Dynamite has had a lot of news this week in the busy Toy Fair/ComicsPRo period, including an exciting crossover event the return of two iconic heroes, and a new merchandise line. Here’s a digest version:
• Mark Waid is writing Justice, Inc.: The Avenger with artist Ronilson Freire. The series debuts in June and expands on the Justice, Inc., universe and vigilante industrialist Richard Henry Benson. variant covers include Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), Walter Simonson (The Mighty Thor), Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie), Marc Laming (All-New Invaders), and Barry Kitson (The Amazing Spider-Man).
In Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1, Waid and Freire continue the adventures of Richard Henry Benson, a victim of a criminal attack that left his facial features forever deadened, gray in color and incapable of showing genuine emotion. And yet, the harsh stroke of fate gave him the ability to mold his face to match the appearance of anyone… a skill he could employ as the ultimate master of disguise. Driven to mete out retribution against those who would prey on the innocent, The Avenger finds himself on a collision course with a villain even more secretive, brutal, and unrelenting than himself: an Invisible Man.
Mark Waid’s participation in the Avenger launch fulfills a longtime writing goal; he says, “Moreso than The Shadow, moreso than Doc Savage, the Avenger has always, always been my favorite pulp hero, and I’ve been aching to write this story since I was eleven years old. What a blast! Having the opportunity to dive into the psyche of a crimefighter as unique as Benson has been a lifelong dream — I’ve been thinking about what his life and mind would be like ever since I read my first Avenger paperback back in the day. How does a man live his life when he has nothing to live for but justice? How does he navigate in a world of life and love and joy when his own features are frozen and stiff like putty, mirroring his cold, dead insides? There’s so much here to unpack.”
• Will Eisner’s The Spirit is coming back in a series written by Matt Wagner and covers by Alex Ross, Eric Powell, and Wagner. DEny Colt, a masked everyman crimefighter, was the center of an iconic series by Eisner and has been brought back most recently at DC.
“I discovered The Spirit via the black-and-white, magazine-sized reprints of the mid-70s. It was the first time that I truly perceived sequential narrative as a legitimate art form, of the immense creative power of a comic-artist in his prime,” says Wagner. “I can honestly say that seeing and experiencing The Spirit in my formative years ultimately led to my career as a comics author. It’s such an immense thrill and a professional honor to have the chance to contribute to Will Eisner’s legacy on the milestone 75th anniversary of his most influential and iconic character.”
• Joining the wave of female led titles that is changing the ace of the industry, in May Swords of Sorrow is a giant crossover event featuring Red Sonja, Vampirella, Dejah Thoris with an all-female writing team led by Gail Simone. The event kicks off with a Swords of Sorrow series by Simone, Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella / Jennifer Blood miniseries written by Nancy A. Collins (Vampirella, Swamp Thing); Swords of Sorrow: Chaos special by Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade); and the Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade / Katospecial by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Erica Schultz (M3). In later months, more projects by Leah Moore, Marguerite Bennett, Emma Beeby, and Mikki Kendal will debut. That’s a lot of female writers!
In keeping with the theme, variant cover artists include a main cover byJ. Scott Campbell (Danger Girl); variants by Jenny Frison, Emanuela Lupacchino; a subscription edition by Robert Hack available to fans placing preorders with their local retailers; and incentive editions by Joyce Chin, Tula Lotay, Nei Ruffino, Cedric Poulat. Swords of Sorrow: Vampirella / Jennifer Blood #1 and the Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade / Kato special both feature covers by Billy Tan, while the Swords of Sorrow: Chaos special spotlights Joyce Chin.
Gail Simone, who has been planning the project since her involvement was announced in July, says, “Here’s the thing: I love pulp adventure, always have. But as male-dominated as comics have often been, the pulp adventure world seems to be even more so. Most of the big name stars and creators are dudes, and that’s fine, it’s great. But it hit me… what if that wasn’t the case? What if adventure pulps had also been written with female readers in mind, and awesome female characters in the spotlight? That’s the scenario we are imagining, and it’s just been a blast. The key players are Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Dejah Thoris, but it’s such an epic-spanning, world-hopping event that we also have Kato, Jungle Girl, Lady Rawhide, Jennifer Blood, and so many more. It’s the crossover I dreamed of when I was a kid, and now we get to make it happen.”
Simone’s core Swords of Sorrow story serves as the starting point for a new universe of pulp adventure. Illustrated by Sergio Davila (Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure), the series features the supernatural heroine Vampirella, Martian princess Dejah Thoris, crimson-tressed swordswoman Red Sonja, martial artist Kato (from filmmaker Kevin Smith’s reboot of The Green Hornet), primal warrior Jungle Girl, and many more. Drawn from a dozen worlds and eras to face off against a legendary evil that threatens their homelands, Dynamite’s fiercest females must overcome their differences to harness the power of mystical blades — the eponymous Swords of Sorrow — in final conflict.
Gail Simone also serves as the architect for all storylines tied into the event, providing direction to her personally selected team of writers. “We got the best writers around, gave them a fun combination of characters and just let them go wild,” says Simone. “It’s creators like G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, Nancy A. Collins and more, with book titles like Vampirella vs. Jennifer Blood, Kato vs. Masquerade, and Red Sonja vs. Jungle Girl. More about these tag teams will be coming soon, but it’s just a ridiculous amount of fun to set these characters against each other, and I’m very proud of the astounding team of writers, who I hand-picked from among the very best of new female adventure writers. There’s never been a crossover event in comics like this, ever.”
• Finally, Dynamite has entered into a partnership with The Brewing Factory, the merchandise development company founded by former DC vp Georg Brewer. The line debuts with Women of Dynamite, a line of female figures including Vampirella designed by Jason Smith and based on the artwork of J. Scott Campbell), set for June release.
“I’ve been really fortunate to work on some great projects these last few years, but my first love will always be comics,” says Georg Brewer. “Working with Nick and Joe at Dynamite, and their talented comics creators, has been a blast! It’s certainly been a fantastic way for me to get back to where it all started, and along with sculptor Jason Smith, we are creating an amazing line of statues.” ”We are extremely fortunate to work with someone of Georg’s knowledge, skill, experience, and sterling reputation,” says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher ofDynamite Entertainment. “His passion and expertise in the development and manufacturing of cool fan collectibles is second to none, and our being able to work with Georg is going to help bring fans additional great product lines featuring Dynamite’s extensive library of characters. The debut product line resulting from our creative partnership will be Women of Dynamite statues inspired by J. Scott Campbell artwork, and from there, we will continue to delve into our expansive library of intellectual properties.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.