J. Michael Straczynski Bringing a New Thriller to AWA Studios

J. Michael Straczynski has had some epic runs on legendary comic book characters such as Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Fantastic Four to name a few. He also created the Sci-Fi hit Babylon 5 among many other TV and film projects. Most recently he has been building his own shared universe with The Resistance among other titles at AWA Studios and other writers have based their AWA series in this same world. Now the time has come for Straczynski to cut loose with a standalone superhero story all about revenge and just how far a person will go to get it. The press release from AWA is below as well as some of the amazing sample art from the first issue. I think it is fair to say, this looks action-packed and with Straczynski building the narrative, it will be one heck of a wild ride.


May 17, 2023, New York, NY – What happens when a young woman gifted with great powers breaks bad after her family is wiped out on orders from the government because she has become too “inconvenient?” Artists, Writers, and Artisans (AWA), the independent developer of bold and relevant stories from the world’s most outstanding creators, answers that question with THE MADNESS, an original, complex, psychological revenge thriller, launching on Wednesday, August 9. Teaming up with superstar artist, ACO (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, WONDER WOMAN), legendary comics creator and writer, J. Michael Straczynski (BABYLON 5, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, THE RESISTANCE) returns to AWA with this original, 6-issue series that brings readers an emotionally-charged story featuring intense action and mind-bending visuals.

Straczynski’s well-known AWA work includes THE RESISTANCE – the modern universe comprising multiple titles from him and other popular creators like Kaare Andrews (E-RATIC), Gregg Hurwitz (KNIGHTED), and more. THE MADNESS is a stand-alone superhero story that shows the lengths a person will go to get their revenge. To amplify each issue, popular comic artist, Chris Ferguson (BLACK TAPE) collaborated with other AWA creators and artists to design special punk rock variant covers that pay homage to iconic punk bands that inspired the artistic design of THE MADNESS. With a shared attitude between the series’ protagonist and the anti-establishment music genre, a special punk rock variant will be available with each issue.

“I love writing stories about atypical heroes,” said J. Michael Straczynski. “I wanted to play with the idea that we all have another side of us deep within that isn’t comparable to what we show people in everyday life. And – when that part comes out – how destructive it can really be, regardless of intent. It was a joy to develop Sarah, a complicated and passionate lead character seeking accountability, in the world that is THE MADNESS, especially working with a talented artist like ACO to bring it all to life.”

In THE MADNESS, Sarah Ross has been using her power as a thief, stealing from the rich and…well, keeping it.  Until the day she stole from the wrong person, a highly placed official who pressures the government to assassinate her.  The plot, aided by so-called “good” superheroes sponsored by the government, misses her but wipes out her family.  Driven mad by grief, and laser-focused on revenge for the murder of her family, Sarah and a hidden side of her personality – an imaginary friend who may be more real than she believes – goes after these superpowered operatives determined to take her revenge, at any cost.

“An adrenaline-pumping page turner with artwork so eye-catching that readers will be forced to linger on those pages that they’re so desperate to turn, THE MADNESS brings a deeply psychological take to superhero comics,” said Axel Alonso, Chief Creative Officer of AWA. “We’re thrilled that Straczynski has taken on an all-new superhero story at AWA and can’t wait for readers to join Sarah and the  friend she imagines on their quest for revenge.”

In addition to creating numerous titles with AWA, Straczynski is also a member of AWA’s Creative Council alongside Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin (BLACK PANTHER), Gregg Hurwitz (Sweet GirlOrphan X), Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar), Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: MaverickChariot), and Al Madrigal (PRIMOS). The Council’s guidance benefits AWA’s roster of writers and artists by helping unleash the full potential of their characters and stories, providing a diversity of contemporary storytelling perspectives and putting projects in the best position to be scaled across the entertainment ecosystem.

THE MADNESS is created and written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by ACO, inked by David Lorenzo (AMERICAN RONAN), colored by Marcelo Maiolo (TEEN TITANS), and lettered by Sal Cipriano (DETECTIVE COMICS), with covers by ACO, Brandon Peterson (X-MEN), Marcelo Maiolo, and Dalibor Talajić (BLACK TAPE), and variant covers by Chris Ferguson, Dalibor Talajić, Danielle Otrakji (HELLBOY), and Axel Alonso. Issue #1 will be available Wednesday, August 9, both digitally and in stores wherever comic books are sold. For more information on THE MADNESS and other content, visit AWA Studios on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and AWAStudios.net.

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The Eisner & Ringo Award-winning graphic fiction publisher and entertainment studio, which sold its millionth comic in 2022, was founded in 2018 by alumni of Marvel, DC, NBA, Fox, Hulu and MTV, with former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso serving as Chief Creative Officer. Armed with some of the freshest and most critically acclaimed graphic fiction in a generation, AWA has established itself as an industry leader in terms of its relationship with artists and writers by providing creators the freedom, incentive structure and editorial support to pursue their boldest, most original, and socially relevant work. AWA has assembled a line up of the world’s most renowned comic book talent, including such creators as Frank Cho, Mike Deodato, Garth Ennis, Christa Faust, Al Madrigal, Mark Russell, J. Michael Straczynski and many more. With the formation of AWA’s film & TV Studio, the company is building a distinct array of new cutting-edge film and TV projects anchored in its burgeoning library of groundbreaking stories. Led by Hollywood veteran Zach Studin, AWA Studios has projects in film & TV in development at industry leading studios, networks and streamers. AWA Studios recently announced franchise filmmaker Ruben Fleischer (UnchartedVenomZombieland) to direct a feature film adaptation of the AWA graphic novel MARJORIE FINNEGAN, created by legendary comic writer Garth Ennis. AWA Studios is producing with LuckyChap Entertainment. AWA’s investors include Lupa Systems, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SISTER and Fremantle.

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