By Darwin McPherson
For years, Steve Jackson Games has been looking at proposals
to turn the popular Car Wars game into a comic book series. At
long last, Car Warriors will become a part of Marvel's Epic
Comics line in April.
Car Warriors is written by Chuck Dixon, whose extensive
credits include Airboy for Eclipse Comics, Alien Legion and Marc
Specter: Moon Knight for Marvel, and the immensely popular Robin
miniseries for DC, featuring the first solo adventure of
Batman's young partner.
Dixon is best known for writing comics with slambang action. Car Warriors series editor Marie Javins thought Dixon was "perfect for the project, " and Epic Comics Executive Editor Carl Potts agreed.
"For me," Dixon said, "Car Wars was a perfect
setup cars and guns. Sort of a Road Warrior thing, but with a
little more humor attached. It's more intrinsically American.
But ironically, a motivating factor for Dixon's acceptance of
the project was the opportunity to work with an English artist.
For British comics, Steve Dillon has illustrated Laser Eraser and
Pressbutton, various stories for 2000 AD, including The New
Harlem's Heroes and Judge Dredd, and numerous other projects.
His American credits include inking DC's futuristic gangster
thriller Skreemer and, most recently, drawing Animal Man, also
for DC. "When they told me Steve Dillon was going to be
involved, " Dixon said, "I jumped at it. "
The artist had been in contact with Carl Potts for some time
after the two met at a convention. The editor was looking for
something to assign Dillon, Javins recalled, when Potts
"showed (Dillon's work) to me and I said, 'Yeah, that's
great. Let's use him' " for Car Warriors.
Rounding off the art team as inker is another British artist,
Phil Winslade. According to Javins, he was recommended by Dillon.
"His work is really spectacular so far," she said.
Winslade's work hasn't been widely seen in the U.S. yet, but
in addition to Car Warriors, he's tentatively scheduled to
illustrate Goddess, by Irish writer Garth Ennis, for DC.
Car Warriors introduces original characters who interact in
situations derived from the Car Wars game. The star of the series
is Chevy Vasquez, a young duellist with a tragic past.
As a child, Chevy witnessed the slaughter of his family by a
biker gang called the Vikings. He grew up to become an
autoduellist in a traveling circus. In this savage environment,
which Dixon described as "a sort of lowrent version of the
Roman Games," Chevy honed his skills and became one of the
Another featured character is a woman called Diamond, who
Dixon called "this really wild blonde." She used to
race, Javins explained, but gave up life on the circuit to help
her family on their farm. With the hard economic times, things
aren't going too well for them. To save the farm, Diamond comes
out of retirement in an attempt to raise some money.
Riding in with less clear motivations is MechaShan. He's a
"cybercharacter," Dixon said. "He's built into
his car; he can never get out of it. " Loaded with
hightech machinery and weaponry, MechaShan is purposely
Also featured is the vacationing Wysocki family Curt, Agnes
and their kids, Sissy and Junior. They travel in a heavily
armored van with a variety of machine guns.
When asked to describe the family, Javins called them the
"Simpsons of the future." Keeping with that analogy,
Dixon recalled that Carl Potts called them "the Simpsons on
acid." The Wysockis will have humor riding with them
constantly, and Javins called them the "dark horse" of
These four competitors are brought together on a road race
called the DeLorean Run. The race is sponsored by Fort DeLorean,
which has developed a new super grain called virunella.
"This grain," Dixon explained, "is going to
reseed the Midwest and turn it back into the bread basket it
was before the grain blight." The grain is so virulent that
"20 pounds of it could seed a few hundred acres."
That's why it's called virunella. As Car Wars historians know,
food production problems caused by die blight have had a
tremendous impact on the world's development.
To implement this plan, the grain (or actually its seed) has
to be delivered from the upper peninsula of Michigan to Lansing.
Each racer, including Chevy, Diamond, MechaShan and the
Wysockis, among others, is given a supply of the seed with the
hope that at least one of them will make it to the distribution
center. Standing in their way are a number of impediments.
First, there are numerous food coop interests that have a
financial stake in keeping virunella off the market (i.e., if
grain becomes plentiful, people stop eating and paying for
algae). These megacorporations are hiding in the shadows. Even if
they don't get involved directly, they're hiring opposition to go
out an protect their profit margin.
This opposition takes the form of "every bad motorcycle,
skate and every other kind of gang in the upper peninsula of
Michigan," Dixon noted. This is, after all, the world of Car
Wars, where pot holes and speeding tickets are the least of a
The gangs include, Dixon said, "The Road Rats and the
Road Hogs. There's a group called the Custer Busters they're a
bunch of Indians up in the upper peninsula and the Harpies, an
allfemale biker gang.
But the primary bad guys are the Vikings, who killed Chevy's
parents so long ago. They're led now, as they were then, by a man
named Erik. "He's really the lead psycho, " Dixon said.
Chevy is backed and bankrolled for the DeLorean Run by Billy
Bob Hartoon, who Dixon described as "a Burt Reynolds type,
who once starred in car crash movies. "
But it's Chevy's desire for revenge on the biker gang that
serves as his "motivation for joining the race," Javins
stated. "Once he hears there are Vikings on the road, he's
totally into going out there. "
Unfortunately, Dixon pointed out, "The important thing is
to get the grain to Lansing, not to have a great autoduel, so
they're not allowed to shoot at each other. Of course, they're
allowed to shoot, or rocket, or mortar anything that's in the
And they can count on having obstacles to overcome, since,
after all, the race takes place throughout Michigan. Dixon said,
"According to the game, Michigan is supposed to be one of
the most volatile states." The writer also liked the setting
because of the state's status as the center of the American
The first racer to complete the DeLorean Run intact will
receive $50,000 in prize money. However, that amount is
"peanuts," compared with how much the racers can
receive from betting, Javins said.
She said the characters actually comment that "It's the
betting money which is the big deal. " For example, Diamond
is counting on the betting proceeds to help her family, more than
the actual winnings.
Though the primary focus will be on Chevy, Diamond and the
others mentioned earlier, there are "several hundred people
involved in the run," Dixon noted. "There are lots of
other characters you see for a few minutes before they explode or
crash or drive off bridges or whatever."
When such misfortunes occur, they're always the fault of
renegades on the road. Javins said an important rule is to avoid
hurting fellow racers on the way to Lansing. To ensure
compliance, there are monitors from Fort DeLorean watching the
"(The racers will) be in trouble if they try to stop
others," Javins said. "They're just to get there as
fast as possible and not get killed in the meantime. " Other
that, there are no set rules or even specific routes racers have
"Car Wars: The Comic Book" is called Car Warriors
"because the intention is to focus more on the racers and
less on the actual machinery," Javins said. "The
characters themselves are, in this case, more important than the
actual equipment they're using, because of the nature of the
Though comic books tend to be more characterdriven, Dixon
insisted that the series stays within "the rules laid down
for the Car Wars version of the future." The series is set
in 2038 of Car Wars history, and the characters utilize "The
Car Wars version of the hardware. "
Javins noted that the Steve Jackson Games staff goes over
everything and reminds the creative team when they make
occasional continuity errors, or forget details like armoring
Nevertheless, Javins points out that the Epic series wouldn't
be "precise" with the hardware. "There isn't a
long explanation of exactly what the equipment is." Readers
should understand everything "through the context" of
"The intent is to please not just the people who play the
game," Dixon said, "but people who read comics, that
(Car Wars) is new to. I think it succeeds on both levels. Of
course, the gamers will be a little more picky about it (laughs),
but that's to be expected. "
In comparison, Dixon said, "I think that the comic
version is a little more hardedged than the game is. "
Still, the writer tries to maintain some of the gallows humor
that shows up in the game. "
Gamers shouldn't feel left out, however. Steve Jackson Games
is including a page of new gaming information in each issue,
covering the vehicles, gadgets and characters of the series.
For now, Car Warriors is a fourissue limited series, but
more could follow if the series proves popular. "I have a
gut feeling this is going to be pretty successful, " Dixon
admitted, "because I had a good time doing it. Usually,
whenever I have a real good time, the reader will, too. "
Beginning in April, the story will unfold in four monthly,
32page issues. For $2.25 an issue, gaming fans can judge for
themselves how well the game translates into colorful comicbook
form. And a whole new audience comics fans can get exposed
to the exciting, fastpaced world of Car Wars.
Look for Car Warriors for sale at comic book specialty shops everywhere