CCI, Day 3: Devils Due Previews Original Sueprhero Line

Josh Blaylock, the publisher and prime mover behind the newly-independent Devil's Due imprint, previewed an impressive lineup of titles and talent on Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The "Aftermath" line of comics is going to consist of several original superhero comics produced by veteran comics talents Marv Wolfman, Ron Marz, Joe Casey, and Chuck Dixon.

Why yet another new superhero universe, in light of the many failed attempts in the last few years? "My answer to that is, how can you not?" Blaylock said. "When you own your own company, you've been dreaming of this since you were four years old... how can you not? Of course, we're not being stupid about it," he hastened to add. "We're starting slow, not spending half a million on convention displays or anything like that... and getting really good people," he finished, nodding at the panel. "I created the basic skeleton, and then I gave it to these guys and they just ran with it. It's all set in the here and now, modern-day... sort of edgy, Ultimates-type stuff but we hope with a fun sort of Lee-Kirby feel."

The first title will be the "Aftermath" #0 issue, premiering at WizardWorld Chicago. After that, individual titles start rolling out in October.

The first of these is"Defexx" by Marv Wolfman. He explained the concept like this: "Most heroes have an origin imposed on them," he said. "They fall inot a vat of something or somebody kills their parents or something. I wanted to do a story where the heroes did it to themselves. A group of science students, college kids, who are experimenting on themselves... but the outcome is not what they expect."

Blaylock put in, "Marv's specialty is that great soap opera, character stuff, like we all remember from Titans... so look for lots of that."

This will be followed by "Breakdown" from Chuck Dixon. Since Dixon was not at the panel, Blaylock provided a brief synopsis. "'Breakdown' is about the idea of, what if a publicly known hero, a Flash or a Green Lantern type, a celebrity, lost his family to his enemies? That's what this is. It's not Frank Castle, it's not what starts him off... our guy, Jeff Carey, he's already a hero -- no superhero name or anything because he's the first, he went public and became a celebrity, he figures criminals fear him. And then someone takes out his family... and he loses it."

The next one is "Blade of Komori" by Ron Marz. "My first thought was the same as you guys, probably -- does anyone really need a new superhero universe? Especially considering where I was before this," Marz added dryly, referring to the recent implosion of CrossGen. "But the more I heard about the concepts, and the people involved... I thought it sounded kinda cool. I mean, these are books I would read."

"Komori" is about a secret society of samurai that hire out as mercenaries for industrial espionage, assassinations, all kinds of things. "Kind of ronin," Marz explained. "They do have a code of honor. Our heroine is the best one of them all. Sort of 'Alias' with samurai. That's the feel of it."

The final title in the first wave of the Aftermath line is "Infantry" by Joe Casey. Asked to describe it, Casey quipped, "It's an unfolding mystery."

"That's Joe, gotta be all mysterious," Blaylock said.

"That's right," Casey shot back. "That's why I've got the sunglasses and the black shirt. No, Infantry is going to have lots of action, but also a lot of mystery, a sort of ongoing conspiracy story, and by issue 6 the whole mystery explodes."

Blaylock added, "I want to say that the whole decompressed storytelling thing? That doesn't work for us. We want to go back to giving you the character, the powers, the basic story from the first issue on. The titles all are set in the same universe but they're self-contained, you don't have to buy them all."

"We thought we'd try giving you your money's worth," Marz said.

"Yeah, real plots again, it's nice," Wolfman put in.

Casey finished, "These aren't throwbacks though, just the new distillation of 30 years of skill."

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