Sometimes a comic book just won’t find the readership it needs to survive, no matter how good it is. But sometimes it doesn’t matter about readership — some comics are cancelled before ever being published in the first place. They were solicited and then wiped from existence.
Just think about it: after the hot mess that was Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin, Geoff Johns and J. G. Jones were going to do a completely different version of All Star Batgirl. Johns described it as similar to Batman: The Long Halloween and it would have a mystery “centering around Barbara Gordon’s transformation into Batgirl.” All in all, it sounded awesome and it was announced in 2006 to come out in 2007. Except it never did.
Why? No idea. Perhaps it was down to scheduling; Johns had just hit it big at DC with JSA and The Flash and he had begun his Green Lantern epic, while Jones was more well known for doing covers than interior and often worked at a slower pace. Perhaps the idea just fizzled out. Needless to say, after All Star Batman & Robin, there were no more All Stars left.
In 2011, a four-issue miniseries was solicited by Marvel about the early days of young Dr. Doom. It was to be written by Nick Spencer (now well known for writing Astonishing Ant-Man and Captain America: Sam Wilson) and drawn by Becky Cloonan (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys). By all accounts, the solicitation made it sound awesome:
The teenaged Victor Von Doom defends his life…in Hell. The undergrad who’ll grow to become Dr. Doom is an abrasive young genius surrounded by collegiate buffoons, wastrels, and dilettantes – like that insufferable Richards.
But Doom knows he’s destined for greater things, and from his dorm he journeys fearlessly to Hell to save the spirit of his mom…and his struggle to get there, the trials he faces, and his subsequent failure will make him the man he’s to become.
Nick Spencer and Becky Cloonan pull back the cloak to reveal the youthful, angsty, exuberant side of Victor Von Doom!
Unfortunately, it was not to be: a month before the the first issue was to come out, the entire mini-series was cancelled.
Why? No idea, but it could have been because of the numerous layoffs Marvel was doing at the time. One of those fired was the series editor for the mini-series — and without an editor, it may have seemed easier and cheaper just to scrap the entire thing. Which is a damned shame.
Route 666 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Peter Nguyen and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Peter Milligan and Roman Rosanas
The comic company CrossGen filed for bankrupcty in 2004 (a story for another day) and Disney bought all their assets the same year. Six years later, after Disney had acquired Marvel, it was announced that Marvel would publish some new, updated versions of CrossGen properties, starting with Ruse by Mark Waid and Jackson Guice and Sigil by Mike Carey and Leonard Kirk (and later Mystic by G. Willow Wilson and David Lopez).
And then, in August 2011, two more CrossGen titles were solicited to start in 2012: Route 666, a horror comic to be written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who would later write the exquisite horror of Afterlife with Archie) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a ‘60s spy comic to be written by Peter Milligan (already known for X-Statix and his phenomenally weird run on Shade, the Changing Man).
There was only a slight problem: nobody seemed to care. Ruse, Sigil, and Mystic all sold poor-to-abysmal and their trade paperbacks sold even worse.
So Marvel quickly and quietly cancelled their plans for Route 666 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Why? I just told you, nobody cared about the previous CrossGen mini-series. But they really should have tried anyway, because Aguirre-Sacasa’s Afterlife with Archie is so incredibly creepy and it sold out, like, a dozen times.
After Thanos appeared in the stinger for The Avengers, Marvel had to capitalize it and so they approved a mini-series exploring Thanos’s origins called Thanos: Son of Titan, to be written by Joe Keatinge (who wrote the awesome Glory for Image) and drawn by Rich Elson (who had previously done Journey Into Mystery).
Keatinge even said: “There’s a lot about this guy I’m excited to explore. It’s not every day people are inspired to wipe out an entire universe, achieve god-hood and so on, all to court a woman who just happens to be the personification of Death. It’s on record he annihilated a good chunk of his own race, but he somehow remains calculated, methodical, and retains the belief he’s noble. Like Doctor Doom, I think he’s a guy who believes his intentions are just, as messed up as that is. The idea of seeing how he ends up there, especially having been born from a scientific, peaceful utopia, really intrigues me.”
The series was supposed to start in October, but in July, however, Marvel quietly cancelled it.
Why? No idea, although it could have been that Keatinge and Elson were simply too busy doing other things and the series had been rushed in order to capitalize on Thanos’s appearance. Stephen Wacker said as much on Twitter: “For those interested, plans have changed on Thanos. Nothing too dramatic, we just jumped the gun a big. Joe Keatinge and Rich Elson both have projects coming up in the Spidey office that we’ll be announcing soon. They’re bloody great!” A year later, Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi would come out with their own five-issue mini-series exploring Thanos’s origin called Thanos Rising.
Back in 2003, Marvel announced a new MAX mini-series called Deathlok: Detour to be written by Wolverine writer Daniel Way and drawn by Transmetropolitan artist Darick Robertson. It was solicited as followed:
Think the Farrelly Brothers directing The Road Warrior, from the mind of 2000 Xeric Grant Award-winner Daniel Way (Violent Lifestyle). It’s the future. In the barren land formerly known as the USA, crime is the norm, justice is for sale, and security is a fully loaded magnum. And that’s the GOOD news. See, some genius just got the bright idea to resuscitate the killer cyborg known as Deathlok...
However, in November, Marvel cancelled the entire thing.
Why? Well, the rumors had it that the rights to a Deathlok movie had just been bought and they were worried about how a MAX series would look. So, uh, they got cold feet, I guess.