Marvel's Icon Imprint Touts 10th Anniversary With 'Men of Wrath' (Exclusive Preview)

A new five-issue miniseries by writer Jason Aaron and artist Ron Garney will debut this fall
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Creator-owned comics are all the buzzy rage these days.

Despite the popularity of the event comics from Marvel and DC, the sheer number of big-name writers and artists doing independent or creator-owned work is staggering, showing that readers are hungering for original characters and, importantly, the thrill of discovering something new.

There are benefits for the writers and artists too, especially those working for the Big Two. They get to expand their imaginations and try out fresh concepts and intellectual property while still keeping a toehold in the corporate comic world.

Image Comics is a publisher that has staked out a sizeable claim on original works, but Marvel — away from the hype generated by your Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men titles — is quietly doing its part in the sphere with its Icon Comics imprint.

The line celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall and is doing so by launching Men of Wrath, a new five-issue miniseries by writer Jason Aaron and artist Ron Garney.

Aaron made his mark with the gritty and brutal creator-owned comic Scalped (which was published by DC's creator-owned and mature label Vertigo). Wrath is just as gritty and brutal, centering on a contract killer whose family has had its hands soaked in blood for a century. Things even get bleaker when the man's latest target is his own son.

Axel Alonso, Marvel's editor-in-chief who oversees Icon, points out that unlike other creator-owned imprints, Marvel isn't soliciting titles. Rather, it's reserved for the folks that Marvel already works with.

"This is a line that is very much reserved for creators who are deeply involved in our yearly plans," he says. "We're not reaching out to the creative community."

Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar have been the biggest names to put out books from Icon. Bendis, the prolific writer behind Ultimate Spider-Man and countless Avengers and X-Men books, has Powers, Brilliant and United States of Murder Inc. publishing now.

Millar has slowly forsaken corporate comics to focus on his own books, with the just-wrapped Kick-Ass being the biggest success story.

Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and David Mack are also some of the creators who have seen books housed at Icon.

Aaron has been waiting awhile to have a book out from the imprint. The writer won a Marvel talent search in 2001 with a Wolverine story before going on to make a name for himself with Scalped. He is now under a semi-exclusive contract with Marvel and writing books such as Thor: God of Thunder and the recent event miniseries Original Sin.

"Ever since I came to Marvel I've wanted to throw my name into the Icon hat. It's a pretty select imprint with a limited number of creators. I always wanted to add my name to that list.

Unlike most other creator-owned imprints from publishers, Icon creators retain 100 percent of the media rights. Millar greatly benefited on that point with the screen success of Kick-Ass and has the upcoming Colin Firth movie Kingsmen: The Secret Service based on his Icon book Secret Service. Bendis is poised to do that when Powers hits the small screen next year.

Aaron says he didn't approach Wrath with Hollywood in mind. "I just want to do the comic. Comics is the be-all and end-all for me."

Take an exclusive look at the first five pages of Men of Wrath:

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