I was already a huge fan of anime, especially after rediscovering my love for it with aimes like Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X in the US), Tekkaman Blade (Teknoman in the US), Ranma 1/2, Dragon Ball Z, and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (simply Sailor Moon in the US). His art was absolutely energetic and a complete departure from the grim and gritty art that made the X-Men franchise a household name. The manga/anime quality to it was a perfect match for a comic like X-Men. The action scenes were incredible, while he also could draw fantastic quiet scenes as well. There are times when you look at an artist and you just know there's going to be a shift in the scenery. It happened with pre-Image Marvel Comics with suoerstar artists like Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, you saw Joe Mad and you knew you were witnessing something special.
He was at his absolute best during this X-Men run. It's like he just cut loose and had fun with the redesign of the characters during Age of Apocalypse.
Towards the end of his contract he had expressed how the title was becoming to dark and depressing for his tastes. Rumor had it that he wanted to stay on Marvel and jump to Spider-Man, but when it didn't happen, he decided that along with J Scott Campbell (Gen 13, from Image/Wildstorm) and Humberto Ramos (Impulse, DC Comics) would team together and form Cliffhanger!, an imprint within Jim Lee's Wildstorms Studios. J Scott Campbell would debut Danger Girl, the spy/action/humor book, Crimson, the vampire book by Humberto Ramos, and of course, Joe Madureira's fantasy epic, Battle Chasers.
But then problems started. Inker Tom McWeeney had to leave the book after he was forced to retire due to a medical condition. And the issues kept getting delayed and pushed back, even after Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics, effectively having Cliffhanger! fall under the DC banner as well. After many delays resulting in 2-3 issues a year, Joe Mad left Cliffhanger/DC and took Battle Chasers with him back to Image comics, this time by himself. Co-writer Munier Sharrieff left the book, and with issue 9, Mad took full writing responsibilities. He seemed excited, energized by the move to Image, especially with the ads no longer interrupting the flow of his pages in the comic. And just like that, suddenly, Battle Chasers was gone.
Unfortunately, production of the game was cancelled and he eventually landed on Realm Interactive, where he was involved in the game Dungeon Runners, released after Realm Interactive was bought out by NCsoft.
Afterwards, Joe Mad would return to comics in late 2007 with the release of Ultimates 3, once more in Marvel. Written by Jeph Loeb, this controversial title, though enjoying of good sales , was heavily criticized for it's writing. During 2007, he began work on what would be his most successful video game, Darksiders. Released in 2009, the game would have a sequel released in 2012. But in between, Mad once more took to Marvel, this time around with Spider-Man.
However, he would only be on for three issues of the series.
Afterwards he had a brief run as well on Savage Wolverine 6-8, and later in 2014, he would do the artwork on Inhumans issues 1-3.
THQ, the video game company that held the rights to the Darksiders franchise went bankrupt in midst of all this, and was forced to sell all it's assets to different studios.
By that time however Joe Mad, who was creative director, had resigned and formed a new studio, Airship Syndicate, and as we all know by now, last Wednesday, February 25, 2015, fourteen years to the date the last issue of Battle Chasers was published, it was announced it would return as both a comic and a game.
The news sent the comic book community and the video game community abuzz. At long last, BC is going to continue, once again making it one of the most eagerly anticipated releases in the industry. Most everyone will keep their eyes open for this one. I know that as a fan o Joe Madureira, who I've had the honor of meeting and chatting with twice, can not wait to finally see this story continue and even play the game whenever it is released as well. It's a great time to be a fan.
As always, feel free to share your opinions, will you get the books/games when it comes out? Is there a Joe Mad moment you want to share? Sound off at the comments section below and thank you for reading!