[KISS KISS BANG BANG cover by Phil Noto.]

As first noted in the comics blogosphere by Graeme McMillan, Marvel’s proposed KISS KISS BANG BANG and ROUTE 666 Crossgen revivals have been shelved indefinitely. Word came via Tom Brevoort’s rolling press conference, i.e. Formspring. Graeme wrote:

The two titles, announced at last year’s Fan Expo Canada, had originally been due to launch in December 2011 and February 2012 respectively, but were said to be moved to later in 2012 last November. The “shelving” of the titles should come as little surprise; despite the high quality of books like Ruse and Mystic (The latter of which was possibly my favorite Marvel book of last year, next to Daredevil), the line didn’t fare well in the direct market with the final issue released, Mystic #4, only selling an estimated 6,000 copies in the US.

KISS KISS BANG BANG and ROUTE 666 were both written by Tony Bedard with art by Mike Perkins and Karl Moline respectively. They were readable, likable comics but genre-wise pretty far outside what succeeds at Marvel these days—spy and horror.

The thud of the Crossgen revival reaffirms my suspicion that this was something that came up in a Disney/Marvel meeting and maybe was just a pro forma attempt—despite the top-notch creative teams like Peter Milligan and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa—and not a full-bodied campaign. Disney overspent an insane amount of money for the Crossgen library, and this was the last attempt to get some return on that.

Now, if some OTHER comics company had the Crossgen library, you can bet they’d still be flogging the hell out of it. But at Marvel it didn’t make much sense.

Note that actual artwork was created for these issues. Maybe these could be released as digital-only?


  1. This reeks of “we spent too much money on this; we need to justify that money somehow.”

    Speaking of a ton of money down the drain – how’s that MarvelMan thing working out? Only Marvel is arrogant enough to spend a ton of money, yell about it to the heavens, and then not be able to use it due to not doing their due diligence.

    The real shame is Gary Leach was all set to redraw the first 16 issues until Marvel messed it all up. Oh well….

    Sorry – tangent. Marvel should just reprint the original CrossGen books and call it a day. There were some enjoyable comics from CG and lots of early work from people who went on to great success.

  2. A shame. Marvel were never committed anyway – no promotion, only 4-issue minis, no real game plan – even though I remember Joe Q saying once he wished Marvel published more than superheroes. Since most publishers out there (bar the Big Two) offer lots of genres not superheroes, Crossgen could’ve helped Marvel. It could even have been their Vertigo, if handled right. Heck, the fantasy element of Crossgen could’ve been a winner for Marvel (check: Hunger Games audience). Oh well. Let sleeping dogs lie, etc.

  3. Dammit, I was really looking forward to the return of KISS KISS, BANG BANG. Well, at least this time KKBB didn’t end one issue short of a trade collection.

    Releasing the CrossGen books as digital exclusives makes perfect sense…which is why, of course, that Marvel won’t do it.

  4. Publishers Weekly reported that Disney paid $1 Million for CrossGen, mostly for the Abazad property, which it tried to adapt as a young adult novel. (Had they continued the graphic novel, it would probably have won some library awards by now.)

    I always felt that DC should have acquired them, getting a genre imprint which was popular, yet produced titles which didn’t quite fit in with DC. Of course, seeing what happened to Wildstorm, it probably would have suffered the same fate.

    Oh, and they would also have acquired CrossGen’s excellent comic viewer, which powered their Comics On the Web site. (Patent# 7882368)

    Will Disney enforce that patent? The licensing fees alone would probably cover the purchase price.

    (You know all that talk wondering if digital comics would hurt paper sales? CrossGen proved they wouldn’t ten years ago. Actually, they encourage readers to go buy the paper issues, a fact that Boom! proved with their MySpace edition of North Wind.)


    I wonder why Marvel didn’t test the market with reprinting the graphic novels first?

  5. Shelved because they’re putting all their money behind pushing the X-franchises to their sheer limit. “They make tons of money since their relaunch” and the EIC is biased since he was the lead on the line before replacing Joe.

  6. “(You know all that talk wondering if digital comics would hurt paper sales? CrossGen proved they wouldn’t ten years ago. Actually, they encourage readers to go buy the paper issues, a fact that Boom! proved with their MySpace edition of North Wind.)”

    I wouldn’t use CrossGen or Northwind as examples of success. CrossGen went under with low sales numbers. North Wind didn’t even make the Top 300 from the months it was released (December 2007-April 2008) putting it somewhere below 2,000 copies in sales.

  7. The worst that can happen to a label is to be bought by Marvel. They have never been able to make it work, even for their own label (except the Ultimate universe, which is almost a carbon copy of the Marvel universe so it doesn’t really count).
    I wish anybody else would have bought it. We plan a Crossgen issue of our mag, describing everything Crossgen produced, with some interviews for this summer. Marvel just made it easier for us to make it a complete issue :'(

  8. Not a surprise. If it isn’t one of their superhero properties or something owned by their Disney overlords Marvel won’t publish it.

  9. Ruse was fun, and I actually just flipped through the Mystic TPB at B&N during my lunchbreak. Good stuff.

  10. Ruse was EXCELLENT! And I was so excited for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This is entirely disappointing, and another nail in the coffin for a former Marvel Zombie. But that’s okay; Marvel wants superhero books and they are getting superhero books. For me I’m just bored to death with their output and consistently looking forward to DC’s genre-twist on superheroes. I’d also like to mention that Image is producing the best comics of the industry right now.

  11. This is heartbreaking.
    I prefer genre comics to superhero. Crossgen had some of the most well-written and well illustrated genre comics ever. Those stories deserve to continue to have a life. Marvel has bored me to death with their over saturation of X-books. Hey Marvel, it’s time to scale back. Why don’t you come up with some NEW ideas?

  12. The truth is mighty Marvel just doesn’t know how to use the products from Disney, Crossgen, Malibu and ABC tv that it has access to!

    The current wave of comics from Marvel have too much action and not enogh story; something that Stan Lee criticised before the 90’s comics implosion.

    There are ways and means of utilising the massive archives that Marvel has inherited from Disney and Malibu but, trying to talk sense to Marvel or Disney is downright impossible!


  13. At the very least, they should put CrossGen’s back catalog on Marvel Unlimited.

    Chris Hero – Marvelman has worked out pretty well so far.

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