Robot 6

Six characters we’d like to see get their own Marvel MAX series

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LOGO Marvel Max

Debuting in 2001, Marvel’s MAX line was an attempt to draw a clear line between its vaguely older-teen comics and distinctly “adult” titles featuring some of the well, edgier, characters from its library. The imprint largely excelled at that, with the flagship Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, and Garth Ennis’ takes on Nick Fury and the Punisher. However, in recent years it’s become a shadow of its former self, existing solely to carry Ennis’ recent return to Fury, and the noble but ill-fitting Wolverine MAX. But that doesn’t mean it can’t have a revival.

In today’s Six by 6, I look at six characters that straddle the fence separating “popular” from “popular enough to carry their own series in the long-term” that would do well to take a trip to the MAX line. Some are no-brainers, while others might surprise you.

Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

He’s had two movies and almost a dozen attempts at an ongoing series, but the motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance has had a bumpy ride when it comes maintaining a title. He’s popular enough, no doubt — everyone from ardent comic fans to tattoo-clad bikers know who this one-time Midnight Son is — but for one reason or another he’s seldom been able to translate that into long-term success. Maybe it’s the magical element to his story, or perhaps it’s because a Ghost Rider toy line could never be seen in the hands of a 6-year-old. Whatever thre reason, maybe Marvel should stop shoving a Ghost Rider-shaped peg into a X-Men-shaped hole and instead embrace the differences — and the possibilities — a Ghost Rider series would be in an “adults only” environment.

Imagine a Ghost Rider MAX book barreling down the road of biker bad-asses tread by the successful Sons of Anarchy, taking one of the various men or women who’ve been called Ghost Rider and casting their die squarely in the dark side. In recent years the best take on the Spirit of Vengeance has been by Jason Aaron, but even he was trapped by the superheroes around the character. This needs something fresh, by creators with an already well-known track record or a fresh new face with a killer pitch and something to prove.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Stephen Strange seems perpetually on the tongue of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige in terms of characters he wants to see on the big screen, but there hasn’t been a modern definitive take on the character in decades. What this surgeon-turned-Sorcerer Supreme needs is an “Extremis”-style reboot a la Iron Man, taking the core of the character and updating it for the modern age. Magic’s a hard thing to adapt — be it in comics or movies — but if Harry Potter can do it, so can Marvel.

Cable

Cable

For many, Cable is the face of the excess of Marvel in the ’90s, but beneath that stereotyping lay an excellent character with an array of motivations. Although lately he’d played second fiddle to his adoptive daughter Hope and a reconstituted X-Force, a solo Cable MAX title could be a great place to do a smart, adult time-travel story a la Looper. Despite knowing his birth parents and where he is in his elder years, we’ve been privy to surprisingly little about Nathan Summers’ formative years. A Cable MAX book could potentially even be in-continuity to show him becoming the man he is today.

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59 Comments

The first three on the list are “Why haven’t they done this yet?”.

The next three are “Could be good, but I won’t care if it never happens.”

Rollo Tomassi

May 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I weep for the education system when four translates as ‘almost a dozen’.
Don’t ever offer to do anyone’s taxes.

My idea for a MAX title: Elektra: Commando. It does not refer to her combat style, but rather her choice of undergarment.
Boom. Instant sellout.

“For too long Reed’s been type-cast in the role of “Dad” straight out of a 90s TGIF network comedy…”

Truth! Like that one episode of Full House where Bob Saget met all those alternate universe Bob Sagets and then the Celestials destroyed them. And then the Beach Boys showed up for no reason.

Cable MAX for the win!!

I’m on-board for your suggestions of Doctor Strange, Moon Knight and Reed Richards.

I think Doctor Strange, if done right, would be awesome. Steve Ditko injected tons of 60′s Psychedelica into his original character. Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving, and Marcos Martin would be the PERFECT team to implement a MAX title reboot of the character. Dr. Strange’s magic could be based on psychedelic altered-states of mind. His supporting cast could be a circle of hallucinogenic drug connoisseurs. It would be AWESOME.

Don’t expect Marvel to do something like that though

Yup thats an awesome list. I wish they put out more MAX series, I just want to read stories, MARVEL NOW or not, that add to the characters. Bendis I could take or leave as I’m already reading and enjoying several books by him.

What about Howard the Duck?

uh… MojoMAX… duh… where else are we going to find the Human Torch and Firestar in “FIRESEXXX!” – it doesn’t get hotter than that!

Weren’t there two GR MAX series by Garth Ennis ?

Not a bad list, but I think Cable did have a Max/Vertigo-esque type of run during his comic. When David Tischman and Igor Kordey took, it was the most grounded and ‘mature’ take of that character. Actually the first time I actually cared for that character and enjoyed it.

Andrew Collins

May 30, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I agree with Moon Knight being one of those characters that not just anyone can write. The multiple personality angle always seems to trip up writers and I feel like only Doug Moench has gotten it right by making it a compelling and entertaining side of the character. Other writers have always seemed more saddled with it, and either ignored it or overdid it.

That said, I always think of MAX as a more mature, unrestrained approach to the character, and I feel like Moony’s last couple of series have been pretty “mature” even if they didn’t carry the MAX label. And they still didn’t sell. Just “darkening” the character doesn’t necessarily work. At this point, a near complete overhaul of costume, motivation and personality may be needed to make Marc Spector work, because I feel like the character has become “sales poison” just based on his name being on the logo…

And with Cable…I don’t know what it is, but I have just never been able to work up any interest in the character. I think it may have to do with his whole time traveling back story and how much I hated it at the time. When he was introduced, it was around the time where the X-Men started to get too silly and too complicated for me and jumped the shark with time travelers, resurrections, alternate dimensions, and retconned histories and whatever desperate ploy the writers and editors could think of…

You sort of had the chance for HulkMAX before – it was the Rampaging Hulk magazine in the 70′s. But, those stories show who should be brought back in a Marvel MAX series since they don’t go with Marvel continuity now:

Ulysses Bloodstone

I honestly wouldn’t buy any of these. They’ve either had multiple chances, are rather boring in their own team books, or just plain don’t interest me at all. Interesting idea for an article though!

Am I the only one who remembers the Hulk Max series, ‘Banner’?

“That said, I always think of MAX as a more mature, unrestrained approach to the character, and I feel like Moony’s last couple of series have been pretty “mature” even if they didn’t carry the MAX label. And they still didn’t sell. Just “darkening” the character doesn’t necessarily work.”

That’s what I was thinking, too. I didn’t read the Bendis/Maleev run, but the 2006 series by Charlie Huston and David Finch was really dark. Like, “skinning people’s faces off” dark, which is pretty MAX-level to me. Though come to think of it, I’m pretty sure that series sold really great for the first year or so.

Hey DubipR I completely agree, and that series was named Soldier X BTW. It made me a fan of the character in fact it made the character my number one comic book character. Which they then followed up with the fan favorite Cable & Deadpool series that launched Deadpool into his current role as a superstar.

Christopher Shafer

May 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I’d like to see them give Deadpool MAX a reboot with a more serious tone like Deadpool Pulp.

HulkMAX featuring the ultra-violent criminal escapades of Joe Fixit. Pesci put a head in a vice. Hulk’s hand IS the vice.

I would like to see a Superior Spider-Man MAX storyline, or, at least, a darker version of him. Basically, I want Dan Slott to make him even darker than he is now! Even if that doesn’t happen, I don’t mind. It would just be interesting to see what Mr. Slott could write in a less restricted comic.

I thought Bruce Jones’ run was pretty much Hulk-Max: psychological drama, conspiracy theories, violence, and a lot of near-nudity.

I don’t see it working in the long-run, though. Audiences at large seem to prefer a superheroic Hulk who interacts with the Avengers, not a dark psychological drama.

You realize of course there isn’t 1 female on your list.So far only one commenter made a drooling fan boy reference to Elektra’s “underwear”.How about Invisible Woman( the same things you said about Reed Richards can be applied to her),Majik who already has been portrayed darkish,but MAX could take that farther and Wasp among others.Just a thought.

This would never happen but I would buy a million copies, Dorreen Green, The Squirrel Girl. Myopic Innocence set in the backdrop of gritty urban realism. Throw in an abusive alcoholic father and morally grey squirrel(excuse the pun) companion.

It's mah name

May 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Brian Wood has stated that he’d like to do a Thor: Max series. I’m all for it after reading the first few arcs of Northlanders.

Cable Max would be perfect. Reed Richards could be interesting, and Dr Strange could be intensely weird and creepy in a good way.

As for women, Elektra or Silver Sable are the first that spring to mind that could work as MAX titles. Domino could be cool too, she was great in X-Force: Sex and Violence. I’d also buy the hell out of a Storm MAX book.

I’d be really up for a Moon Knight or Dr Strange MAX title. In fact why not a Dr Doom one? That would be awesome. Crossbones or Zodiac (that guy from that Dark Reign mini by Joe Casey) would also be good for that matter. They should do some more Villain titles in MAX. It’s custom built for badguy stories if you ask me.

I think it would entirely depend on the writers. If it was dark but with meaning and depth to it (like the works of DeMatteis, Gaiman, Moore, Morrison), then yes. If it was nothing but nihilism, then no.

Ghost Rider, Dr Strange, and Moon Knight would be cool, but it really depends on whose behind them. No one really comes to mind off hand.

Most of the MAX titles, particularly from the last few years, have been solo books, and I’d really like to see a team or ensemble book. A Midnight Sons MAX series would rock. Or another take on a Defenders or Champions type team could be good. Thunderbolts seems like a good fit too, but the current series has put me off a bit. If it was closer to the original concept of villains pretending to be heroes, or villains trying to be heroes or forced to be heroes, it could be pretty great.

As far as female characters, Elektra is an obvious choice, but I think Black Cat could be a really interesting choice for a MAX title.

*Who’s behind them. Comments really need an edit function.

Red Skull!!!

I am a #1 Mr. Fantastic Fan and would love to see his own series. Though, marvel dosen’t like the idea as much as i do.

DEATHLOK DETOUR!!!
NEVER FORGET!!

Reed Richards has been done it was called Planetary.

I agree with TheRedBaron, Doom MAX would be great!

I would buy the Moon Knight and Doctor Strange MAX series in a heartbeat.

Why a Dr. Strange book hasn’t worked in so long is that Marvel wants to force him into a horror character rather than embrace the psychedelic character that he started out as. Magic doesn’t equal horror. A psychedelic take on Strange has yet to be tried in 20 years and the last long running series suffered from the attempts to make it a dark, more horror oriented series with David Quinn and then Ellis. Also they keep trying to redefine him and break what works about the character. Dr. Strange May deal with dark things and be serious minded but it’s part of the fun, this serious minded man with a straight face in this psychedelic world. Take away the psychedelic and you have Constantine. That’s great but Constantine isn’t Stephen Strange.

Bendis on Moon Knight also showed the problem is that Marvel doesn’t get Mooon Knight. The MPD aspect they tacked on was ludicrous and completely shelved what Moon Knight represents. Send him after werewolves and serial killers. He is similar to a more grounded Batman in ways with his villains. But allows for the fun of werewolves and vampires and a different style of story from how previous Batman stories have dealt with those elements. The books before Bendis run kind of got it right but lacked the punch he needed. He was pushed too far into the territory that separates him from Batman.

Andrew Collins

May 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm

@Jason Green

I’d forgotten about that, but you’re right, the 2006 relaunch did do okay at first. I suspect it was partly because the character had been in limbo for awhile at that point, but mostly due to Finch’s art. As soon as he left, so did the majority of the book’s audience. Which was a shame, as it wasn’t a bad series, especially towards the end of the run.

Cable, Strange and Reed. I would like to see someone, anyone, do a MAX series with Falcon. He’s due…

HOWARD THE DUCK!

Jonny_Anonymous

May 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

It baffles me that Ghost Rider hasn’t had a MAX book

Ghost Rider could DEFINITELY work as a MAX series.

The problem with doing a Ghost Rider Max series is a little title called Spawn. I know GR predates Spawn but I’d argue that even as short-lived as its time in the spotlight was, Spawn is the more popular of the two. TA GR MAX title seems two decades too late. Though a tease of a movie appearance could just help enough in the long run. I really would mind a Doctor Strange or Cable MAX series though.

@Toneloak

Technically the run started in CABLE #97 before the name change went over to Soldier X and Darco Macan took over the writing chores.

I have had the best idea for Ghost Rider book for years, it would be kind of like a whacky races grand prix through all 9 circles of hell like in the Devine Comedy, with All the ghost riders trying to cancel the apocallypse competing against some other demons and probably angels.

The Hulk had something of a MAX comic book, it was under the Startling Stories imprint called Banner written by Brian Azzarello.

Moon Knight really has had too many chances and failed in recent years but the other 4 choices were on point.

You know, back when George R R Martin was talking about Doctor Strange I thought he’s be a good choice to write Strange MAX.

Pretty good picks except for Reed, he just doesn’t fit the Max line. A bigger concern is calling Wolverine Max “I’ll fitting.” Besides maybe Punished no Marvel character is more suited to the Max line. That and the current series is really good.

the truth bearer

May 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Punisher Max anyone?

I’d be onboard with Moon Knight who I feel might not be able to carry more than a mini or limited series though I love the character and even loved what Bendis did with him, Cable especially like in his 20′s-30′s would be an interesting title especially if you make it in-continuity, Ghost Rider would probably be in the mini to limited range as there is only so much you can do with the character. Hulk would probably be a nice ongoing if you get ultra-violent and revisit that show theme of moving from place to place. Dr Strange would have to be mini or limited. Magic is just too hard to handle let alone the fanboys crying if it isn’t done to their liking (then again the whole Mephisto thing with Spider-Man was a good complain). Reed Richards? No interest. I get enough from Fantastic Four & New Avengers.

Others? Spider-Woman, Black Widow, Black Panther either on mini or limited series though I wish some day they could all support on-goings I highly doubt it will ever happen. Silver Surfer would be a nice twist making him a max title. War Machine who I feel like Moon Knight never really found the right audience. U.S. Agent could be a nice dark title. Dark Avengers (hey it’s dark why not Max it up?). Thunderbolts either the old or current series. Winter Soldier if they went back to spy & espionage. Miss Brubaker’s take on it never really got into it since he left. Mohawk Storm being badass. Psylocke doing her ninja thing in Madripoor. Venom. Black Cat. Darkhawk. X-23. Of course Punisher done right ala Rucka or Ellis. Death’s Head. Wonder Man. Deathlok. Gambit (going to miss that series). Inhumans. Namor would be a perfect Max character, same for Magneto.

OK with you for the five first titles. I sign immediately!!!

About Richard, I have some doubts. We, readers, have always seen Richard as the true archetype of the father from the 50-60s. Maybe, if this character is rebooted like the Richard in Silver Surfer Requiem, with this humanity which is his true lack in the actual title, despite still being the traditional “Daddy”, then it could work.

We have always seen the “bright” side of the science, else if their were some “errors” (Hey!!! How do you create a “scientific” story based on a “small” error with HUGE events to come???). It is time to show the frontiers, as well as physical, as well as ethic, as well as human, than a scientific approach to resolve a problem could bring. I think, that in this case, it will be the most mature title from this imprint. No needs of huge guns, bikinis, fan-services, blood, gore and guts. Just a true mature POV with a strong dip into the human psyche.

If this title is created, it really needs the “RIGHT” writer and he “RIGHT” artist. I have not enough experience on the US authors. So, I will see Moore as the writer and Fialkov as the artist. My choice.

And to finish, add a 7th title. MARVEL!!!! Bring us Elektra!!!!!!!!!! She is a real badass and a lot of no more young readers are waiting for true violent stories “a la” PunisherMAX (Ennis’ run of course!!).

They already did a Howard the Duck MAX series.

I like all of the choices on the list except Reed Richards. More often than not MAX represantations of characters tend to deconstruct them, rather than play along with them, which is fine by me for quite a few characters in Marvel’s arsenal, but not Mr Fantastic. I think that it’s nice to have an iconically good character in existence, and even dislike his greyer modern portayal because of that.

So I would substitute him with… and actually interesting Wolverin MAX! I am sorry, but I can’t find anything interesting in the current title. I expected the Punisher treatment to be honest, with perhaps some more super-heroy flare, and instead I got boredom. With an intelligent-but-still-coolo writer (Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis) and a visually impressive artist (Carlos Pacheco or even Joe Mad for more stylistic art) and an engaging plot it could be a killer. The current one not so much.

It’s criminal how Marvel has underused their MAX imprint.

They could do a Reed series taking the idea of Marvel’s 50s monster books wich had a very Twilight Zone vibe to them and make the threats even more fucked up and disturbing.

Laurence J Sinclair

May 31, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Newsarama, is that you?

Laurence J Sinclair

May 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Death’s Head MAX, yes?

Here’s what I would read:
Taskmaster MAX
Iron Fist MAX
Hawkeye MAX
Magneto MAX
Tony Stark MAX

I think a SabertoothMax, RogueMax, and Dark pheonixmax would be great. rom the list GR, Strange, Mk and mayyybe Cable i would get behind.

VENOM! This would undoubtedly and unquestionably kick ASS!

LOBO MAX!!!!!!

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