Dynamite Entertainment’s company-wide crossover debuted today under the guidance of writer Ron Marz and artist Walter Geovani. Of course, with a publishing slate comprised mainly of licensed and public domain characters, “Prophecy” is certainly an unusual venture, one that offered Marz unique challenges when devising the appropriate story that finds characters from the worlds of Vampirella, Red Sonja, Sherlock Holmes and the Re-Animator colliding with each other both directly and indirectly.
It’s an idea Dynamite presented to me … last year, so this has been in discussion for a while,” Marz told CBR News earlier this year. “It was really a first time for them to try and put a bunch of different characters into the mix and tell a coherent story. That being said, obviously these are some pretty disparate characters in terms of what era they’re from and where they’re located. So, a big part of the discussion was how do we actually get these characters in the same place? I think the springboard for it was that because these are mainly licensed characters — IDW has their “Infestation” crossovers, but those bring a singular threat threaded into the respective books of the characters — it’s not like the characters met each other to any great extent. We wanted to take this one step further and make sure that these characters actually met each other and interacted and did all the things you would expect in a crossover.”
Below, Marz runs down the list of “Prophecy’s” featured players, giving readers some insight into how he approached the event’s disparate cast and how they all fit seamlessly into a story about the end of the world as predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar.
Today’s release of “Prophecy” #1 from Dynamite Comics brings together a number of disparate characters, including Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dracula and even Sherlock Holmes, many of whom are meeting for the first time. CBR and Dynamite asked me to come up with character thumbnails to give some insight into how I approached the major players.
I remember discovering Red Sonja on the magazine rack of the local Waldbaum’s supermarket when I was a kid. It was “Marvel Feature” #5, with a Frank Thorne cover of Sonja fighting something called “Bear-God” in a rain storm. It was certainly something quite different from the issues of “Avengers” that were my usual fare at that age.
Sonja’s character appeals to me in the same way as many of the female characters I’ve written, including Sara Pezzini in “Witchblade,” Arwyn in “Sojourn” and Shinku herself in “Shinku.” They’re all loners, to a certain extent, making their own path in a man’s world. They’re all perfectly able to kick your ass. I have a soft spot for sword-and-sorcery tales, probably even more so than for superhero stories. Sonja is very much the central character in “Prophecy,” especially since it’s “her” villain, Kulan Gath, who threatens the world.
Plus, girls with swords are cool.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever written Dracula, and I’m really enjoying the opportunity. There are so many interpretations of the good Count, both literary and cinematic, so my chief task in pinning down my take on the character was to sort the wheat from the chaff. I grew up on Lugosi and Christopher Lee, as well as Stoker’s original “…tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot…” I’m also fond of Gary Oldman’s version in the Coppola film, and the great Wolfman-Colan “Tomb of Dracula” depiction.
My Dracula is neither villain nor hero, but a regal character who acts in his own self-interest. In this case, his self-interest lines up with saving the world. But that doesn’t mean he plays particularly well with others, or would shy from betraying his seeming allies if it suits his purposes.
If she was good enough for Frazetta to paint her, and good enough for Archie Goodwin to write her, she’s good enough for me. Yes, the costume — what there is of it — is sexy. But sex has always played a major part in vampire mythology, which is equal parts horror and allure.
I’m especially enjoying the interactions between Sonja and Vampirella as they brush up against each other (not that way, ya pervs). The characters have similarities far more important than their beach-appropriate attire. They’re both driven by a sense of honor and a willingness to mete out permanent punishments to their enemies. Sparks are bound to fly as they try to figure out if they’re supposed to be friends or enemies.
HERBERT WEST RE-ANIMATOR
The first time I saw Stuart Gordon’s “Re-Animator” film was at Bernie Wrightson’s house, when we lived a couple miles down the road from one another in upstate New York. Bernie popped in an old VHS tape, and popped up a big bowl of popcorn on a fall afternoon.
West doesn’t appear until issue #2 of “Prophecy,” and I was initially skeptical of how he’d fit into the storyline. In a tale filled with warriors, West is … well, a nerd. Which is exactly what makes him work in the story. He’s the polar opposite of someone like Sonja in just about every way, so it’s intriguing to put him in a situation where he has to fight for not only his survival, but that of the entire world.
I’ll admit it — I’ve always wanted to write Sherlock Holmes, and I wasn’t going to miss out on an opportunity to do so. Hopefully my Holmes seems derived from the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, much more Jeremy Brett than Robert Downey Jr. (though I did enjoy the RDJ movies too). Note the 1890 date, which places the opening scene of “Prophecy” somewhere between the Doyle tales “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” and “The Red-Headed League” in the Holmes canon.
Holmes will appear again in the series, though not in the “running around in the Yucatan jungle” sort of way that everyone else does. Holmes and Watson tie into the greater storyline in a (hopefully) clever fashion worthy of the World’s Great Detective (sorry, Batman, you’re the World’s Second Greatest Detective).
Going into “Prophecy,” I was truthfully more familiar the DC’s New Titans character named Pantha. I believe she lost her head, literally. Our Pantha still has hers.
Pantha originally sprang (see what I did there?) from a Vampirella storyline, a spin on the werewolf/shapeshifter archetype, though in this case the animal form is less Big Bad and more Bagheera. A more recent wrinkle has introduced aspects of Egyptian mythology to her origin, which comes in handy when dealing with a storyline that includes Mayan gods unleashed upon the world.
I’m a big fan of big cats, so expect to see Pantha in panther form as often as possible.
She’s the daughter of Dracula. Or at least she says she is. Dracula doesn’t seem quite so sure, and isn’t about to submit to a paternity test.
Eva is a vampire hunter and werewolf killer, blessed with superhuman strength, speed and endurance. She won’t actually appear until issue #2 of “Prophecy,” but you can never have too many bad-ass ladies carrying sharp objects. See above, re: girls with swords.
“A hero is only as good as his or her villain,” or so the old adage goes. “Prophecy” needed a worthy mastermind behind it, and I think anyone who’s taken on Conan, Spider-Man and the X-Men fits that description pretty well.
Gath is Sonja’s sworn enemy, someone she hates enough to pursue through time (again), even to the very end of time. I think of him as a classic sword-and-sorcery villain; obviously, he’s the sorcery half of that equation. Gath is the devious schemer, depending upon the dark arts, while opponents like Sonja rely on honest muscle and steel. He’s a man willing to destroy the world so he can rule what’s left.
“Prophecy” #1, by Ron Marz and Walter Geovani, is on sale today.