Jim Starlin, the legendary creator of Thanos, has cut ties with Marvel Comics. Marvel has always had a troubled relationship with Starlin. Back in 2012, when Marvel Studios introduced Thanos in The Avengers, he famously complained that he hadn't received any financial compensation. Marvel swiftly came to an agreement with the legendary writer, but Starlin still wasn't pleased.
More recently, he claimed to have made more money from Batman V Superman than from all Marvel films combined. In spite of this troubled history, Starlin has been writing for Marvel Comics for the last few years.
Now, he has taken to Facebook to announce that this has come to an end. UPDATE: To the best of Starlin's knowledge, the Infinity Siblings/Conflict/Ending trilogy will still be published. He's reached out to Screen Rant to clarify that he has finished these scripts, and passed them to Marvel Editorial. But once this trilogy of graphic novels is published, the writer's time with Marvel will come to an end.
UPDATE #2: The graphic novel in question has been announced by Marvel as Thanos: The Infinity Conflict coming November 2018.
By Starlin's account, the problem lay with Marvel's editorial decisions. He learned that Marvel's ongoing comics were planning a plot that was "strikingly similar" to the one he was writing. Although Starlin refuses to give details, he seems to be describing the setup for next year's Infinity Countdown. Marvel recently announced that this would be the "greatest epic in the history of the Infinity Stones." Understandably frustrated given he had been working on the graphic novel for almost a year, Starlin challenged Marvel's Executive Editor, Tom Brevoort. Brevoort's response, according to Starlin, was less than ideal:
"At first Tom denied giving his approval to the plot. When that turned out to be false, he switched to claiming there was nothing similar about the two plots. When that didn’t fly he changed his story to it was all an accident. These changes of excuse and other bits of procrastination ate up a month, by which time the current Thanos on-going art team was too far along for anything to be done about the situation."
Ironically enough, Starlin notes that he had originally lobbied to write the ongoing Thanos comics in the first place. Now, he's had enough. Starlin has publicly stepped away from Marvel Comics completely, although he noted that he has no issue with Marvel Studios. "Them I like," he commented, and confirmed that they had "treated [him] very well and generously."
This is a devastating blow for Marvel Comics, coming at the tail-end of a troubled year. The publisher has spent the year dealing with crisis management. In February, sales estimates suggested over 45 percent of Marvel titles had sold less than 20,000 copies in the US market. Marvel responded by attempting to rebuild relationships with retailers, calling the first Marvel Retailer Summit of the millennium. An unwary comment at the summit somehow launched a heated public debate on diversity in comics. Meanwhile, this year's "Secret Empire" event — which saw Captain America become leader of Hydra — proved a little too controversial. The publisher actually had to issue a statement calling for fans to finish the story before they judged it.
The House of Ideas is attempting to turn the corner on this difficult year. C. B. Cebulski recently took over as editor-in-chief, although he hasn't really had time yet to make a mark in the role. Given that's the case, Starlin's high-profile departure should surely be seen as a learning opportunity for Cebulski and Marvel's editorial staff. Here's hoping 2018 goes much more smoothly for Marvel Comics.