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Chuck Austen Bio

by | Apr 8, 2015 | BIOS, Comic Creators

Chuck AustenChuck Austen is an American comic book writer and artist, TV writer and animator. In the comics industry, he is known for his work on War Machine, Elektra, Action Comics, and the X-Men franchise, and in television, he is known for co-creating the animated TV series Tripping the Rift.

Austen’s early commercial work began in the 1980s, when he briefly illustrated Alan Moore’s superhero series Miracleman, under his birth name “Chuck Beckum”, which he later abandoned out of a desire to disassociate from his father’s family name. About the same time Austen wrote and drew the semi-autobiographical black-and-white pornographic comic book series Strips, as well as Hardball. In the late 1980s, Austen drew the first five issues for the short-lived series Hero Sandwich for by Slave Labor Graphics. He also was involved in the lesser-known Dr. Radium and Lee Flea series, and slowly crossed over into DC Comics when he was assigned to Phantom Lady and Green Flame and drew Disney’s The Little Mermaid limited series.

From 2001 on, Austen wrote several issues of War Machine. The mini-series was received well, but sales of the action-driven story were plagued by the fact that the series was published in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In 2003, Austen followed up with War Machine 2.0. Using the creative liberties in the alternate universe in which the series is set, he wrote Rhodes’ boss Tony Stark as more pacifist and business-minded than his mainstream counterpart, and Rhodes himself as the proactive protector.

In the early 2000s, Austen started working regularly for Marvel Comics, writing and illustrating U.S. War Machine, illustrating Elektra, and writing a number of series, including Uncanny X-Men, Captain America, and The Avengers. His two-year run on Uncanny X-Men was his most lengthy writing assignment to date.

In 2002 Austen took part in writing a Marvel book with Bruce Jones titled The Call of Duty 911a short-lived Marvel Comics series featuring firefighters and emergency service workers dealing with paranormal phenomena in the Marvel Universe, conceived in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks as a way to convey the heroism of New York City firemen as real life superheroes. Austen wrote Call of Duty: The Brotherhood #1–6, and Call of Duty: The Wagon #1–4, and a short run on an ongoing series in 2002–2003 that lasted four issues.

From August 2003 to January 2004, Austen wrote six issues of The Eternal for the Marvel MAX line. It was a reimagination of the classic Eternals comic book by Jack Kirby and was lauded by at least one fan as “haunting yet humorous”.

In 2002, Austen took over Uncanny X-Men beginning with #410 and remained on the title until #442. His run saw the return of Havok and Polaris to the X-Men team, the introduction of school nurse Annie Ghazikhanian and the addition of several existing characters to the X-Men team, including Northstar, Juggernaut, M, and Husk, as well as the revelation of the identity of Nightcrawler’s father: an immortal mutant known as Azazel.

Austen moved to X-Men Volume 2 in 2004; he wrote X-Men #155-163 before leaving the book. During this run, he introduced a new version of Xorn, showcased the fallout from Cyclops and Emma Frost beginning a relationship following the death of Jean Grey, as well as introduce a new version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Michael Aronson of Comics Bulletin, while praising Austen’s characterization of Professor X and Annie Ghazikhanian, excoriated Austen for what Aronson saw as his obsession with relationships and sex, and the sexist nature of his characterization of Husk. According to Thor K. Jensen of Ugo Entertainment, fans disliked the romantic pairing of Angel and Husk, and cites that storyline as emblematic of critical reception to Austen’s run on X-Men.

In 2004, Austen also wrote Avengers from #77-84. His first arc introduced a new, female Captain Britain (since renamed Lionheart), a single mother thrust into the realm of super-heroes after being killed as an innocent bystander during a fight between the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew, only to be resurrected by the original Captain Britain. The second arc, which saw Austen writing former Avengers U.S. Agent and Namor, the Sub-Mariner attempting to liberate a middle eastern country from its corrupt leadership, served as launching pad for the short-lived 2004 Invaders series.