Remembering Carlos Pacheco
Earlier this month, longtime Marvel artist Carlos Pacheco passed away. In September, Pacheco announced he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and he retired after spending over three decades in the comic book industry.
Carlos Pacheco Perujo was born in San Roque, Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain. By his own account, Pacheco grew up reading and loving Marvel Comics. Fittingly, his first comic book work came in 1986 when he began doing covers for Spanish editions of Marvel Comics, which were published by Planeta-DeAgostini.
Pacheco’s ascent in the industry began with the DARK GUARD miniseries at Marvel UK in 1993. This soon led to opportunities with Marvel’s mainline comics, including BISHOP, X-UNIVERSE, STARJAMMERS, and EXCALIBUR. Pacheco went on to illustrate issues #415-416 of FANTASTIC FOUR as part of the ONSLAUGHT storyline.
Shortly thereafter, in 1997, Pacheco became the regular penciller on X-MEN starting with issue #62. Pacheco remained with the title through issue #75, and he illustrated a portion of the OPERATION: ZERO TOLERANCE crossover. Although Pacheco’s initial X-MEN stint was relatively short, he revisited the franchise many times over the ensuing years.
Pacheco’s best-known Marvel work may be the 12-issue miniseries AVENGERS FOREVER (1998). Alongside writers Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern, as well as his frequent inker Jesus Merino, Pacheco illustrated an epic story that put the spotlight on Avengers from different points in the team’s history as they went up against Immortus and the Time Keepers. This was also the first story that portrayed Kang the Conqueror in a more sympathetic light, without shedding the qualities that made him such a great villain.
In 2000, Pacheco made his Marvel debut as a co-writer with Rafael Marín in INHUMANS, which was illustrated by José Ladrönn and Jorge Lucas. Subsequently, Pacheco and Marin took over writing duties on FANTASTIC FOUR (1998) #35, with Pacheco also illustrating the adventures of Marvel’s First Family. Pacheco was eventually joined by a new co-writer, Jeph Loeb, and he remained with the series through issue #54.
Outside of Marvel, Pacheco illustrated DC’s JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice graphic novel and a portion of Final Crisis. He also reteamed with Busiek for a run on Superman and with Loeb for a story arc on Superman/Batman.
Busiek and Pacheco continued their collaboration in 2003 with the creator-owned miniseries Arrowsmith. Nearly two decades later, they reunited for a sequel, Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines.
By 2009, Pacheco was back at Marvel and working on ULTIMATE COMICS: AVENGERS alongside writer Mark Millar. He later teamed with writer Brian Michael Bendis to take on key issues of AGE OF ULTRON. Pacheco was also the initial artist on UNCANNY X-MEN (2011).
Perhaps his most notable series of this era was his nearly year-long stint on CAPTAIN AMERICA (2013) with writer Rick Remender. Together, Pacheco and Remender re-envisioned Sam Wilson as the all-new Captain America, complete with a redesigned costume that demonstrated Sam’s larger role in the Marvel Universe.
Following his illustrious career, Pacheco’s last Marvel cover was for DAMAGE CONTROL (2022) #2.
As incredible as Pacheco was as an artist, he was an even better friend and mentor to his collaborators within the industry. Longtime Marvel editor Tom Brevoort shared the following statement about Pacheco and what he brought to the medium:
"My friend Carlos Pacheco was a sweetheart of a guy who loved comics, the Marvel comics that he read as a child most of all. He brought an enthusiasm to his work that went beyond the drive of the professional—he was truly invested in the characters and their fictitious lives. His work combined the dynamics of John Byrne with the realism of Neal Adams, creating a synthesis that captured the essence of American Super Hero comics—a form that was exotic to Carlos as he first read the translated stories, but which he absorbed and came to embody like a native. A citizen of Spain, the Marvel Universe was his true home."
Kurt Busiek, his longtime collaborator, also offered a statement on Pacheco’s loss:
"Carlos was a dream collaborator who made every story better with his ideas, his brilliant storytelling and his beautiful art. But more, he was warmhearted, enthusiastic and a wonderful person. I was thrilled to work with him, but happier still to have him as a friend. He will be enormously missed."
Carlos was a dear part of the Marvel family, and we send our thoughts and condolences to his family, friends, and fans all over the world. He remains an inspiration to us all.