Liefeld also thought back to a standing offer he’d had from a black-and-white comics publisher called Malibu Comics, to do his own independent comic. Testing the waters, he placed an ad in the Comics Buyers Guide for an upcoming title, to be called The Executioners. It was a team of “rebel mutants from the future come to destroy their past”—a plot familiar to X-Men readers. One character in the ad, Cross, looked a lot like Cable, the leader of X-Force; others resembled Feral and Domino. A Marvel editor called Liefeld at six thirty one morning and asked what he thought he was doing. The company would sue if Liefeld didn’t drop the plans.* The Executioners was put on the back burner.
But Liefeld had an itch now, and he began talking it over with some of his friends. Back in 1985, when he was just starting out, he’d created another team of superheroes, called Youngblood. Maybe it was time for them to see the light of day—and not at Marvel.
* In September 1991, Marvel would also send a cease-and-desist letter to Voyager Communications, where Jim Shooter was now editor in chief, for a new comic Voyager had advertised. “Your title X-O Manowar is confusingly similar to X-Men,” the letter read, “and suggests and mimics the titles of Marvel’s ‘X-prefixed’ series of properties.”