Marvel Cancels X-23; Has No More Regular Series Written By Female Writers

Yesterday, CBR noticed that the February solicitations from Marvel Comics did not include the series X-23. Marvel Comics has confirmed that the series has indeed been canceled.

This announcement comes as no surprise to us. Not only had we heard rumblings that this series in particular was marked for death, but we’d heard that many of the lower selling Marvel series are being looked at with a gaze akin to that of the Eye of Sauron. Alpha Flight has already fallen under this particular glare. The question remains: who will be next?

It would seem that there are a couple of things going on at Marvel Comics right now. One, as I said, the lower selling series are in increased danger of cancellation. As Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso noted in his weekly CBR feature, the lower selling books, like Alpha Flight, have run smack dab into “new budgetary mandates.” Couple that with recent layoffs of editorial and production staff and it’s pretty clear that there is some serious belt tightening going on at Marvel right now. Second, and you have no doubt noticed this already, Marvel Comics has taken to double shipping its more popular titles: Uncanny X-Force, Amazing Spider-Man, FF, etc. The thinking behind these two points is obvious: they hope that you’re so attached to the popular and heavily buzzed about books that you will have no problem picking them up twice a month. So right now at Marvel Comics, it would seem that the plan is to sell fewer books more often.

There is a second point to consider in the announcement about the cancellation of X-23. When the New 52 was announced at DC Comics, many were up in arms that there were few female creators among the new creative teams and in particular, that there was only one regular series written by a woman (Batgirl by Gail Simone). With the cancellation of X-23, all of the regular series from Marvel Comics are now being written by men. Will there be a similar outcry about Marvel Comics? We shall see.


  1. this won’t go over well…..

  2. While I’m all for a more diverse set of creative voices, let’s not pretend that this is just a comics problem. What percentage of A-list Hollywood directors are female? How about record producers? Corporate CEOs?

    There’s a larger cultural issue at play here, so blaming individual companies is a little unfair. Not totally unfair, because Marvel and DC could easily hire more female creators if they wanted to.

    That said, I’m sure we’ll see Marjorie Liu pop up somewhere else. And doesn’t she have a pretty successful career as a novelist?

  3. I’d like to simply believe that “if your good, your good.”

    Example: Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan on CONAN that was announced yesterday.

    No matter the sex of the writer/illustrator. Hope that is the mindset of DC/Marvel.

    • I’m with you on this. When if comes to the creator issue, no one actually brings up the fact that 90% of the comic book audience is male so that will tend to lead to less females trying to break into comics. I’m pretty sure that DC and Marvel are really taking a “if your good, your good” stance when hiring their creators. They are just looking for people that can help them sell books.

  4. i think what we’re seeing is the business expenses and hard costs involved in making these B-list books, is no longer worth it. Its a “Why spend $100 to make $5 profit?” kinda deal.

    • And that speaks to a larger point (it might have been you that brought it up, wally) that Marvel — and probably DC too — can’t seem to put out a book without having a dozen or so people putting together from the creative and production side. Does it cost every company $100 (to use the previous arbitrary number) to put out a book every month?

      I imagine that Marvel and DC’s overhead on a book is pretty high in comparison to some of the mid-level publishers and indie creators. That, or Marvel/DC really like putting everyone’s name in the credits.

    • i keep looking to books like Chew as the model…2 guys doing most all the work.

    • I also would think all of those exclusive contracts that the companies have doesn’t help the situation. I wonder what the break even point is for a smaller publisher (Image/Dark Horse) as compared to DC of Marvel is.

    • Chew, while I love the book and the 2 guys that do it, also has a very erratic and disappointing release schedule, and sometimes they don’t even hit the schedule.

    • I would love to hear a more informed take on this idea.

      Why is it that Marvel and DC books require SO MANY people, while a solid book from a smaller company requires just a few?

    • I dont think people making the book cheaper to produce would really work. the same amount of work would need to be done. on Chew there are only 2 people but they are still doing the same number of jobs. layman is writer and letterer, guillory is penciller inker and colorist. This works fine on an image book because no one gets a page rate. they are paid entirely on profits. it benefits them to have fewer people to split it with.

      on a marvel or dc book, people get page rates. guarantted pay for each page regardless of how it sells, if the writer also has to do the letters, he would get the writers page rate AND the letterers. Same thing with a penciller/inker/colorist. they would be paid the page rate for 3 jobs and they should because it would take much more time to do each page. While you may be able to negotiate some kind of deal for combining jobs you would also lose a lot of time as very few people are as competent in all the jobs. If bendis had to letter his books, he couldnt write as many and you lose a top selling book. Then bendis loses the income for writing one book (and the royalties) but gains a discounted page rate for lettering three. If he’s at all smart he’d, just hire the letterer himself, pay him the page rate and write the extra book. Not to mention the fact that most of the best pencillers are slower and worse than the best inkers. If jim lee pencilled and inked justice league the book wouldnt look nearly as good, and it would come out far less often resulting in lower sales and fewer issues a year which meaning less income. and they would ultimately save a few dollars a page but lose half the issues of a top selling book.

      Remember siegel and shuster did everything but the colors on their first superman story (coloring was much more complex back then on a technical side. manual color seperations were a bitch) but they soon realiized that they could pay people to produce work in their style and create more pages every month. thus the old studio system was born, with lots of people in specialized jobs creating work at a very fast rate. eventually companies realized they didnt need the studio middlemen and cut them out and just went right to the specialized page rate freelancers themselves.

      most comic fans dont seem to really understand how a comic gets made, from the initial idea to the shelf. The actual creation, production, and distribution (let alone things like editorial, sales and most of all navigating being part of a large corprate structure) are complex and apparently largely unknown. even more so how those things have functioned and evolved historically. Which of course makes sense as you cant get any of that from just reading comics, only through either research or actually doing it. a great deal of the questions (and frustrations) of fans would be lessened if they understood the process more.

    • i hire creative freelancers all the time. Its MUCH cheaper to hire one person to do 3 jobs than 3 people to do 3 jobs. You don’t pay the jack of all trades 3 rates….you just don’t have to in a buyers market where there is no shortage of qualified pros looking for work. The only thing you sacrifice is time, but sometimes its actually faster to have one person do everything. Collaboration isn’t always a positive thing.

      Comics publishers have to hire so many people because of the breakneck speed in which books get made. Stuff has to be worked on simultaneously. So really the fact that we want our comics delivered monthly and on time, makes them cost more to produce.

    • as far as exclusive contracts, it seems like there are fewer and fewer especially in the mid level creators. For them the contract doesnt mean big bucks though, mostly just slightly better page rates, guarantees number of pages and the ability to opt in and pay for health care. For big creators, in comics like in movies, tv, sports sales and just about anything if you generate lots of revenue for a company, you get paid more. if you dont, then another company that would like that revenue will pay you more. If the companies wont, then creators can move to a better paying indusrty. thats how we lost barry smith, jim steranko, bill sienkewicz, dave mckean, john cassiday, neil gaiman and many others. and we will continue to lose more as top creators realize they make more money with one illustration at “real” illustrator rates than a whole comic, dwayne mcduffie once said he made more money writing two animation scripts than a year of comics.

      companies can pay talent less overall than in other media because they bank of that love of comics driving people to work against their own economic interests, and they know they are always hungry if less talented creators who will step up if other leave. no offense to any artist or writer out there struggling in the small press or their fans, but i look at a lot of artists alleys and small press areas of cons and while there is a lot of decent stuff out there, theres not much, if any that rivals smith, steranko, sienkewicz mckean cassiday gaiman and others who have moved on to greener pastures

    • wally i hear what your saying, but graphic design functions a little differently. your jack of all trades can do 3 jobs for less than the price of 3 because there is much more overlap in skill sets and various ways to increase productivity so that it takes them less time. if a job takes 10 hours and you get a flat $100 for it, and doing three only takes 25 hours you can chagre $250 and make the same money. If it takes you 30 hours and you are still only makiing $250 then you are just taking a pay cut. how is that any different from just lowering the page rate in the first place?

      This has happened in comics to some extent with the rise of penciller/inkers. many of them can cut corners out of their pencils and do a full page in less time than it takes to have one person pencil and one person ink. also true for pencillers who do really tight pencils which are then scanned and darkened and colored. in the case of th penciller inker, this has also coincided with shipping issues. if it takes 3 weeks to pencil an issue and 2 weeks to ink it, then guess what you cant keep a monthly schedule. and you either ship fewer issues a year(ie make less money) or use fill ins (which people complain about and risks losiing sales) if it takes one guy three weeks to pencil and another guy 2 weeks to ink, then they can work simultaneously and get the book done in 3 weeks instead of 5. hell then you can stock pile issues or double ship and increase pay. in the case of eliminating the iker, 9 out of 10 times the book looks like shit

      comic fans seem to think they know how to do things better than the companies that have been doing it for years. It’s easy to assume that because they often do things we dont like or understand, but often there are good reasons. I doubt if someone told dand didio that they would dave money by using fewer people hed be ” oh my god why didnt i think oif that befire! we have been doing it wrong for 75 years!” he probably explain why it wouldnt work and probably use the same point i have made and a few more with spreadsheets and actual numbers showing how it wouldnt work. marvel and dc are big companies that are very good at finding ways to save money.

    • also does anyone remember some years back when marvel announcd a new epic comics? it was similar to the image model in that they payed a flat fee of $7000 for a completed book. the creative team would split it any way they want and it would all be pitch based and the teams would develop the project them selves and even assembe the team themselves (and do all the production, they delivered final print ready files) and there would be very little editorial so there wouldnt be need to hire more editors or production to handle the books. this considerable lowered the cost of doing comics so those books would have a much much lower cancellation threshold. this seemed like a good way to get fresh talent to create comics that could be profitable with lower sales.

      it failed. established pros didnt want to take the pay cut, since they could just do indy work for losuy pay and get to keep ownership. nearly all of the fresh new talent didnt produce work that was good enough and marvel wound up hiring more editors to sift through the submissions. ultimately on 3 books god made, trouble by mark millar and terry dodson, the token pro book to give the line some credibility, crimson dynamo and a one shot epic anthology. none of it was very good, and the line dies when jemas was fired.

      marvel learned lowering costs often emans lowering quality which often means lowering sales. its called you get what you pay for.

    • and lastly i really need to proofread before i hit send.

  5. I’m kind of amazed it lasted this long.

  6. It’ll go fairly unnoticed sadly. The DC debate came in wake of mass PR shake up and was a criticism of a line wide rejiggling. Here Marvel are not likely to announce how many books they’ve been forced to can so few will bother paying attention. Its not an interesting debate to many.

    • Btw the way I’m not saying this is an intentional choice to lay them off. That’s a pretty major conspiracy theory just saying it is a bit sad to lack a wider range of creative voice as was said above. Hopefully gender shouldn’t make to much difference to talent but its always nice to have new eyes in an industry of creativity.

  7. no. Only DC comics can do wrong in the eyes of comic book fandom (outside of 3.99 debates) There was all this screaming about women’s rights prior to September while Marvel was just sitting there with no crap thrown its way. MARVEL HAD ONE TITLE WITH A FEMALE LEAD! ONE! And no one cared. But DC doesn’t GIVE jobs to women to meet some non-existent quota and the world implodes.

    • This is all said tongue-in-cheek, but I think the female talent working at the big two are top level talent. I’d love to see more women writing the big names and drawing the big titles, but I was just trying to point out that Marvel was just as bad in this regard, but somehow immune to scrunity.

    • and I meant the first statment was tongue in cheek, not the comment about women being good writer. Boy, could that have been read wrong haha

    • This is why no one can talk about anything, so defensive! Just say what you wanna say man!

    • @sloman gotta love the post to clarify a post to clarify a post! But seriously, I always thought DC caught shit for stuff that Marvel never gets backlash for. From continuity crap, to pricing, to portrayal of female characters. The female creater issue is just one of them.

  8. I was talking to a friend recently who runs a flash fiction website, based entirely on voluntary submissions, and the vast majority of their submissions are from male writers. It appears that there’s simply more men out there producing content. I’m sure there are a whole host of reasons for that, perhaps those should be addressed before we start getting on the publishers’ cases.

  9. This book will be missed, it was a really good book. Second the article also stated that Liu commented on her twitter page that she has other unannounced marvel projects in the works.

  10. Seriously, does it really matter if a particular book is written by a woman or not? Has the equal opportunity/affirmative action mindset really gotten itself entrenched into comics now? There are plenty of amazing female creators on the art side, whose names will draw me to a book. Perhaps that’s just the side of things they generally prefer. Comics have generally been a boys club anyway. Customer base is pretty skewed to the Y chromosome. I mean really, this is almost like complaining about no females playing in the NFL.

    Can’t say I am particularly bothered by X23 being cancelled either. Sorry for the fans, but I am Wolverined out. One was already too many, three Wolverines is complete overkill.

  11. Why don’t we start an occupy comics to stop all the big name writers who receive huge page rates and multiple books which hurts the production of lesser selling books from struggling new creators from being profitable? 😉

  12. I’m not entirely surprised by this development. For quite some time (since the spin off explosions of the 90’s to be exact) I’ve felt that both of the big 2 are spread way too thinly to maintain and that some constriction needed to occur. With DC’s relaunch they accomplished that scaling back their output by close to 30 books a month, and Marvel has needed to do the same. I might not agree with all the specifics of what they have chosen (I dont think we need 3-8 books in certain franchises) but I definitely support the entirety of the line being lowered to more manageable #’s.

  13. X-23 was actually selling better than a few comics Marvel is still publishing. Will they be next?


  14. Why does this get cancelled but we still have Daken Dark Wolverine still running? I don’t understand and shake my head at this development.

  15. X-23 outsold Avengers Academy, Black Panther, Daken, Ghost Rider, Thunderbolts, and X-Factor. Marvel hasn’t said why the book was cancelled either, could be they have a project for Liu they think will do better, have other plans for the character etc.

    • Sales placement were from diamond 300 numbers for october that CBR released.

    • interesting! This kind of information always puzzles me.

    • Don’t forget that Marvel has pre-order information for the next few months as well as sales forecast models based on previous sales data that is believed to be more accurate than the diamond numbers.

      And remember not every creator gets paid the same, meaning the make or break number of sales can vary from book to book…it’s entirely possible that X-23 costs more to produce than the titles you’ve listed.

    • Yes but sales are never going to be the only factor. As has been brought up when this press release came out, X-23 isnt going away. She will be involved in the Venom event coming next year as well as joining Avengers Academy. It may simply be that the powers that be felt she was being spread too thin and will become the featured member in one of those other storylines. Most likely Axel & Co. are hoping to fold in some of the X-23 monthly buyers into those other titles without forcing them to make the choice of what to cut from their budget.

    • I thought i’d take a second to give you the actual answer to why this got cancelled and other books with lower sales didn’t: TRAJECTORY. Over the last 11 issues, X-23’s numbers dropped by 4,000 sales units, with little likelyhood that the trend will turn around.

      While other titles have lower sales, they are being kept around because they are stable.

  16. This isn’t politics.

  17. She had a good run. I really like the character and hope she is heavily featured in other comics. Also, I feel its important to have women and minorities writing in comics. It gives a different perspective and could potentially attract new readers. A bunch of white 30yo middleclass men are going to have a similar worldview. I bet if Storm got her own comic and it was written by a 40yo black woman it would ring a little more true.

  18. I bought every issue, based on the fact that Marjorie was the writer. A good character, well-written and a fairly consistent run, with great art on recent issues by Phil Noto. I look forward to seeing more of this character in other titles, and wish Ms. Liu much success in her future endeavors.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some future cancellations, or further shakeups. I doubt Black Panther will be outright cancelled, since that is a continuation of Daredevi: MWF numbering. I hope that Thunderbolts can at least make it to #200 before getting cancelled. Daken, AA, Ghost Rider and X-Factor all have to be really close to getting the axe, too.

  19. Makes sense who reads this??

    Im not ignoring the ppl above that wrote that they read it and not to come off as insulting but if there is indeed people that have read an enjoyed this title im sure its very few and shouldnt be looked at it getting cancelled because of a female writer but more so because of the pure lack of intrest of this character. Im surprised Daken is even still going although ill admit i dont know if ethier title is good or not they may be

    • Who said it was canceled *because* the writer is female?

    • Certainly not you in this article (i did read it) i was just speaking on the people who im sure would somehow try to connect the two and start an uproar over why there are so few female writers in the comic industry that you were reffering to in the first place which took place over at Dc. From what ive heard Marvel for some reason already has that image for some reason which i cant speak on for lack of knowledge on the subject.

      My bad to come across that way

  20. I’m all for having the most talented and creative people working but this decision was about sales not about gender.

    Now if you ask the big 2 how many offers they’ve made Majorie Liu, Gail Simone and the like to write their flagship books or a summer event crossover I’d be curious to know the answer to that question.

    When was the last woman or ethnic minority to write a run of Detective or Spider-Man?

  21. i also just realized i really dont know the ethnicity of many creators, unless they have a particularly ethnic name (which can be deceiving, i have a hispanic last name but thats mostly because my great great grandfather was from spain) or i have seen pics of them or at cons.

  22. I like to see X-23 in X-Force again now that Wolverine is leaving I think. For the fans of X-23 title sorry It’s getting axed I picked it during the Daken crossover and thought it was a fun comic.

  23. There’s a little bit of apples and oranges in the ‘female creators’ comparison you’re talking about because, for one thing, when DC announced the new 52 there were ONLY ongoing titles to consider. Marvel has been more miniseries dependent and so, for instance, can point to Jen Van Meter with Avengers Solo. Marvel also has a slightly better record with female artists, including Sara Pichelli and Emma Rios, Emanuela Luppachino (sp?) at X-Factor, etc. And, considering how long Marjorie Liu has been steadily writing for Marvel, I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t have a new project soon. Marvel also has a recent history of actively promoting female creators with projects like ‘Girl Comics.’ That isn’t to say that the track record is GOOD (and honestly a lot of the DC ‘outcry’ was based on some seriously flawed numbers that made it appear that female creator participation had gone way down with the new 52, when in fact it more or less kept the status quo). But this is all part of an ongoing conversation and anybody who thinks the dialogue only sprung into existence surrounding the new 52 has, frankly, not been paying attention.

  24. Kelly Sue Deconick needs to write more stuff. In fact, DeConick/Rios on Cloak and Dagger would be amazing.

  25. Liu is a good writer. Marvel will definitely continue to give her assignments. She was actually writing/co-writing Daken as recently as his summer. She’s written other things in the past.

    It’d be cool for there to be more women creators in comics, but I just don’t think the numbers are there. There just isn’t a big critical mass of women wanting to write comics. There are a lot of them and personally I think there should be more women who get work from the Big Two. But I don’t really see this as sexism. The way the industry is set up, to market to the audience that actually buys comics, it’s mostly a boys club. That’s changing some (thank god), but the facts are the facts. If there were a number of female creators as good as the male creators would they NOT get work? I think they would. I think they do. I don’t know of any female creators who we can clearly point to and say “The only reason they’re not working for Marvel or DC is because they have two X chromosomes.”

    I mean, for example, I just picked up the new issues of Batman and Wolverine. If there was a female who drew like Capullo or Garney, would that female NOT get work? I think she’d get work. Same if there was a female writer who wrote like Snyder or Aaron. It’s a talent thing, not a sexist thing. If there were MORE female creators aspiring to work in comics, then the law of averages would suggest that there would be a higher number of female creators working at the big companies. But as it is there are unfortunately very few. This is just a fact based on culture and demographics, I think, not any conspiracy against women or any sexism against women creators from fans or from the suits at Marvel and DC. That said, I think Marvel and DC should go out of their way to hire a few more women creators, just to hold out hope that doing so will inspire more girls to read comics and want to create them.

  26. Although I suspected this title would get cut soon, I’m still disappointed.

  27. Should this site be call ‘iFanPerson’ ?

  28. Ugh. Yet another one of the good ones bites the dust. I know it’s been said before, but why not cancel things like X-Factor, or Daken? X-23 was actually good month to month, and if they could have kept Phil Noto on the book for even like…5 more issues I would have been in heaven. At least Laura will have a presence in AA…which I will probably have to start getting. Unless she actually opts to join Logan at Westchester, which would be awesome. As long as Marvel doesn’t cancel Uncanny X-Force I’ll be fine.

    • Because all three of those books are very good. I’d prefer none of those be cancelled. Instead cancel Uncanny X-force, X-men legacy, Incredible Hulks, Avengers, Avenging Spider-man, Punisher…. Granted, if I had to choose I would prefer Daken to be cancelled and folded into another series than X-23 but I can’t think of a title he’d be appropriate on.

      The fact is marvel is actually doing a lot of good books right now. Every month, I flip open Marvel previews afraid that X-factor is going to be cancelled.

  29. This book had a unique tone and voice, which is more than can be said for most.

  30. I really enjoyed this run and it’s too bad it got the axe. I picked up the early issues on a whim and, aside from a few missteps, it was a pretty good series. I also looked forward to seeing Phil Noto’s work monthly. Marjorie Liu is plenty talented as a writer, so I’m sure we’ll hear from her again if she wants to keep writing comics and I’d like to see ideas she has for other characters.

  31. I just want to give a little old school shout-out to the Adventures In Babysitting movie poster homage. First appearance of ‘Thor’ and lovely 80s nostalgia from a time when comic book references were a dirty little secret.

  32. I am going to miss this book.