Cult Heroes Cross Swords in PROPHECY

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If you've been paying any attention to the news, you'll know that some people peg 2012 as the end of days. New Jersey-based comics publisher Dynamite is taking that to heart in their first event series ever, Prophecy. Taking their cues from the Mayan doomsday prophecy, Dynamite's licensed characters of Vampirella, Red Sonja, Dracula, Kulan Gath and others will cross paths -- and cross swords -- for the first time when the first issue hits in June. And to make sure Dynamite's first crossover is done right, they've enlisted someone with years of experience writing event series and crossovers, Ron Marz. And for Marz, it all started with a simple idea about the end of the world.

“The story is based around the Mayan prophecy that the world will end at the end of this year,” writer Ron Marz tells “That’s the general concept the guys from Dynamite came to me with, along with a host of characters, to see how I could pull it all together.”

Dynamite editor Joe Rybandt describes the impetus for Prophecy, the publisher’s first event/crossover series, as a crossroads for their library of licensed characters.

“We want to provide entertainment with an edge, first and foremost,” the long-time editor explains. “We want to introduce readers to characters they may not be familiar with and for characters they are familiar with, we want to shake things up a bit.”

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And shake things up they are, as Dynamite’s Prophecy features a line-up of standalone characters ranging from Vampirella, Red Sonja and Dracula to Kulan Gath, Herbert West the Reanimator, Alan Quartermain, Athena, Dorian Gray, Purgatory and Pantha. That’s the official list of characters appearing in the seven-issue series, and the Dynamite editor said there would be a few “surprises” as well, but wouldn’t say who at this point.

Prophecy is a historic event for many reasons; as said earlier it's the publisher's first big event book, but it also has the distinction of being the first time these characters have crossed paths. Balancing various characters in a normal company crossover is one thing, but Rybandt’s job involves juggling the different characters owned by various outside companies that the publisher licenses from to do the comics. There are numerous stories about how contentious and laborious the fondly remembered Marvel and DC crossovers were, but in the case of Prophecy has been a relative cakewalk.

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“We’ve been very fortunate in that we have a very good and trusting relationship with our licensing partners in so much as they give us a lot of leeway and benefit of the doubt,” Rybandt explains.” There are still a lot of logistical issues to handle, but that’s to be expected with this magnitude.”

With each character being owned by outside company and licensed to Dynamite, Prophecy is, in effect, an cross-company crossover event series similar to Avengers vs. JLA but with even more disparate characters. That’s both a challenge and a bonus, according to Marz.

"Bringing together characters that have never interacted before was a major attraction to doing Prophecy," Marz admits. "I always like doing these stories, and I’ve done them before with the Batman/Tarzan, Batman/Aliens, Green Lantern/Aliens and Green Lantern/Silver Surfer books. To me there’s a real attraction to this type of story and this type of crossover, because it’s new territory. How many times have we seen Thor fight Loki or Batman fight the Joker? Many. But we’ve never seen, for instance, Red Sonja fight Dracula. Getting to do something no one’s done before like put together Vampirella and Red Sonja, that’s cool.”

With over a dozen different characters meeting for the first time, Newsarama asked f there were any natural pairings, as friend or foe, that developed when dreaming up Prophecy.

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"I just can't imagine Red Sonja and Vampirella working together without fighting all the time," says artist Walter Geovanni. "I think that if they meet each other, it'll be like 'this world isn't big enough for two of us!" Maybe I am wrong, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind. That would be so cool to draw!"

From the writing side, Ron Marz laid out the big picture.

"You can sort of imagine how it would go; there’s a basic good guy / bad guy axis where you’re going to put characters, with Red Sonja and Vampirella on one side and then Kulan Gath, who is really the primary villain of this story, on the other," the writer explained. "Then when we add in characters like Dracula who, depending on the story you’re telling, can be a hero or an adversary, it changes thing. The situation of Prophecy is making for some strange bedfellows. Vampirella and Dracula might end up on the same side; they’re enemies, but if they don’t stop the world from being destroyed they’ll be destroyed too."

As an event series, you’d expect Prophecy to have numerous spin-off and tie-in issues like other publishers do. But according to Rybandt, Dynamite Publisher Nick Barrucci had a different idea.

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“Nick wanted to go old school and I agreed completely as there’s too much baggage that goes with the modern cross-over and the event itself can get lost,” the editor explains. “We do have some stuff planned for after, but keeping it simple on the tie-in level has been at the tip-top of our collective brain here…”

On the art side, Walter Geovanni has quickly entrenched himself as a key artist for Dynamite, drawing many of the recent issues of Red Sonja. The chance to draw Prophecy is the artist’s biggest work to date, and he’s ready for the challenge.

"After a long time drawing Red Sonja, it's been fun to work on different characters inside Prophecy," Geovanni explains. "I want to keep each of the characters recognizable while still drawing them in my own style.”Drawing such a big team of superstars, I strive to give each of them the same attention. All the characters have to be different and at the same time have to have the same importance. That's a lot of work to do, but at the same time is a lot of fun."

Prophecy marks the first time Marz and Geovanni have worked together, but they seemed to have quickly bonded over the material.

"Like you said, this is the first time I've worked with Walter. There's been a kind of feeling out period in the beginning where I try to get a sense of what he wants to draw and he learns what I'm looking for with the script," the writer explains. "Fortunately, Walter hit the ground running and nailed it in the first pages of the first issue. I've followed his work on Red Sonja for awhile now, and I’m proud to say his work on Prophecy is another step upward for him. There's a lot of different stuff he's being asked to draw in Prophecy, from different times to different places and, of course, different and diverse characters. He's really being asked to stretch as an artist, and I think he's doing a kick-ass job."

Seeing as how the genesis of Prophecy comes from the Mayan mythology, Geovanni is getting his chance to draw scenes set in the times of the classic Maya.

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"The pages taking place in the Mayan era have a real authentic feel to them," Marz says. "There's panels filled with Mayan design elements and details. In the script, I stressed how important it was for the reader to feel transported to that place and that era. And Walter's really come through for us."

Although the idea of the year 2012 as a Mayan doomsday is actually a misconception propagated by the media, the idea fueled the larger story of Prophecy while also bringing in details of Mayan society and culture Marz gleaned from his own first-hand experiences.

"On a trip to Mexico with Jim Starlin a few years ago, we did visit a number of Mayan sites," Marz reveals. "And when I got married, my wife and I honeymooned on Cozumel and took a daytrip to the mainland to visit Chichen Itza. I have a pretty deep interest in Mayan culture and mythology. To a certain extent, I am drawing on things I experienced first-hand. Not that I witnessed human sacrifice on top of a pyramid, but I've climbed those steps and stood on top of a pyramid in the Yucatan."

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