Fans of Rooster Teeth’s gen:LOCK were left mouths agape when the finale aired in March. What happened to Chase? What will become of Kazu, Cammy, Yasamin, and Val/Valentina? While production of a second season is underway, a new comic book series from DC Comics promises to fill in the gaps between Season 1 and Season 2.
DC’s gen:LOCK, available now at digital retail is “Season 1.5,” says writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzig. Featuring art by Carlo Barbieri, the new comic also contains clues as to what will come in Season 2, if you know how to “read between the lines.”
“We like to think of it as Season 1.5,” Lanzig tells Inverse. “If you love Season 1, this is gonna pick up there and tell you stories that are going to deal with the ramifications and take them a step down the block that will ideally become a sprint in Season 2.”
Adds Kelly, “We intend to add more toys to the table and basically set up Season 2 so they have a more exciting runway to play with. Fans who are excited for Season 2 might learn about Season 2 by what is not included in our story than what may be.”
But that doesn’t mean you should bug them for spoilers. “We do not know what’s coming down the pike for Season 2,” Lanzig says. “We know what ideas have been floating and what we shouldn’t be playing [with]. But if you look between the lines you might see a hint towards the future of gen:LOCK.”
First announced at New York Comic Con in 2018, Austin-based studio Rooster Teeth has teamed up with DC Comics (both subsidiaries of AT&T) to release comics based on Rooster Teeth’s animated shows, RWBY and gen:LOCK, the science-fiction drama co-produced and starring Michael B. Jordan.
RWBY, written by Margueritte Bennett (Batwoman, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and illustrated by Mirka Andolfo and Arif Prianto, was released in August. gen:LOCK, published September 19th, follows the gen:LOCK team in the immediate aftermath of Season 1.
Spoilers ahead, but Lanzig and Kelly say their gen:LOCK follows Julian Chase (voiced by Michael B. Jordan in the show) wrestle with the loss of his physical form and his digitized brain trapped in a coma.
“He’s lost his physical body for good and that is an isolating crisis,” Lanzig says. “We don’t want to take him down an, ‘Oh, I’m a machine’ route, but that doesn’t mean it’s not isolating.”
The other members of gen:LOCK, meanwhile, will also explore their own narratives. Cammy (Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones) is “dealing with her own trauma” from being a young person thrust into war, while Kazu, voiced by famed anime voice actor Kōichi Yamadera, will return home to Japan. The comic, the writers say, will explore the world outside the future United States.
“We brought Japan into the mix because we really think there’s great stories to tell with Kazu,” says Lanzig.
Adds Kelly, “There’s a lot of questions from the fans what the world looks like outside the United States. That’s what we get to dive into. Kazu doesn’t really get a story over the course of Season 1, and he felt like a great opportunity.”
Lanzig and Kelly, whose previous works include Hacktivist and DC books like Green Arrow and Gotham City Garage, are bringing their passion for anime and sci-fi into gen:LOCK. They also recognize the responsibility of introducing western comics to Rooster Teeth fans, a diverse fandom who may or may not be attuned to the medium in the same way they know manga and animation.
“Colin and I met in college when we were just geeks going to the comic book store. One of our early points of reference was Neon Genesis Evangelion, which explores a lot of the same ideas. gen:LOCK was an opportunity to dig into those questions and ideas we’ve been talking about as fans for years.”
The two also work on comics for Star Trek, the legendary sci-fi franchise that gen:LOCK creator Gray Haddock previously told Inverse played a major thematic influence on Rooster Teeth’s series. “gen:LOCK [was] an opportunity for me to do a next-gen tribute to the ideas of Gene Roddenberry that he did in Star Trek,” Haddock told Inverse in 2018.
Says Kelly, “Gene’s vision of the future was more utopian than gen:LOCK, but at the same time there’s this wonderful energy about inclusion and supporting each other. That is always going to clash in a world about putting people into controlled and regimented boxes. gen:LOCK has a message of hope and inclusion Jackson and I latched onto.”
He adds, “The fact that it is a team that comes together as a family is incredibly Star Trekkian, because they are their best when they function as a group.”
While Haddock recently left Rooster Teeth, the writers say they’ve had “extensive conversation” with him, and will continue to consult with Rooster Teeth’s existing story department to maintain the original vision.
As one of the first projects out of the Rooster Teeth/DC collaboration, there are a lot of eyes and expectations to the project. But to the writers, their biggest concern is how fans will take to western comics.
“It’s a medium capable of stuff no other medium is capable of,” Lanzig says.
“We had a amazing moment after the gen:LOCK panel [at RTX 2019],” recalls Kelly. “After the panel, people were running up to us going, ‘You’re Jackson and Collin!’ Any comics person will tell you, no one has any idea in comics what writers look like. Here, we had gaggles of young people who already Googled us because Rooster Teeth has created this culture of personality and knowing that the people creating content are actual people.”
gen:LOCK #1 is available now from DC Comics.