Rob Liefeld began his successful career at DC as the artist on the Hawk & Dove mini-series. His style, fresh and dynamic, earned him some positive attention and his name began to be known. But he'd have to wait to firmly establish himself in the industry until the late 80s/early 90s and his work on The New Mutants, a Marvel series which had difficulties prior to his arrival. He redesigned the characters and introduced some instant fan favorites like Cable, the mentor of the team from the future, Domino, a mercenary working with Cable, and Deadpool, another mercenary working for Tolliver, a mysterious businessman trying to kill Cable.
1 million copies : X-Force
With the success of New Mutants, Marvel decided to have Liefeld take the team in a new direction: X-Force. Upon its release, 1 million copies of the first issue were sold. Liefeld became famous. The characters were cool and the stories were more action packed than the other X-Titles; the goal of X-Force was to seek out and attack the super-villains instead of waiting for them. Liefeld co-wrote and penciled the first twelve issues.
Extreme Studios - Youngblood
In 1992, Liefeld decided to leave Marvel and form Image Comics along with some fellow artists (Jim Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, Whilce Portacio and Marc Silvestri). He founded Extreme Studios and created high selling books such as Youngblood, Brigade, and Prophet among others at the time.
During this period he earned some detractors and negativity, including charges that he exhibited characteristics of someone whose only exposure to drawing came in the form of other comics. On a more practical business level, some titles arrived late or never shipped at all, angering dealers and alienating readers. Nevertheless, he continued to create titles that managed to attract fans. While at Image, Extreme Studios provided a spotlight for several young upcoming artists like Jeff Matsuda (Newmen), Stephen Platt (Prophet), Marat Mychaels (Brigade), as well as a strong lineup of inkers such as Danny Miki, Jon Sibal, Norm Rapmund, and Marlo Alquiza.
Liefeld then founded Maximum Press, separate from Image, to explore some new directions. This move would ultimately bring about his end at Image Comics, upsetting the other founders who thought the move damaged Image, leading to a vote by the founding partners to force Liefeld out. Liefeld and Image counter-sued each other for millions of dollars, resulting in an undisclosed settlement which neither party will comment on to this day.
In 1996, Marvel asked Liefeld and Jim Lee to help revive their iconic flagship series Captain America, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Avengers after the Onslaught storyline. Marvel created Heroes Reborn, an alternate universe retelling of the origins of the teams and characters. Liefeld worked on Cap and Avengers while Lee worked on the FF and Iron Man.
After 6 successful yet controversial issues, including the highest selling Captain America issues ever, Liefeld's run on the series ended. Marvel, in the midst of financial turmoil leading to the company's bankruptcy, attempted to renegotiate the terms of the deal with Lee and Liefeld, offering them a smaller amount of money for the projects. While Lee accepted the revised contract and continued his work on Fantastic Four and Iron Man, Liefeld rejected the new terms and his two titles were given to Lee's studio to complete.
Following the end of his Marvel return and Maximum Press, Awesome Entertainment was born. Jeph Loeb was a big part of it as well as emerging talents like Ian Churchill and Keron Grant. Youngblood and Supreme were revised by Alan Moore and Steve Skroce to critical acclaim. The Coven was a success as well with Churchill and Loeb. Kaboom gained some good reviews and sales with Jeff Matsuda as the artist. Liefeld was back at the pencils with the series Re:Gex and Fighting American. Fighting American had several well received mini-series including Fighting American : Dogs of War, written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Stephen Platt. Despite critical success and decent sales during the mid-late 90s downturn, Awesome was forced to close its doors after investors backed out once they saw a return on their capital, leaving some series without an ending.
Back to Marvel
Marvel asked Liefeld to come back again to work on Cable. He drew 3 issues during The Twelve storyline. He also worked on 2 issues of Wolverine some time later, in which he introduced some new characters.
Later in 2006 Liefeld worked on an X-Force mini-series pitting the team against Skornn, bringing good sales and earning him another Marvel project. This was Onslaught Reborn, a 5-part mini series which serves as a sequel to Heroes Reborn, and emerged from events in Marvel's Onslaught Saga, House of M, and Fatal Attractions. The first two issues sold out almost instantaneously, proving his lasting power and popularity in the industry once again.
In 2010 Liefeld drew several issues of Deadpool, his Deathstroke-inspired creation for Marvel. When Deadpool was announced as a movie in 2016, Liefeld published a special OGN for Marvel entitled Deadpool: Bad Blood. Published on May 16th 2017. A sequel, Deadpool: Badder Blood, was planned for 2019 but never released.
Liefeld created a new character for Marvel called Major X, a mutant refugee from an alternate reality called X-Istence and the son of Cable & Storm, who first appeared on a variant cover of Spider-Man/Deadpool #47 on March 13th 2019. However, the character was used on the cover without Liefeld's permission as it was intended to be a variant cover for Deadpool #10 the week before. Like Deadpool before him, Major X proved to be a success after his comic book debut and was given a six issue mini-series, Major X, on April 3rd 2019.
Arcade Comics hired Liefeld and Youngblood was back anew with Youngblood : Bloodsport. Mark Millar wrote and Liefeld penciled it.
Currently, Arcade's status with Liefeld's properties is up in the air as Liefeld reunited with Image as a creator, not as a co-owner.
To DC Comics, and Gone Again
In 2011, Liefeld was drawing art for the new Hawk and Dove, part of DC's New 52 revamp. Hawk & Dove was cancelled after issue 8 as it was revealed that Hawk & Dove was one of the six lowest selling titles of the New 52. In May, Liefeld took on three new creative responsibilities for New 52 as he wrote and illustrated Deathstroke, Savage Hawkman, & Grifter.
Rob Liefeld suddenly quit DC Comics on August 22, 2012, citing his animosity towards editor Brian Smith as main reason for leaving. Liefeld then took to his own Twitter account to expand upon the reasoning behind his decision and offered more reasons, such as frequent rewrites of his material by the editors of DC Comics. He stated his plans for the future would involve returning to write for his comic company Image Comics, such as Bloodstrike, Brigade, in addition to other creations not yet in production.
Marvel has tapped Liefeld to work on a new Killraven series with Robert Kirkman as writer in 2006. However, delays for its solicitation release date were pushed between 2009 to 2011...and nothing was ever materialized ever since.
The Assembled which promised to bring together nearly every character from the Extreme Studios Universe in 2008. Supreme controls The Supremacy and imposed his rule on the world. Heroes scattered and formed to rebel factions in order to break Supreme's rule. The Assembled consist of Professor Night, Brick of Doom's 4, and Shaft. Alas, nothing became of after it was advertised in the Suprema one-shot in 2006.
In 2008, Liefeld has published a seven part graphic novel series titled Armageddon Now about World War III.
At Image Comics he worked on Image United in 2009 and the comeback of some of his Extreme Studio series including Brigade. Sadly, Image United remains incomplete due to delays after the 2nd issue, and will unlikely ever be completed.
Liefeld worked on a G.I. Joe spin-off book featuring the ninja Snake-Eyes called Snake Eyes: Deadgame for IDW Publishing on July 15th 2020. It was also co-written by Chad Bowers. A special one-shot issue was also published called Snake Eye: Deadgame - Declassified on December 1st 2021.
Lielfed briefly worked on The Mighty Crusaders: The Shield for Archie Comics as both writer and artist on June 30th 2021. It was intended to be a series of one-shots centering on each member of The Mighty Crusaders. Liefeld left after a dispute of a variant cover spoiling the story.
Liefeld published a special 30th anniversary for X-Force for Marvel called X-Force: Killshot Anniversary Special to commemorate the comic book that made him a success in 1991. It was released on November 24th 2021.
A Brigade: Remastered Edition was recently released on September 28th 2022, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of Brigade. It also contains a sneak peak on a new comic book called Heirborne which set to be released in 2023 as part of the "Liefeldverse".
Youngblood No More
As of August 1st 2019, Rob Liefeld announced on his Facebook page that he wants nothing to do with Youngblood over a tricky exchange of rights to the characters when Liefeld left Image to form Awesome Entertainment in 1997. Details include selling Youngblood for movie deals that never manifested and toy deals to a third party - Scott Rosenburg - who then sold the Youngblood property to Andrew Rev. Image Comics will no longer publish Youngblood or any involvement. On April 17th 2020, Rob Liefeld announced on his Twitter accout that he is currently developing a "replacement for Youngblood" in the form of a new creation called "EKO 92". Along with EKO 92, Rob is also currently developing two more projects - "The Defiants" and "Cash Carter & the Sci 5".
The Defiants was released on January 20th 2022. Liefeld introduced The Defiants as a non-fungible token (NFT) to cater blockchain technology and cryptocurrency on the digital marketplace MakersPlace (a digital art creation platform for artists to auction off their artwork) as oppose to physical comic book in comic book stores. So far there are trading cards featuring the roster of The Defiants (Argos, Astra, Golden Rage, RedStone, and Vandel).
No release dates for the other two projects or the new Brigade series at this time.
Creations of Rob Liefeld