We have the exclusive first look at the covers and solicitations for the Swords of Sorrow titles shipping in August from Dynamite Entertainment. With it being the fourth month of the all-female written summer event, we have the Vampirella / Jennifer Blood series wrapping up and a new special featuring Pantha and Jane Porter from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan universe.
Swords of Sorrow #4 (OF 6)
Covers: Tula Lotay and Emanuela Lupacchino Writer: Gail Simone Art: Sergio Davila
The wildest Dynamite crossover epic ever told continues at whole cities are smashed together in the prelude to inter-dimensional war! It’s Martians versus Monsters versus Barbarians and more, with the women of Chaos on the wrong side of Good Vs. Evil…plus, where are Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris in their worlds’ time of need? Guest stars galore in this massive tale of battle, blades and bikinis!
Swords of Sorrow: Pantha / Jane Porter Special
Cover: Mirka Andolfo Writer: Emma Beeby Art: Rod Rodolfo
Ancient Egyptian demon hunter and shape shifter, Pantha, is thrown across a Rift into the early twentieth century London, straight into the path of Jane Porter, American explorer, aviatrix and new wife to Tarzan. Pantha hasn’t come alone, however, as London is plunged into chaos by the appearance of a Great Pyramid in the sky… and what it contains. Up against gods, monsters, Purgatori, and each other, the pair need all the help that ancient magic and modern aviation can supply to stop London from turning into a new hell on earth. Writer Emma Beeby (Judge Dredd, Doctor Who) and artist Rod Rodolfo (Battlestar Galactica, John Carter: Warlord of Mars) reimagine these two characters – complete with all new costumes – in this turn-of-the-century pulp-action one-shot adventure.
Swords of Sorrow: Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler #3 (OF 3)
Cover: Jay Anacleto Writer: Leah Moore Art: Francesco Manna
The streets of London are no place for a woman all on her own. They are, however just fine for a woman wielding a Sword. Dejah Thoris is used to London’s dirt, and its rain, but she is growing tired of its people. She and Irene Adler must surely band together to find the Banth and get Thoris back to Barsoom, but to do that, one of them would first have to back down…
Swords of Sorrow: Red Sonja / Jungle Girl #2 (OF 3)
Cover: Jay Anacleto Writer: Marguerite Bennett Art: Mirka Andolfo
As the jungle descends into a lethal winter, Red Sonja and Jungle Girl have finally cornered the vicious Mistress Hel and — oh, whoops, wait, it’s the other way around. Monsters, magic, a dreamboat in distress – and a velociraptor chariot race? Time is running out for Sonja and Jana to restore to island before all is lost!
Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella / Jennifer Blood #4 (OF 4)
Cover: Billy Tan Writer: Nancy A. Collins Art: Dave Acosta
In the final issue of this ground-breaking mini-series, “The Vampire and the Vigilante”, two of the Dynamite Universe’s most dangerous female characters must put aside their differences in order to combat a common enemy determined to destroy them. While Jennifer Blood must figure out how to kill legions of the Prince’s un-killable Shard Men, Vampirella throws down against fellow-bloodsucker Chastity to decide, once and for all, who is the greatest female vampire-turned-vampire hunter of all time!]]>
Keith Davidsen, writer of Reanimator #2, talks with writer Frank Barbiere about Solar: Man of the Atom #12, both on sale now. Covers by Marc Laming and Jonathan Lau.
KEITH DAVIDSEN: First off, what are your thoughts on how your original concept/explorations for the Solar story may have evolved or been accomplished over the execution of twelve issues?
FRANK BARBIERE: I’m really happy that I got a chance to say what I wanted to say and move the book to a more “family-themed” world. Clearly you make fun little discoveries along the way, and for me it was specifically our second arc—I feel like by putting Erica in cool, cosmic situations and having her have to solve them without just punching her way out taught me a lot about the character. We really get her new perspective and see her change in this final issue, so I’m pleased.
KD: Most superheroes have a dark doppleganger in their respective rogues galleries: Spider-Man and Venom, Superman and Bizarro, Flash and Reverse-Flash, etc. In the Man of the Atom series, Solar’s mirror villain is Eclipse. What do you see as the appeal of pitting two characters — similar but different — against each other?
FB: For one, I think it’s a really fun, cool visual representation on the page—we literally have LIGHT VS. THE DARK with Eric in white and Eclipse in black. I think these characters make for very obvious opposites, as every great villain should be, and that’s their appeal. Here I wanted to make Eclipse more than that—he’s an otherworldly force that’s taken over an Earth man, vs. Solar who is a regular person wielding an otherworldly force to her will. It really became about two different viewpoints rather than just a physical foil, which was the plan all along.
KD: When Solar fans look back on your run on the character, what do you hope they’ll point out as your contribution to the legacy?
FB: I hope they look at the character of Erica and recognize we did something different for a purpose. I came into this project not wanting to just tell a story about “another guy with space powers”—I wanted to emphasize that the human experience and family affect our outlook, and the that the person makes the hero, not the powers. And hopefully they’ll see that there are many different ways to be a superhero, not just the traditional male power fantasy way.
KD: The nature of the different timelines in the Gold Key universe — Turok being in the past, Magnus being in the future, and Solar being in the present — instructed how each of the different Gold Key titles remained largely independent. Your inclusion of Doctor Spektor as a supporting cast member in Solar remains one of only a few instances where the shared universe was apparent. What are your thoughts on bringing in a somewhat “outside character” into your story, or alternately, interjecting your story into the Big Picture?
FB: I was very glad that we were all allowed to play in our own little pockets as it didn’t make anything forced. There are some shared elements, and we definitely hinted towards a bigger picture in this final arc, but it was nice to take my time and not worry about shoehorning in some kind of crossover just to bolster sales. Spektor was a really natural fit, as he’s in the present timeline, and I was very happy with how organically he came into the book—he’s a great character!
KD: When you look back over the course of the series — what do you consider to be your favorite moment, and why?
FB: I really enjoyed issue #6, where Erica heals the sun for the gopher aliens. That issue was a big point for me as I realized what really made her so different from Phil as a character, and where we could go with that. I also loved the cover to that issue…as well as Jon Lau’s fantastic contribution. When Erica is healing the sun it’s just so beautifully rendered and hits all the right emotional beats. Jon was a fantastic collaborator and really helped make this book shine!
For more on Solar: Man Of The Atom #12, click here.
Frank Barbiere, writer of Solar: Man of the Atom #12, talks with writer Keith Davidsen about Reanimator #2, both on sale now. Covers by Francesco Francavilla and Andrew Mangum.
FRANK BARBIERE: Keith, what kind of research have you been putting into the book? We’ve got mad science, Cthulhu-worshipping gangsters, and a whole slew of monsters… is there anywhere specific you’re turning for inspiration? Anything you want to see that you feel has never graced the world of Reanimator?
KEITH DAVIDSEN: When the infamous H.P. Lovecraft provided the source material, thankfully I really didn’t have to go much farther than his library! The original Herbert West – Reanimator serial prose was self-contained, not considered part of the larger Cthulhu Mythos… so what’s great about the Dynamite incarnation of the character is that they’ve already established him – in the pages of Army of Darkness and Prophecy – as being engrossed in a world of mysticism. For me, incorporating the Elder Gods and black magic into the new comic series was a tantalizing prospect.
FB: Reviving (pun partially intended) old properties can be exciting and challenging. What have you read from Reanimator to get ready, and what elements (without spoilers) have you brought to the table? What has inspired you to create new characters?
KD: I’m a continuity freak, so researching everything about Reanimator in Lovecraft and Dynamite sources became my focus for a while! I’ve probably experienced the original Herbert West – Reanimator tale a hundred times, thanks mostly to a variety of excellent audiobook recordings. I watched the film trilogy once through, but since Dynamite’s incarnation of the character is not affiliated with the films, I didn’t let that steer my course… aside from putting me in the right frame of mind. I researched all of Herbert West’s Dynamite appearances — the Army of Darkness vs. Reanimator storyline written by Jim Kuhoric, Prophecy by Ron Marz, and the Army of Darkness / Reanimator one-shot by Mark Rahner – to get a feel for the character arc created (intentionally or otherwise) by those writers.
And I definitely read lots of other Lovecraftian tales to set the mood. The Rats in the Walls, The Outsider, At the Mountains of Madness and many others. I think readers will find lots of hidden references to those other works, if they keep a close eye out, when they read the new miniseries.
As for the characters I’ve introduced into the story, many of them are pulled directly from Lovecraft. Obviously, I’ve incorporated big daddy Cthulhu himself into the storyline, accessible to one of the mortal villains Croceus Rex through the psychic plane (as the Elder God is open to folks who are “psychically hypersensitive,” as Lovecraft put it). As for Croceus Rex (meaning “Golden King”), he’s a reference to The King in Yellow, the supernatural story written by Robert W. Chambers but incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos by Lovecraft himself. Another character that pulls from both Lovecraft sources and elsewhere is the hulking half-human, half-alligator Valusian – who is a reference to the Valusian Serpent Men of Robert E. Howard’s fantasy fiction, again name-dropped by Lovecraft in his later works.
I suppose the farthest departure from Lovecraft’s original world as seen in the new Dynamite Reanimator series would be the Louisianan Voodoo elements – namely, the hitman Samedi (named after the loa of Vodou tradition, Baron Samedi) and his weird, entranced slaves, the “Voodoo Girls.” These are elements I’d studied for an as-yet-unpublished project of my own, so it was nice to have a place to put them while I re-work my original content. Still, Lovecraft made a provision for the introduction of Voodoo into this story in The Call of Cthulhu, as he described a Louisianan branch of the Cthulhu cult to have ties to Voodoo tradition.
FB: Susan Greene is a great entry point for readers, and we see some big developments for her here. Is it deliberate to make her more of the protagonist vs. West? Do you feel it allows for more mystery, or is there something specific you want to say with Susan’s character?
KD: For as popular a character (or brand) as Herbert West is, Dynamite had never published a Reanimator solo series. Instead, the character had only appeared as a supporting cast member or adversary in other titles, most often as a foil to Ash Williams in Dynamite’s flagship title, Army of Darkness. As I understand it, Dynamite had always been hesitant about developing a solo series, simply because Herbert West is such a cold, calculating villain. He’s rather despicable, after all! Would the audience be able to connect with someone like that?
The way I see it, there were two ways to counter that concern. First, have Herbert West face off against powerful rivals – so we see villain-on-villain action, and fans will root for West. The other counter was by creating Susan Greene.
In keeping true to Lovecraft’s original work, I wanted to have a capable medical assistant at Herbert West’s side, someone who is both fascinated and horrified by the mad scientist’s experiments. The original prose story is narrated by West’s unnamed assistant, who is a good deal more relatable to the audience than West could ever be. Throwing Susan into the mix as an “everywoman” character – the only person in the Reanimator miniseries whose inner monologue can be experienced by the audience – just made it easier for readers to get into the story.
Making West’s new assistant female was an attempt to diversify the cast a bit, but for West purists, don’t worry – West is wholly devoted to his scientific pursuits. Susan Greene is not a love interest, she’s a means to an end. And as for what I specifically want to say with her character – wait until issue #3. Mind blown, guaranteed…
FB: Randy Valiente has a great style and fills the book with so much energy. What do you look forward to him drawing most from issue to issue?
KD: What I love most about Randy’s work is that he can take a scene intended as eerie… and turn it into something truly unsettling. In a good way, of course – this is horror, after all! Seriously, conversations between Herbert West and Susan Greene take on a more menacing air when Randy illustrates them… and scenes of true horror (Elder Gods making an appearance, zombies attacking, etc.) are downright spine-chilling.
Case in point: I wrote a scene for an upcoming issue where a group of zombies attack, and Randy delivered an indescribably awesome page layout with a massive zombie swarm. He brought so much intensity to the scene, you couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by it… but sadly, for story reasons, I needed to cut back on the sheer scope that he’d presented. It was such a hard choice to make! But Randy’s so enthusiastic about delivering the horror, that’s just what you’d expect – you ask for something, and he can bring so much more to the table.
FB: What (or who) is your favorite monster and why?
KD: Well, if you’re asking about my favorite beastie from the Reanimator comic series, it’s going to be The Valusian… who takes the spotlight in issue #2. Half human, half alligator… a zombie hybrid that lumbers around at Herbert West’s side, dutifully taking care of hard labor and seemingly only capable of saying hello (“ ’Lo.”). Covered head to toe in rags, with only a few glimpses at the patchwork of reptilian and dead flesh underneath, he cuts a threatening figure while displaying a gentle demeanor. But in issue #2… readers are going to see what he’s capable of!
Now, if you’re asking about my favorite monster of all time, that’s a doozy. Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Godzilla, The Thing, The Fly, Cthulhu, Dracula, the Gillman (The Creature from the Black Lagoon)… there’s so many terrifying prospects. I’d have to go with the Xenomorphs from the Aliens franchise, though. From their fearsome, inhuman design from H.R. Giger, to their acidic blood as the ultimate defense mechanism, to their various stages of development (queen to egg to facehugger to chestburster to human-sized drone), there’s no monster in film, literature, or whatever that gives me shivers quite like a Xenomorph.
For more on Reanimator #2, click here.]]>
Doug Murray joined Frank Cho and Jack Jadson on the recent return of Jungle Girl. Now that the writing for Season Three is just about done, Byron Brewer caught up with the scribe to talk about the series from Dynamite.
BYRON BREWER: Well, Doug, with July your Jungle Girl mini-series comes to an end. Not to reveal any spoilers, but do you thing you and Frank Cho told the story that you set out to tell?
DOUG MURRAY: I’m confident that Frank and I have accomplished what we set out to do in Season Three. It gave us a chance to stretch the “Lost World” thesis a bit and play with some things that we could not normally deal with—it was fun to do and I think the book shows that.
BB: To your mind, what was the most difficult thing about picking up with this miniseries as a Season Three of Jungle Girl’s adventures?
DM: The hardest thing to do was to bring the reader up to date before actually digging into the story line as it had been a few years since the last season. I tried to do it without a huge flashback and hope I succeeded.
BB: Do you think the character has changed during this season? And if so, how so?
DM: Jana is far more adult now, and far less confident in her actions. She has learned that sometimes what seems right isn’t the best thing you can do. She also learns that much of what she has always believed about her father and her world isn’t necessarily correct.
BB: Are there any threads you and Frank created that you would say may be a basis for a Season Four going forward?
DM: There’s a huge thread that we could use for another volume—but I can’t say what it is without spoiling too many things.
BB: How was it working with artist Jack Jadson?
DM: Jack and I didn’t work as closely as I might have liked. His artwork is first-rate, however, so I don’t think it created any problems.
BB: What do you think about the role Jungle Girl has in the coming summer event, Swords of Sorrow?
DM: Until quite recently, I knew nothing about the event—I’ve seen the first two parts now and kinda like how Jana is used—I’m curious to see where the writers go from there.
For more on Jungle Girl: Season Three, click here.]]>
Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, writers of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #5, talk with writer Marc Andreyko about Legenderry: Red Sonja #3, both on sale now. Cover art by Sergio Davila.
ANTHONY DEL COL & CONOR McCREERY: Red Sonja is one of the most famous female action characters of all-time, always quick on her feet (and with her wit) and able to fight her way out of a jam. But she’s human, and has her faults or her flaws. What do you think is a major flaw (or flaws) and how are you trying to get that into this series?
MARC ANDREYKO: Overconfidence is her biggest flaw. Ninety-nine times out of 100, she’s right, but that niggling one time could lead her to a bloody defeat. Sonja operates on emotion, so sometimes she gets in her own way. But don’t we all?
A&C: I love the fact that you’ve got Victor Frankenstein and Captain Nemo in this story! Two of my favorites of all-time. How is this version of Frankenstein different from any other? What attracted you the most to writing this character?
MA: Victor in my story is a raging sociopath and megalomaniac – like any good surgeon. And I’ve always been a fan of Shelley’s novel because so much of it is internal conflict, not Michael Bay blow-up stuff. The fight scenes are always fun, but understanding a character’s emotional landscape only adds to the intensity.
A&C: I know that you’re not only a great writer of horror but also a fan of it. In this issue there’s a really frightening scene that gave me chills when I first read it. What do you think is the key to writing a good horror comic?
MA: Aww, thanks, guys! I just try and find things that would terrify/disturb/gross me out and run with them. If something doesn’t scare you, as the writer and guide for the reader, why should it scare them?
A&C: The coloring in this series isn’t what I expected – I liked that there was more of a light color palette, which I think makes the characters a little more human (and in the process scarier). Do you script this sort of direction? Was this the original plan of the series?
MA: The coloring choices are all the colorist and I agree, the palette is not what you’d expect, but that only heightens the unease. I refer to it as “bruise-y colors” and they are exquisite.
A&C: What are the most interesting elements of steampunk to you?
MA: The utter lack of fossil fuel usage! And add in the Victorian vibe and I am so there. The whole clockwork aspect of the tech also intrigues me since I am completely mechanically impaired. (smiles) The visuals of turning cogs and pistons and steam pipes is just so much fun – using old school tech on the edge of breakthroughs is fascinating and makes me wish we still used the steam engine. (smiles)
For more on Legenderry: Red Sonja #3, click here.]]>
Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, writers of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #5, talk with writer Shannon Eric Denton about Lady Rawhide/Lady Zorro #2, both on sale now. Cover art by Joyce Chin.
ANTHONY DEL COL & CONOR McCREERY: Lady Zorro and Lady Rawhide are both great characters – they’re both strong, ass-kicking female leads, accomplished, attractive and determined. We have found that when writing two very strong leads it’s important to create some sort of distinction between the two (to create conflict and also interesting dialogue). What do you think are the key differences between the two?
SHANNON ERIC DENTON: Both of these women are super independent. If you look at the history of the Old West there were many women like this but their stories weren’t told as often as the male stories of the period. For me it was really fun exploring the subtle differences between the two because they are alike in so many ways. That being said, I think the key difference is that Lady Rawhide is much more comfortable with where she is in her life. Lady Zorro’s tragedy that set her on her path of vigilantism is much more recent and under the surface. Despite all the dangers and threats they’ll be facing, this adventure they’re having together will be an almost cathartic experience for Lady Zorro.
A&C: What is the thing that excited you the most when you first starting working on this legendary character mash-up?
SED: Getting to explore the character dynamics between two people on a “road trip” as a lifelong friendship emerges. I like to think I’m at the beginning of an annual tradition the way the Justice League and the Justice Society used to meet up once a year. I’m also stoked that Mike Mayhew and Joyce Chin did some amazing covers for this series!
A&C: As mentioned above, there are some great action sequences here. One of the elements in each that stood out are the SFX. What’s your process in creating just the right SFX? Do you prefer lots, or little?
SED: I am a big believer in SFX. I spend a lot of ridiculous time making sounds and then trying to figure out what the spelling of each would be and the angle of the SFX so it flows with the action. Luckily, I have a great letterer in Marshall Dillon that makes it all look so good!
A&C: The artwork by Rey Villegas is really strong. I especially like his background details in the bar/brothel scenes. How much detail do you provide him in the scripting stage? What was the biggest surprise when you received the art for this issue?
SED: I am going to go on record saying that I did not do any brothel research in person! But I do put a lot of detail into my scripts and add links to actual photos or artwork that I think will aid Rey in illustrating the scene. I love the Old West and spend a lot of time researching it. Though I assume whatever artists I’m writing for may not have time to dig up all the reference themselves on a comic book making schedule and this gives them a jumping off point. My biggest surprise with Rey is just how awesome it is he is able to gray-tone all his art. It really adds an illustrative feel that a comics schedule doesn’t usually allow for. His stuff looks great!
A&C: What other female character would you most like to write in the future?
SED: Red Sonja, the she-devil with a sword! I can’t wait to take a crack at some of her Hyperborean adventures!
A&C: We think you’ve done a great job in this ass-kickin’ issue and we look forward to more!
SED: Thank you so much! Looking forward to everyone checking out Lady Rawhide/Lady Zorro #2!
For more on Lady Rawhide / Lady Zorro #2, click here.]]>