Fans of the Image Comics Radiant Black series got a very special treat in issue #15 of the explosive superhero series. A hidden QR code leads readers to the ultimate easter egg – a fully animated short titled “Versus”.
Directed by Radiant Black writer/co-creator Kyle Higgins, animated by Tiger Animation, and featuring Batman Beyond’s Will Friedle as the voice of Radiant Black himself, this new short gives us a taste of what the comic might look like as an animated series. If you haven’t picked up a copy of Radiant Black #15 yet, you can watch the video below:
Radiant Black follows an unlucky protagonist named Nathan Burnett, who inadvertently stumbles upon the cosmic power known as Radiant. Unfortunately for Nathan, the beings who control the Radiant aren’t thrilled that he harnessed their power. Issue #15 (as well as this animated short) pits Radiant Black against Blaze (voiced by Reginald James), a member of the COWL organization and hero from an earlier era.
“As long as I can remember, superheroes have been a big part of my life,” Higgins told IGN. “But while I pursued a career in comics and film through them, it was animation that I fell in love with. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: The Animated Series, X-MEN, Spider- Man, Gargoyles, Batman Beyond… say what you will the 90s was a golden age for one of our favorite mediums.”
This isn’t the first time Higgins has used a short to develop the characters and setting for one of his comics. 2008’s “The League” was the original inspiration behind COWL. This cross-media approach directly inspired Radiant Black’s animated easter egg.
“One of the goals of Radiant Black has always been to find ways to celebrate the things we love while pushing the boundaries and conventions of what we think a modern superhero book can be,” said said Higgins. “The opportunity to build an in-universe short like this, working with an incredible cast of collaborators, was very special. It also comes full circle, giving Alec [Siegel] and myself the chance to revisit the world of COWL and our short film that inspired it, The League. Rick Cramer and Reginald James even returned to voice Geoffrey and Blaze, about 15 years after we did the original short with them. Oh yeah and then, you know, add Mr. Batman Beyond Himself, Will Friedle? So schway.”
Radiant Black: Exclusive Preview of the New Image Comics Series
Higgins continued, “A huge, huge thank you to Phil Crain, who produced this short film with me, Alec Siegel, Marcelo Costa, Eduardo Ferigato, Igor Monti, Brandon McKinney, Michael Busuttil, Ramon Palermo, Kristopher Carter, Matt Taylor, Will Friedle, Reginald James, Rick Cramer, David Sobolov and finally to Seohoon Son and everyone at Tiger Animation. I look forward to working with you again!”
“Versus” co-writer and editor Alec Siegel previously collaborated with Higgins on COWL, making this short a welcome opportunity to revisit that world and tie its events more closely to Radiant Black.
“Radiant Black has taken some crazy narrative turns since launch,” Siegel told IGN. “So when Kyle asked if it was possible to plan a crossover with COWL, it was an easy yes. Kyle and I started COWL almost 15 years ago. Revisiting the world, characters and actors at new, and in animation no less, was an absolute thrill.”
Finally, Friedle reveals that he was eager to play a role in this animated spin-off.
“There’s something so wonderful about being involved in an all-inclusive world,” Friedle told IGN. “From books to shorts, every step is a complete fan experience that is set to reshape the comic book landscape. Truly an honor!”
Radiant Black #15 is available now in comic shops and digital storefronts.
In other comic book news, Shakespeare Unleashed is giving the Bard’s iconic works a horror makeover, and Titan Comics will be picking up the Conan the Barbarian franchise in 2023.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.