Gen:Lock (stylized as gen:LOCK) is Rooster Teeth’s newest show, entering the pantheon of mecha anime. Staring Micheal B. Jordan, and created by Gray Haddock, it’s set in a dystopian future Earth where an international coalition known as The Polity fights a hostile, autocratic invading force known as The Union. The series follows a group of pilots who are recruited to control mechas neurologically in an effort to save their futuristic world from an oppressive authoritarian regime.
Having completed season one, this hit series is moving beyond just animation. It was announced at the 2019 Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX) that the series would be coming to manga through Viz Media while also coming to western comic books via DC Comics. Having become a member of the Warner Media family, gen:LOCK and RWBY have found comic book homes at DC Comics. At the “DC Comics X Rooster Teeth” panel with Geoff Yetter, Rooster Teeth’s Head of Licensing, RWBY director Kerry Shawcross, Rooster Teeth’s Animation Brand Manager Christine Brent, and the writing team behind the newly announced gen:LOCK comic from DC Jackson Lanzig and Collin Kelly, we got more information on the high-level story of both upcoming series.
The gen:LOCK comic series takes place directly after the events of season one, described by the series writers Collin Kelley and Jackson Lanzig as Season One Point Five. As canon the events of this comic series will have effects in the animated series, and perhaps most excitingly, we will get to see a new theater of war as the setting. Moving to the polity of Japan, Kelley and Lanzig are going to explore what it’s like to be besieged, and ultimately what it’s like to have your entire existence seen as just something to be conquered.
With the background of Japan, we’ll also get to see more characters be explored and developed, especially Kazu as he explores his identity. We’ll also get to go more into the world of Siege, as we dive into Cammie’s world and explore her character. The writing duo also explained the importance of using mecha as a metaphor for much larger concepts, including body dysmorphia and identity, two things that fans of the show have praised. Kelley and Lanzig also mentioned that this series will take us back to where the gen:LOCK began, giving fans more time with Dr. Weller.
In addition to high-level story details, we also got a look into the process of hiring Kelley and Lanzig as writers and Carlo Barbier as illustrator. As explained in the panel at RTX, it was important to the Rooster Teeth team to find writers who understood and respected the diverse experiences and backgrounds of their characters. For Brent, who helped interview potential writers and looked at potential artist’s work, she asked the writing team point blank about how they, two straight white male creatives, planned to write a comic series focused on a team of characters with diverse racial and gender identities.
Kelley and Lanzig then explained that it was because of the diversity of the characters, particularly Val’s identity as nonbinary, that pulled them to the project – and of course a love for the show after binge watching season one. To them, it’s always been important to showcase stories that aren’t ones that they necessarily look like. Additionly, the two explained how their background in television and film led them to have conversations with producers and other writers about the importance of using correct pronouns and presenting nonbinary representation.
The focus of this part of the “DC Comics X Rooster Teeth” panel was celebrating the diversity of story and making sure that those unique character identities were translated to their next storytelling platform, comic books. With this, Brent explained the issues that arose when trying to find the right artist. Similar to the RWBY series, finding an artist who could blend Eastern and Western art styles while also maintaining a unique look was a challenge.
That being said, the larger issue was finding an artist who could draw Cammie as a young character and not a 30-year old and an artist who didn’t white-wash characters like Kazu, all while finding someone who could also illustrate dynamic and beautiful mechs. In the end, Barbier was brought on to join the creative team, and after the panel showed us the sample pages, it was clear why. Each character looked perfect, and even in black and white. Their personalities popped from the screen.
By the end of the panel, it was clear that gen:LOCK is in good hands with Kelley, Lanzig, and Barbier. The new gen:LOCK series is scheduled to release later this year in September and will begin as a twice-monthly digital comic before being collected into monthly printed issues.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.