Ignited — which is the work of co-writers Mark Waid and Kwanza Osajyefo, artist Phil Briones, and colorist Andrew Crossley — is a story about people developing powers in a world that looks (often painfully) just like our very own. It’s a poignant, timely take on what might happen in 2019 if special powers did manifest in the world. And to stoke excitement for the release of the collection, today The Beat is exclusively offering a download of the first issue of the comic for free.
In addition, we also have a brief interview with co-writers Waid and Osajyefo, in which the duo shares thoughts and experiences from the first year or so of involvement with this work. You can check it out below, followed by official PR for the forthcoming trade release…
THE BEAT: Now that Ignited is out there in the world for readers of monthly comics and you’ve had a chance to promote it at some major conventions, what has the reaction been like from readers?
MARK WAID: Universally supportive. We knew we had a great book to offer, but one of our biggest concerns early on was that it might be considered exploitative in some way. Instead, everyone’s been on board with the approach, including the actual shooting survivors we’ve shown the material to. Everyone gets that it’s respectful regarding a difficult subject, to the point where we got a hugely positive response when we offered to open up the editorial pages to anyone directly affected by a mass shooting who had something they wanted to say.
KWANZA OSAJYEFO: Readers really seem to like IGNITED. Reflecting a real world issue like gun violence isn’t easy but ignoring it isn’t good either.
THE BEAT: Some of this was in the press release, but let’s talk about the next act of IGNITED. This is a story strongly rooted in the news of the day, which seems to change as of late at an unprecedented speed…how will things that have happened in the world since you started planning IGNITED factor into the story moving forward?
WAID: That would be a great question if the national issue of gun reform had changed at any speed whatsoever, but it remains stalled, which makes IGNITED that much more urgent a book. Our kids, the “Phoenix Six,” are feeling (and are reflective of) the frustration regarding that particular paralysis. They’ve begun pushing back harder, lashing out forcefully at some of their enemies who deliberately and disgustingly blaspheme against victims–like denial-pundits in the media who call them “crisis actors”–or groups whose one and only answer to this lunacy is to throw more guns into the system. And that pushback carries heavy consequences, which they’re not immediately prepared to deal with.
OSAJYEFO: What these kids are doing isn’t happening in a vacuum. There is a cause and effect in the H1. From the very beginning we said this is a universe of consequences, so when these teenagers push back against the system, that’s going to get a reaction.
THE BEAT: You’ve all worked on more fantastical comics about people who have powers…how have you found your experiences with this book to be different?
WAID: For me, it’s been a chance to deal with real-world subjects in a way I–understandably–can’t when I’m working for corporate-owned companies who work to stay politically neutral.
OSAJYEFO: Not so much. Real world topics are sort of my lane, but IGNITED has been great.
And now the official PR…
Controversial, political and timely, Humanoids’ H1 shared universe has the comic book industry talking. H1 is a bold initiative for Humanoids, the publisher of some of the world’s most iconic and groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy graphic novels, as it marks both the first time that the Los Angeles-based publisher has released monthly comic books or set out to create a shared universe. This week marks the graphic novel publication of H1’s flagship title, IGNITED: TRIGGERED by co-writers Mark Waid and Kwanza Osajyefo, artist Phil Briones and colorist Andrew Crossley, a trade paperback collection of the series’ first four issues, featuring a cover by Humanoids’ Chief Creative Officer John Cassaday.
“Sometimes I long to tell stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things because they’ve been caught in extraordinary circumstances,” said legendary writer and IGNITED co-writer Mark Waid. “It’s not fair to call the protagonists of H1 heroes or superheroes. They don’t punch supervillains. They work on a larger stage. Each has been tapped by destiny to transform our world—sometimes following the will of the people, sometimes crossing it.”
In IGNITED: TRIGGERED, the lives of six teenagers are changed forever following a school shooting, turning the end of the school year into a nightmare for the kids of Phoenix Academy High School. Now, only a few months later, they’re expected to get back to their studies, but nothing will ever be the same. Especially for six of them whose newly acquired superpowers won’t be enough to restore balance to their world. Now the choice is in their hands. Will they fight for order…or surrender to chaos?
“It’s been said that the best stories touch on actual issues,” said acclaimed writer and IGNITED co-writer Kwanza Osajyefo. “IGNITED stabs at the nerves of what’s happening in real life.”
“When you challenge the system, there are consequences,” said Waid. “Our kids are now fighting back on a whole new level. They’ve been pursued by the feds, estranged from their parents, and demonized (or, by many, lionized) in the court of public opinion, outed and exposed. With no one to turn to but each other, they’re going to have to grow up fast if they want to find a way out of the nightmare they’ve landed in.”
When IGNITED returns with issue 5, in December, two months have passed since the “March of Mercy” events. Media darlings the “Phoenix Five” are using their abilities to bring change. They’re heroes to most–but not to Brent Smythe, an Arizona radio personality pushing conspiracy theories about the kids. He and some new allies are actively hunting them down, and the Five can’t hide from a world full of cameras and connected via social media.
“Did anyone really think a bunch of teenagers who gain powers after surviving a school shooting would go unnoticed?” asked Osajyefo. “It doesn’t help that they became masked vigilantes to keep guns out of their schools. Coming into conflict with protestors and the police certainly made things worse. Actions have consequences and that’s precisely what Callum, Anouk, Marisol, Himari, Shai and Luther with have to face in the next arc of IGNITED.”
IGNITED: TRIGGERED is available in bookstores on October 15th and in comic shops on October 16th. IGNITED issue 5, the start of the DOXXED storyline, will be published in December.