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Wraithborn

Get ready for a thrill-packed 6-issue miniseries written by Joe Benitez (The Darkness, Magdalena) and Marcia Chen (Ascension, Magdalena) with art and covers by Benitez and Joe Weems!

Long ago, powerful Immortals ruled the world, wreaking unbridled havoc and destruction, until their ultimate defeat by the Wraithborn. Mankind has since forgotten these saviors, save for legends and myths, but the Immortals remain among us still, ever struggling to regain their former dominion.

For millennia, the Wraithborn have kept a vigilant watch, wielding their mysterious powers to hold the Immortals at bay. But now the Wraithborn power is unexpectedly passed on to a timid high school girl, who must discover the secrets of her new abilities before she falls prey to the Immortals!


Wraithborn #1...click here to see some previews to #1 Anyone passed over for a promotion at work knows it can be a maddening experience.

Here's one even worse -- how's about getting snubbed on the superpowers you were promised? Superpowers you had trained for since birth to possess?

Oh, and the person that did get those superpowers? A timid, five-foot-nothing high school girl.

Welcome to "The Wraithborn."

Announced today at Wizard World Los Angeles, "The Wraithborn," from DC Comics/Wildstorm, is a new series from the talents of Marcia Chen and Joe Benitez.

According to the duo, the Wraithborn are wielders of a mysterious power who have silently protected society throughout the ages from the supernatural beings they call wraiths. Valin, a young man trained from birth to take on the mantle of the Wraithborn, is mysteriously passed on taking the powers he expected. Instead, Melanie, a meek high school girl, is bequeathed these powers. Suddenly, her normal world of high school algebra and 50-minute lunch breaks is turned upside down.

"Valin is forced into the unwanted role of Melanie's protector as several opposing forces move in to seize or destroy the new untrained Wraithborn," series writer Chen told CBR News. "Together, Melanie and Valin must escape their pursuers and discover the strengths of the Wraithborn power and of themselves before the wraiths can return in force, and reestablish dominion over mankind."

"The basic idea is that she has the power but not the training, and he has the training but not the power. And they need to work together to survive," series artist Benitez told CBR News, who originally created the Melanie character and the basic concept. "I like the idea of a five-foot-tall unassuming normal teenage girl kicking the shit out of things ten times her size."

Chen and Benitez have worked together previously, first on some issues of "Darkness" and then on the "Magdalena" mini-series.

Chen says that if she had to pick which character she likes the most, she'd go with one of the villains - but she's remaining tight-lipped on the villains for now. But if she were forced to choose between Valin and Melanie, she'd take Melanie.

"This story is really about Melanie's journey -- and Valin's also -- both literally as well as figuratively. Through the many obstacles and hardships that she's going to face, she evolves from this timid and shy, scared little girl into a strong, take-charge, ass-kicking heroine, and we, as readers, will be with her, every step of the way," Chen says. "…And she gets to wear some pretty cool outfits too, later in the series."

The design of those outfits is something that series artist Benitez is taking great pains to make sure look right. The most difficult thing about this book for him is the creation of a brand new world for these characters.

"(I'm) always changing, always modifying (things). If I'm drawing Spider-Man or Batman or any established character, you have some sort of base to work off of. When you're creating something from nothing, you're always rethinking and tweaking. You want to get it right, trying to make it different and cool at the same time, trying to make the book stand out from every other book out there," he says. "I'm happy with the look of the book, but there's always room for improvement."

The two have worked closely without declaring either creator the "leader" of the series. So far it's been a successful plan, as Chen is especially pleased with the look of "The Wraithborn" style that Benitez has come up with. But occasionally things can get lost in translation.

"We really wanted the art and story to complement each other perfectly. Joe is a fantastic artist, but he also wants to present a big, epic, moving story with real characters. And I absolutely believe that a comic book needs to have good art with visually interesting scenes," Chen says. "But, while we had the same goal, we work and think very differently. He, of course, thinks more visually, and plots somewhat linearly, while I tend to be a bit abstract and can go off on -- what he considers - irrelevant tangents. And it was often a struggle to communicate our ideas in ways that the other could understand, and to find solutions that worked well for both art and story."

But it all has come together as a special project for the team, working together much like their characters, Valin and Melanie.

"It's taken a long time to get here, everyone involved is putting forth 100 percent to do the best possible product," Benitez says. "Hopefully the end result is a book that the audiences will enjoy."

"Anyone who likes great art and a good story (will enjoy The Wraithborn,)" says Chen. "It's a mainstream action/adventure book with supernatural horror/dark fantasy elements." SOURCE


Can a high school girl rise to the challenge and discover her innate abilities in a time of crisis?

Melanie had best hope so... or else Wraithborn is going to run five issues shorter than planned!

Melanie is, of course, the star of Wraithborn, a new WildStorm series by Joe Benitez & Marcia Chen with art by Benitez & Joe Weems. “Wraithborn is about an ordinary teenage girl who gets this power that she was never meant to get,” Chen told CSN. “And this power is the one thing that can save mankind from annihilation—or worse, enslavement—by the Immortals, ancient entities who we once worshiped or feared as gods, angels, demons, etc., but now consider fictional myths. And Melanie, the main character, is just this timid, clumsy high school kid who has no idea what’s going on or how to use her powers, or even that these powers exist, and several “people” are coming after her—including Valin, the young man who was supposed to get the Wraithborn powers—various greedy humans who just want the power for themselves... and of course, the Immortals who don’t want anyone to have this power.”

The series is based on an idea that Benitez and Chen have tossed around for quite some time. “If you want to know the history, we have to go way back to the 80’s. Wraithborn started with its original title ‘The Wraith,’ which I borrowed from a Charlie Sheen movie from that time,” Benitez said. “I didn’t even know what Wraith meant then!. I just took an interest in the title because I got a glimpse of the commercial for the movie and noticed that the main character looked an awful lot like this ’original’ character that I’d designed... Anyway I took an interest in what Wraith meant. When I looked up and saw that it meant ghost, spectre, apparition I dug it and filed it away in my ‘titles to use in the future’ file.

“The concept began to develop in the early 90’s .The Wraith was this dark character who was more legend than fact . Does he exist or not? Originally, Wraith was suppose to be the story of the guy you see at the end of book one. I had this idea of a power that gets transferred to the first living being it makes contact with after the previous host dies. I thought that concept worked well with the Wraith idea, so I added it. Then I thought, ‘What if this Wraith character was dying and was forced to pass this power onto a teenage girl?’ I pictured a sort of female Peter Parker, and I wondered what she would do in that circumstance. And of course, I thought that visually it would rock to see this tiny girl all decked out in blades ready to kick the sh— out of something ten times her size.

“I filed that concept away;. the idea were never fleshed out, just the basic visuals. Then, in 2000, after finishing the Magdalena: Blood Divine miniseries, Marcia and I talked about working together on a new book—something cool and kick-ass that we could have 100% control over. From the beginning, we both agreed to have the main protagonist a female. So I dug out my concept with female leads and pitched them to Marcia to see if she connected with any of them. She singled out the concept I had for the Wraith. She took the basic concept and began to flesh it out, creating a backstory for the characters .At the time all we had was the girl and the Wraith. As we talked characters were added, the story took shape and the name was changed

We were going to use Wraith as a title but were told we couldn’t because someone already owned the name. So we renamed the book ‘Wraithe: The Undead;’ and we actually put out a limited preview book in 200, along with a very small run of prints. At the time, we were thinking about publishing it ourselves. When we signed with Wildstorm we were again told that the title might give us problems. So we started to think of a new title. We played with it, combining Wraith with other words; Marcia called me up one night and said ‘what about Wraithborn?’ I’m glad we had to make the change, ‘cause I think this name works a hell of a lot better.”

While Wraithborn is appearing under the WildStorm imprint, Chen feels that the book should have a strong appeal to fans of Top Cow’s horror-adventure titles. “It certainly would fit in with Top Cow, as they’ve done several books in the same genre such as Magdalena and Witchblade,” she said. “We pitched the idea to several publishers, including Top Cow and Image, but decided that Wildstorm would be the best for us. Part of that choice included, of course, business considerations—financial aspects, property ownership, ancillary rights, and creative control—but we also felt that Wildstorm would be a good place for the book.

Benitez feels that it’s only natural that Wraithborn should have a Top Cow feel. “How could it not? Top Cow was my home for close to ten years. I was there from the beginning . I came up with Michael Turner, Dave Finch, Billy Tan, Brandon Peterson Keu Cha, Brian Ching, and Clarence Lansang. Together with the inkers and colorists, we helped to develop the Top Cow look!

“We were just a bunch of start up guys trying to infuse something different and cool into the industry—and I’m still trying to do that with this book. I like big over-the-top action stories and dynamic art. The way I see it, we have a canvas on which to tell a story and we can do what ever we want. It’s like making a movie and having an unlimited budget! When ever I talk to my friends in comics we tend to always agree about the kind of comic books we want to see. We grew up with Jim Lee’s X-Men, Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man, Marc Silvestri’s Wolverine, Dale Keown’s Hulk and Pitt, Whilce Portacio’s X-Factor and Wetworks, anything by Arthur Adams or Michael Golden. These books inspired me then and still do - they’re blueprints on how to draw awesome books Those are the type of books I want to do.

“We actually pitched it to Wildstorm’s Cliffhanger line, which was exactly where we wanted the book to be. They had published J Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl, Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers, Humberto Ramos’ Crimson, and Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo’s SteamPunk—all titles that I was a big fan of. As a line, Cliffhanger was all about great, flashy, Image-style art and exciting, action-oriented adventure stories, though the backgrounds of those stories varied—the flagship titles included a spy book, a sci-fi fantasy book, and a supernatural horror book. These were the types of books that we liked, and that we wanted to do.”

Like many of those creators, Benitez and Chen began their careers at Image. “In 1993 I saw that Image was having a talent search. I began working on submissions that summer. Once they were done, I began sending them out to all the comic book publishers and was rejected by Valiant & Extreme. I decided to keep working on more images that I could take to the San Diego Comic Con that year, where I showed my stuff to anybody who would look at it. David Wohl at Top Cow looked at my art and told me to swing by the Image area later to show Marc Silvestri. I did he liked it, and two months later I was a new employee of Top Cow and a member of Homage Studios, where I was offered a chance to develop a new book called Weapon Zero before starting that I did some fill in and background work on Codename: Strykeforce and CyberForce.

“My first full penciled work was on CyberForce Origins: Cyblade, then I did Codename: Strykeforce #8, and from there, I went on to work on Weapon Zero, Ballistic/Wolverine, Weapon Zero/Silver Surfer, Darkness, Magdalena: Blood Divine, and Magdalena/Vampirella.”

“I worked on Magdalena and a couple of issues each of Ascension and Darkness,” Chen added. “Before that, I was a tracer!”

Chen explains the duo’s collaborative process. “I do the scripting, but we do the plotting together. Joe does all of the action sequences—which is nice for me since that covers a large portion of the book!—and is in charge of ‘making things cool,’ coming up with scenarios to keep everything visually interesting and exciting. My focus is more on the background stuff, character motivations, keeping us on track so the story moves along, and coming up with reasons for why we need a car chase (we don’t actually have a car chase, but you know what I mean).”

“Marcia and I are on the same page when it comes to the type of book we want to do,” Benitez added. “She knows what I like to draw and she’ll direct the story to fit my strengths and desires. She understands how important the art is to a comic book. And I understand how important story is. I want a good read that keeps the audience entertained, with real characters that can evoke an emotional response.

“I’ve always done my best work when I worked closely with a writer. I’ve noticed that a some writers don’t bother to involve the artist in the conceptual parts of a story, but then the penciler is expected to follow to the letter what a writer gives them—panel layouts, splash pages, the writer dictates the visuals of the book. That wouldn’t fly with me, because sometimes a writer doesn’t think visually...”

“Joe and I agree that both art and story are important in a comic,” Chen said. “For example, my favorite Alan Moore story was actually his run on Wildcats with Travis Charest, and my favorite Neil Gaiman was the first Death mini with Chris Bachalo, and the Angela miniseries with Greg Capullo. Maybe people will laugh at me, but these are the books that stand out for me, books with both good writing and good art.”

“I see the relationship of a writer and artist as similar to that of a writer and director of a movie,” Benitez explained. “The writer’s job is to come up with a compelling drama that captivates your audience. The artist’s job, like that of a director, is to interpret the story in his own unique vision and style, still keeping the story elements intact but creating visuals that again will captivate and entertain your audience.

“I feel that some of the creators in comics right now have no idea what makes a good-looking, dynamic comic book. I go to the racks and I see ten pages of the exact same shot of a guy sitting somewhere talking to himself. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that these aren’t compelling stories, but I am saying that some of these books are so boring to look at. I feel sometimes that maybe the guys working on these books think they’re doing a TV show or storyboarding a movie. I want to see cool layouts with splashy figures jumping out of the pages.

“I’ve seen scripts where the writer wanted a big double splash of a freaking building and then allocated a quarter of a panel to introduce the main character of the story. A double splash of a freaking building! It reminds me of something Todd McFarlane said in one of those how-to videos (and I’m paraphrasing): you can either be the guy who can draws a really cool tree or you can be the guy who can draw a really cool character—and in the end, no matter how cool the tree is, it’s still a freaking tree.

“Look at what Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee did on Batman. That, to me, is just plain awesome! That’s what comics should be. That’s a team that understands comic books. Jeph Loeb seems to understand the artist he’s working with and how to bring out the best in him. They didn’t do their version of what Batman would look like if they made a movie—they did a big flashy comic book. And that’s what I’m trying to do. If you dig those type of comics, give Wraithborn a try.”

Wraithborn’s teenage star has a sort of “reluctant hero” quality that seems almost archetypal. Were Benitez and Chen inspired by other works in creating this story? “I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels where the reluctant hero theme comes up a lot, so I’m definitely influenced by that,” Chen said. “I also wanted to explore what it really takes to be a true hero. When you have nothing personal to gain, no rewards, no songs, no glory, when everything you’ve cared about has been taken from you by this ‘war,’ when everyone you’ve trusted has in one way or another left you or betrayed you, when you’ve seen the depths to which humanity can sink—why do you still fight the fight?... We actually open the story with a flash forward, to show the way Melanie is in the future, and how different that is from the way she used to be.

The third member of the team is inker Joe Weems. “Joe rules,” Benitez said. “He is far and away the best inker I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I credit Joe with helping me develop my style. I loved detail when I started working professionally so I was very ‘noodly’ with my pages—I hated leaving an open space on a page. I ran into some inkers that would bitch and moan about the amount of detail I would add to my pages—but not Joe! He was always up to the challenge.

“The public isn’t aware of how important a inker really is to a book. The public perception is that they’re just tracers. Well, let me tell you, I’ve had pages that I thought were really well done get completely butchered by a bad inker. On the other hand ,Joe’s the one guy to whom I could give a mediocre page and it would come back looking a hundred times better than what I gave him. He’s just awesome.

“I feel he does a much better job when I give him loose pencils, although I don’t know if he would agree. I became so used to working with him that I loosened up my style. Problem is, if anybody else took those pages, they’d be completely lost.”

Does Benitez ever feel the urge to ink his own pencil art? “Yep, all the time—and as soon as I attempt it, the urge goes away!”

While Wraithborn begins as a six-issue limited series, there’s plenty of room to continue the story if the book clicks with its audience. “The miniseries is an origin story,” Chen said, “and it actually includes a lot of setup for stories we want to do in the future. We’ve got a lot of ideas, and we hope people like the book so we can continue to share them!”

Does Benitez prefer this sort of mythic horror-adventure to costumed hero stories? “It seems those are the books that I’ve been working on lately. I actually just like characters that I can sink my teeth into. I wouldn’t mind taking a stab a costumed hero stuff at some point. I think it might be fun to work on a superhero book, actually, Batman and Spider-Man are two characters I feel I could do the best job on. I know exactly what approach I’d take with them.

“Right now, though, our attention is focused on Wraithborn—and we hope that the readers will have as much fun with it as we are!”

Wraithborn #1, a $2.99 comic, is scheduled for September 21st release.