The year 2007 is a big one for Top Cow Productions' "The Darkness" franchise. A feature film is currently in development, and this month will see the release of a "The Darkness" next-gen console game. "The Darkness" co-creator David Wohl sat down with CBR News to talk about all things "Darkness," including the last two issues of the video game tie-in mini series and the new ongoing series scheduled for release this fall.
"The Darkness: Level 4" shipped to comic stores this week and "The Darkness: Level 5" is set to be released by Top Cow and Image Comics next month. David Wohl co-wrote the mini-series with Paul Jenkins, who also penned the script for the video game. The "Level" comics are not merely rehashes of the game's story. Each issue follows a different character from the game and presents a unique perspective on the age-old power that is the Darkness and its current wielder, mobster Jackie Estacado.
"The Darkness: Level 4" is the second issue of the video game tie-in to find Jackie in the world of the Darkness, and is told from the point of view of a Schlog, one of the denizens of that dark world. The first time Jackie finds himself in the world of the Darkness, "He has no idea where he is," David Wohl told CBR News. "Jackie actually thinks he's dead and in Hell because of the life he's led. Eventually it becomes clear that he's not dead. And for a time he's able to temporarily return back home. So, when 'Level 4' picks up, this is the second time he's been to this place and he's definitely gotten the lay of the land. He sees that he has a bigger purpose here, and bigger powers to go along with it! And a lot of what Jackie learns comes from one particular Schlog, who seems to know a lot about Jackie and what his purpose is."
Wohl describes the Schlog as, "German speaking, demonic sorts of creatures that populate and terrorize the inhabitants." The Schlog do have something of a reverence for Jackie, and Wohl says "Level 4" promises to reveal why that is.
Before artist Patrick Blaine signed on to pencil "The Darkness: Level 4," he was already acquainted with David Wohl, and the writer was the thrilled to have an opportunity to work him. "[Blaine] had been doing work in advertising, but had expressed an interest to (VP of Editorial) Rob Levin about getting back into comics," Wohl explained. "He brought his name up to me as a possibility and I was ecstatic. One of Patrick's specialties is drawing monsters, so I did this book especially for him! And I think he did a phenomenal job."
The fifth and final issue, "The Darkness: Level 5," has a special place in Wohl's heart. "I see it as my homage to the classic Garth Ennis initial storyline," Wohl said. "Basically a horror movie where Jackie gets his final vengeance and the reader sees it from the eyes of the terrified bad guys. It was a really fun issue to write, with some great art by Michael Choi and Sonia Oback. I can't wait for that one to come out!"
Wohl had nothing but praise for co-writer Paul Jenkins. "As one of the main architects of the game as well as one of the greatest contributors to the Darkness mythology (and an all around great guy), Paul was great to collaborate with," Wohl gushed. "Early on in the process, during our conversations, we talked about the stuff he wanted to do in each level that was unable to fit into the game. There were a lot of cool side stories that for one reason or another just didn't work in the game format."
The writers ultimately identified five tales that would not only work as stand-alone stories, but also supplement the story of the game without revealing too much about it. "After that, I picked it up and ran with it, periodically coming back to him along the way to get his insight and opinion on what I was doing. It was definitely a fun and educational experience."
This fall, readers can look forward to a new "The Darkness" ongoing by writer Phil Hester and artist Michale Broussard. "Phil is a very cool writer whose sensibility is perfect for 'Darkness,' and Michael is phenomenal," Wohl said. "I think the fans will be floored when they see what these guys do!"
Wohl told CBR News that the "The Darkness" game is scheduled for release in late June. "I got to play some of it at the Wizard World Los Angeles convention and am looking forward to finally getting the thing in my hands," Wohl said.
The schedule for the feature film is not so set in stone. "Word has it that the project is 'in development,'" Wohl said. "I'm not quite sure what that means with regard to this one, but usually the activity of one project will help another project get going." That said, Wohl hopes that the fast track for the film adaptation of Mark Millar's 'Wanted' will spur interest in its fellow Top Cow properties.
In addition to the "The Darkness: Level" mini-series, Wohl recently penned an issue of Zenescope's "Se7en" prequel series. Wohl's issue, "Pride," which he created with Jason Craig and Thomas Mason, can be found at a comic store near you. Wohl is also working on a Top Cow adaptation of the "Dark Sector" video game with artist Bill Sienkiewicz, who Wohl met many years ago while he was an intern at Marvel. "I've always been a huge fan of [Sienkiewicz] so I'm extremely excited for the opportunity to be a writer on a project with him!" Wohl said. "After that, my next project isn¹t quite official yet but I do believe I'm gonna be going back to my roots."
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