Any little kid who grew up playing with action figures knows the joy of putting all their toys in the same battle. Coming soon, IDW Publishing will try and create the same feel in comics form with "Infestation 2."
The crossover event following up on last year's "Infestation" -Â which threw many licensed properties including Transformers and G.I. Joe into a story where each of their universes were attacked by zombies and robots -Â the new linked set of issues will focus on franchises both new and old as IDW CCO Chris Ryall and Editor Bobby Curnow told the press in a conference call. CBR News was on hand for the action.
Ryall started out recounting the origins of the original crossover. The publisher wanted a way to link all their licenses for a big story when they couldn't necessarily put all the heroes on the same page at once, but they could do it with a threat that rotated through universes. "We worked for probably a year to put the story together," he explained, noting that after the success of the book and its "Outbreak" follow up featuring Ryall's own Covert Vampire Operations (C.V.O.) group of characters, the license owners of IDW's various series came back to them with an interest for a more direct kind of crossover. "This one will not only be bigger as sequels need to be, but there will be ways for characters to overlap and interact."
"Infestation 2" lines up comeback kids G.I. Joe and Transformers (the latter of which will come from the "Hearts of Steel" continuity") alongside newer properties to the idea including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Danger Girl, 30 Days of Night and Dungeons & Dragons. "Where we're headed is into Lovecraft territory this time," Ryall revealed. "For many reasons, we felt Lovecraft's monsters...amp up the threat." He noted that for universes like "30 Days of Night," the monsters would provide a credible villain even for immortal bloodsuckers.
As the Lovecraft monsters worm their way through the universes, they'll battle in horrific fashion with many of the leads starting with a bookend one-shot written by Duane Swierczynski and drawn by David Messina. That will include threads from the C.V.O. stories as the new event gets underway. "[Duane] gets what makes horror work and how to make a really interesting, action-packed comic," Curnow said.
In February, the solo stories get underway with "Transformers" which the editor described as "Basically what it is if you take Transformers, giant Lovecraft monsters and a history book and throw them into a blender." The story will be written by Chuck Dixon who originated the "Hearts of Steel" continuity and who originally used John Henry in the first series. This time out, the story will have a Steampunk Optimus Prime battling giant monsters and will bring in more historical figures including Thomas Edison.
Next up will be "Dungeons & Dragons" which will for the first time incorporate story elements from the Eberron world of the game system into the comics as written by Eberron overseer Paul Crilley.
February also has a twisted tie-in story that the publisher hopes will draw the attention of fans of event comics. Ryall will write the book "Infestations Team-Up" which gives a different take on the crosover idea. The comic is shipping on February 29 - "a day that doesn't exist" - so it will be a more ridiculous twist on the concept featuring characters from the "Weekly World News" comic including Batboy. The story will be a snarky look at event crossover tropes from other publishers going back to things like "Atlantis Attacks." "It is a bit blowing off of steam," Ryall laughed, noting that Eric Powell and Bill Morrison will do some funny covers.
The event hits phase two in March, with a TMNT story focusing on creepy sewer action. "This book has a great horror vibe," Curnow explained, noting that Tristan Jones, a fan-favorite writer from TMNT's late Mirage Comics run, will be writing the book.
Later that same month, the G.I. Joe story ships. Written by "Stuff of Legend" scribe Mike Raicht, the story centers on Cobra operatives who are immune to the powers of the Lovecraft monsters who work to breakout allies from an insane asylum. The team includes Crystal Ball, Stormshadow and Interrogator. The editors promised a twist ending to the first issue that will incorporate the Joes in some way. Curnow said the story is like "a cross between 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and your favorite horror movies." Ryall gave the trivia bit that Crystal Ball was created by Stephen King's son Owen and traded to Hasbro by the writer for a box of action figures in the '80s. He also said he felt this version of the character resembled a young Alan Moore.
After the "30 Days of Night" story by Swierczynski, that writer will return to do a finale title in April which asks "Do they save the earth, or is this the end of the IDW multiverse as we know it?"
The editors noted that Danger Girl won't be a major part of the event in terms of having her own "Infestations 2" title since the character will soon appear in the non-Infestation related "Revolver" comic. But the pair did promise she will play into the crossover before the end.
They explained that while the incoming hardcover of the first "Infesation" crossover features ten comics and a small "Pocket God" story coordinated with Ape Entertainment, the new event will have 13 issues as part of it. They also noted that this new story will leave some impact on IDW's stories, and that from the first "Infestation" they "thought of [the event], if not planned it as a trilogy." When and how the third series would play out will remain on their drawing board for now.
"This is something like 'Empire Strikes Back' or the second 'Spider-Man,' Curnow said. "We've done the world-builing...now we can dive right in to the meat of this story." Both editors praised Swierczynski as the architect of the event with Ryall saying, "Duane writes these good, dark, adventure-filled stories, and his 'Infestation' script jumps right in...I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would a first draft...it's great having him involved."
Fore more on "Infestation 2," see CBR's original interview with Ryall, and stay tuned for more in the weeks ahead.