Incursion spoilers follow. 

Alex Paknadel has come a long way from pitching stories about superpowered refrigerators. His days as a comic industry hopeful saw him approaching the popular comic writer Andy Diggle, with whom he was very close. For years, Diggle functioned as both dartboard and springboard, taking whatever ideas Paknadel threw at him and advising him to pursue his ideas rather than just discuss them. Paknadel knew his friend had connections and wanted to see if his concepts could make an impression. At one point, Diggle stopped Paknadel mid-pitch and told him to stop pitching and start writing. So, with creative refinement in mind, Paknadel got to work. It’s lucky for us he took Diggle’s advice because if he hadn’t, we would have missed out on one of the industry’s brightest, freshest talents. We were fortunate to speak with Paknadel, who’s gearing up for the trade paperback release of Valiant Entertainment’s Incursion, a 4-issue event series he wrote and plotted with Diggle.

Together with Diggle and acclaimed artist Doug Braithwaite, Paknadel has crafted a story brimming with harrowing fight sequences, longer-than-life characters, and revelations that will leave readers hungry and haunted. During our 25-minute phone conversation, Paknadel spoke candidly, offering up stories about how the book came together and how he used his own experiences to deepen these characters and their journeys.

The story follows a young geomancer named Tama, who is guarded and guided by Gilad the Eternal Warrior. Gilad is cursed to serve every geomancer for eternity, but with Tama, he essentially has to function as her father. When the powerful planet-eater Imperatrix Virago arrives on Earth to drain Tama of her geomantic energy, Gilad must step up and step in to protect all that’s good and green.

Image: Valiant Entertainment

The symbiotic relationship between Tama and Gilad is a binding contract of sorts; Gilad must protect her, and she must protect life. At one point in the story, Gilad is separated from his earthly charge. The choice, Paknadel said, allowed him to use Gilad as a conduit for his own musings as a parent.

In essence, because it’s very personal to me, it was fatherhood. Andy and I are both dads, and at no point do you look at these sort of phenomena more clearly than when you’re separated from your kid. You don’t really understand the nuances of fatherhood until your child isn’t with you. I don’t necessarily think about the relationship that I have with my son unless he’s away for the weekend. With this book, we dialed that up to 11. In order to explore the parent/child relationship between Gilad and Tama, we had to separate them.

Toward the end of the book, Gilad must use necromantic energy to heal Tama. Paknadel referred to it as “kind of a MacGuffin,” and said that every major choice a character makes must come with a price. It raises the stakes and communicates the universal truth that the toughest choices come with the biggest consequences.

Forced by circumstance to leave his sickly ward behind, Gilad travels to the aptly-titled Deadside, which is where he acquires the dark energy needed to heal her. This creative choice not only left room for some kind of follow-up story, but, as Paknadel put it, “presents writers who continue the story with exciting new opportunities and directions.”

We hope that Paknadel and Diggle pick up where they left off, but if they don’t, at least we’ll know Valiant will entrust the continuation of this story to another set of capable writers.

You can pick up the Incursion trade when it hits shelves on July 23. If you want to branch out into Paknadel’s other ventures, give Friendo a shot.

A big thank you to Alex Paknadel for his answers and to Valiant Entertainment Marketing Coordinator Gregg Katzman for arranging this interview.