First look - George R.R. Martin's Marvel Comics superhero epic Wild Cards

art from Wild Cards: The Drawing of Cards #1
art from Wild Cards: The Drawing of Cards #1 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The epic superhero universe Wild Cards, created by George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass, is being revived as a new series from Marvel Comics.

"As my fans may already know, the Wild Cards World holds a special place in my heart, so to have the privilege of announcing that an industry titan like Marvel is going to produce the narrative from the beginning as a comic book brings me no end of joy," Martin says in the announcement.

And well, both Wild Cards and Martin have a long history with Marvel Comics (more on that in a bit).

Wild Cards is a superhero universe conceived by Martin and Snodgrass that played out as a series of prose novels and short stories by the duo, along with other contributors such as Roger Zelazny and Harold Waldrop. The overall conceit is that an alien virus known as 'Wild Card' has infiltrated Earth society, and those that are affected by it are dealt, seemingly, at random, different abilities that fall into three classes: 'Joker' as in physical mutations; 'Ace' as in straight-up superpowers; or 'Black Queen' which means they'll suddenly die from the virus.

Writer Paul Cornell and artist Mike Hawthorne will be adapting the early days of the Wild Cards prose stories into a cohesive limited series titled Wild Cards: The Drawing of Cards. Here's a first look preview at four pages of the first issue:

"Wild Cards is still a unique take on superheroes, a creation story that's influenced everything since, but still maintains its power," Cornell says in the announcement. "It's an honor and a pleasure to bring all these wonderful stories to their natural home at Marvel, and I hope to give George, Melinda, and the rest of the Wild Cards Collective the credit they deserve for making the superhero myth new again. Plus: just look at that art!"

Wild Cards: The Drawing of Cards #1 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In 1990, Marvel published a four-issue Wild Cards series under its now-defunct Epic Comics imprint, with stories by Snodgrass and others, with art by Barry Kitson, Butch Guice, and Marshall Rogers to name a few. A second series, subtitled The Hard Call, was published in 2008 by Dabel Brothers Productions.

The Wild Cards prose line has been revived several times, with everyone from Chris Claremont to Saladin Ahmed writing prose stories for it. Cornell even wrote three prose stories for the Wild Cards universe, before this comic adaptation. 

Martin is known to be one of the earliest major Marvel Comics fans, with fan letters of his appearing in the letter columns as far back as 1963's Fantastic Four #20.

Wild Cards: The Drawing of Cards #1 (of 4) goes on sale this July 27. 

Wild Cards could soon raise up in the ranks to be one of the greatest non-DC/Marvel superhero universes of all time. 

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.

With contributions from