Welcome back to another edition of All The Rage. I?m in the middle of moving apartments, so bear with me here. Time is not on my side?

Westward Ho!

DC has found some success recently with the return of their ?space based? characters in Adam Strange and the upcoming Rann/Thanagar War miniseries. So, it should come as no surprise that several other long dormant characters and books are also rumored to be making a comeback. Though this time, it may be something a little more down to earth? The 19th century American West to be exact. Reliable sources have indicated that DC?s Western heroes, like Jonah Hex and El Diablo are up for a revival, with a miniseries or ongoing book possibly showing up before the end of this year?

This Has A ?2 Gun Mojo? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Dark City

I?ve heard that Kurt Busiek?s Astro City: The Dark Age maxiseries may be extended from 12 to 16 issues.

In a related note, Astro City artist, Brent Anderson mentioned on his website that he has nearly finished the first issue of The Dark Age, and that the issue will feature the debut of The Apollo 11, a new superhero team designed by Alex Ross.

This Has A ?Silver Agent? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


From Out of The Void

Later this year, Funimation will be releasing a DVD box set of the WildC.A.T.S. animated series, which was produced by Nelvana back in the mid-nineties.

Good God?

WHY?!

This Has A ?Where Are The Daemonites When You Need Them?? Factor of One Out of Ten


Visionary

Over at his official website, industry legend, George Perez gave a detailed rundown of his upcoming projects:

      I am currently inking the incredible Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on a project written by Phil Jimenez, who is also the cover penciler, with me inking Phil. Unfortunately, beyond that, I’m not at liberty to reveal what the project is so I’ve been calling it “

The EZ Company Project

    ” since all three creators share the same last two letters in our family names. DC Comics should be making an announcement relatively soon and it will be a relief to finally be able to talk about it openly.

Contrary to solicitations I have indeed drawn the cover for Fallen Angel # 20. Due to a mix-up in the scheduling it initially appeared that I couldn’t do the cover, so the regular team was told to go ahead and draw the cover. When Peter David found out about that he reminded the editor that the deadlines had been pushed back and even though the book had been solicited with another cover, Peter figured few would be bummed out to find that there was a P?rez cover after all.

I have also drawn a cover for a Marvel Visionaries book spotlighting my 1970’s run on Fantastic Four. Tom Smith colored that piece and, as usual, did a wonderful job. I am currently drawing a variant cover for Top Cow’s City of Heroes # 1 and will be drawing the cover for a City of Heroes novel called “Web of Arachnos”. This should be the first of three covers for a series of CoH novels. And since I just mentioned Top Cow, I should also announce that I will be participating in a special 10th Anniversary edition of Witchblade. I will be drawing three pages written by Ron Marz. And as I draw those pages I will be filmed by a video crew for TwoMorrows’ DVD companion to its Modern Masters book series.

There have been other offers, including some covers for Dynamic Forces’ Red Sonja and Army of Darkness. I also will be providing a cover for DF’s Storyteller, yet another retrospective on my career. (I am definitely being over-exposed). A cover for ForceWerks’ B.A.B.E. FORCE is also on my schedule. There have been other one-shots I’ve been offered that I’m not yet free to discuss, or yet to accept, but after “The EZ Company Project” I will be primarily focusing my attention on completing Games: The Titans Graphic Novel. Inker Mike Perkins has already started on some pages and Tom Smith has 30 pages ready to start so it’s up to me to get busy so that Marv Wolfman can start dialoguing the first half of the book.

Incidentally, the book Perez refers to as “The EZ Company Project” has long been rumored to be the Donna Troy miniseries that will resurrect the character. Phil Jimenez, the writer of that miniseries, is said to be a HUGE Donna Troy fan and would probably have drawn the miniseries himself if he wasn?t busy with Otherworld and Crisis 2.

This Has A ?Who Is Wonder Girl?? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Kombat Kontinues

Mortal Kombat is one of the longest running and most successful video game series on the market. However, that success has not crossed over into the comic realm during previous attempts to bring MK to the printed page. But that may be about to change? Walter McDaniel?s WAM Entertainment and Atomeka Press are developing a new round of Mortal Kombat comics based on the latest game in the series, MK: Deception. Recently, I caught up with McDaniel and his collaborator, screenwriter, Bryan Hill about their plans for MK:

Blair Marnell: Walter, why did you decide to pursue the MK license?

Walter McDaniel: I’m a huge fan of the game and always wanted to do something with the property. I have an agent that reps our studio, so I had him contact Midway and we sent some of our company?s art work over to them.

Mortal Kombat has been a revolutionary series in the video game industry. MK is something I and millions of other people grew up with. It?s an honor to have a chance to be a part of its history.

BM: And Bryan, how did you come onboard this project?

Bryan Hill: A series of fortunate events. Walter acquired the comic book license and approached me. I played the games growing up and I paid attention to the franchise. At first I was a little wary…

Being a screenwriter by trade I wanted to make sure that the comics would hold up to the same standards as the scripts I write. Once I felt like I would be allowed that opportunity. I came onboard.

BM: What have you worked on before this?

BH: My first produced work is a direct to video action-thriller called The Mechanik starring Dolph Lundgren (remember him?), since then I’ve got a couple of projects in development at major studios.

WM: My humble beginnings started in advertising. I worked for an ad company at the age of 16, but I’ve always had a love for comics and animation. My first job was for a company owned by Neal Adams, Continuity Comics. My first book was called Earth 4. I was 19, then I got picked up by Marvel… my first book there was Deathlok (I’m sorry, I’m making an open apology to my editor Tom. I acknowledge I put you through hell)

Deadpool and Stark Raven were the most recent comic series I’ve worked on. I also started my own company, WAM Entertainment, which has done work for Hasbro, Mattel, Warner Brothers, and other companies on titles such as GI-Joe, Transformers, Jurassic Park 3, MIB 2, and Hot Wheels to name a few.

BM: Previous MK comics haven’t been well received, because frankly, they were pretty bad. What steps are you taking to make sure that your incarnation of MK is more successful?

WM: I personally think the key is digging deeper into the characters.

BH: Licensed properties always get a sidelong glance…and that’s usually deserved. The key here is to tell a story. I repeat TELL A STORY?

WM: I think the other MK comics of the past just focused on the fighting?

BH: This isn’t a book where people scream at each other, flexing their muscles through splash pages. I respect the fans a great deal and I want to give them a series of stories that they can hold up to the top books in the industry.

WM: Well said. A comic is not a video game.

BH: Characterization. Thoughtful dialogue. Dilemma. All the nuts and bolts of compelling fiction. I think the first order is simply to take matters seriously.

We have a world where death happens. Life is fragile and the balance of good
and evil is in constant flux. People ask me how could Mortal Kombat translate into great stories… I ask them, how can it not?

WM: You see why I think he is the man for the job.

BM: I’ve heard that you’ll be starting off with a MK: Scorpion one-shot before moving on to the MK: Deception miniseries. Please elaborate.

BH: There was a lot of thinking about which of these many loved characters to start with in a series. I cherry-picked Scorpion because I love the themes of loss, vengeance and redemption. I think those are universal…

WM: I would say because Scorpion is one the signature MK characters. He is a key character and I think his story arc is the most interesting over the MK series of games?

BH: And a fantastic place to start the series. There’s a playground of story in Scorpion. From his quest for vengeance to his roots in ninjitsu training. He’s the classic anti-hero. Who doesn’t love those?

BM: What other characters will you be focusing on?

BH: I don’t want to let the cat too far out of the bag, but there will be a good balance of old standbys and new favorites. I read the message boards and talk to the fans. They won’t be disappointed.

WM: I wanted Bryan to pick the characters he found most interesting… And I will say this? MK is a story about opposites. Love and hate, injustice and justice, light and dark, human and inhuman.

Mortal Kombat is a universe. You can’t just do one comic to cover a universe.

BM: Who are some of the other comic creators you?ve lined up for MK projects?

WM: I can’t mention them just yet? but I think I have selected some interesting creative teams. I want the artwork to match the feel of the books.

BH: Walter’s in contact with fan favorites across the industry. He’s also got cutting-edge new talent. That’s what keeps the process exciting for me.

BM: Bryan, What’s your approach to writing Mortal Kombat?

BH: First there’s getting caught up on the history of the universe. I have to thank John Vogel at Midway for that. As for the stories? I’m taking a gritty, hard hitting approach following the lead of some of my favorite writers in the industry. Bendis. Azzarello. Millar. Frank Miller. I’m peeling back the layers of the characters building stories around what they are at their core… in some way fans could call this a reintroduction to the world of Mortal Kombat through comic fiction.

MK: Deception is cannon and the events of that game do set the stage for the stories, but they aren’t going to be simply based around the tournament. There are adventures that happen to these characters before they even set foot in the tournament.

For instance… Sub Zero’s ninja clan was involved in all types of corruption and crime. They were like Ra’s Al Ghul?s League of Shadows. They had a global criminal network in addition to their ninja temple. That’s one of the things I’d like to explore.

BM: What is the underlying story in the one-shot and the miniseries?

BH: They’re point of view stories leading up to and through the events of MK: Deception. We’re going to see individual characters deal with their own conflicts, from their perspectives. As each story unfolds you’ll see how the hero of one can be the villain of another. If people decide to read the comic and play the games, hopefully they’ll have a better experience because they’ll truly understand what’s at stake.

If there is a larger theme I suppose it would be…”good and evil depend on your actions, and you are always responsible for what you do”. That’s the thematic bond holding these stories together.

BM: Do you have plans for other MK series after Deception?

BH: Walt keeps his grand designs close to his vest, but I would love to do a self-contained graphic novel or even do a year run on the book if the fans are happy with my work.

WM: That is the direction I want to go as well.

BM: Will these be a series of miniseries or an eventual ongoing series?

WM: I think miniseries. We will put them together in a collected format later. The release dates have been submitted to Midway. As soon as they get back to us on the series I will let you know. I’m pushing for the first set to start in June.

This Has A ?Flawless? Victory? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


The Art of War

Staying on the games-to-comics thread, Blizzard Entertainment?s Warcraft is about to make the jump to print next month from Tokyopop, with the release of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy Volume I: Dragon Hunt. The artist attached is Jae-Hwan Kim (King of Hell) and the writer is Richard A. Knaak, a well known fantasy author with strong ties to the Warcraft franchise, as Knaak elaborates:

      The

Warcraft

      manga came about through my previous work as a fantasy author. My reputation as a NY Times Bestselling author with some 28 novels and over a dozen short pieces had already garnered me work as top writer for Blizzard?s

Warcraft

      and

Diablo

      series. Chris Metzen of Blizzard, head of creative development and one of those most responsible for the successful storylines of the games, was a fan of my

Dragonlance

      stories, especially the worldwide bestselling novel,

The Legend of Huma

    . He hoped that I could bring a similar epic touch to the first stories of each of their fantasy realms.

At the same time, Jake Forbes approached me from Tokyopop with the hopes that I might adapt a new Korean manwha called Ragnarok, created by Myung Jin Lee. Loosely based on Norse mythology, Ragnarok was one of the first Korean projects that the company had picked up. Also a fan of my Dragonlance work — and The Legend of Huma — Jake hoped that I might bring a similar feel to the series and give it an extra push. The adapted version went on to become a surprise hit for Tokyopop, bringing in readers of my own in addition to the company?s legion of fans.

Hoping to draw in players of the game, Jeremy Ross, Jake, and Mark Pannicia worked with Blizzard to obtain the rights to Warcraft as a manga. Chris agreed, but only if I was to write it. As this was what Tokyopop had also had in mind, I was soon asked to work on the storyline. Like all Blizzard-related projects, I worked hand-in-hand with Chris, then discussing those results with Tokyopop.

The artist chosen for the series was one familiar to many manga fans. Jae Hwan Kim had achieved popularity as artist for King of Hell and, as a Warcraft fan, he was eager to become a part of the project. His enthusiasm quickly showed, as he produced wonderful images based on the script and character descriptions I provided him. Written somewhat like a novel, each volume contains six chapters. I was careful to include 2 page spreads — an homage of sorts to one of my visual heroes, Jack Kirby — and some single-scene pages. Jae Hwan Kim accepted the challenge, turning in spectacular results. I feel, in fact, that he is creating his best work yet for the new manga. With Jake and Mark having both moved on to new ventures, veteran editor Rob Tokar took over for the final production efforts and now oversees the rest of the saga.

As with all Warcraft stories, The Sunwell Trilogy ties in directly to events of the game, although one doesn?t have to play to enjoy the novels or manga. For the trilogy, I incorporated the sort of characters to be found in the World of Warcraft. There is the hero of our tale, the young blue dragon, Kalecgos — or Kalec, as he is known in his more human form. Untried but dedicated, loyal to those around him. He meets Anveena Teague, a young woman living with her folks in the middle of the woods who knows not the secrets lurking around her. Coming to their aid is Tyri, a female of Kalec?s kind and one who discovers a spark of jealousy in herself in the presence of the mortal Anveena. Anveena?s only friend is the tiny, winged dragon-serpent, Raac. Rounding out our band of heroes is Jorad Mace, once a paladin serving a master now corrupted and now an unwilling agent of a mysterious wizard.

But with heroes come villains and while the reasons for the dwarf Harkyn Grymstone?s obsession with hunting dragons have their merit, his determination to lead his band after Kalec no matter what the cost make him a dire threat. More so of a danger, though, is the traitorous elf, Dar?khan. He is after the legacy of his people, the Sunwell, a fount of power thought destroyed by the monstrous Undead Scourge. Sent by his master just as Kalec was sent by his, the elf senses that the Sunwell still exists and that Anveena knows where.

Dragon Hunt opens up a tale, which will continue in the chilling Shadows of Ice and conclude in the unearthly Ghostlands. To find out more about Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, go to http://www.Tokyopop.com and to learn more about my work, check out my site at http://www.sff.net/people/Knaak.

This Has A ?Burning Legion? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Not Easy Bein? Green

CapvsBats sent us a new parody this week, which was made by someone named ?Knightsbridge.? The target? Green Lantern: Rebirth # 4:





This Has A ?Things Are H.E.A.T.ing Up? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


It?s A Bird, It?s A Plane?

Jay Pinkerton, my other favorite parody artist, has started a news series of comics skewering Superman?s origin at his website.

Warning: NOT WORK SAFE!

Having said that, you check them out here:
http://www.jaypinkerton.com/superman/index.html

This Has A ?Blame Eraktonia? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Stick a fork in me, I?m done. Special thanks to Cap and Knight for contributing.

Due to the move, my internet service might take a few days to be reestablished. In the interim, ATR Associate John Voulieris will be stepping up to the plate, with a guest column next week. If all goes well, I?ll be back the week after that.

So, I?ll see you when I see you?

Later,
Blair

PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at blairm@silverbulletcomicbooks.com. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated.


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