SDCC 09: A Prime Cut of Top Cow: Comics & Movies Galore

Cyberforce /Hunter-Killer Preview

The Top Cow Multimedia panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego was moderated by Top Cow president Matt Hawkins, and attended by artist and Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri, publisher Filip Sablik, Darkness writer Phil Hester, and Witchblade writer Ron Marz.

The panel began with the announcement of a feature film to come, based on Top Cow’s The Magdalena. Ryuhei Kitamura, most recently of the Clive Barker-adapted film Midnight Meat Train, was announced as director, and showcased a rousing reel of his work which showed a penchant for finely choreographed, highly stylized action.

Holly Brix was then introduced as the screenwriter of the Magdalena film. She shared her love for the source material, and promised that the story would be about the transference of power from one Magdalena to another. Kitamura spoke of how he saw the book as its own kind of action film. It’s not just action, he said, it’s kick ass action. And the film will be more about a girl who is fighting her hardest against destiny.

After his first Hollywood film, Kitamura was eager to sink his teeth into something meaty. He expressed his frustration at Hollywood execs who say female action films don’t work, but pointed to the lackluster quality of their efforts as the real cause of the failures. This is Kitamura’s dream project, and he thanked Hawkins and the producers, for making him feel as though he’s in safe hands. This is rarity in Hollywood, he assured the audience, because usually producers are the enemy. And he’s never minded a fight.

Brix dove into the story, sharing that the idea behind the second coming of Christ was what would make the project unique and new. Ricks cited a line that alluded to the fact that whoever could produce Christ could control religion, and therefore the world. A poster was shown featuring actress Jenna Dewan as Patience, and Luke Goss as Kristof.

The panel also announced that there would be a new Ron Marz- penned The Magdalena book, with Ryan Sook on covers, and an interior artist to be announced.

Marz said this was the first thing he wanted to do, when he came to Top Cow, was The Magdalena, but that the editors gave him Witchblade, and now he’s finally getting his chance. He called the character “the best… in the Top Cow stable.” He’s long wanted to “get [his] hands on her,” he joked.

Ryan Sook was mentioned as a vital part of team, so much so that the book was delayed to accommodate his schedule. The first 6 issues will make for ground-floor reading, where people can jump on, but should also satisfy long term fans.

Marz also shared that he has some knowledge of what is to come in the film, and that thus far he was impressed.

Aphrodite IX, a 12 year old project, was then brought to the forefront. Despite the title’s short run, the character is still consistently one of the company’s bestselling statues. Threshold Entertainment’s Larry Kasanoff, the producer of Mortal Kombat, is attached to develop the feature film, with an unnamed actress already attached. Hawkins warned that more formal announcements were to come in August. He couldn’t say much, but he did say that said actress is “hot.” He also assured the audience that the character’s hair will stay green.

The Darkness was next up on the break-neck paced panel. The character, who was co-created by Marc Silvestri, and currently being written by Phil Hester, is at the center of a variety of projects to come. First a sequel to the video game was announced as in development, to be penned by Paul Jenkins. A trailer was shown, from the previous installment by 2K Games. Hawkins also boasted that The Darkness game has gone platinum on both X-Box 360 and PS3, and will therefore soon be available for $29.99.

Also announced was a live action feature film of The Darkness to come. There were no specifics involved, beyond that Scott Stuber Productions was attached, but Hawkins promised further announcements to come in 6-8 weeks, with talent to be named.

From here Phil Hester got into his run on The Darkness. Jackie Estacado always goes through a lot, Hester warned, but if you screw with him, he screws back. He’s been screwed a lot in the last year’s worth of stories, and readers should expect him to screw back. His power is only limited by his imagination, and so there is a lot yet to come. He’s screwing back on his earthly enemies, and then even getting into it with the Darkness itself.

The panel also stressed their excitement that they’ve managed to maintain their $2.99 price point.

The next announcement was of a crossover of The Darkness and Darkchylde, with an image by Randy Queen. It will be released in December, with extra pages of content in oversized books.

The panel then showed a trailer of the Wanted film, now out on Blu-ray and HD DVD, and followed with a trailer for the Wanted: Weapons of Fate Video Game now in stores. There was also talk of the Wanted sequel now in development.

The next optioned property was the Pilot Season book Alibi, by Josh Fialkov and Jeremy Haun. A motion picture is in the works from Mandeville Films, the studio behind the upcoming Surrogates picture, based on the Top Shelf book. The Surrogates trailer was shown as an example of Mandeville’s capability.

Cover to The Darkness #76
Cover to The Darkness #76
Mandeville Films is excited for a Alibi live-action film, because the idea of twins serving as alter egos, and the benefit of a vehicle for actor to play both roles; the Bruce Wayne and a Jason Bourne types.

The next announcement was of the new comic, Tracker, from Heroes and Villains Entertainment, written by Jonathan Lincoln, and drawn by Francis Tsai. The series seeks to reinvent the werewolf mythology, getting away from old tropes, and trying new stuff. Hawkins said that the creators’ story bible was uncommonly detailed. The book will be out in November.

Also to come from Heroes and Villains and Top Cow is the comic series Epoch, from William Harms, the writer of Impaler. It was described as a definitive answer on which supernatural, paranormal species really is most dominant. Hawkins called it “like a supernatural fight club.”

Then announced was that Tom Judge’s Universe is now being developed for live action TV by Starz media. For those unfamiliar with the property, Universe, is a dark book about the discovery of an artifact connected to the Biblical rapture.

The panel then moved on to discus Ron Marz’ run on Witchblade, which is about to wrap up its biggest story to date; War of the Witchblades. He is moving onto the 2010 event comic Artifacts. There are 13 powerful artifacts of note in the universe of Top Cow, with most having been revealed, and two yet to come. Marz teased that the upcoming crossover will actually as big and consequential as other publishers often promise, but fail to deliver on. This story will really change the Top Cow universe forever. He promised that of all his wild aspects he pitched, a lot got through,  and he’s looking to get a lot of cool stuff done. All thirteen artifacts will be put together, and “ bad stuff will happens.” Very literally, they promised, nothing will be the same afterwards.

Here centerpiece of the Berserker property, Milo Ventimiglia and his producing partner Russ Cundiff took the stage to much excitement, and began flinging Berserker t-shirts into the crowd. They showed the Berserker trailer that had been making the internet rounds, and got into discussing who and what the Berserkers are. Ventimiglia discussed their lineage, dating back to Norse myths, and reveled in unbridled rage in strength and madness of “a feel good kill.”

Ventimiglia also announced that his book Rest would be coming to Top Cow. “Life’s better at Top Cow,” he said. He said that he already had a great relationship with Top Cow, truly enjoyed it there, and realized that making Top Cow the home of Rest was the right play.

Hawkins pointed to Seth Green and Milo Ventimiglia as the few Hollywood types Top Cow chose to work with, as they are “real people who enjoy comics.” He added that Ventimiglia is actually interested in making good comics, not just creating a star vehicle.

Ventimiglia and Cundiff then tried their best to begin a grassroots effort for fans to push for Shana Bass as the director of the Berserker project. Having directed the low-budget, high-quality film, Gabriel, they promoted her as someone with great capabilities as a director, and asked fans to hit the message boards and start the movement.

Here they continued more comics announcements, a rapid-fire blur of comics coming from down the pipeline.

First was a new Cyberforce Hunter/ Killer #1, by Mark Waid, Kenneth Rocafort. Creator Marc Silvestri joked “it’s the time to do it right.” He called Waid a “writer’s writer,” and professed his love of the work of Rocafort. He called it the perfect choice for a series very close to his heart.

And after that, Top Cow will relaunch the Cyberforce, with Rocafort on art, and a writer to be announced.

With precious little time left in the panel, Hawkins began firing off creators, and titles in Top Cow’s pipeline:

First, from Jason Rueben, the creator of Crash Bandicoot, will be Mysterious Ways.

They talked again about an all-Robert Kirkman penned Pilot Season, based off concepts he and Marc Silvestri create. Kirkman will be doing all five original properties, with Silvestri on designs, and once again, it will be up to a fan vote to see what book gets the go-ahead.

Adam Freeman, Marc Bernardin will soon be working together on Genius, the last Pilot Season winner. Without much time, Bernardin called the opportunity to continue “awesome,” and thanked fans for voting.  They also announced a new project, Cell Division.

Christos Gage will be working on a book called Sunset.

A triumvirate of Silvestri designed works were announced; Jack the Giant Killer, Warrior and Midway Earth.

Finally, Hawkins told the audience to expect Top Cow to be affiliated with Jeff Katz’ upcoming American Original titles.

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