Alliances: Orphans was one of the last projects created and written by the late Stan Lee. The universe he created with Luke Lieberman (Red Sonja) and Ryan Silbert (The Coldest Case, Oscar winner for Live Action Short Film God of Love) started as Audible Originals Alliances: A Trick of Light narrated by Yara Shahidi and Alliances: A New Reality narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Now the world is expanding thanks to Dynamite into a new comic written by Lee, Lieberman, and Silbert alongside an impressive list of artists such as Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants, Moon Knight) and Szymon Kudranski (Superman Action Comics, Spawn, Punisher).
The Beat chatted with Silbert and Lieberman about continuing Lee’s legacy and bringing Alliances to life.
Deanna Destito: How has it been expanding Alliances and bringing the universe to a broader audience?
Luke Lieberman: We started on this journey as a world-building activity with Stan without any particular medium in mind to release it. We just wanted to create characters, storylines, and really pick his brain about what he was interested in. Which surprisingly had a lot to do with the digital age, human connectivity, how technology could affect our biology and perception of reality. These were just a few of the ideas that formed the genesis of the braided Alliances narrative. The fact that we have not just one but three projects in release is beyond our wildest dreams.
Ryan Silbert: One of the advantages building something from scratch is that we are free to tell new stories in any medium and work with cool partners like Audible and Dynamite. And since we are independent and don’t have any corporate overlords, we can build Alliances brick-by-cosmic brick always with an eye toward quality control in the storytelling. We run our collaborative process a lot like the old Marvel ’60s bullpen…just a little more virtual!
Lieberman: The best part of creating is being able to connect with the fans; we are listening to feedback constantly. We never have to reach too far to find our next big story idea, it’s all in the world-building handbook we developed with Stan. We can’t wait to share with fans what we have cooking up next.
Destito: How has it been working with Dynamite to bring this project to life?
Lieberman: They really stepped up their game for this book. They were perfectionists – we all were. I have been working with Dynamite for 17 years on Red Sonja, so the workflow is easy and rapport is strong. It let us focus on quality quality quality.
Silbert: I’ve never released a comic or graphic novel before. But once Luke introduced me to Nick [Barrucci] in 2011, I knew that if I ever were to do one, I’d want it to be with them. I’m still shocked it’s actually happening. Nick and his team attract the best creators in the business. His love for the history of comic books is infectious. Dynamite appreciates the hundred-year-plus legacy we are building upon as creators and with that knowledge, Nick really pushes the team and us as creators to evolve and try new things. It’s been fun.
Destito: The book has an impressive list of creators. What about this project, besides being part of something that the late Stan Lee co-created, makes it so appealing and special?
Lieberman: Orphans has nods to so many influences. We went back to the early Ditko/Stan sci-fi because we felt like we hadn’t seen a lot of that on the stands lately. And without question, the ’70s and ’80s European graphic novels – Möbius as a touchstone, has strong DNA in Orphans. Alliances as a whole is a celebration of the comic book medium. Comic storytelling came out of radio audio storytelling where we also found our roots.
Silbert: As far as the story is concerned, we think the twist in this book around Stan’s ruminations about invention and its after-effects will hopefully leave readers something to think about when they put the book down. All that heady stuff, and of course there is a creature made of gas, a giant child alien, and a black hole that creates these really trippy time waves that might destroy the galaxy–so needless to say, we had fun with the writing.
Destito: The idea of a found family and creating your own reality with those around you is an important element of this tale. Why will that theme resonate with readers right now?
Silbert: In a lot of ways we live in an incredibly liberating age where formerly marginalized communities can find connections to one another and also have digital platforms at their fingertips to invite others into their shared experience.
Lieberman: Orphans is hopeful; it’s a story where we celebrate all unique and different alien species but also there is this extraordinarily powerful moment for William Ackerson, our human character, who realizes the importance of sharing his power. At the center of this story are moral questions about power, who wields it, and what it means inside of a family and also to the galaxy (yup, we go big!)
Destito: Favorite character and why?
Lieberman: Little Boy – I love overgrown man babies. He is giant, powerful, and genius, but emotionally he is still a child. He wants to lead and he has all of this potential, but he is still growing up.
Silbert: Samsi. When we meet her she is a nomadic warrior who wields this special weapon called the Jarashni. Part of the fun in discovering her character in the writing process was exploring a warrior after the thrill of war is over. What is left? Late in the book, she looks upon the scars of her blade with so much remorse. She carries it with her, not just to defend herself, but to remind herself of her past regrets and keep her connected to her past. I just think she’s a really soulful character. Szymon Kudranski really brought her to life, you can see her leadership but the pain behind her eyes. We have a lot more to explore with her in the future.
Head to Dynamite’s website for more!