Top Cow's President Matt Hawkins, Publisher Filip Sablik, founder Marc Silvestri and writers Phil Hester ("The Darkness") and Ron Marz ("Witchblade") were on hand at Comic-Con International, though the event more closely resembled a "24" episode than it did a comic book discussion. The panel moved at a lightning fast pace due to a plethora of trailers, video footage and comic book announcements, leading to an eventual race against the clock at the panel's conclusion.
The first announcement made regarded the development of a "Magdalena" film. The movie will be directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, a Japanese filmmaker whose resume includes "The Messenger," "Azumi" and the "Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes" videogame, all of which were showcased in a special film reel. Holly Brix will write the screenplay.
"Without giving too much away, it's basically about the transference of power from one Magdalena to the other," Brix told the crowd. "It's gonna kick ass."
"When I read Holly's treatment, I was blown away," said Kitamura. "It's kick-ass action, but it's also a story about a girl finding who she is and fighting against her tough destiny. That's what dragged me and grabbed me." The director also said that he's particularly comfortable with “kick-ass action” and is excited to showcase a female character in an action role.
The creators hinted the Magdalena film would focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ. "There was a line in the comic book about the idea of wanting to hasten the second coming of Christ and whoever could produce Christ could control not only the church, but perhaps the world," said Brix. That storyline might play a role in the "Magdalena,” she hinted.
An image of Magdalena was previewed on the screen alongside headshots for actors Jenna Dewan and Luke Goss. While the panelists did not speak about these actors, it could be inferred that they'll have starring roles in the film.
There was more "Magdalena" news to be had, namely an ongoing series from writer Ron Marz. "I really think she's the best character in the Top Cow stable, I really do," he said. "I love the design, the back-story. I've been waiting to get my hands on her, so to speak, for a long time."
Marz said that "Magdalena" would be inclusive for both new and old readers alike, as the first few issues focus on her specifically and not the rest of the Top Cow Universe. While an interior artist is still not announced, Marz revealed that Ryan Sook would provide cover art for the series.
Another movie coming from Top Cow is "Aphrodite IX," which is being produced in conjunction with Larry Kasanoff and Threshold Entertainment. "There's an actress attached to a live-action feature film," Hawkins teased, though he couldn't reveal the identity of said actress. The announcement will be made in August, he said, and added: "She's very hot."
The panelists turned next to "The Darkness," focusing first on the videogame adaptation. To familiarize the audience, Hawkins showed a trailer of the first videogame that featured Jackie Estacado's murderous antics from a first-person shooter perspective. Hawkins announced that a sequel videogame is in the works with Paul Jenkins attached to write the story.
Scott Stuber is producing a film version of "The Darkness," and Hawkins apologized for being unable to announce anything further regarding the film – though he said more news would come in the next six to eight weeks.
Hester spoke about his plans for "The Darkness" comic book. "One consistent factor with Jackie is if you screw with him, he screws back; over the last year, he was screwed a lot, and over the next year he'll be screwing back," he said. "His power is only limited by his imagination. Once he opens up his mind to what he can do, what he can do is pretty horrible."
The writer confirmed that Jackie will go toe-to-toe against the Darkness itself in the near future. Hawkins said that Hester has plans for "The Darkness" all the way through issue #100.
There's also an upcoming crossover between The Darkness and Darkchylde. The one-shot story features art from Darkchylde creator Randy Queen and will come out in December. Hawkins said the one-shot is oversized – "Extra pages, extra long."
The panel unveiled footage from the "Wanted" film trailer as well as the videogame trailer. The videogame, Hawkins said, focuses on Wesley Gibson's mother, whereas the film centered on his father. There are active plans for a sequel to the movie.
Hawkins revealed that "Alibi," the "Pilot Season" book by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Jeremy Haun, would also get a movie treatment courtesy of Mandeville Films, the studio behind the upcoming "Surrogates" movie, based on the Top Shelf comic book. The panelists showed the trailer for the Top Shelf film to showcase the quality that Mandeville puts forth. Hawkins co-wrote the treatment for the film alongside Mandeville's David Hoberman. "We love and respect greatly the Top Cow label and what it stands for," Hoberman said.
Heroes and Villains Entertainment showcased a trailer for "Tracker," their upcoming Top Cow comic book that promises to reinvent the werewolf mythology as written by Jonathan Lincoln and illustrated by Francis Tsai. A new project called "Epoch" was also announced, which was described as a "supernatural 'Fight Club'" showcasing an all-out battle between the various monsters throughout mythology. By the end, readers will know which creature reigns supreme.
Top Cow properties "Common Grounds" and "Universe" are being produced as live-action television shows. Hawkins described "Common Grounds" as "'Cheers' with superheroes and villains," then said that "Universe" was the exact opposite with a much darker tone.
Moving back to the realm of comic books, Ron Marz announced that he'd be writing a line-wide crossover event called "Artifacts" that promises to change the face of the Top Cow Universe forever. "It's the biggest crossover we've ever done and ever will do in Top Cow," he said. The story focuses on the 13 mythical artifacts in the Top Cow universe. Only nine or ten have been revealed thus far, Marz said, but the rest will be unveiled soon. "Bad things happen when you put all of them together. So we're going to put all 13 together."
DiVide Pictures' Milo Ventimiglia and Russ Cundiff were invited onstage to discuss some of their comic book projects. After throwing several free t-shirts to into the audience, they showed a viral video for "Berserker" that depicts a white-shirted man wreaking superhuman havoc upon a Cadillac. The pair then announced that they'd be bringing their comic book "Rest" to Top Cow.
"There's no better place than Top Cow," Ventimiglia said. "We have such a great relationship with everyone over at Top Cow. We're just big fans of what they've done. You're talking about 'The Darkness' and I'm back here screaming like a little girl!"
Ventimiglia started calling Matt Hawkins "The Hawk," a nickname that the rest of the panelists were thrilled to embrace. Hawkins said that nobody's called him that since high school.
The "Heroes" star proceeded to call out "Gabriel" director Shane Abbess, who was in the audience, as the ideal candidate to helm a "Berserker" film. He pleaded for fans in the audience to start campaigns online for the director.
Unfortunately, time was running short for the remainder of the panel, despite Top Cow still having a wealth of comic book announcements left to make. They ran through them as quickly as possible, starting off by highlighting "Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer," the first issue of which launched at Comic-Con last Wednesday. The series is written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Kenneth Rocafort, and Silvestri praised the artist's skill. "Now's the time to do it right. Seventeen years ago, some guy fucked it up completely," Silvestri joked. "[Rocafort] is literally the perfect choice for two properties that are very close to our heart."
As a testament to that fact, Sablik announced that a new "Cyberforce" ongoing series is debuting in the spring of 2010 with art from Rocafort. There is a writer attached, but his/her identity will be announced at a later date.
Another new comics project from Top Cow is "Mysterious Ways," which comes from "Crash Bandicoot" and "Iron and the Maiden" creator Jason Rubin.
Sablik highlighted "Pilot Season," which is being taken over by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri. He described it thusly: "Kirkman. Silvestri. Pilot Season. What the fuck else do you need to know?" This third rendition will feature five new properties co-developed by Kirkman and Silvestri, with readers selecting only one project to proceed as a full-on series.
"Vote for the ones that I come up with," Silvestri jokingly pleaded to the audience.
Hawkins quickly called "Pilot Season: Genius" creators Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman onstage. As they joined the stage, however, Hawkins was given what he called the "screw you, you're done" signal from a convention worker, meaning Bernardin and Freeman had limited time to speak. They announced "Cell Division," their new Top Cow project they described only as "awesome."
With no time left to spare, Hawkins and Sablik rapidly ran through some other comic book projects in the works. There are three new Marc Silvestri projects titled "Midway Earth," "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Warrior," as well as a book called "Sunset" by Christos Gage.
The announcements were made just in the knick of time as con-goers flooded the room for the subsequent American Originals panel, which Hawkins said everybody should stick around for.