Breaking out of Dark Horse Presents and into his own mini-series, Brain Boy launches this September. Though Brain Boy isn't a Dark Horse creation, originally published by Dell Publishing in the sixties, Van Lente and Silva hope to take the hero to the next level.
When Van Lente was originally asked to do the series called Brain Boy, he thought, "Why wouldn't I do that?" Recently he told CBR how he was intrigued by the character and the fact that his book was published by one of the two comic publishers not to join the Comic Code Authority at the time.
So these are non-Code Approved early '60s comics where he has a [minority] girlfriend, he's commanding people to kill themselves with mental powers, and it makes it just this completely insane artifact because it was this '60s era comic without the patina of moralism that you'd get in most comics back then. It's completely nuts. It's like Hollywood before the Hayes Code with those Mae West movies where there's all this sex talk. It's just like seeing sex talk in black and white.
So there are all sorts of concepts I'm taking form the original series and putting them in this new book, but I'm also trying to inject a certain degree of Tom Clancy, techno-thriller style stories into it.
As for taking the book to the next level, he felt that the original Dell series was a bit too "generic" and one major upgrade would be to actually have Brain Boy, Matt Price, working for a real agency instead of a fictional one.
It occurred to me that if you were in a world that had telepaths and telekinetics -- in that world where psionics are real, the first people who would want to get in on this action would be bodyguard type organizations looking to protect people from psychic assassins.
So a lot of the book, like any other Cold War/espionage milieu, is about Brain Boy and his colleagues trying to outwit the psychics who want to do the President of the United States harm. When you add on to that the even bigger level of paranoia in that Brain Boy is not technically a Secret Service agent but is a defense subcontractor working for the Secret Service?
Brain Boy ties into the larger Dark Horse super-hero universe the company has been building recently. You'll see Albright Industries from Captain Midnight where Matt works, they even play a role in his origin.
How close Brain Boy's origin is to the original comic I won't reveal here. But we know he's an orphan, and we know he was raised by Biovancement and Albright, so he views them as a kind of surrogate. It's kind of a cliché in comics to do the guy who was raised by the government and is then shocked to learn that the government is doing evil things with him. I wanted a very cynical, brash character who was very aware that the government is doing terrible things!
Van Lente looked at characters like House and Joffrey from Game of Thrones to create this sort of cocky character that was always one step ahead of everyone. The story will really be about moving the character from that point into becoming a hero.
So in the "Dark Horse Presents" serial, we've got a situation where he's trying to protect that G8 Conference, which is one thing the Secret Service does. And in the miniseries, this first arc involves another aspect of the Secret Services job...
,,,So the series takes place during the UN General Assembly, which is interesting for me because that's what I did before I became a professional comics writer. I worked in the Ugandan Consulate as an archivist for three years...
...The United Nations General Assembly is like Comic-Con for the Secret Service because all of the sudden, 110 heads of state show up. It's this massive operation where they have to protect these people and deal with all these parties and receptions and awards ceremonies that go on all around New York during the General Assembly during a week in September.
The series is about what happens when Emil Ricorta, who was a character from the original series, comes calling. He's the president of South America's largest oil nation. He has a shady past and is kind of a leftist. He may have a passing resemblance to a head of state who recently passed away but was still alive when I started writing this story. [Laughs] Matt is assigned to protect him when all hell breaks loose. It's a psychic "Spy Vs. Spy" romp through the streets of New York City.
Preview of Brain Boy, series kicks off this September: