Every Tuesday, BOOM! Studios invites us behind the scenes to take a look at the production process of their books. Today, we’re going to check out the character design process for Hypernaturals from writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and artist Brad Walker.
It also just so happens that Hypernaturals #4 is on the stands tomorrow, and it’s billed as a perfect jumping on point for new readers. If you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, then you’re blowing it if you’re not reading this.
Let’s get to the character designs.
HALFSHELL II — Real name Deedee Cadiz. She’s got a real chip on her shoulder that she missed the original cut because the “skinny bitch” was chosen by Winch Ind to represent their armor, believing the previous Halfshell to be more ‘safe’ and sanitized, providing a more wholesome image. She thinks she was rejected because she looked to provocatively hot in her Halfshell armor. In fact, she was rejected for her volatile
SUBLIME — Real name: John Alvis Byrd. Currently imprisoned in the Omni-Max prison facility within the Orcus storm zone of the 15 Tartarus System. Hypernatural gift varies between Class 12 to Class 15 depending on the attribute and conditions. It makes him capable of radically subverting any technology he is allowed to interface with to his own ends. Having been born with the gifts, pattern regression as a form of rehabilitation is impossible. Believes in human determinism and thus feels the Quantinuum AI is the enemy of freedom.
SHOAL — Real name Ozwald “Oz” Sheppard A solemn, slender black kid in his late teens/early twenties. Very serious and bit meek. He has the unique power to control (telekinetically) and direct a swarm or ‘shoal’ of tiny thing that follow him around and can attack, form shields, scout etc etc. They could be little robots or nano-machines that he’s made, but it would be cooler if they were extremely exotic cosmic particles (like ‘strangelets’), so they could almost be sentient. No one knows what they are, and why they have bonded with him. And THAT’S why he didn’t make the team cut – too many unanswered questions. Thinkwell is fascinated by the shoal and keeps trying to find out what they are. Eventually, Shoal can display huge and previously unimagined scale control of his particles — he’s a class ten plus in reality — when he grow sin confidence. However, at some crucial moment, Sublime could take control of the particles. They are as potentially dangerous and unknown as everyone feared, and Shoal is a terrible vulnerability for the new team.
SHARD — Served in the 99th Iteration of the Hypernaturals. Powers: Microsharp, blade-form cutting edge. A very beautiful but slight female who looks like she is made of glass. She generates (internally) energy blasts which she focuses and directs through her crystalline structure, and can also “sharpen” her hands etc. to slice things like a glass edge.
PRISMATICA – Real name: Brook Marling, Served in the 99th Iteration of the Hypernaturals. Currently living in Capitol City, 55 Zocane
She is able to project ‘soligrams’- light constructs with different properties depending on the color of light used. Serving on the 99th iteration, she was married to STELLARATOR, another Hypernaturals team member, before a fight with the villain Sublime effectively ended both of their careers.
They had one child together, a daughter.
CLONE 45 – Served on the Nineteenth Tour. Real name: Hatch Groman. Currently living in Sink City, 31 Gliese.
He was the team’s bruiser/combat specialist. He is the 45th in a line of clones taken from an ultimate soldier program that has produced a long line of universally loved super soldiers.
He has all the abilities and experience of his predecessors and can utilize any fighting technique and weapon and operate any vehicle or equipment.
He is super strong and super tough — with heightened reflexes and healing factor.
He is also a drunken deadbeat.
Retired from the Hypernaturals after his final third term, Clone 45 has been replaced by Clone 46. Since then he has found it almost impossible to fit back into society: he has the super-hero version of PTSD made worse by the fact he is having trouble discerning which memories he has are his own.
His fragile mental state has not been helped by his messy divorce from his former team-mate, Bewilder and the very public affair she is currently having with one of the new Hypernatural recruits.
He increasingly finds himself haunted by flashbacks to events and battles which are not his. He shares all the abilities and recollections of his predecessors which are now beginning to plague him as his psychic conditioning breaks down. To dampen this sensory overload, he has taken to drink and drunks; anesthetizing himself as best he can. To fund his habit, he takes menial bodyguard or doorman gigs, even acting as muscle for his drug dealer.
BEWILDER – Served on the Nineteenth Tour. Currently serving as the team’s Media Relations Coordinator, however has also assumed the mantle of team member after the disappearance of the 100th Iteration. Real name: Creena Hersh.
Bewilder is a super-speedster, who, apart from having super strength and durability, can apparently appear instantly from one location to another in the blink of an eye, when she’s in fact moving so fast we don’t see her move, ie no multiple images of her running.
Born on 99 Cygnus in 66 A.Q. Bewilder is one of the most famous faces in the Quantinuum. She is the model of choice for several of the industry’s top designers, and was voted The Face of Quantinuum in the 99 Fashion Choice Awards. As a style icon, she is without parallel. Her hypernatural gifts won her a place in the Hypernatural Program in her early twenties, and she served with the team with distinction during its illustrious “Nineteenth Tour” (90-95). As Bewilder, she was part of perhaps the most famous and beloved line-up in the team’s history.
Bewilder comes from a race of space-faring people; THE TZ’GANN – genetically modified for the harsh environs of deep space travel. They are basically nomadic space gypsies who perform the unpopular task of interstellar truckers- transporting huge loads that are not considered vital or commercially viable enough to use the more expensive ‘Port’ network operated by the QUANTINUUM.
Over the centuries, their physiology has been adapted and augmented to make them super tough, strong and super-fast to exist in the harsh space environs. The super-speed trait almost being a by-product because of the immense gravity fields they operate under as their ships are not fitted with expensive environment generators because everything is based on the bottom line for the Tz’gann — the cheaper they can operate the more profit they make.
Generally considered the lowest cast in the Quantinuum and looked down on as space trailer trash by the ‘Snails’ — their nickname for planet dwellers, restricted as they are by the restraints of gravity. Bewilder is the first of her kind to join the Hypernaturals after decades of lobbying for the Tz’Gann to be represented on the team.
Bewilder has gone all out to be accepted by the society that shuns her people and has become the Hypernaturals pin-up girl and media darling. Over her career she’s appeared in films and on TV and is a total mega-star.
At the start of the series, she’s the estranged/divorced wife of Clone 45. Her active duty with the Hypernaturals is over but she’s stayed with the team; moved to a desk job in the role of PR advisor, employing all her media savvy and contacts. She’s publicly supportive of her replacement, another girl, but harbors a concealed resentment and jealousy towards her.
She’s also secretly ashamed of her family and her people even though they are immensely proud of her and she is considered a role model to them and is struggling with the fact she’s been sidelined. She’s trying to relive her youth through her trophy boyfriend who is a new recruit to the Hypernaturals.
THINKWELL – Served on the Nineteenth Tour. Served the maximum three terms, between 85 A.Q. and 99 A.Q. Real name: Poul Indersun.
Currently serving as the Turing Professor of Cryptomathematics at Cambridge University, but has been called back to the Hypernaturals after the disappearance of the 100th Iteration. Has a Class 10 hyper-intellect further enhanced by Class 7 physical hyper-trait.
He’s super, super smart from the planet Nth, a world where they have rejected machine intelligence and pride themselves on perfecting the use of all the brain’s potential. The Nthites are an insular society, they are anti-Quantinuum; denouncing the AI run civilization and as a result their world exists on its fringes and only reluctantly interacts with the rest of the system when they have too.
Nth is ruled by The Faculty- made up of its elite intellects. Over time, the Nthites, who have amazing reasoning capacity, have experimented with ways of enhancing their reasoning capabilities, ways that do not involve mechanical or artificial augmentation. Their experiments led them to discover the unique properties of Dark Matter- the almost undetectable background mass/energy of the universe. They have developed techniques that allow them to utilize the vast untapped sources of Dark Matter as extra ‘processing power’ and ‘memory storage’ (like having a quad processor and infinite external hard drive). This has enabled them to take their intelligence levels off the chart.
Thinkwell is an anomaly — through some mutation in his cerebral network, he is able not only to access the infinite processing power of the Dark Matter, but can actually manipulate and control it in the physical plane.
He uses this ‘ink’ to write equations in the air, equations that act on the very fabric of reality much like a magical spell: Magic from super-science.
The “ink” is a form of dark matter or dark energy that Poul can manipulate and shape, and through which he can extend and manifest his sentience and intellect. It is a transcendent data-cognitive substance, a self-aware instrument for the transfer or interpretation of information.
Thinkwell is an outcast in his society as he chose to join the Hypernaturals and leave Nth to work for the QUANTINUUM.
He is also fascinated by the machine intelligence which has further alienated him from his own kind- he’s the reverse of the robot who wants to be human trope: he’s a human who wants to become a robot- or to be more precise, a machine intelligence; a being of pure thought. This could play well with his ultimate fate.