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FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2006

WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO: TOP COW PANEL

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- A Cyberforce/X-Men crossover, a limited series centered on The Darkness video game and Witchblade in Japan were among the topics covered by Top Cow's Matt Hawkina at the publisher's panel at Wizard World Chicago on Friday.

Following are highlights:

* The Cyberforce/X-Men book is a one-shot by Cyberforce creative team Ron Marz and Pat Lee targeted for November.

Hawkins noted that fan reaction to the original Image teams books such as Cyberforce, WildC.A.T.s and Youngblood were that they were X-Men clones -- even he felt that way at the time. With Cyberforce in particular, he noted the similarities between Cyblade and Psylocke and Ripclaw and Wolverine.

"I challenged Ron to prove to the world that they were different, so the book will be about those four characters," Hawkins said.

The book is part of Top Cow's three-year deal with Marvel, which also includes Tyler Kirkham drawing the X-Men: Phoenix -- Warsong mini-series and Mike Choi drawning an X-23 mini-series. Both books will feature Top Cow exclusive variant covers.

Hawkins said the deal with Marvel has been working out so well for both parties that there is already talk of extending it.

In other highlights from the panel:

* Paul Jenkins, who wrote 2K's Darkness video game, is crafting the comics mini-series, with each issue based on the different levels of the game. Level 0 will accompany the game as well as in several video-game outlets. Level Nos. 1-5 will be published by Top Cow.

* Sporting a budget of some $15 million, The Darkness video game is due in February for next-generation platforms. Hawkins said he would like to follow that up with a The Darkness vs. Witchblade game in the next 2-3 years. Atari currently holds the video-game rights to Witchblade.

* Hawkins said that Darkness/Pitt mini-series, by Jenkins and Dale Keown, would not be solicited until all four issues have been completed. He praised Keown's art, but noted that he simply isn't a fast artist and that he is using both physical and digital inks on his pencils. Hawkins said Top Cow will be releasing a preview book for the mini-series.

Below are some images from the first issue.

* Hawkins said Top Cow has struck a deal with Toy Biz for figures including Witchblade, Darkness, members of Cyberforce and members of The Freshmen. He said Freshmen co-creator Seth Green was especially excited about Freshmen figures and promised to promote them during television apperances.

* The Witchblade anime series will be coming to the United States in April via Funimation. Hawkins said the series has been successful in Japan.

* Hawkins said the Witchblade manga is selling "insane numbers" of up to 3 million in Japan. Those comics will be coming to America, Hawkins said, in a traditional Japenese, black-and-white digest version, as well as a colored version formatted into a traditional 32-page comic book.

Hawkins said he would like to see The Darkness released as manga in Japan next. "It would be horror-based and horror-based manga does very well," he said.

* An Aprhodite IX direct-to-video animated movie is being developed in Korea, with plans also for a video game. Hawkins said the animated film is targeted for late 2008/early 2009.

* Hunter-Killer #6 will be debut at Wizard World Chicago. Hawkins said that the next three issues are all completed and will be released monthly.

* Hawkins said there are no plans for Necromancer, although he is trying to use the character as part of a Marvel crossover.

* A decision on whether Universal will greenlight the Wanted movie should be made soon. Hawkins said the rights will revert in the next 60 days if the film isn't headed into production. He said writer Mark Millar and the studio both like the current script.



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