Not long after taking to social media to seemingly threaten a lawsuit against Marvel Comics over what he described as shady business practices, Deadpool creator and iconic comics artist Rob Liefeld tweeted recently that the publisher came close to publishing Killraven from Liefeld and writer Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, because of (now) editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski. The project, which Liefeld was working on about a decade ago, apparently got far enough into development that he claims there are about 100 pages of art sitting in a drawer somewhere, featuring not just the title character, but a number of characters from the Future Avengers.
Back in 2011, Liefeld got into an argument on Twitter with former Marvel editor-in-chief Tom Brevoort, when Liefeld suggested that there was a "double standard" for certain creators and not others. Brevoort shot back that Liefeld had not yet turned in all of the finished, colored art for Killraven, and that Marvel could not solicit without it, but both Liefeld and Kirkman pointed out that most Marvel books do not have to have five completed issues in order to solicit and that was exactly the double standard Liefeld had been talking about to begin with. The project, which would have been published about four years into The Walking Dead, was set to be an apocalyptic superhero epic.
"There’s kind of a twist at the end of issue one where we see that he’s going to be going up against somebody that’s fairly familiar to Marvel Universe fans,” Kirkman told CBR in 2007. "There are a number of characters that would still be around years into the future."
My point person @Marvel has been @CBCebulski I will remain 1000% appreciative for his support. He made Major X happen, & I had a blast with that one. He single handily attempted to get mine & Kirkman’s Killraven published & other projects that went on to die in committee.— robliefeld (@robertliefeld) October 17, 2019
Killraven was, in some ways, Marvel's Kamandi. A hero with no real continuity ties to the current Marvel Universe, Killraven existed in a future where Martians had invaded and dominated Earth. In Kirkman's take, the only real sign that it was set in the Marvel Universe rather than a more standard version of Earth was the legacy heroes and other artifacts (such as Captain America's shield and the SHIELD Helicarrier) that popped up in the pages of the story.
Killraven was a five-issue miniseries that Liefeld apparently pitched to Joe Quesada during a convention. It was greenlit, with Kirkman as the writer, on the spot and the five issues have apparently been drawn. In most cases such a project would likely just be colored by someone on hand at Marvel, but since Brevoort claimed back in 2011 that it was Rob's "fault" the project died on the vine, it seems likely that he was in charge of bringing the art from opening to completion.
In 2012, Liefeld told his version of the story, saying in part that Quesada had started the conversation by praising a failed pitch for Kamandi that Liefeld had submitted to DC. When Liefeld offered to tweak it and bring it to Marvel, Quesada assented.
"The original pitch was that Kamandi fought his way into a bunker that had a transporter device and after successfully activating it, he and his allies were transported successfully on board the JLA satellite which was still in orbit above earth," Liefeld explained on his website. "They were able to arm themselves with an arsenal of iconic JLA weaponry as well as pursue an object that was mapped out on the JLA computer before the great disaster occurred. This was easily re-formatted with Killraven and the Avengers mansion in place of their DC counterparts."
Per that blog post, Kirkman had the first two issues fully completed and colored while the other three were sent to Marvel in pencil form before it became clear to Kirkman and Liefeld that the publisher had no immediate plans to solicit the series. Apparently, though, Liefeld's Deadpool and Major X success almost -- almost -- got it out of the vault.
Maybe in another 12 years.