Voltron got it's animated start in 1984. The anime series featured a team of humans, the Voltron Force, piloting separate lion-shaped vehicles that could join together to form the giant Voltron and serve as protector of the universe.
Brandon Thomas is now the writer for two Voltron series. Beginning in April, VOLTRON: YEAR ONE will tell the story from the beginning. Joining Thomas will be Craig Cermak on interiors and covers by Admira Wijaya and Jonathan Lau. We asked Brandon a few questions as to what we can expect on the new series.
Comic Vine: Being that this is 'year one,' when will it actually begin? Will Voltron have been constructed already and the pilots are about to embark on their first mission or will we see more of their training and the construction of the lions?
Brandon Thomas: Most of that will actually be addressed in the main Voltron series, and at the time of Year One, Voltron has been constructed and “lost” for decades already. If Year One continues on, some of the connection points between the two series will be explored, but when we pick things up, the guys are heading along an inevitable path to Voltron and Arus, though they have no idea that’s what’s coming for them in the very near future. They’re the best Space Explorer unit that the Galaxy Alliance has to offer, and they’ve never once failed a mission, as impossible as that sounds. What happens on their next mission starts a series of dominos tumbling down that changes everything for every single one of them.== TEASER ==
CV: How far before the series does 'year one' take place?
BT: Year One takes place a couple months before the team is sent out after Voltron, and I’m sure those very familiar with the original show have noticed a few “irregularities” between our starting point, and the one for the show. All will be explained and “synced up” in the coming months, and I’m crossing my fingers that the first arc of the book garners enough support for us to head into a second story that will provide something of a modern re-telling of that fateful assignment to “bring back Voltron.”
First things first though, and what fans can look forward to is a deeper, more complex definition of what the term “space explorer” actually means, some of the ways in which the Galaxy Alliance is both externally functional, yet internally compromised, and further explanation into the mindset and motivations of Sven, an often abused character in the Voltron mythos, who’s the main focal point when the series begins. He’s in command of Space Explorer Squadron #686, and we soon learn that his actions here led to both Keith’s at the time, unlikely ascension into the command role, and them being sent out after Voltron. I wanted to provide a hard, clear justification for why out of all the squads, they got the assignment, and on top of that, offer more than a few reasons why Sven’s tenure as the pilot of the Blue Lion was always going to be a short one.
CV: How much freedom do you have in fleshing out the backstories of all the characters?
BT: An incredible amount of freedom with both this prequel series and the main series. There are seams all over the Voltron mythos, little areas of space and coverage that were never fully developed in the animated series. The origin of King Zarkon, the downfall of Sven, the rise of Lotor, etc. All we’re treating as canon is that original series, so it’s fun to be able to work from both sides, before and after the series, fleshing out both areas and hopefully creating a more developed picture of the entire thing. But I’ve been honored to have the opportunity to really run wild with the core concepts, and as with anything, I just want to create something that people feel good about now and for years to come as I work through a number of stories, and try to take these characters and this world into exciting, contemporary directions.
CV: Will we see why the designs were chosen? Why lions? Why were the specific colors chosen?
BT: They’re isn’t much addressing that really specifically in Year One, but in the main book, we’ll learn exactly who originally suggested lions. Sorry to be a little vague on this one, but some of your questions are going to be explored a little down the road and I don’t want to spoil too much too soon.
CV: No problem, looking forward to them!
What will the tone be compared to the animated series? Will there be a serious one or a lighter feel?
BT: Fairly serious, but it’s not going to be an overly adult take on the characters. If the current Voltron Force show is aimed at a more pre-teen audience (and really, the same argument could be made about the original show), both the main book and Year One are aimed a little more at the teenage, young adult audience. People get injured, people die, but there’s some restraint being shown in the depictions of violence, and I don’t know that even the most hardcore of Voltron fans wants to see a mature audiences incarnation. At its heart, it’s an action adventure sci-fi espionage epic packed with twists, turns, and stunning revelations about characters a lot of people have come to know and love. All of it rated PG-13.
CV: I assume the pilots will be the familiar ones from the series, do you have any favorites among them?
BT: Oh definitely, everyone’s here and gets moments to shine throughout the series. I do have to cop to being a HUGE Keith fan normally, but since I’ve always naturally gravitated toward the leader types in any ensemble, Sven is really the character that I’m enjoying writing more than everyone else in this series. His constant struggles and his sinking feeling that he’s one bad decision away from getting himself and his friends killed is something that’s really exciting to me, and this first story is about how someone deals with failure. Is Sven going to be able to brush himself off and get back out there, or is this one mistake going to be the thing that ultimately defines and haunts him forever? That’s really the question that he’s battling with all throughout “Fearless Leader”…
And again, while everything really happens from his perspective, the rest of the group have their own moments that play out during the course of the stories. Keith and Lance’s rivalry, even though at this point, it’s a bit one-sided, Pidge and the small chip that sits on his shoulder, and Hunk’s quiet intelligence lurking beneath a massive frame and an awesome headband.
CV: How were the pilots chosen? Was there a pool of candidates and these were the top of their class?
BT: Something I wanted to do here was show how incredibly expansive the mandate and scope of the Space Explorers program is, and just how important they are to Earth and its interests all over the galaxy. There’s literally hundreds of operatives and hundreds of squads out there, but there is something about the guys in #686 that are special, even among their peers. Some of them were top in their class, others had specialized skills that Commander Sven thought would be highly effective in the field, and some of them had a temperament or personality that made them the ultimate team players. But they’re all very different and yet similar in important ways, and I think that’s coming through in the actual stories. There’s even going to be a fun issue coming up that’s a joint mission with another S.E. squad, where the contrasts will become even more apparent.
Be sure to ask your local comic shop to hold a copy of VOLTRON: YEAR ONE this April.