It's crazy to think that the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN is turning forty. To celebrate the anniversary, Dynamite Entertainment is giving us a direct continuation of the television show with Season 6. James Kuhoric will be writing the series with art by Juan Antonio Ramirez. We asked him some questions to find out what we can expect from this series and how it compares to their BIONIC MAN series.
If that wasn't enough, we also have an exclusive first look at the first issue, on sale March 12.
COMIC VINE: Can we assume this is in a different continuity than THE BIONIC MAN series?
JAMES KUHORIC: The new SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN SEASON 6 comic is a direct continuation of the classic television series. We are picking up right after the last weekly episode and starting up a new “season” of stories that follow the episodic adventures of Steve Austin. To do this we discounted the handful of reunion movies that were made (which is no big loss – those things were like the Galactica 1980 of bionics) and are going back to the time when kids were running in slow motion and pretending to be a cyborg on the playground. As a fan, I really enjoy Dynamite’s Bionic Man series, which is Kevin Smith’s modern day reboot of the franchise. But our SMDMS6 is the original groovy 1970s continuity.
CV: Were you a big fan of the show? Did you own that cool 13" figure?
JK: Hah – I still own it and a bunch of other toys from that classic line. I wasn’t just a big fan; I was obsessed with the Six Million Dollar Man. Back then, pre-internet and ultra-realistic video game systems, television and comics really were big catalysts for jumpstarting kids’ imaginations. The Six Million Dollar Man was one of the first TV shows that really captivated me. Steve Austin has stayed with me over the years. I still consider myself one of the biggest fans of the show there is and I’m humbled that I get to tell a story about a character that means so much to me.
CV: With this being tied to the original series and starting the "sixth" season, what do readers need to know?
JK: The thing about network television in the 1970s is that it was much more episodic than it is today. If you understood the premise of the show – an injured test pilot is repaired with bionic parts and becomes a secret agent – you could step in and watch just about any episode and enjoy it for what it was. There was a lot of “villain of the week” programming going on and the Six Million Dollar Man was no exception to that rule. There were some great callbacks to its continuity with follow up episodes going back to Bigfoot, the Venus Death Probe, and the robot villains, but for the most part you could go in fresh and enjoy the experience every week. That’s what we are going for in terms of accessibility with the new comic book series. If you know the basic premise you can jump right in.
For new fans we are running recaps at the beginning of each issue summarizing the story to date just like the “previously on the Six Million Dollar Man” prologues that ran at the beginning of the TV episodes. And my favorite part of issue one is an awesome two-page spread that recreates the classic opening “we can rebuild him” sequence of the series. Juanan Ramirez did an amazing job on this spread and it really captures the magic I still feel when you hear that music and dialogue begin. Add to that the amazing Alex Ross covers and you have a comic book series that is as authentic as we can make it – right down to the sound effects.
CV: Did you go back and watch old episodes to refresh where things left off?
JK: See that assumes that I haven’t been watching them non-stop even before the opportunity to write for the series came up. I own the box set of the series and I watch it regularly for fun (yes I am that guy). But what that means is that the stories, pacing, characters, and themes of the original television show are very fresh with me. I have some favorite episodes I go back to time and time again but I regularly start over and roll through the seasons one at a time while I’m writing, or reading, or just killing time. It takes me back to a simpler time when the magic of television and comics were everything to me as a child. I hope I can bring a little of that to today’s comic readers with the new series too.
CV: What can you tell us about Maskatron making his way into the TV show mythology?
JK: It is long overdue! Maskatron was a unique creation of the Kenner toy line that basically combined the robotic villains and fembots that our bionic heroes fought and turned that faceless threat into a single enemy. The android was the perfect fiend to pit Steve Austin against in play scenarios…he had three face plates so that he could be anyone including Steve. And ultimately when you would knock the face off and see the wires and circuits beneath, you knew the Six Million Dollar Man would have his hands full besting the diabolical robotic menace.
In the comic book series, we’ve come up with a way to tie a lot of loose ends together and give Maskatron a fitting origin. Longtime fans will recognize many of the details we included in his backstory. And best of all, Maskatron isn’t a throwaway villain for us. He is a character we are investing a lot of time into so that his growth into the deadliest artificial intelligence on the planet will really mean something within continuity. I promise you won’t see what is coming with Maskatron until it is too late. And unfortunately for Steve Austin, that will haunt him for a long time to come.
CV: What's this about aliens? Were there ever aliens in the show?
JK: Actually there were aliens on the original show a couple of times. They were usually human-looking visitors that were on the planet for a number of different reasons. But they never had the budget to do an alien threat right in my opinion. In our new series we are taking the best of the innovations the original series developed and trying to add some modern day storytelling elements to it. One way we are doing that is to have several story threads weaving through the first arcs and coming together to advance the character’s overall development. The alien threat is a big budget and pretty creepy part of the story that will test Steve Austin’s mettle as a man. As Steve realizes that he is partly responsible for the chaos and loss of life the alien perpetrates he will have to deal with the ramifications of his actions. There is nothing worse for Steve than knowing he hurt innocent people even indirectly.
CV: Would the procedure to rebuild Steve Austin still cost six million dollars today? Sure there's inflation but maybe today's technological advances would make up for that?
JK: I think it would cost much more to develop a bionic man in today’s economy. But I would hope that once the technology is perfected that it would become more affordable and potentially widespread. You can search the internet now and find some incredible advances that have been made in the creation of computer powered robotic prosthetics which can be taught to understand brainwaves and respond. I know we were all promised jetpacks by now, but I really do think we will see the technology for artificial limbs perfected in the next 25 years. It would make a huge difference in the lives of people who have lost limbs in accidents or military service.
Be sure to let your comic show know TODAY that you want THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN SEASON 6 added to your pull list. The first issue is on sale March 12.
Here's the rest of the First Look: