Mark Millar, the comics writer Hollywood loves, is at it again.
The creator behind such comics turned movies as Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kick-Ass is teaming up with one of Marvel’s top artists, Stuart Immonen, for a new sci-fi adventure that is sure to draw Hollywood interest, a comic titled Empress.
“It’s a big, fun, bombastic space opera,” says Millar of the book, which is eyeing an April start from Marvel’s creator-owned imprint Icon for what is envisioned to be three arcs of six issues apiece.
The story centers on the wife of a galactic dictator (think someone akin to Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon) who makes the decision to take her three kids and leave her evil husband. With the aid of a bodyguard, she tries to take her brood — Aine, her 15-year-old daughter who wants to be with her father; Adam, her gentle soul of a 10-year-old son (below) who she knows would not survive the trials ahead to be an elite ruler; and Puck, her 18-month-old — to her home world. Oh, and as an added twist, the planet of which she is queen is Earth … 65 million years ago.
About his heroine, named Emporia, he says, “She was young and impressionable when she married this dictator, just twenty years old, but now she’s in her mid-thirties and realizes she has to get out of there. What seemed glamorous at 20 suddenly feels terrifying and for both her own sake and the sake of her kids she knows she has to leave. The trouble is, her husband is the most feared tyrant in the universe. How do you leave him and where do you go?”
“I think all the best science fiction has a very human element at the heart of it and a mother wanting to leave a dangerous relationship is very easy for readers to relate to. I’m not really interested in high-concept ideas as much as human emotions being the driving force of a story. Even Star Wars was really just a lonely kid who wondered who his real father was.”
The comic re-teams Millar and Immonen after more than 15 years apart. The two worked together on a few Action Comics for DC in the late 1990s. Immonen has grown into a fan favorite artist and is coming on to the book after a run on Marvel’s best-selling Star Wars comic.
“I’ve been wanting to try out a drawing style that was more open than my recent body of work for some time, but had not found the right project,” says Immonen. “As it happens, Mark’s blend of high adventure and space fantasy seemed like the perfect venue in which to explore a European-and Asian-influenced ligne claire approach, with influences ranging from [Valerian and Laureline co-creator] Jean-Claude Mézières to [manga artist] Tetsuro Ueyama.”
Wade Von Grawbadger will be inking the book and Dave McCaig the colorist.
Millar is keeping mum on any Empress adaptation but after the screen success of his earlier works such as Wanted, turned into a hit Angelina Jolie movie in 2008, and Kick-Ass, studios and producers were keen on working with the man. When Kingsman grossed $413 million worldwide this year and set in motion a sequel, it only cemented his screen savvy.
Among Millar’s comic books getting adapted are the time travel adventure Chrononauts, set up at Universal with Chris Morgan producing, and Nemesis, on its way to Warner Bros with Scott Free producing. Meanwhile, the rights to Huck, his latest comic that was released last week, were just picked up by Studio 8.