By Jim Beard with Ben Morse
Could a young artist from Queens, New York ever have imagined that one day he'd not only be writing and drawing some of the world's greatest super heroes, but also shepherding their development and expansion? Given the imagination and drive of Joe Quesada, such a situation seems highly likely.
|Original art by Alex Maleev|
Perhaps inevitably, such entrepreneurs win the attention of the "big boys" of the industry and Quesada soon entered more fully into Marvel Comics' arena, working with Palmiotti to edit Marvel Knights, a new imprint devoted to taking characters considered under-the-radar and reinventing them in bold ways. Front and center among the line sprang DAREDEVIL on which Quesada provided art to writer Kevin Smith's words and helped create a sleeper hit that kick-started a series of impressive successes for the Knights.
"The moments I remember are not so much in the office, but the after-hour activities; the nights out in the city where we felt like a million bucks and on top of the world getting to be part of the creation of some of the best super hero characters of all time," recalls Palmiotti.
In 2000, incoming President of Marvel Bill Jemas appointed Quesada to the position of Editor-in-Chief, the first time an artist had occupied the office. With the challenges of the new millennium before him, Quesada embraced his new role with an eye towards steering the company into the future without dragging its feet in the past. Perhaps no better example of this thinking can be found than the Ultimate line, an experiment in refreshing august Marvel characters yet retaining everything that made them the most popular properties on the planet.
"Putting an old war horse like me in charge of [the Ultimate] books was a bold move," notes Senior Editor Ralph Macchio, a veteran of Marvel for over three decades. "And a bolder one was the placement of then independent comics writer Brian Bendis as scripter of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN-and we all know how successfully he and artist Mark Bagley navigated that title for over one hundred superb issues [and Brian continues to this day]. It was Joe's foresight that paired them, and it was inspired."
"[Joe] was my number one advocate to come to Marvel after he became [Editor-in-Chief], and he was the number one reason I came to Marvel," says Vice President, Executive Editor Axel Alonso, who migrated to Marvel in 2001 following a decorated stint at DC's Vertigo imprint. "I just knew in my heart he was going to succeed, and I wanted to contribute to that."
In 2001 ULTIMATE X-MEN by Millar joined Bendis' blockbuster ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and Quesada recruited out-of-the-box talent to bolster Marvel's head of steam. He also garnered critical and fan praise for making the events of September 11th an in-universe tragedy, and reflecting upon it in the jam-tribute book HEROES.
Perhaps the most stunning revelations of 2001 arrived in the pages of ORIGIN, a limited series detailing the never-before-told beginnings of Marvel's most popular hero, Wolverine. Quesada's evocative covers sealed the entire project as one of the company's most memorable moments in its long history.
In 2002, "Spider-Man" joined 2001's "X-Men" as a big-budget theatrical release, with both films rocking the world's notion of what super hero movies could aspire to under Quesada watchful eye. In 2003, the Editor-in-Chief once again took the time to access his creative side by writing NYX, a look at young mutants living on the streets of New York and the comic book debut of X-23. Quesada also lured award-winning novelist and fantasist Neil Gaiman to Marvel where he produced the stunning 1602 saga.
The Ultimate line continued to grow in 2004, along with the MAX imprint, Quesada's take on no-holds-barred mature-readers comics. "Spider-Man 2" proved sequels need not be retreads of their predecessors and Quesada proved once again an artistic force with DAREDEVIL: FATHER, an
Under Quesada's tenure, the "event" made its triumphant return to the Marvel Universe, kicking off with 2005's House of M. That year also saw the debut of NEW AVENGERS, the new CAPTAIN AMERICA series and the "Fantastic Four" film. The events continued into 2006 with the universe-shattering Civil War and Quesada's equally epic appearance on television's "The Colbert Report" to promote it.
"The [second] time we talked, he was giving me CAPTAIN AMERICA and permission to break all the rules and bring back Bucky," says Eisner award-winning writer Ed Brubaker of Quesada's willingness to take risks for stories he believes in. "I really can't say enough kind things about Joe."
Though 2007 brought about such eye-openers as "The Death of Captain America," World War Hulk and MIGHTY AVENGERS, without a doubt one of the biggest bombshells of the year fell in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with "One More Day," Quesada's major project to return Spider-Man to a more streamlined status. Providing plot and pencils, Marvel's Editor-in-Chief wove a tale of the wall-crawler's darkest hour. Controversial and creative, the storyline brought massive attention to Marvel's signature character once again.
Quesada's grip on the web-slinger didn't end there. Hiring editor Steve Wacker to oversee 2008's Brand New Day for Spider-Man, he continued his policy of clearing the way at Marvel for the kind of nuanced yet powerful storytelling the company had made its name on. Secret Invasion, the
"In 10 years, Joe has pretty much led the way for Marvel to sit firmly atop the industry," says Marvel Manager, Talent Relations George Beliard. "He acknowledges that he did it with the help of the Marvel family and helps to always make it feel just like that: family. Sitting in a meeting, having Joe toss some cool story idea to the room and then noticing he's also doodled a killer Spidey or Thor sketch on his notes-you can't help but be a fan at those moments."
Beyond the four color realm, Quesada played a key role creatively in helping Marvel Studios to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008's mega-blockbuster "Iron Man." As momentum continues to roll towards upcoming releases including "Thor," "Captain America: The First Avenger" and of course "The Avengers," Quesada has been a driving force in bringing the Marvel Universe fully imagined to the big screen, earning him the new post of Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Comics in 2010. In his new role, he has also helped oversee a burgeoning slate of new Marvel animated projects, including "The Super Hero Squad Show" as well as the upcoming "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" and "Ultimate Spider-Man."
"Joe has managed in the past 10 years to move Marvel into bold new directions; whether it's Marvel Knights or the Ultimate Universe or taking chances on [new creators], he's rarely off the mark," says Eisner award winner and Emmy nominee Jeph Loeb, recently named Executive Vice President, Head of Television at Marvel. "The success and growth of Marvel during his tenure is a direct result of his ability to go with his
"He loves what he does, loves comics and especially enjoys the fans; they feel that connection and that is just [one] reason why he is great at his job," reflects Palmiotti. "The thing is, [Joe] is just beginning and anyone that knows him understands this. He is a great friend, a fantastic father and husband, and one of the finest Editors-in-Chief that Marvel Comics has ever seen."
As Marvel opens a new decade, now a part of the Disney family and matching its comic book success with incredible achievements across all forms of media, we salute the man who has been living the dream and making dreams come true for 10 years, Joe Quesada.
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