WWLA: Top Cow Panel

width="289" height="190" alt="" align="right" border="0">Top Cow Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Filip Sablik, was joined by artists Tyler Kirkham and newcomer Mike Brussard along with Vice President - Editorial Rob Levin on Friday afternoon at Wizard World: Los Angeles to give convention-goers an overview of the company's upcoming projects.

Sablik began the panel with a trailer from the forthcoming "Darkness" video game. The trailer features "Darkness'" main character Jackie Estacado as he shoots up a warehouse of mafia thugs. Once they have the advantage, Jackie shoots out the lights and calls upon dark forces to finish the job.

"Obviously the video game is for the kids," said Levin, joking about the violent and bloody content. "It's fairly brutal. In the game it is going to be a first person shooter. You'll be walking around as Jackie and when the lights go out you'll be able to summon Darklings."

Sablik said the game would be available in June from Starbreeze and 2K Games on the PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms. It will also include a multi-player mode, which will allow such benefits as being able to play a Darkling, which cannot be done in the regular game.

Assuaging any ideas that the game is nothing but shoot and kill Levin told attendees "Paul Jenkins is the writer of the game. He's keeping close in feel and spirit to the comic so you've actually got a character-driven story. Top Cow's President Matt Hawkins and artist Mark Silvestri are also heavily involved in the game's development."

A demo version is available at the Top Cow booth during the show.

Tying into the game are the Darkness Level books. "Paul Jenkins co-wrote these books with David Wohl, creator of The Darkness," said Levin. "Each issue follows a level of the game and is drawn by a different artist."

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Panelist Tyler Kirkham, specifically, draws the Level Two book. "The levels go back and forth between earth and a Darkness world," he said.

Sablik added, "Each issue is self-contained. If you're a fan of Tyler's you can just pick up the Level Two book and enjoy it.

Sablik also mentioned that there has been some consideration of a PC platform game for the Top Cow property "Hunter Killer."

Sablik called 2007 as the year of the Witchblade and the Darkness. We have a new Darkness ongoing that will be launched in the fall. Phil Hester will be writing. Look for an interview with Hester and Levin on CBR in the coming days.

In discussing Witchblade, Sablik said, "We've teamed up with FUNimation, Bandai, Studio Gonzo and several other partners to create the "Witchblade Anime" and a Witchblade manga. These are not some elseworlds what-if versions. This is canon Witchblade."

Sablik continued "Witchblade is the focus of one of our main pushes for the summer. For about two years now we've had writer Ron Marz working on the title. He's taken it in a phenomenal direction. I like to think of it as 'Homicide' meets the 'X-Files.'"

The events of the series sees perennial Witchblade host Sara Pezzini passing on the power to a new character, Danielle Baptiste while Sara is pregnant. Sara will not be leaving the series as a result of these goings on, but it will lead into a new mini-series, "First Born."

Ron Marz will be writing "First Born" with art by Stjepan Sejic, a digital painter who worked on the Darkness video game as part of Starbreeze.

"We want to energize the Top Cow universe without making the fans commit to a huge amount of books. It's three-issues and self contained," said Sablik

Sablik then announced the Top Cow/Marvel crossover "Unholy Union" which will be drawn by newcomer Brussard. "It will be a 40 page one-shot that will also lead into "First Born" and give a hint of things to come," said Sablik.

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Brussard added "Not only will I get to introduce Sara having her first born, I'll be getting to drawn some Marvel characters I've never drawn before."

Ron Marz is writing it and it will feature such Marvel characters as Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider.

Sablik moved on, though with some technical difficulty, to show a trailer for an upcoming project from Paul Dini. "We're launching a new character called Madame Mirage with Paul Dini," said Sablik. "This is an original character he created in conjunction with [Top Cow]. Paul has crafted a really phenomenal mystery/espionage/intrigue/revenge tale. The first story arc, which is six-issues with artist Kenneth Rocquefort, will answer the question of who is Madame Mirage, where did she come from and what are her powers. "Madame Mirage is scheduled to launch this spring.

Sablik closed by tantalizing attendees with many images from the production of The Darkness video game and an image from an upcoming venture with Dynamite Entertainment featuring art by Silvestri. Fans can expect more detailed announcements about this project later in the convention season.

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