Tuesday, November 8, 2011

FYC Replay: Twilight Crusade from Moonstone

The next to the last of my archived "For Your Consideration" columns - this one was different in that there is no interview included. Moonstone was trying to get the word out about their "new universe" event (in 2008), which included an online voting element where fans could go and vote for the titles within this new supernatural universe they most enjoyed and would like to to see continue as regular series. Moonstone offered me digital copies of the books, and below are my thoughts on the initiative. I don't know if any of these titles continued on past their initial one-shots, but if anyone has information on these, please feel free to include it in the comments.


For Your Consideration EXTRA: MOONSTONE’S Twilight Crusade

By Chris Beckett

FRONT PAGE: Moonstone books is bringing their own supernatural universe to comic shelves, and you can check it out right now. For five consecutive weeks in May and June, five new books debuted under the banner of the “Twilight Crusade,” a war between Heaven and Hell that has raged during the “in-between hours” for millennia but is now spilling out into the daylight. Come in and check out the Twilight Crusade.

The 411:

The Envoy #1
Story: Gary Phillips, Art: Sergio Mulko

Templar #1
Story: Jeff Limke, Art: Pere Perez

Gabriel #1

Story: Paul D. Storrie Art: Walter Figueroa, Chad Hunt


Story: Grant Sauve Art: Andy B

Succubus #1

Story: Joe Gentile Art: Silvestre Szilagyi

All titles are 32pp. full-color $3.99

Moonstone Books

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):

In the early 1960s, Stan Lee, along with a host of legendary artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created the Marvel universe wherein the heroes and villains from disparate titles closely interacted. Through the years, many companies have followed suit, creating their own superhero universes where multiple titles cross over into one another – a wise marketing strategy that can entice fans to try new titles. But for the most part, and for a variety of reasons, these endeavors have failed.

Often, the major hurdle facing these fledgling superhero universes is that the interaction between characters feels forced. Moonstone’s Twilight Crusade, encompassing the five new books Envoy, Gabriel, Templar, Succubus, and Wolf is hoping to overcome this impediment. Unlike previous attempts, this universe grew organically from the titles themselves, most of which were already in production before the Twilight Crusade banner was branded to them. Each of the books has fantastic or supernatural elements, and by connecting them with a common premise it is hoped these books might get a bit more notice from fans and retailers. So, for the five consecutive weeks from May 21 to June 18, Moonstone debuted the first issue of each of these books, one each week. As an additional promotion to get more readers trying out these books, Moonstone is also holding an online poll asking readers to email in a vote for their favorite title. As a result of these votes and other feedback Moonstone will make a decision on which of these titles will continue. It’s a novel use of the internet to elicit audience feedback while also working to generate interest in these new titles.

The conceit behind the Twilight Crusade is that for millennia Heaven and Hell have been locked in battle here on Earth during the “in-between hours,” unknown to humankind. But now their celestial war has escalated and it’s spilling out into the waking world. But who’s good and who’s evil isn’t as black and white as one might expect.

Envoy introduces readers to a hitman from Hell now working for Heaven. Posing as a chauffeur for one of the hottest music acts in the world, it is revealed that this charismatic singer is actually a demon. In the clash that follows, the demon falls to the envoy and the secret organization fighting the minions of Hell is glimpsed, raising more than a few questions.

Gabriel follows one of the Archangels as she walks the Earth searching for those demons in possession of human hosts. With her sword, she is able to shear the possessor from its host, sending the demon back to Hell. But her power cannot permanently ban these Hellspawn from Earth. And with the increased onslaught, how much longer can she keep them at bay?

In Succubus, the audience is invited into therapy with the book’s protagonist, Sheba. Reckless, uninhibited, she walks the Earth seeking fulfillment while also searching for answers to whom she is and why she is here. Confronted by a cadre of angels seeking an artifact in Sheba’s possession, memories are triggered, but she is unable to convince her attackers that she was once with them. And when they disappear in a blinding flash, Sheba is left alone once more.

Templar showcases the army standing between humanity and Hell. More than human but less than angels, they walk the Earth protecting us as no others can. But things are escalating and the body count rising. How can they hope to forestall what seems to be inevitable?

And in Wolf, readers experience what it means to be possessed by a demon through the eyes of a man who is, Sammy Hart. Worried for his family, he tries to fight the wolf, but it isn’t the place of humans to battle the residents of Hell. This demon exacts a terrible retribution on his host for this audacity, a climax that will leave some readers aghast and may leave Sammy broken beyond reckoning.

The five titles are all entertaining concepts, with the respective creative teams putting a new twist on some age-old ideas. In these introductory issues, the “Twilight Crusade” theme connecting these books is only tangentially mentioned, if at all. And each title is unique enough that there need not be any redundancy in the storytelling, allowing each book to stand on its own while creating the possibility of a richer tapestry within this universe.

Moonstone will utilize a chart or some other graphic on their website to keep track of the voting for these five titles. Understanding the market and the heavy crush of comics arriving in shops every week, Moonstone plans on turning the voting around very quickly so as not to lose any momentum from these debuts. And for fans that might worry about their own favorite title not making the grade, they should still have their voice heard. Moonstone has stated they are committed to these titles and have ideas for extensions of these characters’ stories if their individual titles should not prove viable – an anthology comic, a combination of prose and illustration, straight prose offerings, or short comic stories appearing in other Moonstone comics. It’s a very healthy approach to a challenging market.

The creators of the “Twilight Crusade” titles do a good job of introducing these characters while offering readers more questions than answers with these initial offerings. In my opinion, the best executed issue is Succubus, which opens slowly, transitioning between the therapists’ office and the actual events being related. As the story progresses and tension mounts, the authors increase the pace, puling readers in and giving them a broad picture of this character while leaving many more things untold, giving readers something to look forward to in subsequent issues. That said, all of these new books are enjoyable and if you’re looking for something new with a bit of the fantastic, check out Moonstone’s Twilight Crusade. And don’t forget to vote for your favorites online.

No comments: