This week Heavy Metal released Taarna the Last Taarakian #6. The final issue of the series, written by Stephanie “Murderer of Comics” Phillips, with art by Al Barrionuevo, colors by Jessica Kholinne and Bryan Valenza, and letters by Marshall Dillon, finds Taarna in final battle against the army of Urcuss. Today The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive first look at artist Christian Ward‘s cover for the forthcoming collected edition of the Taarna miniseries, as well as at the cover of a new Taarna one-shot, Taarna Elements: The Cosmic Gardener.
Here’s Ward’s gorgeous cover for the collected edition, which is due in stores on Tuesday, August 24th.
Writer Phillips and Heavy Metal executive editor Joseph P. Illidge both told The Beat how pleased they were with the opportunity to reintroduce Taarna for a new generation:
“I loved getting the chance to build the mythos of Taarna and embed a new kind of empathy in her characterization. Taarna isn’t just protecting her universe, but she’s a part of it…what happens in this universe happens to her. Taarna is a warrior and a cosmic being, and the art teams I had the chance to work with all captured these various multitudes to her personality perfectly.” — Stephanie Phillips
“It’s with great editorial pride that I look back and think about all the creators who came with our Heavy Metal family on the journey to rejuvenate Taarna with a more cosmic take. Stephanie zeroed in on how cosmic beings exist and interact with all the species under their watch, and found a way to challenge Taarna’s stoic nature by injecting humanity into her life. Patrick Zircher gave us the quintessential introduction as a love letter to Moebius, Christian Rosado brought us the tension and beautiful ruggedness of Taarna’s escalating battles, and Al Barrionuevo brought everything to a climax with a sublime, majestic quality. Marshall Dillon’s lettering combined with the exquisite colors from Jessica Kholinne and Bryan Valenza united the styles beautifully, and Christian Ward’s hyper-sensory covers sealed the deal! Taarna is back, and that sound you’re hearing throughout the cosmos is the mic drop.” — Joseph P. Illidge (Executive Editor)
And here’s artist Butch Guice‘s striking cover for the Taarna Elements: The Cosmic Gardener one-shot, which is written by the team of Matt Medney and David Erwin and collects stories by the team that originally appeared in Heavy Metal Magazine.
“Working with Stephanie Phillips on this new iteration of Taarna has been incredible. The framework David Erwin and I laid down for The Cosmic Gardener storyline helped to set a ton that Stephanie has fulfilled and beyond in her Taarna: The Last Taarakian series. Taarna is our Cosmic Gardener—she helps our galaxy live, and as it lives she can feel it, move with it, and be one with it. We all have a little Taarna in each of us.” — Matthew Medney
“It was important to set our marquee star, Taarna, in a direction that would be unexpected, setting her up to be a new kind of aspirational female hero for today’s and tomorrow’s audience. As well as giving her the ability to speak—though it was never really established that she didn’t, she just didn’t have anything to say at the time—now you’ll be hearing a lot more from her.” — David Erwin
The conclusion of the Taarna the Last Taarkanian miniseries sets up an intriguing cliffhanger for the iconic Heavy Metal character and her supporting cast, and it’s surely only a matter of time before she returns. In the meantime, check out a lettered preview of Taarna the Last Taarkanian #6 below. Look for the collected edition of the series in stores on Tuesday, August 23rd, and the Taarna Elements: The Cosmic Gardener one-shot in stores the following Wednesday, August 24th.