It's been said the lord works in mysterious ways, but he's got nothing on Jason Rubin ("Crash Bandicoot," "The Iron Saint") and Tyler Kirkham ("Green Lantern Corps"), the creative team behind Top Cow's upcoming miniseries that borrows its name from the expression. The July shipping "Mysterious Ways" has stirred up a good deal of buzz online between a promo image featuring photos of serial killers and a contest in which entrants try to guess how the series will end with the winner scoring a year's supply of Top Cow comics. Rubin -- best known as the co-creator of the "Crash Bandicoot" video game series for the Playstation -- promised that there's more than just hype with this six-issue miniseries that will tackle some pretty big philosophical questions about guilt and redemption and even play with a few archetypes along the way.
"Someone made a throwaway comment along the lines of 'There has to be god because what made the big bang?'" Rubin recalled. "I answered with, 'By that logic there must be a big bang, or maybe infinite gods, because something had to make god.' But that logic is flawed. One misunderstands the very concept of the big bang to argue hat there need be anything before it. Of course this didn't convince the person. So I started thinking about what the world would be like if such throwaway logic actually ruled reality. The story flowed out of that."
While the writer remained tight lipped about the story's finer details, we have been able to eek out a few specifics. "Mysterious Ways" stars a broken down former cop by the name of Sam that Rubin describe as "a really good guy who does really bad things." How he relates to the murders seen in the first issue or the special agent whose girlfriend has been killed will remain a mystery... for now.
"I played with most of them," Rubin said of the archetypes he enjoyed toying with -- from the troubled ex-cop to the goth bartender populating "Mysterious Ways." "Everyone comes out wrong in the story. I can't be too specific because a year of Top Cow books is riding on it!"
Unlike the specifics of the story, Rubin had no problem discussing the history behind the contest. He and the folks at Top Cow cooked it up as a way to entice readers to a brand new concept, which is no small task these days.
"The Top Cow guys and I were sitting around discussing ways to get people interested in a new story," Rubin told CBR News. "It is so hard to launch new ideas in comics these days. We were also aware of the fact that people might believe they know the ending from the title of the series and the way the first book plays out, but we know there are twists and turns in there that really ought to surprise readers. I'm a big believer of putting money where one's mouth is. Offering a 'money back guarantee' on a few dollars of comic didn't make sense, so we figured whoever is least surprised by the plot would get every other Top Cow book for a year. There has to be something in that stack that surprises them! If this series is cliche and easy to predict, then it's worth every book in Top Cow's release schedule. Otherwise, it's just cliche to call it cliche!"
Artist Tyler Kirkham thought the project was anything but cliche. He appreciated the book's horror and supernatural aspects, but also could not resist the opportunity to work with Rubin.
"Top Cow asked me if it would be something I would want to work on," Kirkham said. "When I read about it I was a little scared, because it was so dark. That actually ended up being one of the things that made me want to do it it in the end. The main thing that drew me to this was the creator/writer Jason Rubin. I knew who he was and I had played his video games. I thought it would be fun working with him. It was!"
The darker themes of "Mysterious Ways" that drew Kirkham to the project also allowed him to flex creative muscles he hadn't utilized previously.
"I hadn't done anything this dark before," Kirkham said. "I was looking forward to the challenge. I wanted to help create the world and try new things with my art. I wanted the work to feel very dark and gloomy. I added more shadow, texture and messy rendering. We had it raining a lot. I was used to drawing super hero books -- just coming off a run on 'Ultimate Fantastic Four' -- So this was quite a shift in another direction. The inks and colors fit the book as well. [The colorist,] Arif's style is quite moody."
Rubin was impressed with how well Kirkham interpreted his vision for the world of "Mysterious Ways" right from the get go.
"Tyler took the script and ran with it before I had a chance to give any direction," Rubin said. I've done a lot of world-creating over the years, both in video games and comics, and I have to say, this is the least I've ever contributed to the look and feel. Tyler just nailed it out of the gate and I never added much from that point on."
With the script and art firmly in place, it became time to get the word out about the book. In addition to the contest, Rubin also helped put together the somewhat infamous serial killer promo image.
"The men in the teaser are clearly evil," Rubin said. "But should it really be so clear? We know one thing in our hearts yet we say another with our mouths. We hear and accept that 'there are no atheists in foxholes' without further thought, but if there was an all-powerful god would there be foxholes in the first place? 'Mysterious Ways' challenges such doublespeak."
"I love the stuff Jason is doing to promote this book," Kirkham said. "He really gets into his projects. Thats another thing I like about him. You should see all the stuff he did for his other comic project, 'The Iron Saint.' People are really gonna dig this story. It's a thrill ride that will keep people coming back for more. Wanting to see what it all leads to, which will shock everyone."