NYCC: Dark Horse - 25 Years and Beyond

The old adage about dark horses is that they come out of nowhere and blow everyone away. While Dark Horse Comics isn't exactly an unknown newcomer after 25 years in business, its still blowing readers away with brand new books like Rage Against The Machine guitar player Tom Morello's "Orchid" and the company's long history of licensed books like the Star Wars line and "Conan." The Dark Horse panel at New York Comic Con boasted a line-up that included Morello, "Orchid" artist Scott Hepburn, Brian Wood ("Conan The Barbarian"), Jan Duuresema (Star Wars) and Sanford Greene ("Rotten Apples"). Hosted by Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie and Director of Public Relations Jeremy Atkins, the group discussed the company's anthology series "Dark Horse Presents," the panelists' various projects and everything else, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Goon.

Atkins launched right into discussing "DHP," noting that the fifth issue, which hits stores next week, will feature a story by Goon creator Eric Powell. Called "Isolation," Atkins said Powell described as "Either a story about a robot that goes into space and kills himself or learns how to masturbate" which got a round of laughter from the packed crowd. In other Powell news, "The Goon" will continue on a bi-monthly schedule and tackle superheroes after skewering pretty vampires recently especially on the cover of "The Goon" #34.

From one beloved Dark Horse character to another, there are still big plans for Hellboy even with his recent condition of being dead. "DHP" #7 will feature a Mike Mignola written and drawn story recounting more of his drunken exploits in Mexico from, continuity-wise, years back. In "DHP" #8, Mignola will team with John Arcudi and Duncan Fegredo for a story focusing on Kate Corrigan learning the news of Hellboy's passing. The ninth issue of "DHP" will feature yet another Mignola story, this one starring the pulp-ish hero Lobster Johnson.

Moving forward, "DHP" will sport even more diverse tales. From the continuation of Greene's "Rotten Apples" to the beginnings of Brian Wood's upcoming ongoing called "The Massive" that will start off in the anthology before moving into it's own ongoing series. Featuring three-issue arcs, Wood said he wants to keep the book super-tight. Also announced at the panel is Wood and artist Becky Cloonan's "Conan the Barbrian," an adaptation interpreting the Robert E. Howard story "Queen of the Black Coast."

The largest applause at the panel came with the introduction of Tom Morello, who spryly leapt on stage with Scott Hepburn. Morello spoke quickly and excitedly about his politically minded series "Orchid," answering some questions before heading off to his next appointment. Morello discussed how fun and interesting it was to create music for the world he created, as each of the series' 12 issues will have a free song available to download, creating a soundtrack synced to that chapter of the story.

Morello also talked about the creation of the titular Orchid, based on the prostitutes and drug users he met when first moving to Los Angeles from the Chicago area in the late 80s. His idea with "Orchid" was to set up his heroine as someone from the absolute bottom of the social ladder, from which he quickly made the connection to the hard yet kind women he met on the streets of LA.

After Morello's segment, the panelists discussed the end of Rick Remender's "Fear Agent" which they say will be kicking off in the next few months, noting that the story will "go out in a blaze of glory."

Atkins and Allie remained tight-lipped about the further adventures of Buffy The Vampire Slayer now that they're into the ninth season, and were similarly quiet about the recently returned Angel who has teamed up with Faith in their own book.

The panel then promoted the $1 first issues of "The House Of Night," based on the prose series by P.C. and Kristin Cast, along with the adaptation of Guillermo del Toro's book "The Strain," though it was noted that the comic will not bounce around in perspective quite as much as the source material. There are also big plans for Mass Effect comics, as well as a new "The Guild" one-shot featuring Zaboo, written by the show's creator and star Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh who plays Zaboo on the popular webseries.

As the focus of the panel shifted to the publisher's of Star Wars books, Atkins and Allie introduced Jan Duursema who will be co-writing a new series called "Dawn of the Jedi"with John Ostrander. The new title focuses on the people who became the very first Jedis, how they got to the planet and what went into the development of their force powers.

Other Star Wars books will include "Agent of the Empire," also by John Ostrander, that was explained as a James Bond-esque story set in the Star Wars Universe. There will be the third installment in the Crimson Empire series of minis. DH President Mike Richardson and artist Paul Gulacy will return to handle the reins on the newest mini. Fans of Knights of the Old Republic should be excited to know that the ending of that series will kick off in February and is set to wrap with a huge bang. Finally, the panel teased a pair of new stories -- without giving away any details -- titled "Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison" and "Boba Fett is Dead."

Lastly, but in no way least, Dark Horse announced plans for "Avatar: The Last Airbender" with "American Born Chinese" writer and artist Gene Yang writing a trio of 80-page digests intended to bridge the gap between the end of the original series and the upcoming Nickelodeon follow-up, "The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra."

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