Marvel has announced that X-Force #116, the first issue written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Mike Allred, will not carry the Comics Code Authority's seal of approval. This is the first time that this has happened to a mainstream Marvel superhero book since way back in the 1970s when a Stan Lee-penned issue of Spider-Man took on the issue of drugs (a taboo subject for comics under the code). Drugs are not an issue with X-Force #116, but violence is. According to Marvel editor, Axel Alonso, artist Mike Allred, 'went all out to make readers feel the impact of the violence.' In addition to several violent panels, the Comic Code Authority was also troubled by some 'implied sexual content.' But rather than have Milligan and Allred bowdlerize their first efforts on X-Force, Marvel is refusing to back down and will issue X-Force #116 without the Comics Code Seal.
With this action Marvel is signaling that their comics are going to be edgier and more provocative. In a sense this is a prelude to Marvel's adult/mature line that will debut in the fall (see 'Jemas 'No Overprint Policy'...'), but it is also a byproduct of Marvel's attempt to lure top creators. By backing the creative team and ignoring the code, Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada is letting the creative community know that the new Marvel is a different place to work, a place where they can experiment and expect some support on the editorial side. Interestingly enough, artist Mike Allred, who is known for his retro, clear-line artstyle, is evidently using X-Force #116 to demonstrate that he can take on tough contemporary subjects without displaying the softness or campy cuteness of some of his earlier efforts.