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Exclusive: Michael Alan Nelson drops the dime on the spys in BOOM's new Protocol mini

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Posted by: Byron Brewer, Managing Editor
created 08/22/2013 - 7:37pm

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A very action-packed spy saga at BOOM! Studios will be coming in November from an unlikely source: actor Peter Facinelli of Twilight!

To find out about the Protocol miniseries, to be co-written by Michael Alan Nelson (Day Men, Supergirl), Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively sat down with the scribe to give him the once-over. Brewer filed this report:

Cosmic Book News: So how did the idea come about to do spy stories with Peter Facinelli from Twilight? Is he a co-plotter, co-writer or, as they say these days, "consultant"? (laughs)

Michael Alan Nelson:  Ha!  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I was the consultant.  Peter had this great story all set and ready to go and the folks at BOOM loved it.  But Peter comes from more of a TV and film background.  And even though the mediums are similar, they all wanted someone familiar with writing comics to help script the series. That's where I come in.  And don't for a second think that Peter just had a simple idea written on the back of a napkin and said, "Here you go.  Make it awesome."  No.  He had a fully fleshed-out world, a great story, and rich complex characters. And he's been very hands-on in crafting the series.  

CBN: Give us the 411 on Protocol.

Michael Alan Nelson: Protocol follows a group of young men and women known as Orphans who work outside of law enforcement and military organizations to secure the safety of our nation.  Each group is a "family" led by a Dad who receives his orders from an anonymous group of handlers known as Grandparents.  But what makes this group of Orphans unique is the intense, and highly unethical, training that they've received during their time at the Playground.  At a very early age, these kids were shaped to be the best examples of human abilities, both physically and mentally.  They are the fastest, strongest, smartest people on the planet.  And fortunately for us, they're on our side.

CBN: Your protagonists are a young bunch. Can you tell us about some of them and to which parts of the globe might they be "trotting"?

Michael Alan Nelson: Even though each has been broken down and built back up to be the ultimate spy, they still have their own personalities and quirks.  Parish is a bit vain and is quite happy that his "day job" makes him loads of cash.  On the other hand, Lewis is a bit resentful that Parish got the cushy cover identity while he has to sling coffee at a local coffee house.  Even though they're all business, these little conflicts can come out every once in a while, and usually at the least opportune time.

As for where they will be, it could be anywhere.  It doesn't matter where trouble is brewing.  Heading to the deepest corner of the world is the same as working in their own back yard.  Wherever they're needed, that's where they'll be.  

CBN: And who is "Dad"?

Michael Alan Nelson: Dad is the man in charge of the family's daily operations.  He acts as liaison with the Grandparents and keeps the Orphans on task.  But the Dad of this particular family has a black mark on his record.  His first family was killed to a man on a mission that went sideways terribly fast.  He himself barely escaped with his life.  But that failure haunts him.  And it makes his new family nervous. 

CBN: Mike, you've written a lot of things, but the spy genre is kind if new, right? How are you approaching it?

Michael Alan Nelson: Well, as I mentioned before, Peter has done most of the heavy lifting.  But story is story, regardless of the genre.  And one of the very first books I ever wrote was a spy thriller so this isn't completely foreign to me.  I must confess, however, that I did have a chance to scratch my "horror" itch with some of the flashbacks to the training at the Playground.  Those darker scenes were a hell of a lot of fun to write.    

CBN: Do you touch on the backgrounds of these kids much, and is there any bonding factor between the spies?

Michael Alan Nelson: We do get a chance to see what it was like for them when they trained as children. These little flashback vignettes give the reader a sense of who they are as characters and why they are the way they are.  As for bonding, yes and no.  For some Orphans, it makes them feel closer to the other children.  For others, it only isolates them. 

CBN: How much of Protocol is you and how much is Peter?

Michael Alan Nelson: That's a tough question to answer.  It's like looking at someone and asking how much is their father and how much is their mother.  They might have their mother's eyes or their father's nose, but they are still a fusion of the two.  The concept, story, and characters are all Peter.  I just took all those great ideas and wove them into comic form.  I added a few things here and there, but this is definitely Peter's story and I'm really happy to be helping tell it.

CBN: Why is Mariano Navarro right for this miniseries? Are you a fan?

Michael Alan Nelson: Absolutely a fan. And Mariano is great not just at capturing the fun of the action and that sense of motion and speed, but he does a fantastic job at conveying the complexities of emotion that the characters are going through.  My favorite scene is Parish's flashback to a particular event during his training.  It's a dark and emotionally complex scene and Mariano was able to get all of that complexity across with the character's expressions.  Just simply fantastic.

CBN: What will readers take away from Protocol?

Michael Alan Nelson: My hope is that they'll have fun and enjoy reading the series as much as I had helping write it.  And I think they will.  Protocol is a hell of a lot of fun.

CBN: Mike, any projects in the works or ongoing you'd like to talk about?

Michael Alan Nelson: I am also currently writing Day Men for BOOM! Studios as well as Supergirl for DC Comics.  And, as always, I have more projects in development which I hope to be able to unveil soon.  So keep a look-out for more.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Michael Alan Nelson for talking with us yet again amid, obviously, a very busy schedule. We would also like to thank Brianna Hart of BOOM, who helped make this interview possible.

“Protocol” hits shelves in November!

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