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@@@@ 5-pg PREVIEW OF SUPERMAN #678! @@@@ Q & @ with BROKEN TRINITY’s RON MARZ! @@@@ 5-pg PREVIEW OF DC’s NORTHLANDERS #8! @@@@


Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book news that’s dropped in the previous week. Thanks to Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. for reporting it as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness. It’s also the place for interviews, previews, and special reports.

Hey folks, Ambush Bug with a super-duper preview of SUPERMAN #678. This is James Robinson’s Superman vs. Atlas issue and from the looks of it, it’s going to read and look frikkin’ amazing. Check out the five page preview below and soak it all in…

I love, love, love, the sinewy way artist Renato Guedes draws Superman and Atlas. That splash is pretty damn cool and given the fact that Robinson wrote my favorite comic book series of all time, STARMAN, this book is one you surely don’t want to miss. It hits the shelves like Superman hits Atlas in the mush on Wednesday!

Hey folks, it’s Stones Throw here with a quick interview with Ron Marz, who’s writing Top Cow’s summer event, BROKEN TRINITY. I had a chance to look at the first issue and it was a very cool read with incredible art from WITCHBLADE regular Stjepan Sejic. Definitely should please all you Top Cow fans out there. Here’s the interview and remember you can talk back below!
STONES THROW (STONE): Care to explain BROKEN TRINITY to any newbs that might not yet know the deal?

RON MARZ (RM): The "Trinity" in the Top Cow Universe refers to the Witchblade, The Darkness and The Angelus. The Darkness and The Angelus are the dark and the light, the primal forces in the universe, forever in conflict and embodied by two human hosts. The Witchblade is meant to be a balance between The Darkness and The Angelus. So by the end of this thing, the "broken" part of it means that one of the aspects of the Trinity will be substantially changed. Like dead. We did an event last year called FIRST BORN, which was about a birth. BROKEN TRINITY is about a death. But even with that death, we'll be adding some new, permanent characters to the Top Cow Universe through the course of the story.
The nuts and bolts: BROKEN TRINITY is three issues, along with three tie-in issues, one each for The Darkness, The Angelus and Witchblade. Six books, 18 bucks, and you get the whole thing. First issue debuts at Comic-Con.

STONE: Is there a specific gameplan in mind with this crossover? A jumping-off point for the Top Cow universe, or just telling a cool story?

RM: Both. I'm forever bitching about these event stories that demand readers bring in an intimate knowledge of the characters and their continuity. To me, that's bullshit, that's taking the easy way out. It's preaching to the converted. FINAL CRISIS #1 was a gorgeous book, with a lot of clever stuff in it. But if some new, non-DC reader gets excited about all the buzz and decides to jump in, they're going to come away going, "Um ... what?" If that was somebody's first DC book, it could be their last, because it wasn't a welcoming read. Now, you can certainly say, "That's not a book intended for new readers," and I understand the need to service the existing readers. But I think you can do these projects in such a way that they're accessible to newcomers and satisfying to the long-timers. First and foremost, we want to tell a cool story with BROKEN TRINITY. But there's no reason that the cool story can't be a good launching pad for new readers.

STONE: How does an event like this come about? Did Top Cow specifically request another crossover between their main titles or did it spin naturally out of the WITCHBLADE series?

RM: When we did FIRST BORN, it grew absolutely organically out of the storyline in WITCHBLADE. It grew into a story that we thought was important enough to have its own stand-alone series. It did very well, so in the aftermath of it, we talked about doing another project that followed the same format ... but only if there was a story worth telling, a story that added something substantial to the Top Cow Universe. BROKEN TRINITY is the result. It carries through some seeds we planted in FIRST BORN, but also adds a couple of completely new characters and concepts to the Top Cow U. Those characters will continue to play roles long after BROKEN TRINITY, so this isn't a one-and-done situation.

STONE: What kind of response have you noticed since the Free Comic Book Day issue? What do you think of FCBD as a way to get a wider audience interested in comics?

RM: Free Comic Book Day as a concept is great, but I think the success of it is really dictated on an individual basis by the stores themselves. Stores that make a big deal out of it, and do a serious outreach to attract new readers, are the ones who reap the benefits. FCBD is a great tool to get different books into the hands of readers who wouldn't normally try them, either because they're new to comics, or because they're readers who would rather keep reading the same superhero comics they've been reading for 15 years. I think inertia, and that collector mentality, leads to people buying books they might not even be enjoying anymore. One way to break that is by putting something else into their hands for free. The Top Cow FCBD issue was designed to be a Prelude to the BROKEN TRINITY storyline, as well as a primer to the Top Cow characters overall. We put the appetizer in front of the audience for free, so hopefully they decide to order the main course. If someone didn't happen to grab the FCBD issue, I know it's online for free at the BROKEN TRINITY mini-site.

STONE: What are the differences between coordinating an event like this and working on crossovers at the Big Two?

RM: The scale, and the sheer number of people involved. We're doing an event that has three main issues and three tie-in issues. We're keeping the focus narrow, not letting it sprawl just for the sake of sucking down more crossover dollars. Creatively, I came up with the guts of the story and talked it over with Rob Levin, the editor-in-chief. Rob kicked it around with Filip Sablik, the publisher, and president Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri. Then Rob and Filip got on the phone with me, and the upshot of it was, "Here's our input, but go do what you do." That was it, with the exception of bringing Phil Hester in to write the DARKNESS tie-in. There was no protracted series of meetings, no bullshit notes from people not on the chain, no changing directions in mid-stream. Top Cow is really a boutique publisher, so they can run leaner and meaner than Marvel and DC. There's not a line of 60 monthly books to support, so something like BROKEN TRINITY can be tightly focused and coordinated. I'm not saying one is inherently better than another, but I tend to think too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup, and this way definitely allows for a purer vision.

STONE: Crossovers are very much the name of the game in comics these days, with Marvel and DC going head to head with SECRET INVASION and FINAL CRISIS, and publishers like Top Cow having their own events, as in BROKEN TRINITY. Thoughts on the trend?

RM: Trends in comics are cyclical, like everything else. There will come a point when readers get sick of crossovers and leave the stuff sitting on the shelves, and that's when the pendulum will swing back the other way. Truthfully, it's directly related to how good the material is. When the stories stop being compelling, and the sheer number and cost of all the tie-ins start to outweigh the enjoyment, the audience will go the other way. That's why the mantra has to be, "Tell a good story." If you don't have a story worthy of an "event," don't do one.

STONE: How did WITCHBLADE co-creator Michael Turner’s death affect the team? Did you know him personally?

RM: Yeah, I knew Mike. We weren't close friends, but definitely friendly enough to always say hi and chat or hang out a bit when we'd see each other an conventions. I suspect Mike had that relationship with a lot of people; he was just an incredibly friendly, gregarious guy. Obviously there are people at Top Cow, which is where Mike got his start, who were very close to him, so Mike's passing was a very tough thing on them. Mike left a very big imprint on WITCHBLADE that's always going to be there. I know that's in the back of my mind now even more than it was previously.

STONE: I was struck by what a tight read the first issue was. How much of a focus are you trying to put on making the series accessible for the casual reader?

RM: Well, when the goal is to tell the whole story in six issues, it'd better be a tight read. It took ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, what, six issues just to put on his damn costume, right? I was already up on my soapbox about making these things accessible to everybody, so I won't go off on a rant again. I just think part of your responsibility as a writer is to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. No pun intended. Maybe one of the reasons people read the same shit year after year is that there isn't enough of an effort to attract them to something different.

STONE: You returned to GREEN LANTERN last year with the Kyle Rayner SINESTRO CORPS one-shot. Thoughts on Geoff Johns’ current work on the series and the return of Hal Jordan? Any other GL stuff planned?

RM: Nothing planned at the moment, but who knows? It's always tough for me to say no when they offer up Kyle. Geoff is a friend, so I'm probably a little biased, but I'm enjoying what he's doing. He's done a great job bringing back the epic scope to GL, especially with the great stuff that Ivan Reis is doing on art. When I was writing the book with Kyle, the job was obviously a more singular, personal type of story. Now it's back to big cosmic adventure. Like I said, everything is cyclical.

STONE: Tease some of your upcoming comics.

RM: I'll be sticking on WITCHBLADE with Stjepan Sejic until at least issue #150. Once BROKEN TRINITY is put to bed, I'm going to do some Magdalena projects, and see if we can whip that franchise into shape. Beyond that, I've got a creator-owned series called DRAGON PRINCE coming out from Top Cow, with art by Lee Moder, that'll debut in September. I'm continuing SAMURAI: HEAVEN AND EARTH with Luke Ross at Dark Horse, and eventually PANTHEON CITY with Clement Sauve will also come out through Dark Horse. There's also a video game in my future -- writing, not playing -- but I signed a non-disclosure, so they'll beat me with wireless controllers if I talk about it.

STONE: Thank you for answering our questions, Mr. Marz.

RM: Thank you.

Sleazy G here with a preview of NORTHLANDERS #8. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series, here’s the deal: writer Brian Wood, who also writes the amazing DMZ for Vertigo, is behind NORTHLANDERS. It’s technically a Viking saga, but the storyline feels influenced by a lot of crime dramas, not to mention Shakespeare. The son of the former ruling family returns after many years abroad to find his rat bastard uncle is destroying the community he grew up in, so junior’s back to kick ass and take back what’s rightfully his. It’s a cool approach to the material, and issue #8 is the final issue in the first story arc—one which is sure to be full of Viking-on-Viking violence. Check it out:

Be sure to check out NORTHLANDERS #8 when it hits the stands this Wednesday.

There was this tiny art house flick called THE DARK KNIGHT that opened up this weekend. Did any of you have a chance to catch it? If so, what’d you think?

Readers Talkback
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  • July 21, 2008, 7:57 a.m. CST


    by Gelatinousman

    That chest on Atlas is a bit too much.

  • July 21, 2008, 8:12 a.m. CST

    is Atlas meant to look morbidly obese?

    by Steve Rogers

  • July 21, 2008, 8:13 a.m. CST

    This art sucks balls.

    by Steve Rogers

  • July 21, 2008, 8:24 a.m. CST

    re: is Atlas meant to look morbidly obese?

    by Sebilrazen

    I hear you there, I though for a second it looked like a pre-op Harry.

  • July 21, 2008, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Superman Artwork

    by Mr Polite

    Have to agree, Superman artwork sucks major ball sack. Used to be a bigtime superman reader but now, superman is fucking pussy, writing and art is shit constantly. Kill Lois lane for good and make him a drunk or a homo or something, evolve.

  • July 21, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    You know...

    by One Nation Under Zod

    I remember a time when all comic art looked pretty much the same. Thank God there are all these new and modernist styles flourishing out there. This Superman looks great.

  • July 21, 2008, 10:34 a.m. CST

    1970s Van Art

    by fiester

    That Witchblade stuff looks like it belongs airbrushed on the side of a van that belongs to some pothead who reads too much Conan. Hideous.

  • July 21, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    The Superman artwork

    by fiester

    Looks very weak because of the feeble and indecisive use of line. It's not quite Dr. Katz squigglevision but it's not too far from it either. Very odd choice for the Man of Steel.

  • July 21, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    You know...

    by Snookeroo

    I remember a time when comic art was not so overworked that you could actually tell what was going on. And the covers were actually intriguing; not just an overblown, over-detailed rendering of two or more characters posing.

  • July 21, 2008, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Where is the She-Hulk vs Leon Spinks crossover?

    by Baron Karza

    Been waiting for that one..

  • July 21, 2008, 2:13 p.m. CST

    Superman's "pie" is standing right next to you, Jimmy

    by Squashua

    He takes his coffee black.