Mark Waid (born March 21, 1962) is a well known comic book writer hailing from Alabama. His experience is mostly with DC Comics, with some of his most popular runs being on The Flash and Justice League of America (Tower of Babel) as well as many other series. However, he is known in most circles as the man that scripted the iconic Kingdom Come series, which has gone on to become one of the most classic templates for the superhero reconstruction story ever. He wrote an independent series, Irredeemable, focusing on the Plutonian, a Superman-esque hero who out of the blue becomes a sheer psychopath towards his own ilk as well as the rest of the planet. He's launched a companion series, Incorruptible, which stars a supervillain who decided to turn good after Plutonian went insane. He also wrote an ongoing sequel comic to The Incredibles.
Waid came into his own in the mid-90's, a time when comics were obsessed with making things Darker and Grittier. Waid made his name by bucking this trend, penning light-hearted but emotionally gripping stories which hearkened back to the optimistic tales of the 60's, starting with his acclaimed runs on The Flash and Captain America. He also co-created Impulse, a Flash spinoff which at the time was just about the only humor-based superhero book being published.note Its success helped inspire other humorous series such as Young Justice and Deadpool, and helped bring an end to what many fans consider comics' biggest Dork Age. He for a time wrote for Daredevil as well, leaving in 2015.
Ironically one of his most infamous (though generally well-regarded) stories is Unthinkable and its following storyline, which took the normally more lighthearted Fantastic Four and made it (briefly) Darker and Edgier via giving Doctor Doom the most spectacular Character Check in comic book history by having him sell his first love's soul to demons in exchange for more power, and only getting worse afterwards. Waid deeply disliked the now-popular perception of Doom as a Noble Demon Jerk with a Heart of Gold and sought to remind everyone that Doom is a man whose unshakable belief in his own infallibility makes him hold a murderous grudge against a college classmate and his family. This didn't last beyond his run, but it did give Doom some of his best moments, all of which are still canon. He does consider his run on the 90s Justice League of America a bit of an Old Shame because he killed off Ice.
Of course, as his Kingdom Come writing credit suggests, Waid can do dark, as well.
He's known for a tight writing style where characters often speak in hurried sentence fragments in order to emphasize action. He's also famous for knowing nearly every last tiny scrap of DC Universe trivia there is, to the point that DC sometimes holds "stump Mark Waid" trivia challenges at comic conventions.
In 2019, he was sued by comic artist (and a figure of the ComicsGate movement) Richard Meyer after a major publication cancelled their print of his crowdfunded graphic novel Jawbreakers, claiming that Waid got in contact with the company to defame and slander him enough so to convince them to drop the book. Waid refuted the accusations and set up a crowdfunding campaign to help with the legal expenses. Eventually, the lawsuit was dropped.
Mark Waid's works contain examples of the following tropes:
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Notably with Doctor Doom; Waid hates the Noble Demon interpretation of Doom popularizard by the John Byrne FF run, saying a character like Doom, who is motivated entirely by ego and petty grievance, can never be truly noble. He further described the character as "regal, but not noble" and stated that Doom would "tear the head off a newborn baby and eat it like an apple while his mother watched if it would somehow prove he's smarter than Reed." As such, during the Fantastic Four arc Unthinkable, which Waid penned, Doom crosses the Moral Event Horizon in spectacular fashion.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Waid's writing assignments for Marvel both have shades of this: it's kind of built in for Daredevil, but Waid also makes it work for Bruce Banner.
- Berserk Button: Ethan Van Sciver, Pro-ComicGaters and right-wingers in general have become one for him.
- Reconstruction: Most notably on Daredevil.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His work tends to be idealistic, though he's also done cynical work.
- Snowclone: Waid appears to have a particular dislike for these. His pitch for writing Fantastic Four contained a specific promise to never write a story titled "I Sing the Body Elastic" (from "I Sing the Body Electric").
- Take That!: Several in this threadReader: Do you miss Wizard [magazine]?Waid: Only when I need toilet paper.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: After an incident where a comic book writer was put in an awkward position due to her gender, race and sexuality, Mark wrote this rousing speech about not letting the big boys make you feel intimidated:Circle the date. We have reached a point in this industry where young freelancers are sincerely afraid that Scott Lobdell, if upbraided, could make or break their careers. If I were thinking about killing myself, today would not be the worst day for it.A word to young freelancers, for what its worth: despite what you may hear (or fear), I wouldnt even have to take off my shoes to count how many people in this industry can single-handedly ruin your chances at success. Heres a good litmus test: can they sign checks or approve vouchers? No? Then they cant do shit to you, especially if you have real talent. There are a lot of established freelancers out there who can (and will) help young talent, but despite what the creepier ones might want you to believe, almost none of them can actually blockade you these days, not with as many outlets for your work as exist. Your fears of burning bridges are understandable and rational, butagain, especially if you have real talentthey are grounded in myth and stem from a time when comics was a much, much smaller community.