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The San Diego Comic Con is a giant tangle of new publications, and it can be difficult to sort out the good from the bad. One title I came across on the last day of the con (the only time I got to wander the show floor at my own pace) was Freakshow, from writers David Server and Jackson Lanzing and artist Joe Suitor.

And I’m glad I did because, for one, I enjoyed the book, and having read it I’ve got a better frame of reference from which to talk about the fact that I Am Legend and Thor screenwriter Mark Protosevich has optioned the comic. He’ll write the script, and it may become his directorial debut.

Variety says that Protosevich is working with Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air) and Jennifer Klein to produce the film. The trade quotes a very enthusiastic Protosevich talking about the comic:

In terms of experiencing moments of creative inspiration, reading ‘Freakshow’ was like being struck by lightning… David and Jack created a rich, emotional superhero story, but one that’s infused with elements of science fiction, post-apocalyptic action, and horror. For me, an irresistible combination.

The first issue of Freakshow sets up a city that has been ravaged by a chemical that was originally developed to create a superhero. But in broad application the chemical ravages DNA, and exposure kills most people. Those that don’t die are seriously mutated, and the story kicks off as a military squad encounters a group of five mutants that have banded together to survive and perhaps take revenge on those responsible for the chemical and its misuse.

There’s a strong late ’80s X-Men / New Mutants vibe to the story, but the characters are set up well and feel like they belong in this world. (Not sure if Chris Claremont’s character Freakshow influenced the name of this book or not.) There’s a quality to the art and the blasted city it depicts that reminded me in a strange way of Yoshihisha Tagami’s manga Grey: Digital Target. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story, and it’s easy to see what Protosevich sees in the material. There’s a lot of potential for a great-looking movie with an atypical (for movies) antihero bent.

You can read more about Freakshow here and at the book’s official blog. The first issue will officially launch in January, as the SDCC release was a preview printing.

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