Marvel UK Comics That Never Were: Rourke versus Wolverine, versus… Monark Starstalker?

Rourke of the Radlands, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine - art by Liam Sharp
Rourke of the Radlands, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine – art by Liam Sharp

Here’s an item from my archives that should interest some Marvel UK fans – Liam Sharp’s fax of our creator-owned heroine, Rourke, created for STRIP, alongside Marvel US heroes Monark Starstalker and Wolverine.

I’ve written about this a little before, but the background is this. After a positive reaction to Rourke’s debut in STRIP Issue Four, editor Dan Abnett asked me to come up with a possible US format mini series featuring the character and her world. I came up with a bonkers pitch that went through several rewrites – the version that’s now the basis for Rourke’s role in the WarWorldz Shared Universe project you may have seen some of in the digital anthology 100% Biodegradable, with the strips “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs“.

The final version considered by Marvel would have placed Rourke alongside Wolverine and the original Monark Starstalker (long before his appearance in Nova). This came in response to demands from Marvel US (from the late Carol Kalish in marketing and, if I recall correctly, Tom DeFalco) that our projects would sell better if they included US created heroes.

The opening page of the Monark Starstalker by Howard Chaykin, from Marvel Premiere © Marvel Comics
The opening page of the Monark Starstalker by Howard Chaykin, from Marvel Premiere © Marvel Comics

While I’m sure Wolverine (created byMarvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, writer Len Wein, and Marvel art director John Romita, Sr.) punched appropriate buttons for the Marketing Department. We knew Marvel had a formula they used to calculate exactly how much the use of a particular superhero, or using a particular creator on a project would add to sales for a new project and Wolverine was right up at the top. It’s why he featured in Warheads #1 when that was launched, for example.

I doubt Marvel US considered Monark the kind of character they wanted included in the proposed Rourke of the Radlands series. After all, this blind space hero with a robot bird that acted as his eyes, created by Howard Chaykin, had at that one point made just a single appearance, in Marvel Premiere #32, in 1976!

But I thought he was great.

The mini series was among a number being kicked around in 1990 – 1991,including an Abslom Daak mini series by Steve Moore, without Daleks, and more original Death’s Head from Simon Furman and Geoff Senior.

This was long before Paul Neary’s “Genesis 92” project and is probably the kind of insane ideas Dan had thrown at him as an editor that helped send him running from the company into freelancing.

(That, and having to share an office with a really grumpy git on the top floor of Arundel House. Can’t think of his name… oh, wait. It was me. Sorry, Dan).

I showed this and other faxes of Liam’s work to Paul Neary when he arrived back at Marvel UK and it was these that in part landed Liam the commission to draw Death’s Head II. The rest is history…

Cover by Brett Burbridge featuring Rourke of the Radlands
Cover by Brett Burbridge featuring Rourke of the Radlands

I’ve still got the pitch, but Rourke has her own new adventures now, and Liam and I consequently retain copyright on the character, set in the version of the world I created before Marvel wanted superheroes added, the first featured in the digital anthology 100% Biodegradable.

Check out more Marvel UK projects That Never Were here on the downthetubes “Genesis 92” page

Read more about Rourke of the Radlands | Read a text story adaptation of her first story here on downthetubes

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More about Monark Starstalker on the Marvel Universe Wiki 

More about Wolverine on the Marvel Universe Wiki

Rourke of the Radlaands © 2018 John Freeman & Liam Sharp (and yes, we have written confirmation of this). Monark Starstalker and Wolverine © Marvel Comics

Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features

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