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DF Interview: Hama time: War comics guru unleashes elite squad in Call of Duty
By Byron Brewer
To an undisclosed stronghold in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, comes a unique and experienced squadron of warriors, all set on taking down a double agent. As they covertly close in, however, the operatives uncover something much more sinister at hand, something that is just … not right.
With that premise, Dark Horse Comics launches Call of Duty: Black Ops III, a comic tied to the popular first-person shooter games franchise, brought to life by writer Larry Hama and artist Marcelo Ferreira.
To get the secret behind these secrets, Dynamic Forces sent its own guerilla force out to interrogate Larry Hama. Here is what they discovered.
Dynamic Forces: Larry, does being a legendary writer forever identified with G.I. Joe prep you in any way to pen this games-based franchise?
Larry Hama: No, but having worked on the Wolverine’s Revenge game for the PS2 platform, and having participated in the development stages of two G.I. Joe games that never went to production, I had a pretty good background knowledge of what was required and what the parameters are. I don’t really consider myself a gamer, but I have had Nintendo and PS platforms and a Wii, and I’ve played a few first-person shooters, and even beat a few (admittedly with the help of FAQs and cheats).
DF: Does your comic series adapt at all the next game of the franchise which releases just a couple of days after #1, is this original story, and is there a link to the debuting game at all?
Larry Hama: The link to the game is that the comic story takes place before the game time, and is part of the set-up leading to the ongoing scenario in the game. It’s vignettes from an intermediary history.
DF: Tell us a bit about the Duty series coming from Dark Horse.
Larry Hama: Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a six-issue limited series that follows a special ops team on a series of increasingly difficult missions that takes them to Tashkent, Helsinki, Mogadishu, Tokyo, Berlin, and finally to a big showdown in the secret Moscow Center bunkers under the Lubyanka in Moscow.
DF: What can you tell us about your protagonists? Is there a focus character that guides the reader through the story?
Larry Hama: There’s a strong, experienced team leader in Jacob Hendricks who is a master at finding outside-the-box solutions to no-win scenarios. Dylan Stone is the hard-nosed senior NCO who knows a hundred ways to kill a man that nobody else knows about. Javier Ramirez is the tech geek who is also a recon Marine and is weapons qualified up to tac nuke. Alice Conrad is the sniper and sentry-removal specialist. She’s an orphan with an attitude, a Ranger tab, EOD wings, and no patience with fools. Joseph Fierro is the team explosives expert. He has the hands of a surgeon, the eyes of a watchmaker, and the mouth of a drunken sailor. Not somebody you want to play poker with, or get into a knife fight with. There are others on the team, but getting into them might constitute a spoiler.
DF: I know this is being done in conjunction with Activision and Treyarch. How much input did these entities have on your story?
Larry Hama: At this point, nothing that I am aware of.
DF: What does artist Marcelo Ferreira bring to the table here?
Larry Hama: Some amazing drawing chops, and a good feel for the acting and the action. What more can you ask for? I like any artist who doesn’t call and ask, “So what’s a Ma-Deuce?”
DF: So what’s a Ma-Deuce? (laughs) … sorry. OK … what is it about war comics that makes it such a fun genre for you as a writer?
Larry Hama: I never thought of military action comics as being a “fun” genre. Too much responsibility. Responsibility to be realistic but still be entertaining. Responsibility to not glorify what should not be glorified, and responsibility not to pander to cheap jingoism and flag-waving. To tell the story from the grunt’s POV, and refrain from sugar-coating and glossing-over of the ugly stuff. There is a big difference between the character cracking jokes, and the story itself being a joke.
DF: Good points all. Larry, what else do you have coming up for readers in the near future?
Larry Hama: Aside from a short horror story in Dark Horse’s Creepy, not much that isn’t completely covered by an NDA.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Larry Hama for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1 hits stores November 4th!
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