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.
Some people wear their influences on their sleeve, while others absorb it into their own style and, from time to time, shout it from the rooftops.
Jim Rugg is doing the latter in a stunning pin-up he created for the recent Extreme Comics fanzine Rub The Blood. Extreme is the brainchild of Rob Liefeld, whose divisive style earned him legions of fans, including it seems Rugg.
Rugg’s choices for which characters to display from Liefeld’s ouvre runs the gamut from his Marvel co-creation Cable to his creator-owned work like Youngblood‘s Chapel (done in a style reminiscent of Jae Lee’s take on the character) and solo stars Prophet, Bloodstrike: Assassin and Bloodwulf.
Activision and High Moon Studios have debuted a new trailer for their upcoming Deadpool video game that’s probably just what fans of Marvel’s Merc With a Mouth are looking for: Breaking of the fourth wall? Check. Violence? Check. Juvenile humor? Check. A reference to Cable’s “man-bazookas”? Naturally.
But there are also glimpses of gameplay, sprinkled liberally with gunfire, explosions and bloodshed. Watch the trailer below. Deadpool will be available later this year for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Sales charts | Dollar sales of comics sold through Diamond Comic Distributors were up more than 15 percent in August, while graphic novel dollar sales rose by more than 31 percent when compared to the year-ago period. ICv2 puts the gains in perspective, noting that comic sales were down 17 percent in August 2010 and graphic novel sales were down 21 percent. August 2010 also had four ship weeks compared to August 2011′s five. DC Comics topped the August charts with Justice League #1, followed by Flashpoint #5, Fear Itself #5, Flashpoint #4 and Ultimate Comics Fallout #4. Serenity Better Days and Other Stories from Dark Horse was the no. 1 graphic novel for August. John Jackson Miller offers commentary as well as a look at the best-selling comics of this century, a list that will include Justice League #1. [ICv2, Comichron]
Comics | The Centers for Disease Control has awarded a roughly $145,000 contract to Terminus Media to create motion comics to educate young people about HIV. The comics will be offered on “internet-capable platforms” including desktop computers, laptop computers, video gaming systems, wireless phones and tablet computers. [Politico, Via]
Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.
That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]
Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
Even in a Nu-Marvel-era X-Men line that included Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and Peter Milligan & Mike Allred’s X-Statix, the Cable reboot Soldier X was a weird, wild, wonderful standout. Written by Darko Macan and illustrated by Igor Kordey, the series offered an almost absurdist take on the superhero concept, with a never-more-powerful Cable struggling with his methods and motives while tracking a super-powered Russian peasant girl. Though it’s never been collected in trade paperback, the series has become a cult favorite, with writers like Joe “Jog” McCulloch and yours truly praising the way it both explored and exploded the character and the genre.
Now you can find out for yourself what the fuss is about: Marvel will be rolling out the book’s first five issues at its Digital Comics Unlimited site all week long, for absolutely free. Issue #1, which sets the scene, is already up. Give it a shot and let us know what you think!
When Chris Mautner asked if I’d be willing to take a crack at writing the “Collect This Now!” column during my guest-blogging stint, I said yes precisely because of this book. And when I informed him of my intentions, he said he was glad, because Marvel hadn’t yet been tackled in the column.
This stands to reason, given that we’re now seven years or so deep into Marvel’s “collect-everything-we-publish” plan — what’s left to collect? The answer is Soldier X. Written by Darko Macan and illustrated by Igor Kordey, this short-lived, Cable-starring series is wild, weird and wonderful, even by the far-out standards of the late Bill Jemas era. That’s probably what dooms it to TPB-less obscurity, but it’s also why I’m still so fond of it.