Dark Horse Comics has proven itself willing to do different things when it comes to digital comics, but tucked away in the waves of news coming out of New York Comic Con was a new kind of digital release from the publisher -- one that again involves its resurgent imprint of "Comics' Greatest World" characters.
As announced during the convention, Dark Horse will soon unveil two new digital first projects: a Conan series called "Phantoms of the Black Coast" and the "C.G.W." series "2 Past Midnight," which crosses Dark Horse's marquee heroes Ghost and X with the Golden Age revival of Captain Midnight. "2 Past Midnight" will be written by Duane Swierczynski with art from Eduardo Francisco, under a cover by Paolo Rivera.
Both projects will be initially offered as rewards for consumers who have the incoming ePlate credit card from Pittsburgh-based tech company Dynamics, Inc. The idea behind the battery-powered card is its patented design allows owners to register their credit accounts with companies like Dark Horse to earn rewards. The system is much like a credit card earning airline miles, however the technology means users can decide which of their purchases will specifically apply to a range of companies offering rewards. Ahead of its launch, the ePlate card has already signed on for rewards programs with geek-friendly companies like Upper Deck trading cards and Evil Genius Games, and in the case of the Dark Horse program, purchases made on the ePlate card will earn users pages of these new comics. Once a card owner has gained the full amount of story pages, they'll receive access to the full digital comic in the Dark Horse app and eventually a free print edition as well.
CBR News scored an exclusive first look at the art for "2 Past Midnight" and spoke with Swierczynski about his role bringing these three heroes together for one tale. "By the time [editors] Scott Allie, Jim Gibbons and Patrick Thorpe approached me with the idea of this crossover, I'd already turned in the three 'X' shorts for 'Dark Horse Presents' and the first full issue of 'X.' So I guess I didn't screw up those issues too much?" Swierczynski laughed. "Seriously though, I'm happy to have the chance to play around a bit more in the larger Dark Horse Heroes universe."
While he's been busy reviving X, the one-shot's co-stars Ghost and Captain Midnight have been going through their own relaunches under the pen of writer's Kelly Sue DeConnick and Josh Williamson respectively. Swierczynski said he'd been studying to make sure the new story took place in a world consistent with those projects. "I'm absolutely drawing from what Kelly Sue and Josh are doing with their titles -- I've been loving the 'Ghost' shorts in 'DHP' and I'm very much looking forward to 'Cap.' I've been talking constantly with Scott, Jim and Patrick to make sure everything is consistent with the main books. You might consider 'Midnight' a side trip from each character's main story."
Swierczynski is also aware of the tricks that can come with crafting a workable, original team-up story, and on that score he promises an ace up his sleeve. "The key to any great team-up is a powerful villain -- in short, somebody too tough for one hero to handle alone," he said. "I'm very excited about the bad guy at the center of 'Midnight.' I was actually keeping him in mind for a crime novel down the road, but the temptation to use him in this miniseries was too great to resist. I'm hesitant to say too much about him quite yet as I don't want to ruin the mystery -- you meet him as X, Ghost and Cap meet him -- but you might consider him a Professor Moriarty-type who spent way too much time cooking up evil stuff at DARPA. Now he's a few spoons short of a complete silverware set."
Overall, Swierczynski said this story is an extension of the work he's already doing for Dark Horse on "X" and elsewhere in his comics career. "What's funny (and a little weird) is how many characters from the early 1990s I've had the chance to write -- Cable, Bloodshot, now X and the other Dark Horse heroes. This is funny to me because the early '90s is when I wasn't reading comics -- I'd dropped off due to college, being poor, etc. It's like the universe is telling me, 'Son, you really should have kept up with your comics.'"