Crossing the Dark Divide

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2016 Recap

Been a long time since I’ve posted any updates, as two projects consumed most of ’15 and ’16 for me. The larger of the two by far has been MAFIA III, an open world crime drama set in 1968 in a re-imagined version of New Orleans called New Bordeaux. The game tells the story of Lincoln Clay, an orphan and Vietnam vet who wages war against the Italian Mob after his own crime family is betrayed.

MAFIA III is also the first game from Hangar 13, where I serve as studio head and creative director. I’m incredibly proud of the team and the game we produced, which has received accolades from a wide variety of sources for everything from the story and setting to the core gameplay mechanics. Most recently, the game earned five nominations from the New York Videogame Critics, including Game of the Year, and won the Herman Melville Award for Best Writing.

At some point in the future, I might post a longer post-mortem, but the short story is that MAFIA III was hands-down the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on, and also the most rewarding on nearly every level. I’m perhaps most proud of the fact that the game features a Black protagonist at a time when diversity in games is scarce, and that we’ve been able to start a conversation about depictions of race and racism in video games.

The other big project has been The Dark Divide, a horror-dark fantasy-sci-fi mash-up set in a world ruled by a pantheon of “monster gods” representing everything mortals fear.

The heart and soul of the story is Elli Rath, the bastard daughter of Long Tom, the mercurial God of Guns.

I’ve been tinkering with The Dark Divide for years in a variety of different formats, but decided to try it out as a comic when I was approached by Stela, a digital-only comics/graphics novel platform. The very talented Michael Stribling provides beautiful art for the series, which includes a huge number of characters. The first five chapters (soon to be six) are available on Stela now.

You can read the first chapter here!




My current gig with Marvel. Issue 3 comes out this month. Amazing art by Dalibor Talajic, Goran Sudzuka, and Miroslav Mrva, with covers by Francesco Francavilla. Cover gallery below…

Issue 1Issue 2Issue 3Issue 4


This project has been a really incredible challenge — creating a version of Shang-Chi that feels familiar but new; a large cast of characters drawn from all corners of the Marvel Universe; trying to outdo ourselves each issue… So far, the reception has been very positive — hope everyone enjoys the finale.

Been a bit…

The first arc of Elektra – issues 1 through 5 – is now out. Overall, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive and I am again truly humbled by the reaction to the series. I just wanted to give Elektra her due, and hopefully getting into her head a bit and creating a villain that was her equal and, in many ways, her mirror, did just that. But, none of it would have been possible without the incredible work of Mike DelMundo. He’s the real star of the series.

If you haven’t checked it out, all five issues are available in stores or for digital download. And here’s the cover gallery:

Elektra 1

Elektra #1

Elektra 2, w/ variant

Elektra 2, w/ variant

Elektra #3

Elektra #3

Elektra #4

Elektra #4

Elektra #5

Elektra #5

In other news, Gary Erskine continues to chip away at The Irons. I’m hoping that a new episode will be released on the Madefire platform in the next few weeks. And there’s another project afoot…


Well Red

I’m really happy to be able to talk about my next comics project — Elektra at Marvel! My introduction to comics came with a copy of Death of Captain Marvel purchased at a mall bookstore when I was a kid. I didn’t know anything about the Marvel universe, but I was fascinated by all of the characters and quickly became a die-hard Marvel fan, consuming Contest of Champions, Secret Wars, and every copy of the Official Marvel Handbook that I could find. As I began to delve into the back-issue bins, I found Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil and was drawn to his unique supporting cast, including Bullseye and Typhoid Mary. But it was Elektra whose tragic death I could never shake. I can’t imagine a better follow-up to Batwoman than this — a book about a morally-complex character who is exploring the rich and diverse Marvel Universe while searching for her place within it.

As usual, I totally lucked into this gig. The ridiculously-talented Zeb Wells was set to write the series, but he’s honoring his commitments in television. As a fan, I was really looking forward to his vision for Elektra; as a writer, I’m humbled by and grateful for the chance to take on the project in his stead and just hope I do the job half as well as he would.

Fortunately, I’m again paired with an incredible collaborator, artist Mike Del Mundo. He’s been doing some great concept work already, and the covers he’s supplied are simultaneously violent and strikingly beautiful, dynamic and haunting. He’s already produced some concept art for a new villain who is going to be a terrifying and formidable adversary for Elektra. You can check out more of his work at his home page. If nothing else, I know the book will look great.

Elektra #1 will be on store shelves in April! You can read a bit more about the project at CBR.

Mike Del Mundo's amazing cover work for Elektra

Mike Del Mundo’s amazing cover work for Elektra




Dear Batwoman readers –

From the moment DC asked us to write Batwoman — a dream project for both of us — we were committed to the unofficial tagline “No Status Quo.” We felt that the series and characters should always be moving forward, to keep changing and evolving. In order to live up to our mantra and ensure that each arc took Batwoman in new directions, we carefully planned plotlines and story beats for at least the first five arcs well before we ever wrote a single issue. We’ve been executing on that plan ever since, making changes whenever we’ve come up with a better idea, but in general remaining consistent to our core vision.

Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.

We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.

We’re both heartbroken over leaving, but we feel strongly that you all deserve stories that push the character and the series forward. We can’t reliably do our best work if our plans are scrapped at the last minute, so we’re stepping aside. We are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression.

We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to work on Batwoman. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of our careers. We’ll always be grateful to everyone who helped us realize 26 issues: Mike Siglain, who brought us onto the project originally; Greg Rucka for inspirationally setting the stage; our amazing artists Amy Reeder, Trevor McCarthy, Pere Perez, Rob Hunter, Walden Wong, Sandu Florea, Richard Friend, Francesco Francavilla, Guy Major, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein; Larry Ganem, for listening in tough times; and editors Mike Marts, Harvey Richards, Rickey Purdin, and Darren Shan.

And most of all, a huge thank you to everyone who read the book. Hearing your voices, your reactions, your enthusiasm every month was such a joy, so humbling, so rewarding. You guys rock! Because so many of you embraced the series, we were able to complete four arcs, and your passion for Batwoman encouraged us to push ourselves to do our best work with each and every issue.

Thank you for loving Batwoman as much as we do.

Goodbye for now,

Haden & J H

Batwoman #23 hits stands on August 21. Jim did an amazing job with the cover, as always. The issue itself features a pretty surreal sequence, and the cover captures that tone perfectly. Fever


Comic Vine is running a preview of Batwoman #22 — the first few pages of the issue, revealing one of the villains that makes an appearance this month.

And here’s a look at the original, B&W version of Pages 1-5. Trevor McCarthy, stunning as always!

Batwoman#22 pg2_3Batwoman#22 pg4_5


One of my all-time favorite comic stories is Batman #522 by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. In that issue, Batman is tracking Killer Croc, who is rapidly devolving. As he transforms from killer to animal, he seeks only a safe place to hunt, hide and sleep. When Batman finally closes in on Croc, Swamp Thing appears and takes responsibility for Croc, allowing him to live out his days in peace in the swamps. I’m a sucker for sympathetic monsters, and having one such monster (Swamp Thing) intervene on behalf of another seemed perfect. I never forgot this portrayal of Croc — mostly because it showed another side of the character that hadn’t been explored before.

So, when Jim and I were first asked to pitch what became the Batwoman ongoing, one of the very first things we agreed upon was that we wanted to use Killer Croc. And, more than that, we wanted to transform Killer Croc from a dull-witted thug into something “more” — first into the Hydra, and then into a reluctant leader, and finally a villain worthy of Batwoman. We weren’t on a quest to redeem him, or even to completely redefine him, but to expand upon what has come before and show that there’s some depth to him. (Incidentally, this was all part of the pitch for a limited series team-up between Batwoman and Wonder Woman, which then became the World’s Finest arc of the ongoing once we were tapped to take on the series).

Issue #21 is the culmination of a lot of our very early ideas around Croc. It’s been on stands for a few weeks now, and the response has been incredible. This was, hands-down, one of my favorite issues to write,  so I’m really gratified to see that it has garnered such great reviews from critics and fans alike. Jim and I have been especially pleased that Francesco Francavilla’s artwork has been so well-received. For me, his artwork hearkens back to old school EC comics while still being wholly original and unique.

Check out a preview at Comic Vine.

Give us a kiss

Batwoman #21

Sadly, our journey with Croc seems to be over…

Jim and I have been asked a lot lately why we’re not participating in the upcoming Villains event running through all of the DC comics in Sept / Oct. At DC’s request, we did pitch two different stories. One pitch was for a Killer Croc tale that would pick up directly after Issue 21. Unfortunately, a last minute decision from somewhere up the editorial chain killed it. Despite all the groundwork we’ve laid, DC decided that Croc can’t be connected to anything supernatural, metaphysical, or mythological in any way. I’ve been pretty heartbroken over the decision; writing in his voice was  incredibly challenging — in the best possible way — and I thought that Jim and I were taking him in some unexpected directions while remaining true to the tone and “rules” we’ve established in Batwoman. Elements of that story were also going to feed back into the ongoing in ways we’ll now need to reconsider. (Fortunately, Tim Seeley did get the nod to do a Croc story, and given his prior work, I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic).

The other pitch, featuring a different villain, was also originally accepted. But just before we started working on the script, someone at DC decided that the character wasn’t recognizable and/or villainous enough to warrant his own issue. I don’t want to give anything else away because Jim and I still believe in the story, so we’ve already found a way to integrate it into the ongoing.

So, no Batwoman or Batwoman-related characters during the Villains month. Fortunately, Batwoman #22,  is on sale next week! And it features a cameo by some interesting established Bat-villains, and formally introduces some new characters that Jim and I have planted in previous issues, and who will play an important role not only in the rest of this arc, but in the next arc as well. I just got my comp copies and Trevor’s art continues to amaze me.

Batwoman #22

Batwoman #22

The newest installment of The Irons is available via Madefire, on iOS or through DeviantArt. Detective Leto is hot on the trail of the serial killer known as The Hijacker, who uses teleportation technology to murder his victims — by fusing them together into horrific hybrids. This is the longest installment yet, showing more of the dystopian Irons world and giving us some insight into Leto. Gary Erskine continues to blow me away with the amount of detail he’s cramming into every image; The Irons is coming to life in ways I never imagined.

The Irons Hybrids #4

Darth Vader & The Ghost Prison will be coming out in a hardcover edition on March 27th. To celebrate, Dark Horse has produced a fantastic trailer using the original artwork. Check it out on YouTube .

The hardcover can be pre-ordered from Dark Horse.