At the San Diego Comic-Con Vertigo’s Karen Berger announced a number of new initiatives for the Vertigo Crime line including Return to Perdition, a graphic novel sequel to Max Allan Collins’1998 Road to Perdition, a gangster-themed version of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga, which was made into a highly successful film starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in 2002.


The Vertigo Crime line, which launched this summer with the release of Ian Rankin’s Dark Entries and Brian Azzarello's Filthy Rich, is due for a major expansion over the next twelve months.  Among the titles discussed at the SDCC Vertigo panel was The Chill, a mixture of Irish mythology and crime drama from thriller writer Jason Starr, who is going to be taking over the writing chores on Marvel’s Punisher.


Peter Milligan and James Romberger’s Bronx Kill is another Vertigo Crime entry with an Irish theme, albeit Irish American.  The protagonist of Bronx Kill, which mixes family drama with kidnapping and murder, is a writer who is black sheep of his cop-ridden family and who becomes the cops’ chief suspect when his wife disappears.


One of the best things about the Vertigo Crime line is that it has lured a number of top crime and thriller writers to try their hand at comics.  Latest case in point is thriller and travel writer John Evans, who is contributing The Executor, a saga about a washed-up jock who investigates the murder of his high school sweetheart, to Vertigo Crime.


Anderson Gabrich’s Fogtown starts out as a typical straightforward Mickey Spillane/Dashiell Hammett San Francisco PI story, but features a patented Vertigo twist at the end.  In contrast, Gary Phillips and Brian Hurt’s Cowboys is filled with flashbacks.  It begins with a gangland killing at a restaurant and follows the adventures of two undercover cops, one from the FBI and one from the police.


The biggest announcement of the panel involved Max Allan Collins who is writing Return to Perdition, the final book in the Road to Perdition saga.  The original Road to Perdition graphic novel was published by Paradox Press, the innovative DC imprint edited by the visionary Andy Helfer in the 1990s.  In contrast to today when Hollywood is only to happy to claim a comic book parentage for its films, when the Road to Perdition, which was directed by Sam Mendes, was released in 2002 Dreamworks didn’t want anyone to know that it was based on a graphic novel.


When The Road to Perdition movie turned out to be a success Collins followed up with two prose novels in large part because the artist he worked with on the original graphic novel worked too slowly to be able to take advantage of the buzz created by the movie in the graphic novel format.  With one story in the saga left, it dawned on Collins that the Vertigo Crime imprint was a perfect fit.  Terry Beatty, who illustrated Collins’ Ms. Tree comics, will provide the art for Return to Perdition, which takes place in the early 1970s and features the grandson of Tom Hanks’ character in the original graphic novel.