and Steve’s bionics are more extensive, but the core of the character is the same. Bionic Man’s Steve Austin is a bit more cocky than his 70s counterpart, but I think that is more in line with how an ace test pilot would behave.
RN: It's been noted that part of the charm of this incarnation of the Bionic Man is that it's a great action comic that doesn't get too overwrought and leaves opportunities for humor. Do you enjoy writing the funnier moments?
AG: So much so that I created Floyd, Steve’s hacker assistant.
I’ve always enjoyed TV shows that had a quirky sidekick. Someone who was strange and maybe even annoying but so good at their job they are invaluable to the team. I realized that Steve Austin never had that sidekick. I realized that introducing that character would be a great way to not only provide funny banter between the two, but also make Steve grow as a character. He’s never needed to rely on someone else but now he finds himself in situations where he needs help to survive. And the fact that help comes from someone who gets on Steve’s nerves makes it even better.
Steve is also funny at times but I think that’s his way of hiding apprehension. He comes from a world where he has to always be strong so when unwanted “dangerous” emotions pop up, he covers them with a quip.
RN: Obviously Bigfoot and Jaime Summers have been updated for your series. How do you decide what elements to draw on from the classic series and bring into the present?
AG: Some of it comes from fan feedback but mostly I selfishly use what I think is cool.
The relationship between Steve and Jaime is one of the most interesting parts of the character so I knew I wanted to explore that. Because Bionic Man takes place before the events in Bionic Woman I was able to delve a little deeper into Jaime’s origins and how they relate to Steve. I used that relationship to inform Steve’s actions and decisions and to show a real change in him.
Other than Jaime, there are some elements from the show that are too hard to resist. The Venus Probe, for example. It made an appearance in the Bionic Man Annual and I couldn’t help myself. I bring it into The Bionic Man as well.
RN: You have a great touch writing spy stories and depicting international intrigue -- are you drawn to those types of stories?
AG: I am. I like military and spy thrillers that attempt to make things feel “real.” The Bourne movies are a perfect example of that. Sure, they’re over the top espionage thrillers, but the international politics and tactics all seem realistic.. That being said, I know The Bionic Man is an action book. I never want the book to feel bogged down because of the international intrigue. I’m constantly mindful of finding the right amount to make the book feel like it takes place in the real world but also knowing when to step back so Steve can beat up a tank.
RN: It's always great for a creator to take on a character they loved in the past. What do you enjoy most about writing THE BIONIC MAN?
AG: I love that I can fill The Bionic Man with crazy action, but also take time to dig into the character moments. Steve can fight an army of giant mechs one minute and deal with the existential crisis of man vs. machine the next. It is such a joy to write this book!
RN: Thanks Aaron!
THE BIONIC MAN #25 is on sale today, October 30, 2013.
Here's the rest of the preview for issue #25:
Robert Place Napton is a comic book writer who has worked for such publishers as Image, Top Cow, Random House, and of course, Dynamite. His numerous projects for Dynamite Entertainment include the monthly series Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris. Before that he wrote Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom, Warriors of Mars, Thun'da, Blackbeard: Legend of the Pyrate King, and Battlestar Galactica Origins: Adama.