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Mark Bagley is an American comics artist. He has worked for Marvel Comics on such titles as The Amazing Spider-Man, Thunderbolts, New Warriors and Ultimate Spider-Man and for DC Comics on Justice League of America, Batman and Trinity.
In 1983, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter created the Marvel Try-out Book to draw new talent into the comic book industry. The contest involved a deconstructed comic book which contestants could complete and submit to Marvel. The winner would be awarded a professional assignment with Marvel. At the time, Bagley was 27 years old and living in Marietta, Georgia. He had almost given up on trying to find a job in comics and was satisfied with his position at Lockheed Martin. Bagley was reluctant to enter the contest because of the cost of the Try-out Book itself. His friend, Cliff Biggers, gave him the book and persuaded Bagley to enter the contest. Bagley won first place for penciling, finishing ahead of thousands of other hopefuls. After winning the contest, he didn’t hear from Marvel for several months. After approaching Shooter at a comic convention, Bagley was assigned to a series of low-profile penciling jobs. His comics work during this period included Visionaries, a comic book based on a 1980s toy line, various titles in the New Universe line, backup stories in Captain America and the first series of Marvel Universe Cards.
In 1989, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz created a team of teenage superheroes called the New Warriors. The following year, Marvel launched a new series based on these heroes and assigned Bagley and writer Fabian Nicieza to the title. Bagley stayed on the title until #25, at which point he left to transition directly onto The Amazing Spider-Man.
When Erik Larsen left The Amazing Spider-Man in 1991, Bagley was assigned to the title. He and David Michelinie introduced the Carnage character in The Amazing Spider-Man #361 (April 1992) and produced the Venom: Lethal Protector limited series in 1993. Although not the first artist to draw either Venom or Eddie Brock, Bagley’s version of both characters are widely considered to be the most popular versions of them by fans. Bagley was one of the artists on the “Maximum Carnage” and “Clone Saga” storylines which ran through the Spider-Man titles. Bagley’s artwork was used extensively for licensed material, appearing on everything from plates and cups to credit cards and even video games such as The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes released exclusively in Japan. In 2012, Comic Book Resources ranked Bagley fourth on its list of the “50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators”.
In 1997, Bagley collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek on a new team of superheroes, the Thunderbolts, a group of super-villains disguised as super-heroes, with the final page of the first issue of the series revealing that the Thunderbolts were actually the Masters of Evil, a surprise twist carefully guarded by Marvel.
In 2000, Marvel’s then-publisher Bill Jemas was looking to relaunch Marvel’s primary franchises in a way that would make them accessible to newer readers. Ultimate Spider-Man would be a title that began the Spider-Man mythos from the beginning set in modern times. Bagley was assigned to Ultimate Spider-Man with writer Brian Michael Bendis. The Bendis/Bagley partnership of 111 consecutive issues made their partnership one of the longest in American comic book history, and the longest run by a Marvel creative team, beating out Stan Lee and Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four. Bagley collaborated with Bendis on The Pulse and a four-issue arc on Mighty Avengers.
Bagley’s long and successful run on Ultimate Spider-Man earned him recognition in Wizard Magazine’s top ten artists of the 2000s in Wizard #219. Ranked #2 on the list, article writer Mark Allen Haverty noted of Bagley, “no other artist came close to the number of comics Bagley sold [in the 2000s], nor the number of Top 20 comics he was a part of.”