Wednesday, November 10, 2010

PunisherMAX: Maximum Delay

The MAX line in Marvel comics only has a few books in it’s stable, of which the most reliable and long running is the Punisher MAX title, currently created by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon. Sadly, we haven’t see much of this title in over six months, with the latest issue, number 9, being released back in July. At first glance, it might look like the title is canceled, but that is not the case. What has caused this delay? When can we expect more Punisher MAX in the stands again? The answers, after the jump.

Like I mentioned in the intro, Punisher MAX was in it’s ninth issue when the flow of new chapters stopped. Even though it was still in it’s infancy, only the second arc, the title was achieving quite a lot of positive buzz among critics and holding sales at an acceptable level for a book of this kind (as a rule, MAX titles do not set the charts on fire). The title was on it’s way to concluding the Bullseye arc, where Frank Castle had to face off against a psychopathic killer hired by the Kingpin. It was actually the penultimate chapter of the arc, and then Punisher MAX stopped coming out.

The tenth issue was initially supposed to come out on August, and from what I could see it was later pushed back October. Issue #11 was also solicited initially for October though that’s obviously been pushed back as well. The collection of the trade was also supposed to come out on December, a highly unlikely schedule at this point. Since then, no further issues have been solicited until January 2011. Why all this delay?

Steve Dillon, the artist of PunisherMAX, took on another assignment that seemingly caused a conflict. He’s currently providing artwork for Ultimate Comics: Avengers Vol. 3, the Mark Millar book that is presented as a series of mini series. At first it seemed that Dillon would be doing both series at the same time, a practice that is not very common in modern times (though more so in the yesteryear of the industry). And if there is one artist that could manage it, it’s Steve Dillon, who’s a very fast penciler. Currently, Ultimate Comics Avengers is running on time, but Punisher MAX is not. So what happened?

From the looks of it, Steve Dillon was sick, which was one of the cause of the delays. Aaron clarified it on his forum when people were asking about the series. He also added on Twitter that the book will be back on track soon, all while assuaging fears that title was canceled.

Part of me understands that Dillon decided to finish Ultimate Comics Avengers first, since it’s certainly a much higher profile book (and one that sells twice or thrice what Punisher MAX sells). I also don’t think that he would have taken on two projects knowing that he couldn’t, the man has been part of the industry for decades now and I’m sure he know his limits.

On the other hand, Punisher MAX was only one issue away from finishing an arc, which would have been a good place to take a break, or even change artists if needed (though I don’t think that would be a good idea). By it’s publishing nature (a series of mini-series), Ultimate Comics Avengers doesn’t need to follow such a strict monthly schedule, and it would have only been running one month late, as opposed to the six months late that Punisher MAX currently is behind. Sure, there have been one-shots to sate reader's palate in the mean time, but they are not the same.

In the end, I’ll be happy to have Punisher MAX back in my pull list, though it’ll be interesting to see if the heavy delays are going to affect the sales of the title. In the mean time, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the end of the Bullseye arc, and on the lookout to see what Aaron and Dillon will do with the title in the future.

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Chris Marshall said...

Matt, Thanks for clearing this up. I was wondering what was going on with this title.
Tiny, Ugly World by David Lampham came out in October. It's not the best One-Shot but it's better then nothing.

Ken said...

Marvel just need to realize no artist can do 2 books a month anymore, and even if they have been able to in the past (Larocca drew 4 issues in one month back with Uncanny & X-Men), you can't trust them to pull through anymore. No one knows their limitations more than the artist, but Marvel should also look at the history of this kind of setup.

I thought Punisher MAX was "on hiatus", to be honest.

brandon said...

I'm ok with the gap.

the title was/is great and whenever it comes out I'll be happy to pick it back up and then re-read to catch up.

Dillon doesnt have a history of this so I'm more willing to not care about the delay as long as he is committed to complete it and it sounds like he is. He's not Jim Lee level by any stretch.

koottie said...

*starts reading deadpool MAX*

EG Mine said...

Thanks for clarifying the situation around the delays. I had pretty much assumed the title was canceled when we didn't get the issue solicited for October.

While I'm sure Dillon wouldn't put himself in a situation where he had to ignore one book for the other, I still wonder why Marvel & DC don't have policies to dissuade artists from being on multiple titles. I know there are plenty of artists that can handle the workload, but when things like sickness and personal issues arise, things like lower interests/sales and cancellations occur.

bog-boy said...

But let's be honest if they delayed Ultimate Comics: Avengers the internet would of burst into flames from all the Millar haters blaming him for the delay.

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