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Parental Advisory. Explicit Content.
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The R-rated imprint of Marvel Comics, the MAX line was introduced in 2001, and consists primarily of Darker and Edgier takes on various (and predominantly minor) Marvel characters, with a few adaptations of non-comic book properties like Max Payne 3, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. The imprint was established partially in response to the strong subject matter of the Brian Michael Bendis series Alias, and is probably best known for that, and its retellings of Squadron Supreme by J. Michael Straczynski, and The Punisher (arguably the flagship title) by Garth Ennis.

See also Epic and Icon, two similarly explicit imprints of Marvel Comics, but concentrating (mostly for Epic, entirely for Icon) on stand-alone, creator-owned works entirely unrelated to the Marvel Universe.


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Titles:

  • Alias #1-28 (2001-2004) by Brian Michael Bendis
  • Ant-Man (2004; cancelled) by Daniel Way
  • Apache Skies #1-4 (2002) by John Ostrander
  • Black Widow: Pale Little Spider #1-3 (2002) by Greg Rucka
  • Blade #1-6 (2002) by Christopher Hinz
  • Cage #1-5 (2002) by Brian Azzarello
  • Dead of Night Featuring:
  • Deadpool MAX #1-12 (2010-2011) by David Lapham
    • Deadpool MAX II #1-6 (2011-2012) by David Lapham
    • Deadpool MAX X-Mas Special (2012) by David Lapham
  • Deathlok: Detour (2004; cancelled) by Daniel Way
  • Destroyer #1-5 (2009) by Robert Kirkman
  • Dominic Fortune #1-4 (2009-2010) by Howard Chaykin
  • The Eternal #1-6 (2003-2004) by Chuck Austen
  • Fantomex MAX #1-4 (2013-2014) by Andrew Hope
  • Foolkiller #1-5 (2007-2008) by Gregg Hurwitz
    • Foolkiller: White Angels #1-5 (2008-2009) by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Fury (MAX) #1-6 (2001-2002) by Garth Ennis
  • Haunt of Horror:
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    • Edgar Allan Poe #1-3 (2006) by Richard Corben
    • H. P. Lovecraft #1-3 (2008) by Richard Corben
  • Hellstorm: Son of Satan #1-5 (2006-2007) by Alexander Irvine
  • The Hood #1-6 (2002) by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Howard the Duck #1-6 (2002) by Steve Gerber
  • Max Payne 3 #1-3 (2012) by Sam Lake and Dan Houser
  • The Punisher Max #1-75 (2004-2009) by Garth Ennisnote 
  • The Punisher Presents Barracuda #1-5 (2007) by Garth Ennis
  • Rawhide Kid #1-5 (2003) by Ron Zimmerman
  • Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu #1-6 (2002-2003) by Doug Moench
  • Starr the Slayer #1-4 (2009-2010) by Daniel Way
  • Strange Tales II #1 (2010) by Nick Bertozzi, Rafael Grampa, Gene Luen Yang, Frank Santoro, Kate Beaton, Jillian Tamaki, Shannon Wheeler, Dash Shaw, Kevin Huizenga, Jeff Lemire, Jhonen Vasquez, and Nicholas Gurewitch
  • Supreme Power #1-18 (2003-2005) by J. Michael Straczynski
    • Doctor Spectrum #1-6 (2004-2005) by Sara Barnes
    • Supreme Power Vol. 2, #1-4 (2011) by Kyle Higgins
    • Supreme Power: Hyperion #1-5 (2005-2006) by J. Michael Straczynski
    • Supreme Power: Nighthawk #1-6 (2005-2006) by Daniel Way
  • Terror, Inc. #1-5 (2007-2008) by David Lapham
    • Terror, Inc.: Apocalypse Soon #1-4 (2009) by David Lapham
  • Thor: Vikings #1-5 (2003-2004) by Garth Ennis
  • U.S. War Machine #1-12 (2001-2002) by Chuck Austen
    • U.S. War Machine 2.0 #1-3 (2003) by Chuck Austen
  • War is Hell: The First Flight of The Phantom Eagle #1-5 (2008) by Garth Ennis
  • Wisdom #1-6 (2007) by Paul Cornell
  • Wolverine MAX #1-15 (2012-2014) by Jason Starr
  • X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire #2-3 (2003) by Ryan Kinnaird
  • Zombie #1-4 (2006-2007) by Mike Raicht
    • The Zombie: Simon Garth #1-4 (2008) by Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell


Tropes:

  • All-CGI Cartoon: The art of U.S. War Machine 2.0 was all CG.
  • Alternate Continuity: The imprint did not have any fixed policy with this. Some titles, listed under Alternate Universe below, do not share a continuity with mainstream Marvel, but others, such as Alias and Wisdom, are fully in continuity, to the point of events in them being referred to in later non-MAX titles.
  • Alternate Universe:
    • Dead of Night Featuring: Man Thing - Earth-85133
    • Deadpool MAX - set in a world where there are no actual superheroes and Deadpool is a deranged CIA assassin under the delusion that he and other characters are superheroes and supervillains.
    • The Eternal - Earth-30826
    • Foolkiller, Fury, The Punisher, Wolverine MAX and War is Hell: The First of the Phantom Eagle - Earth-200111
    • The Punisher: The End - Earth-40616
    • Starr the Slayer - Earth-555
    • Supreme Power - Earth-31916
    • U.S. War Machine and U.S. War Machine 2.0 - Earth-112001
    • X-Men: Phoenix - Legacy of Fire - Earth-2301
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Apache Skies, Black Widow: Pale Little Spider, Dead of Night Featuring: Devil-Slayer, Foolkiller, and U.S. War Machine (if one counts War Machine as a successor to Iron Man) all starred Legacy Characters. This would have also been the case with Ant-Man, and presumably Deathlok.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: A few of the titles are kind of lacking in "mature" content, leading to the assumption that they were only tagged with MAX in an attempt to increase publicity, and interest in them.
  • Bleached Underpants:
    • Fury: Peacemaker, a bit of a stealth prequel to Fury, was released through the Marvel Knights imprint, instead of MAX.
    • Apache Skies was preceded by Blaze of Glory, while Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather and War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle were proceeded by Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven and Where Monsters Dwell, respectively. None of these were MAX.
  • Brand Name Takeover: You'd be hard-pressed to find people who care about (or are even aware of) any of the stories besides Alias, Supreme Power or the ones written by Garth Ennis.
  • Gay Panic: invoked Pressure from special interest groups supposedly led to Rawhide Kid being slapped with a MAX rating due to the eponymous character being depicted as a Gay Cowboy.
  • In Name Only: A few series are only tangentially related to the older ones that they are supposedly based on. For an example, the original Zombie comics are about a business executive named Simon Garth being turned into a Voodoo Zombie by a vengeful cult. The MAX run is set in a more mundane world and is about a bank employee named Simon Garth dealing with a science-based Zombie Apocalypse (though Garth eventually does become an atypical zombie himself).
  • Too Sexy for This Timeslot: invoked X-Men: Phoenix – Legacy of Fire was scheduled to be a regular old Marvel release up until someone realized it was essentially softcore pornography, at which point it was bumped up to MAX.

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