Robert Kirkman is an indie comics superstar these days thanks to the success of The Walking Dead, but not everything he does turns to gold. In fact, some of it doesn't even get published.
Four years ago, Kirkman and fellow Image Comics creator Rob Liefeld put together a miniseries for Marvel Comics that featured a hero trying to overthrow Earth's Martian overlords, and nothing but a few pages of art has ever seen the light of day.
Kirkman took on writing duties for the series—starring the somewhat obscure post-apocalyptic gladiator hero Killraven—in 2007, after Liefeld pitched the idea for the series to Marvel's then editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada.
"It was something that Rob pitched last year in San Diego to Joe Quesada while Jeph Loeb and I were sitting next to him," Kirkman told CBR News in 2007. "Rob and I are pals, and he came up and started talking to Joe while we were there. He asked Joe about the possibility of a Killraven project, and Joe said, 'Yeah. Let's do it.' Rob was like, 'Well, I don't really want to write it. I just want to draw it.' Joe replied, 'Well you've got these two guys here. Pick one.' Jeph Loeb pointed my way, so I got the gig."
The original Killraven stories also featured the future gladiator battling Martian overlords, but Kirkman and Liefeld were planning an alternate timeline, with a completely new story for the character and a new war to fight against the Martians that enslave humanity. The story was set in the far future of the Marvel Universe, at a time when almost no one could remember what it was like before the Martians took over. Still, artifacts of the old world, and the heroes who once protected it, remained.
"This Earth is the same Earth as the Marvel universe," Kirkman said. "So at some point in the future of the Marvel U, the Martians invade and a force of Marvel heroes is not able to stop them. This series takes place many, many years later. We see the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. We see Avengers Mansion.
"The concept that Rob came up with was that this is very much a tour through the future of the Marvel universe. You're going to see what happens to things like Thor's hammer and Cap's shield."
Cap's shield, wielded by Killraven in Liefeld's art, and Thor's hammer would have both been part of Killraven's plan to oust the Martians from Earth, a plan that involved forming a brand-new incarnation of the Avengers. The art that we've seen features a female version of Thor wielding Mjolnir, someone in Iron Man's suit, a new Hawkeye and a white-haired Wolverine that has to be the same one we know (he does age quite slowly, after all).
But according to Kirkman, this was never intended to be just some simple Avengers-vs.-Martians battle. There was something more to it, but what that was we may never know.
"There's kind of a twist at the end of issue one where we see that he's going to be going up against somebody that's fairly familiar to Marvel Universe fans," Kirkman said. "There are a number of characters that would still be around years into the future."
Despite all of Kirkman's excitement, and the promise that the series would hit stores in 2008, it never happened. The thing was even finished, but Marvel never published it. Why? Kirkman's last work with Marvel was the completion of his Ultimate X-Men run in 2008, and he seems perfectly happy to devote all his comic book energy to his Image work these days.
Meanwhile, Marvel might have simply seen the series as something not worth distributing. Kirkman is a master of zombie stories, but his Marvel books were never exactly mega-blockbusters for the company, and given that Killraven isn't a superstar himself, the Powers That Be seem to have thought it best to just file the thing away. Maybe someday we'll see it, but for now all we have are a few precious preview pages.
Based on those, does this Killraven series look like something you'd want to read?
(via The Beat and Comic Book Resources)