The Darkness: Rebirth Review

Right here you can read my review of the latest collection of The Darkness series from Top Cow.

It’s a good read filled with supernatural nastiness and such.

Cyber Force Returns

Let’s be honest, there were some pretty bland superhero comics when Image launched in 1992, but at least Cyber Force and its characters have had some recent success, which looks to continue. Details below.

INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE IN CYBER FORCE
Marc Silvestri’s top-selling series returns in October with five free issues

Image Comics and Top Cow Productions are excited to announce the highly anticipated return of CYBER FORCE, in celebration of the title’s twentieth anniversary, in October 2012. Comics legend and Top Cow founder Marc Silvestrireturns to the property that helped launch his company and Image Comics as co-writer, art director, and cover artist, spearheading his unique vision for the new series.

And now, CYBER FORCE is embarking on a new path, using 21st century social media to make the first five issues (to be published monthly) available for free, both digitally and in print. A Kickstarter campaign launched on July 17, taking advantage of the year-long build-up of excitement for Image and Top Cow’s 20th anniversary.

Rewards for backers of the Kickstarter campaign, which has a goal of $75,000, include exclusive variant covers, a signed print, a hardcover edition of the collected first five issues, a smartphone case, original art, and one-on-one sessions with Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri. There are also several special rewards for comic book retailers who pledge — including exclusive signings by Marc Silvestri! The funding will not only go toward paying the art team but also toward offsetting print costs, thus ensuring the first five issues are available for free.

Excitement has been building for events marking Image and Top Cow’s 20th anniversary since the beginning of the year, including Top Cow’s REBIRTH initiative and exciting new projects from top tier industry talent. With an entire generation of fans who grew up on the series and new fans discovering Image and Top Cow every week, creator and Top Cow CEO Silvestri knew the time was right for CYBER FORCE to return.

“My obsession growing up was sci-fi and fantasy and the concept of Cyber Force has always been ripe for mining those genres,” said Silvestri. “The best sci-fi has its soul anchored in social commentary and the human condition and then goes nuts with the concepts. Comic books are unique in that they can add to that the thrill of wish fulfillment,” he added. “Mash those ideas together add a healthy dose of 21st century paranoia, and voila! You’ve got Cyber Force.”

Silvestri describes CYBER FORCE as an exploration of the consequences when technology — the product of humanity’s own intelligence — has interfered with the order of natural development. “We’re creating a world our species can’t survive in,” Silvestri said. “The end is coming and Mega Corporation Cyber Data Industries knows this when it happens. And now, a young girl named Velocity knows too.”

Joining Silvestri on the new series is interior artist Khoi Pham. Hot off of top-selling Marvel Comics titles including AvengersDaredevil, The Mighty Thor, and X-Men, Pham’s art will bring to life this bold new vision of CYBER FORCE.

The new series will appeal to fans of the original, as well as reach out to a wider audience by creating a cutting-edge world based on real technology. Co-writer and Top Cow President Matt Hawkins (THINK TANK, THE TEST) will utilize his background in science to lead the series in a never-before-seen direction.

While staying true to the core concept of CYBER FORCE, cybernetically-enhanced resistance fighters on the run from a monolithic international conglomerate, the visual aesthetic of the new series will be updated for a modern audience coined “bio-cybernetic steampunk”.

The Darkness #100

Two violent video games, and 100 issues is a great achievement for an indie horror title. Press release below about the landmark issue, plus the variant covers from Jeremy Haun, Todd McFarlane, Michael Golden and Michael Broussard.

THE DARKNESS REACHES THE CENTURY MARK
Landmark 100th issue in stores February 29

Top Cow Productions and Image Comics proudly announced today that Darkness 100, the landmark anniversary issue, will land in stores February 29th, 2012.

The over-sized 100th issue follows hot on the heels of the release of The Darkness II video game from 2K Games and Digital Extremes. Long time writer PHIL HESTER (Wonder Woman, Green Hornet) concludes his epic run on the series with artists ROMANO MOLENAAR (THE DARKNESS II : CONFESSION), LEANDRO OLIVEIRA (Superman), and JOSE LUIS (PILOT SEASON: SERAPH). The landmark 100th issue will set the stage for David Hine (THE DARKNESS: FOUR HORSEMEN, BULLETPROOF COFFIN) and Jeremy Haun (ARTIFACTS, DETECTIVE COMICS) as they bring THE DARKNESS into Top Cow’s REBIRTH initiative.

“Why couldn’t they have hired someone else? Anyone else? I’ve been successfully pulling the wool over Darkness readers’ eyes for years now, and the second they get a look at what David Hine is up to they’re going to forget all about my dog and pony show,” Hester commented. “Don’t believe me? Crack open Hine and Kane’s BULLETPROOF COFFIN and see one of tomorrow’s classics while it’s fresh, then get in line behind me for The Darkness #101.”
As Darkness bearer, Jackie Estacado is on a collision course with the source of his power and misery — the Darkness itself! Estacado has traveled through numerous levels of the Darkness’ home dimension in his quest to confront his patron, all the while the Darkness has sought to bind him, distract him and prevent him from reaching it. Now only one of them will walk away from this momentous battle that has been building for years!

Featuring covers by Image luminaries TODD McFARLANE (SPAWN) and MICHAEL GOLDEN (The ‘Nam, SPAWN), alongside THE DARKNESS series artists JEREMY HAUN (Detective Comics) and MICHAEL BROUSSARD (ARTIFACTS).

The over-sized 48-page The Darkness #100 issue will be on sale in stores and digital platforms on March 21st, 2012 andwill carry a cover price of $4.99. To commemorate this achievement, the issue will also feature a complete series cover gallery, a Darkness timeline, the winners of the Darkness II deviantART contest and a special preview of Darkness #101.

Witchblade #144

Congrats to Top Cow! Witchblade is one of those series that sometimes gets a bad rap, but of the few issues I’ve read, it’s been consistently entertaining.

WITCHBLADE #144 STANDS ALONE
Anniversary Issue Includes Free Digital Download

Image Comics and Top Cow Productions are celebrating the 15th anniversary of WITCHBLADE with an oversized stand-alone issue by WITCHBLADE team Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic. To celebrate this landmark and usher the series into a new age of comics, Top Cow and Wowio have teamed up to offer a free digital copy of the 144th issue with each print copy. Participating retailers will receive cards with download codes to distribute with each copy sold which can then be downloaded at Wowio.com.

“The number of comic characters and properties outside of Marvel and DC that have been published uninterrupted for fifteen years is a very exclusive club,” Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik commented. “We’re incredibly proud of the legacy of WITCHBLADE as an independently published, strong female-driven series and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate!”
This oversized issue contains a retelling of Sara Pezzini’s origin story for the first time in the series’ history since the iconic heroine was created more than fifteen years ago. WITCHBLADE #144 will also feature two spellbinding covers, including a wraparound retrospective by regular series artist Sejic and an iconic painting by fantasy illustrator Jean-Sebastien Rossbach (Magic: The Gathering). It will also include a backup story by writer and Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik and artist John Tyler Christopher that promises to reveal the origin of Sara’s partner Patrick Gleason.

WITCHBLADE #144 (OCT100521), a 48-page full color comic that includes a free digital download card will be available in a store near you May 18th for $4.99.

Top Cow’s Echoes Trailer

This disturbingly effective (though perhaps a tad too long) live action trailer for new series Echoes works very well. The first issue is released on December 29 and is from writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (the awesome Tumor) with art from Rahsan Ekedal.

This winter, Alibi and Cyblade writer Joshua Hale Fialkov brings you the most challenging tale of murder and mystery for 2011 with the five part series Echoes. With the haunting art of Rahsan Ekedal, you will question what it means to be insane and what evil lurks behind the smiles of your loved ones.

Can we truly escape our family legacy… or is it possible to inherit murder?

7 page preview of the first issue here.

Velocity #3 Preview

Any excuse is a good one to show some Kenneth Rocafort artwork. Below is the official description of this week’s Velocity #3 by Rocafort and written by Ron Marz and published by Top Cow.

Velocity #3

(W) Ron Marz   (A) Kenneth Rocafort      (Cov) Kenneth Rocafort

The Pilot Season Winner is Back!

Like fast women? Boy, do we have a girl for you. The clock is literally ticking on the life of Carin Taylor, the hero known as Velocity. The fastest girl in the world must race around the globe in an attempt to save her Cyberforce teammates. If Carin can’t beat the clock, she and her friends will succumb to a techno-virus and give Cyberforce’s greatest foe his greatest victory. The issue continues the creative collaboration of writer Ron Marz (Witchblade, Angelus) and artist Kenneth Rocafort (Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer).

Full Color 32 pages $3.99  limited series

100,000 Top Cow Votes

Wow. That’s an impressive number for Top Cow’s smart Pilot Season approach that allows readers to vote from a selection of one-shots that they’d like to see become a mini-series. Official details below. Oh, and you an now read all 5 different one-shots FOR FREE!

FANS DETERMINE UPCOMING TOP COW MINISERIES

TOP COW’S PILOT SEASON 2010 HITS OVER 100,000 VOTES

As announced on GeekWeek Live!, within a week since the polls have opened, Top Cow Productions, Inc. is proud to announce voting for Pilot Season 2010, an annual initiative by the publisher where fans decide a book’s fate, has hit over 100,000 votes.  The winner of Pilot Season 2010 will be announced Wednesday, December 1.

“100,000 votes in just 11 days!” exclaimed Atom! Freeman, Top Cow Director of Sales & Marketing. “If the candidates I voted for in the last general election had worked as hard as our cadre of creators in getting out the vote, I wouldn’t have cried quite so much last Tuesday.”

With polling stations set up at the Top Cow site and various comic news sites, blogs and social media platforms, readers spanning over 30 countries are making their voices heard for what title they want to be made into a series and to appear on their local comic shop shelves. The vote leader at the time of this press release was 39 Minutes, but competition has been fierce and Top Cow encourages everyone to “Take Control.”

Polls for Pilot Season 2010 will close on November 30, 2010. Previews for each book are available at www.topcow.com.

Witchblade #139 Preview

On sale on November 10 is the latest issue of  Top Cow’s Witchblade supernatural action series. Below is the official desciption and a preview.

Witchblade #139
(W) Ron Marz        (A) Michael Gaydos     (Cov) Stjepan Sejic

Julie Pezzini has led a rough life, including a stint in prison. But that’s nothing compared to being the sister of an NYPD Detective who also happens to wield a powerful mystic weapon. Even Sara and the Witchblade might not be enough to keep Julie safe in Sara’s world of supernatural threats!

Full Color        32 pages        $2.99      ongoing series

Pilot Season: 39 Minutes Review

Top Cow hit upon a grand idea when they unleashed Pilot Season in 2007. This year’s offerings are six new one-shots released in six weeks. A winner from that selection is chosen by readers’ votes, and then goes on to receive its own mini-series, so if you like what you read, vote for it so you can read more. Simple.

The latest in this year’s batch is 39 Minutes by writer William Harms (Impaler) with art by Jerry Lando. The Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire) cover sums up the events of the pages inside rather nicely – all greedy, tough guy attitude and the harsh events that surround it.

The title comes from the time limit that a group of ex-Army soldiers give themselves in their small town robberies. The story opens with 2 tough guys barging into a bank and instantly gunning down four people. My reaction was one of disbelief. Usually experienced robbers, and soldiers, would have a lot more subtlety than that, unless they’re in a Lethal Weapon film. However, I kept reading and I’m glad I did. When one of the masked shooters orders a bank worker to, “Make sure you explain how we’ve murdered all these people in cold blood. Tell them to send everyone,” I knew something unexpected was beginning to unfold.

Mirroring the main robbery story is one related to John Clayton, a bearded prisoner, whose own past is entwined with the well armed thieves. Reluctantly recruited by Special Agent Poole, he tells his tale of betrayal involving his tour in Iraq and a shootout between his men (the bank robbers) and a group of contractors.

Also in these rather action packed pages is an ageing sheriff’s stand against one of the robbers in a shopping centre and a conclusion, or possible continuation, that I had to read more than once to make sense of.

There’s aspects of Training Day, The A-Team and a few other blockbusters thrown in here, but it generally makes for a cohesive whole. Lando’s art is suitable, but not spectacular. It’s a bloody and profane book, but not in an over the top manner. To differentiate the team of robbers should’ve been a goal here, especially as they all have balaclavas on for most of the tale, but the limited nature of these one-shots means that characterisation will be restricted due to page space.

Of course, the very nature of the Pilot Season initiative can be somewhat of a catch 22. There must be just enough ideas to make it seem enticing as a story on its own and gather votes, but as the same time they can’t afford to be filled with dangling concepts that will go nowhere if the book doesn’t get a series. It’s actually a brave balancing act, but the Pilot Season books are generally pretty entertaining and it’s a wise strategy to make newbies feel comfortable in buying something away from all the spandex soap operas.

I would like to see 39 Minutes continue, as even this modest debut is packed with a feeling that there’s going to be a tense showdown and the body count will continue to rise. However, I also get the feeling that many will find that this offering isn’t strong enough by itself to justify a multitude of votes. If you’re doubtful after reading it though, I’ll leave you with the original solicitation, although the issue doesn’t exactly leave up to this tantalising description. Yet.

Robbing a bank is easy — it’s the getaway that’s hard. The bank’s surrounded by police officers, alarms are blaring, customers and employees are screaming, and the streets are blocked off. So what’s the solution?

Kill everyone in town.

Now that, I would like to read.

Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box #3 Preview

Here’s a preview for Top Cow’s latest issue in their Broken Trinity series. Pandora’s Box #3 is released next week, on September 8.

Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box #3 (of 6)


(W) Rob Levin & Bryan Edward Hill   (A) Alessandro Vitti & Facundo Percio  (Cov) Tommy Lee Edwards

The ARTIFACTS lead-in heats up!
Elias and the Disciples of Eden are drawing closer and closer to Pandora’s Box, one of the 13 Artifacts, threatening to remake the world in their mad vision. Meanwhile Finn and Glori, the bearers of the Glacier and Ember Stones, race around the globe to beat the Disciples and each other to the same goal.

From newcomers Rob Levin (The Darkness: Shadows & Flame) and Bryan Edward Hill (Broken Trinity: Aftermath), and artist Alessandro Vitti (Secret Warriors). Featuring covers by Tommy Lee Edwards (1985, Turf)!

Full Color        32 pages        $3.99      limited series

Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2010

Publisher Top Cow produced a grand idea when they launched the Pilot Season initiative a few years ago. Basically, they unleash a few one-shots and the discerning public vote on which story deserves a series. Below are the official details from this year’s offerings, complete with all the snazzy covers. There’s something for everyone!

TOP COW DEBUTS NEW ‘PILOT SEASON’ CONCEPTS AND FORMAT

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that Pilot Season 2010 will debut next month with six new concepts and six different creative teams, and will adopt a 6-week event format.  The 32-page preview book, Pilot Season 2010: Declassified, first made available at this year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego, will be available in stores later this month.

Since 2007, Top Cow has given fans the power to choose the next two Top Cow series based on a selection of one-shot Pilot Season “pilot” issues through online voting.  The inaugural Pilot Season initiative garnered more than four million votes from fans across the globe.

”Pilot Season started as an experiment, but has evolved into a highly anticipated yearly event,” commented Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, “This year we’re amping up the intensity based on fan and retailer feedback by releasing all 6 projects in a weekly format. With a wide variety of creators, genres, and styles represented, I’m confident there’s something for everyone in this 2010’s contestants!”

The six new concepts include:

Pilot Season: Forever #1 – Created by Matt Hawkins and written by screenwriter Brad Ingelsby with art by Thomas Nachlik with a cover by Bagus Hutomo of IFS, Pilot Season: Forever #1 focuses on a pharmaceutical company, Longevity™, and their development of a drug that extends human life and counters the debilitating effects of aging almost indefinitely.

Pilot Season: 39 Minutes #1 – Created and written by William Harms and debuting art from Jerry Lando with a cover by Rafael Albuquerque, Pilot Season: 39 Minutes #1 turns a heist story on its head when a bank robber’s only solution to getaway from a surrounded bank full of customers and employees is to kill everyone in their way.

Pilot Season: Crosshair #1 – Created and co-written by Marc Silvestri and co-writer Jeff Katz with art by Allan Jefferson, Pilot Season: Crosshair #1 centers on former assassin for the CIA, Justin Weller, who just settled into the life of a loving husband and devoted father in the suburbs, coping with the discovery that he has been brainwashed to kill the President of the United States.

Pilot Season: The Asset #1 – Created and written by Filip Sablk and debuting art from David Marquez with a cover by Jenny Frison, Pilot Season: The Asset #1 redefines the femme fatale for the digital age. Madeline is the woman of Doug’s dreams; the same woman who’s trying to get Doug killed.

Pilot Season: 7 Days from Hell #1 – Created and co-written by the team behind Broken Trinity: Pandora’s Box,Bryan Edward Hill and Rob Levin, with jaw dropping art from industry legend Brian Stelfreeze, Pilot Season: 7 Days from Hell #1 finds ex-pat turned mercenary John Bishop mortally wounded, but spared from Hell by a renegade demon seeking redemption.

Pilot Season: Midway Earth #1 – Created and co-written by Marc Silvestri and Rick Loverd with art from Stjepan Sejic, Pilot Season: Midway Earth #1 sees our home planet as the strategic prize in a brutal war between two alien races.

Pilot Season: Stellar #1 Review

It’s been far too long since I’ve read anything from Top Cow, but I must say, it’s good to be back. Stellar is the latest offering from the Cow’s very smart Pilot Season initiative that sees a bunch of different one-shots compete for a mini-series. This batch is from Image partners Robert Kirkman (writer of The Walking Dead, Invincible) and superstar penciller Marc Silvestri.

Written by Kirkman, with art by Bernard Chang and cover by Silvestri, this is a very good example of how not to judge  a book by its cover. At first glance this may appear to be some sort of homage to the kinds of comics that were far too frequent last decade, ie, bad girl/good girl/sexy girl in a tight outfit fighting crime with mysterious poses, gravity defying poses and a basic plot that’s merely an excuse for all of that. However, upon further investigation, Stellar proves itself as a solid read, thanks mainly to the skilled Kirkman.

As he details in a closing page explaining the genesis of this concept, the book has the potential to go anywhere – to exotic planets with wild creatures and more and we get a tantalising glimpse of those concepts here, but based on these pages, I hope Stellar wins.

The premise for the book is an intriguing place to start. We’re not told the main character’s name, but can assume her nickname is Stellar. Essentially, she’s 1 of 5 soldiers who have been genetically enhanced on Earth. The powers are good, but the fact that the radiation within them causes other humans close to them to get sick is not so good. Nor is the fact that Stellar’s fellow volunteers were driven mad (and apparently evil) by the process. Stellar is the only one who desires to be a hero, so uses her powers to wander the universe doing just that, all the while aware she’s truly alone. All of that is a great spring board for an even greater tale, and Kirkman wisely drops hints about all this throughout each page turn. No awkward exposition here!

The issue begins with Stellar fending off a Rhino-Predatorsaurus type creature to find a healing herb for an old friend’s son, while recording in her journal, Captain Kirk-style. After some interesting developments including a possible romance, her feelings of loneliness and a foreboding offer she can’t refuse, Stellar’s world gets dangerous and complicated, and interesting.

Chang’s art is a nice blend of emotional moments and sci-fi splendour. His layouts are dynamic and there’s never a page without a  sense of drama or danger. Creatures and characters look real; leaning more towards Star Trek than Wars.

My vote’s on Stellar. Kirkman, as he reveals in his afterword, has a host of ideas for this book and I hope we get to see them. Stellar is but a tasty appetiser to what could be a potential buffet.

Artifacts #1 Preview

Top Cow’s expanding universe continues with this 13 part maxi-series from writer Ron Marz and artist Michael Broussard. Official details and preview pages below. The first issue goes on sale on July 21.

Artifacts #1 (of 13)
(W) Ron Marz        (A) Michael Broussard   (Cov) Top Cow’s Finest, John Tyler Christopher, Dale Keown

The Event FIVE Years in the Making!
Thirteen mystical Artifacts, including the Witchblade, the Darkness and others, guide the fate of the Top Cow Universe. For centuries, it’s been whispered that bringing together all 13 Artifacts would herald mankind’s destruction. But a mysterious figure has been manipulating events, laying plans to put Armageddon into motion. The final phase begins here, with the abduction of Hope, the daughter of Sara Pezzini and Jackie Estacado. What ensues will remake the entirety of the Top Cow Universe, from the Witchblade and the Darkness, to the Angelus, Magdalena, and countless others. Artifacts #1 is the perfect place for faithful readers to see their loyalty pay off, and for new readers to experience the Top Cow Universe.

From Top Cow Universe architect Ron Marz (Witchblade, Angelus) and Top Cow superstar artist Michael Broussard (The Darkness) comes an event series, which will literally shake the Top Cow Universe to its foundation. Featuring a jam piece cover by Broussard, Marc Silvestri, Stjepan Sejic, Sheldon Mitchell, and Nelson Blake II, as well as a variant cover series featuring each of the 13 Artifact bearers by John Tyler Christopher (Witchblade), and a special first-issue cover by Dale Keown (The Darkness/Pitt).

Cover A – Top Cow Jam Cover
Cover B – John Tyler Christopher
Cover C – Dale Keown

Full Color        32 pages        $3.99      limited series

Witchblade Volume 7 Preview Part 4

Tomorrow, Top Cow’s latest volume in their Witchblade saga goes on sale. Final preview pages below. Written by Ron Marz with art by Stjepan Sejic.

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