Autoduel QuarterlyVolume 9Issue 1


Car Warriors:

A New Road for Car Wars

By Darwin McPherson


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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.

Who's Who in the Crew

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. "
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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.

Roll Call

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 best.

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 mysterious.

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 the series.
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The Lay of the Land

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 motorist's troubles.
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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. "

The Pace of the Race

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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 way. "

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 automobile industry.

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.
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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 race.

"(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 to follow.

The Name of the Game

"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 medium. "

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 weapons.

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 story.

"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.

The End of the Road?

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

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Issue 9/1 Index

Steve Jackson Games * Car Wars * ADQ Index