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Whatever else you can say about Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, there’s no doubt that it leaves you with questions. Depending on how much you enjoyed the film, those questions may be about the movie’s themes and plot twists, or you may just be left asking, “What the hell were they thinking with the bookshelf thing?” Either way, some of those questions are due to be answered, courtesy of a new comic filling in some of the film’s backstory.
SPOILERS for Interstellar below!
Director Christopher Nolan is guest editing the next issue of Wired, and as part of the package he’s written a seven-page Interstellar comic focusing on Dr. Mann, the unstable scientist portrayed by Matt Damon in the film. If you recall, Mann was part of the “Lazarus missions” which predated Cooper’s (Matthew McConaughey) voyage through the wormhole. Along with Doctors Miller and Edmunds, Mann helped identify three potentially habitable alien worlds to which mankind might relocate.
Unfortunately, Mann didn’t hold up well with no company other than his robot KIPP, and by the time Cooper and company arrived, Mann was so desperate to get away from his snowy stand-in home that he endangered the entire mission — and ended his own life — in a display of spectacular stupidity. Will Hunting would be ashamed.
Nolan’s new comic, entitled “Absolute Zero,” is a collaboration with comics artist Sean Gordon Murphy. As THR notes, It explores “a key point in [Mann’s] personal journey that takes place before he’s introduced in the film.” The comic will appear in Nolan’s issue of Wired, due out next week. Thankfully this is the Internet, and we refuse to wait for things! You can click the preview image below for a larger version, or read “Absolute Zero” in full over at Wired.com.
“Absolute Zero” is a snapshot of just how Mann was driven to madness. Stranded on a landscape of frozen cloud, desperately searching for a planetary surface that isn’t there. The mission of his life, proven fruitless, and to make matters worse he’s stranded there with no one for company but an (admittedly awesome) robot. There are no huge surprises, just a snapshot of all-too-human desperation.
And, just as in the movie itself, the real star here is the robot. Those wonderfully snarky Swiss army knives of robotics have raised the bar for on-screen ‘bots, and “Absolute Zero” further digs into the notion of perhaps the most important role they play: that of companionship — or at least simulated companionship. I love the idea that Mann could make KIPP stop arguing and just do as he’s told, but doing so would shatter the illusion that Mann isn’t utterly alone on a desolate alien world. How dire would things have to get before you’d sacrifice that illusion and accept that you’re having a conversation with a slab that’s only pretending to be alive?
Christopher Nolan’s issue of Wired hits stands on November 25.