THE MAN CALLED A•X Book One was conceived of as a six-issue mini-series and was published by BRAVURA, a division of MALIBU comics, in 1994 and 1995.  Within months, however, Marvel Comics bought the company and soon canceled all the Malibu and Bravura books. Artist Shawn McManus and I then published the eight issues of Book Two at DC Comics.

A•X was designed to operate on several levels. On the surface it was a high testosterone series with nonstop action, but look beneath that top layer and you'll see the story of a man and a woman both searching for their identities; A•X has no idea who he is or how he became an almost unstoppable monster. Reporter Liz Watkins, divorced, estranged from her son, is trying to find out what has happened to her life ever since she returned from the Gulf War.

The Man Called A•X is a different kind of action star. His ongoing search for his own identity makes him a vulnerable, sympathetic hero.  The stories in The Man Called A•X are not just about A•X's fight with the super-powered forces that oppose him, but about a warrior trying to find himself. A•X is an incredibly powerful figure.

An 'animated' look at A•Ten

His cyborg abilities don't make him invulnerable, but he possesses a healing factor which allows him to automatically repair his body when damaged.  He can heal over wounds or regrow a demolished arm.  However, the worse the damage the longer it takes to repair it, putting A•X in even more danger.  A•X is armed with all manner of futuristic weapons, but the greatest weapon in his arsenal is A•X himself:  Super-strong, impossibly-fast, powerful beyond belief and incredibly agile, The Man Called A•X pursues his enemies with relentless determination........................................................................................................................................

The Man Called A•X is not alone in his fight.  Joining him is Bedlam reporter Liz Watkins.  Liz was a Marine vet trained in Desert Storm and the sole survivor of a disastrous helicopter crash.  She aids A•X in his effort to rid Bedlam of the criminal forces which control it.  Liz knows her ties with A•X go back to the War and that he was one of the soldiers aboard her helicopter before its deadly crash destroyed the sanity that was her life. 

Liz, divorced, searches for her future even as A•X is desperate to find his past. More than a dozen Marines vanished that dark, deadly night, but only Liz Watkins was found.  The other bodies were brought to a laboratory hidden under Mercy Island in the City of Bedlam. Once there these soldiers, as well as many other victims, were experimented on and converted into Human-Cyborg Warriors. The A•X symbol on his belt is actually not a name but the designation for ASSASSIN•TEN  A•X is the tenth model in a line of high-tech warriors created by an unknown group for the purpose of taking over the world. When A•X rebels against his programming and seeks out THE CADRE, the group that turned him into a Killing Machine, they unleash A-models one through nine to find and destroy their renegade warrior. 









Not only does The Man Called A•X have to worry about Bedlam's crime families, but also an army of cyborg warriors, each as deadly as A•X himself. If he fails to survive, A•X will never learn his true identity or see his family again. The Man Called A•X was created not only to be a very powerful character-driven story (after all, it is about a man in search of his own identity and humanity) but it was also created to let Shawn and me do high-action stories like we've never been able to do before. 

In the first issue of A•X, Book One, I mentioned I was inspired by the great Hong Kong movies of John Woo and Jackie Chan. At that time both director and actor were known only to a very few of us HK movie aficionados.  Now, Chan and Woo have both become major leaguers here, with Woo's Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2 breaking all records, and Chan's Shanghai Knights and Rush Hour 1 & 2 doing big box-office numbers.

We've tried to bring the high-intensity of Woo and Chan to the comic book page while creating a complex set of characters in a rich and textured city.  Since we believe action speaks louder than words, we've also tried to bring out our characters through the action rather than simply stop the story for a big fight scene as most comics today do.  A•X may sometimes appear to be another high-testosterone comic, but unless we're all fooling ourselves, we believe it is something much more.

Intensely personal and emotional, THE MAN CALLED A•X is one of my favorite creations.

All the illustrations are early designs by Shawn McManus





















PLOT SUMMARIES OF ALL OUT ISSUES BEGIN HERE


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After the Man Called A•X was cancelled (victim of the bad sales of all comics in the mid-1990s) I wrote a TV pilot script called A-Ten which turned A•X into a female version: 

And to see how I envisioned the City of Bedlam”


(c) 2010

 

by Marv Wolfman & Shawn McManus

Even FRANKENSTEIN wanted to be human!

THE DATE: The day after tomorrow.

THE PLACE: The City Of Bedlam.

A silent, powerful figure appears in the City. His mission: to hunt down and neutralize the ten crime families who control Bedlam.  The Full-Circle mobs try to destroy him but nothing stops him.  On his belt buckle is a raised design: A•X.  The newspapers name him AX.  It is only later that A•X discovers the 'X' in his name is not a letter but the roman numeral for ten.  He is A•TEN.  

But the tenth--what?

Nobody knows who he is or where he came from.

NOT EVEN A•X HIMSELF!

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