Executive Assistant Iris #0When Aspen Comics appears at this weekend's New York Comic Con, it begins not only a new convention year, but also the addition of some new properties for the company.
As Aspen Editor-in-Chief Vince Hernandez told Newsarama in September, the company is moving forward without founder Michael Turner, continuing the quality he established, but is also bringing in "new writers and artists coming on board with new properties."
We checked in with Hernandez again to find out more about the first of those new properties: Executive Assistant: Iris. Announced by Aspen last year, the five-issue series begins in March, and Hernandez shared some art for the new comic book by artist Eduardo Francisco.
"That's our next big property," Hernandez said. "The story itself is a little bit of a departure from Fathom and Soulfire and what we do now because it's about the Asian corporate underworld.
"The main character is Iris, who's a servant to a power-monger," Hernandez explained. "You find out she's not just his executive assistant, but she also serves as his assassin for all his corporate dealings and the crimes he commits. Throughout the series, you come to discover that she has this brutal past and she was forced into this way of life. But she reflects on what she did, and she transforms as the series continues. It's a great story of redemption."
The writer of Executive Assistant: Iris is David Wohl, who created the concept for the series with Aspen Comics founder Michael Turner before he passed away last year.
"It's been challenging for David to move on without Mike helping him out with that book, but now he's just taken it and really defined it on his own," Hernandez said. "And the art from Eduardo looks amazing. Plus Joe Benitez will be doing all the covers for the series."
Joe Benitez Soulfire pageWhile March will launch the new series, the month will also see the return of a series that fans have been anticipating for awhile as Soulfire returns. The first volume of Soulfire was started by Michael Turner, but the artist's health prevented him from finishing the story. Readers only got to see the first seven issues of what would have been a 10-issue volume.
But in March, Soulfire #8 will be released with art by Michael Turner -- the artist's last interior pages -- and additional art by Joe Benitez, who is finishing the story.
"We're really excited because it's been so long for the fans since Soulfire #7 came out," Hernandez said. "A third of the comic is by Mike, and Joe's kind of grabbing the torch from Mike and finishing the run. And his work is breathtaking. It's really amazing."
Benitez, who worked with Turner when he was a fairly new artist in the industry at Top Cow, will also complete issue #9 and issue #10 of Turner's Soulfire story, which will come out each month following the release of #8. May's Soulfire #10 will be an oversized issue to finish the volume.
"For Joe, it's a personal project," Hernandez said. "He's putting his heart and soul into it. We couldn't be happier with the comic and the way it's turning out."
Soulfire #9 double-page spread by Joe BenitezApril will see more Soulfire as the property returns in a big way with Soulfire: New World Order, a five-issue mini-series by writer J.T. Krul and artist Francisco Herrera. While the issue was solicited for last year, the company held the mini-series for release this spring because it bridges the gap between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of Soulfire. After the mini-series wraps up. Soulfire Vol. 2 will begin with a new creative team, J.T. Krul and artist Marcus To, who is already five issues into the series, making the company anticipate a steady schedule for Soulfire from now on.
Hernandez said fans of Soulfire will also want to check out the six-page preview story in Aspen Seasons 2009: Winter, coming out later this month. The "Seasons" books always feature assorted stories by a collection of different artists. "For this one, we're doing a brand new Soulfire story. It's J.T. Krul and Joe Benitez, so it will be the debut of the new Soulfire team," Hernandez explained.
The Seasons book will also have a Soulfire tie-in story written by Amanda McMurray with pencils by Marcus To. The series tells the origin story of Sonia, a major player in the Soulfire series.
Rounding out the Seasons book will be a Fathom story written by Peter Steigerwald with art by a new artist, Lori Hanson, who debuts her first interior pages.
Hernandez also confirmed that plans for the series Ekos, a comic written by Geoff Johns with Michael Turner, are still continuing, and the company still intends to publish it.
"And there will be a lot of exciting things coming up for Aspen later this year," Hernandez said. "Fans should look for news coming out of New York Comic Con about our newest property."