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It looks like another movie based on a graphic novel is underway: Afterburn, based on the Red Five comic by Scott Chitwood, Paul Ens and Wayne Nichols is set to start filming with Dave Bautista in the lead, and Samuel L. Jackson playing the kind of role Samuel L. Jackson plays. Deadline had the announcement.

Bautista will play Jake, a treasure hunter in a post-apocalyptic world, who goes on missions to acquire artifacts from the old world; this time out it’s the Mona Lisa.

According to Deadline, this film is set to go into production with director J.J. Perry (The Killer’s Game, Day Shift) whose bona fides include second-unit director and stunt coordinator on the John Wick and Fast & The Furious franchises. So there will be action. Others involved include producers Neal H. Moritz (Fast and Furious franchise), Toby Jaffe (Total Recall) and Steve Richards (Sherlock Holmes franchise, The Matrix trilogy).

The story is one that the producers have been trying to get to the screen for six years. (At one point dear, dear Gerard Butler was attached.)

“Afterburn is a terrific action story, combining the fun of Indiana Jones with the near future world building of Children of Men,” Jaffe told Deadline. “J.J. is going to bring this to life in a thrilling way, using real practical stunt work to create authentic, visceral set pieces.”

If you’re wondering why the producers were so hot for this for so long, perhaps this description of one issue of the comic will give you an idea:

On a mission-for-hire in the Eastern Hemisphere wasteland, Jake finds himself in flooded Hong Kong battling mutant pirates and sharks! Oh, and a gang of rival ninjas, too!

Face it, irresistible.

If you wonder why we run this kind of movie production news, well there are several reasons, but mainly because, yes, media adaptations directly affect a comics publisher’s bottom line,  (not even going into the companies whose entire business model is based on this.)

Red Five Comics has been around for a long time, and they’re still in there plugging, though they don’t often get mentioned when rounding up comics publishers. Founded in 2007 by Chitwood and Ens, the publisher is best known for Atomic Robo, by Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener, which started in 2007 and is still being published, with a 13th volume coming out in 2019. Other books of note include Dragon Whisperer by Alex del Luca and Glen Fernandez, the recent Maeve by Kevin G Corcoran, Cristiano Seixas and Caio Majado and coming out later this spring The Gods are Fallen, from Matt Ringel and Henry Ponciano.

So yeah, Red Five has been at this a while, and when an action packed Afterburn movie comes out, they’ll get a lot more attention, much like this very post. But props to them for sticking around in a tough market for small publishers.

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  1. I recall this being in the news when it was first optioned BC (before Covid) and got excited. Afterburn is one of the Red Five books I really enjoyed and thought would translate well to the screen. I’m glad to see it hasn’t been left in Hollywood purgatory.

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