believe he didn't kick me out of the room, because Boom is a very young company and Stan is very accomplished."

Lee said that "these guys are great to work with. They create the books, but then they bring 'em to me and say 'What do you think of this idea? How do you like this bit? How do you feel about this art?' It felt like I was back in the Marvel Bullpen again, and I've never had a better time."

Cornell explained how he became involved with Soldier Zero. "Mark Waid approached me at the Gallifrey One Doctor Who convention in LA and asked me if I'd like to work with Stan Lee." He went on to explain that, when he signed his contract with DC, "I asked for an exemption from my exclusive for Soldier Zero. I mentioned that I had the chance to work with Stan, and they were happy to oblige. It's the power of Stan!"

Cornell described Lee as "the man who basically taught me to read. He's one of the great tellers of tales for children—our Brothers Grimm. The way he takes a child by the hand and leads him into the fiction is timeless."

How involved was Lee with the series??"We had a character and a situation supplied by Stan," Cornell said. "I wrote a plot based on that, and added a supporting cast. From there, Stan approved, reacted, provided notes."

Cornell stressed that Soldier Zero is a contemporary work, not a nostalgia project. "There's nothing retro or pastiche about it; we're just using modern techniques to let Stan's eternal virtues shine through. Stan has eternal strengths as a creator of characters and drama. I heard 'the former warrior who's against fighting, forced to share his mind and body with a soldier,' and I thought 'I immediately get that.'

"Soldier Zero reflects those storytelling

skills, but added to modern comics techniques without a lot of in-jokes or pastiche or references to Stan's former work. This is like Rick Rubin producing Johnny Cash: you might have forgotten how good this man is—this is him right now."

Once Cornell signed on to the project, "I was able to have quite a bit of creative input. We went back and forth. Some of

the details of the book, like Stewart being ex- military, are differ from what I talked about in the early interviews, because Stan came back with some new ideas—all excellent ones.

The star of Soldier Zero is "Stewart Travers, a former Marine paralyzed from the waist down after being wounded in combat. He now regards himself as a pacifist, and is active in trying to make the world 'sane' for people in wheelchairs, trying to change the environment he regards as his only disability. But then he's forced, in order to save both their lives, to bond with an alien soldier, which takes the form of armor; this alien soldier has lost its previous host/partner.

"The armor's the sole survivor of its unit, hunted down by the enemy. Its last host is killed when it falls to Earth. It merges with Stewart to get out of a burning building, and then needs his help to build a communications device to summon its own people.

"This interrelationship gives Stewart super powers, and enables him to walk for short periods of time. The alien's ruthless, but Stewart won't take a life, and now they share a group mind, together as Soldier Zero."

So why doesn't Stewart use the power of the armor to free him from his wheelchair permanently? "The armor doesn't have the energy for full mobility all the time,"  Cornell said. "And Stewart is conflicted about what it gives him; he knows it'll go home as soon as it can, and he feels awkward at the pleasure a
walk to the store gives him, when he doesn't regard himself as lacking in his wheelchair life."

To ensure that Stewart's wheelchair experiences strike a real-world chord, "I'm bringing in the great comics creator Al Davison, who's a wheelchair-using martial artist, as our advisor, and I'm reaching out to other wheelchair-using comics fans, hoping that this is a comic that'll represent that community," Cornell said.

today, who are working selflessly, even though they make their own personal sacrifices - there's no sacrifice to being Superman, there's no real sacrifices to being Batman. But there are sacrifices to being a Stan Lee superhero.

"There's something about Stan that's such a positive influence," Waid said. "There's something about him that brings out that joie de vivre... there's not a cynical bone in his body. You get to embrace what's good in humanity."

Stan Lee's Soldier Zero #1, a $3.99 comic by Stan Lee, Paul Cornell, & Javier Pina, is scheduled for mid-October release.

The book will be offered with covers by Trevor Hairsine and Dave Johnson. In addition, Boom is offering a 1-for-25 cover by Phil Noto; a 1-for-50 "undressed" (that is, with no logo or overtype) Trevor Hairsine variant; a 1-for-75 "undressed" Dave Johnson variant; a 1-for-150 "undressed" variant by Phil Noto; and an ultra-rare 1-for-300 Stan Lee signed variant featuring art by Kalman

Andrasofszky. Check with the folks at your friendly neighborhood comic shop for info on price and availability.

To find a comic shop near you, try the Comic Book Locator Service.

by Cliff Biggers

Follow CSN via Twitter at twitter.com/csnsider

Where there's a super-soldier, there's also a super-conflict—and in this case, part of that conflict is almost cosmic in nature. "There are both alien and human threats coming after this alien crashed on Earth, and it and Stewart have to rely on each other to survive," Cornell said. "The enemy immediately comes after the armor. The background of the battle ties in with Boom's other 'Staniverse' titles. We're also setting up a classic villain in the origin story, and that there's an ensemble supporting cast forming around Stewart's job as a teaching assistant."

Soldier Zero is set in a world that has never had superheroes until now. And as this series is joined by The Traveler and Starborn, "though each book stands alone initially, it'll become clear they're all set in the same universe, new to heroes like this," Cornell said.

Does this mean that readers can look forward to crossovers between the three books??"Down the line, sure," Cornell said. "But we're determined initially to make each book its own experience, not some huge crossover."

At San Diego Comic-Con, Mark Waid said that Stan Lee and the writers hope to restore a sense of wonder to comics. "Comics have become something like WWE wrestling matches, with good guys and bad guys, but the humanity gets lost," he said. "The idea that Stan, basically created the sort of characters we know
Zero Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
 Take one wheelchair-bound ex-soldier. Add one alien parasite. What do you get?

A superhuman defender of the Earth known as Soldier Zero, that's what.

Take one comic book legend. Add an acclaimed comic book and television screenplay writer. Mix in a popular superhero illustrator best known for his work on DC's flagship characters. What do you get?

Stan Lee's Soldier Zero, the kickoff of a line of Lee-created superhero titles, that's what! Soldier Zero, the first Stan Lee title from Boom Studios, launches in October; it'll be followed later this year by The Traveler (by Mark Waid & Chad Hardin) and Starborn (by Chris Roberson & Khary Randolph).

Readers will always associate Stan Lee with Marvel Comics, but Lee's not tying himself down to just one company; instead, he's currently developing projects with both Boom and Archie Comics. Boom Publisher Ross Richie explained that Lee's involvement with Boom came about because "we have mutual friends... This gave Mark Waid and me an opportunity to meet Stan, and the partnership formed from there. I couldn't