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Indie comics news: Millarworld, "The Darkness" film and "The Walking Dead"

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The weekly report of independent comic book related news items from December 1st - 2nd, 2013!

Mark Millar plans two new series with Image in 2014!

Mark Millar, via his "Millarworld" studio, has not slowed down since his series "Wanted" and "Kick-Ass" made the leap from comic book mini series to feature films, and has moved beyond publishing at Marvel Comics (which is still the home of "Kick-Ass" via their "Icon" imprint). His latest series, "Jupiter's Legacy", has been published by Image Comics and seen terrific sales considering Image's output is often measured against "Walking Dead" and "Saga" sales. It seems the union with Image has been a positive one for Millar, as his next projects will continue to be published by them.

The first of which is "Starlight", which is a mini series will debut in March 2014 alongside former "Punisher" artist Goran Parlov. As with many new creations, it seems to be inspired (at best) by other licensed franchises but are being tweaked enough to become unique entities (i.e. "Nemesis" essentially being "insane Batman" or "Moon Knight as a villain"). Millar himself compares the story to "Flash Gordon meets 'The Dark Knight Returns'" as well as "Buzz Lightyear meets 'Unforgiven'" about a space hero from an older and more idealistic era coming out of retirement for one last adventure in the future. The series will be six issues long, but could branch out into sequel series as "Kick-Ass" does. The Hollywood Reporter piece has a three page preview, which features one bit inspired by a scene from Pixar's "The Incredibles".

The second is "MPH", which is set in Detroit and revolves around teenagers who discover a drug which gives them superhuman speed. The artist for this is unknown and it is set to debut in May 2014. In the longer term, Millar plans to bridge all (or most) of his series together "in a shared literary space" which is "a 21st century version of the Marvel Universe" - a tagline Millar used with "Ultimates", which is suddenly over a dozen years old. At any rate, Millar's work has sold well for years and is often prime fodder for mass media adaptations, so don't be surprised if a studio commitment to one of these works is announced soon.

"Top Cow" update from Marc Silvestri about "Darkness" film!

Comic news website Unleash the Fanboy recently met up with Marc Silvestri, who is the current CEO of Image Comics imprint "Top Cow" as well as a legendary artist, writer, and creator of no end of comic books. His current efforts involved many different spinning plates, including revamps of his signature series "Witchblade" (began in 1995) and its spin off "The Darkness" (circa 1996) as well as a relaunch of Cyber Force (co-created with Jim Lee back in 1992).

His creations have long been adapted into mass media, from a "Witchblade" TV show on TNT from 2000-2002 to an anime series in 2004, to two video games based on "The Darkness" in 2007 and 2012. Silvestri offered an update on a film adaptation of "The Darkness", which is being developed alongside Len Wiseman, a director/producer/screenwriter best known for the "Underworld" series. Despite the fact that "The Darkness" is a spin off from "Witchblade", the initial script for the film establishes the origins for both despite it being a film starring Jackie Estacado, a former mafia hit man who gains access to demonic powers. As the "Witchblade" is a counter force to such powers, which have been most famously utilized by NYPD officer Sara Pezzini, it makes a degree of sense to link the two in a film. It is fascinating that Silvestri isn't making a "Witchblade" film first, either due to feeling audiences are over familiar with the heroine after a TV show at the start of the 21st century or Hollywood's reluctance to establish film franchises based off of comic books starring women. The film would be produced by New Regency, which is on Fox Studios' lot.

Silvestri is pressing for other "Top Cow" productions to also make the leap onto TV or film. "Think Tank", which began as a four issue mini series in 2012 by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal. The series follows a former child prodigy who went to work for DARPA as a teenager who now wants to escape the field of designing weapons as an adult, and finds such an ambition proves very difficult. Work is being done to transition this series to film as well. Overall, this report is a good reminder that comic book film adaptations are bigger than what Marvel (Disney) or DC (Warner Brothers) are doing, and in a way always have been.

"Walking Dead" continues to rule AMC!

The recent "mid-season finale" episode of AMC's "Walking Dead" TV adaptation of the comic by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore scored notable ratings for the network. "Too Far Gone" was viewed by 12.1 million people in its initial airing, which is down from the fourth season's premiere but up from the previous season's "mid-season finale". It also is almost double what ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" sees in terms of ratings. The network likely expected better ratings over the Thanksgiving weekend but it still is quite impressive for the show's already historic run.

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