Archive for Marvel Comics

The Stupid, It Burns

Seriously, I try to write more positive posts about comics. I mean, I love comics! There’s so much great stuff in comic books, both old and new, and I wish more people read them and took them seriously. I always enjoy this blog more when I can talk about the fun and awesome side of comics.

But holy guacamole, sometimes the Big Two just make it too danged hard to think about comics in a positive way.

Obviously, there’s the bit about Marvel killing off Charles Xavier in the newest issue of their AvX crossover nonsense. I honestly have trouble getting too excited about this one — not because, as the creators said, that Professor Xavier is boring and irrelevant — Cyclops and Emma Frost seem a lot more boring and irrelevant, and they’re the ones who the creators clearly love the stuffings out of — but because it’s been done before. Xavier has been killed off so many times, for all kinds of dumb reasons, and he always gets brought back. Because Charles Xavier is a good character, and the fans like him a lot, and they keep putting him in movies. So of course they’re going to resurrect him in a few months. I’m really more irritated that Marvel thinks everyone should care about yet another pointless character death.

Now something that does make me wanna kick the slats out of certain Marvel creators and editors is this “Avengers Arena” thing where the creators assemble a bunch of good teenaged characters, many of them with big fan followings, many of them coming off of well-received series, and promise to kill most of them off.

In other words, yet another shallow, mostly brainless exercise in cheap bloodletting, once again of teenagers, because apparently, comicsdouche manchildren think it makes ’em look “mature” instead of like the standard comicsdouche manchild.

Everyone knows it’ll probably end with X-23 as the winner. Yeah, even though they’ll “kill” her in the first issue to make everyone think they’re shaking things up.

Interestingly, there’s not a lot of dirt-level stupidity going on right now at DC Comics. Doesn’t mean DC isn’t still winning the Stupid Sweepstakes. After all, the Diane Nelson/Dan DiDio/Geoff Johns/Jim Lee/Bob Harras band of idiots already has amnesiac sex-addict Starfire on their tally, as well as the “Superman will never date Lois Lane” idiocy, which really trumps anything Marvel can do for stupidity.

However, I do want to point you to this excellent post by Siskoid on DC’s astoundingly bad communications and public relations problems. Try to imagine a major media company that has less skill at talking to the public or the media — I doubt you can do it, can you?

And as long as we’re dropping links in here, read this powerful essay by Brandon M. Easton on racism in the comics industry. It’s depressing how common this crap still is, isn’t it?

And that’ll do it for me, at least ’til Friday Night Fights this evening. Let’s everyone cross our fingers and toes and hope I can come up with something positive and uplifting to say next week…

Comments (1)

The House of Ideas meets the House of Mouse

Well, the Disney-Marvel deal still seems to be a topic of much interest, so let’s talk a little more about what it all means.

The first thing it means for Marvel is a great deal more financial security. Much like DC with Time Warner, Marvel is going to get a bit of a cushion if they have a financial downturn.

But the first thing that comics fans care about is — what’s this mean for my stash of new comics every week? And it’s not going to mean a single thing. Disney will probably never meddle in the comics publishing side of things, ’cause frankly, comics are a tiny, tiny part of the entertainment industry. A hit movie or video game makes more money than all of Marvel’s or DC’s comics do in a year. Disney won’t care whether Peter Parker marries Mary Jane, whether Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes is Captain America, whether Jean Grey comes back to life again or not.

Right now, everyone is assuming that they’re going to Disneyfy all of Marvel’s books to make them more kid-friendly or even tween-friendly. I don’t see it happening. Disney owns Miramax Films, and they didn’t release any kid-friendly versions of “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “Dogma,” “Trainspotting,” “Kinky Boots,” “No Country for Old Men,” or “There Will Be Blood,” did they? Disney cares about making money, and as long as Marvel makes money, they won’t try to fix what ain’t broke.

The fact of the matter is — Disney is a gigantic, multi-national entertainment corporation. They care about making money. Disney does not care about comic books, not enough to meddle pointlessly. Disney does care about movies, TV, and video games. ‘Cause that’s where the money is in the entertainment biz.

And Marvel’s characters are proven money-makers in movies and computer games. That’s why Disney wants them. And they must want them awful bad, ’cause they’re not going to see a dime from “Iron Man 2” and probably not from “Iron Man 3” if Marvel had a three-picture deal with Paramount. Same for Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, the Avengers, or any other Marvel property whose film rights are held by another studio. A contract’s a contract, and there ain’t nothing in the world that the Mouse can do in that case. They can offer to buy the contract from Paramount, but that’ll be real expensive, maybe too expensive. Disney is probably at least three years away from being able to get a Marvel superhero movie out with their name in front of the credits.

But Disney knew that going in, and they still made the offer — which means they’re pretty confident that Marvel is going to be in a position to make Disney a very large amount of cash. They want Marvel’s superheroes in their creative stable bad enough to shell out $4 billion for them, and that may mean they’ll also be motivated to bargain for the rights held by other studios. After all, Disney has some of the deepest pockets of all the movie studios, and they may just have the pocket change on hand to get Tony Stark away from Paramount, or Spidey away from Columbia, or the Fantastic Four away from Fox.

Will the movies be good? The best we can do is keep our fingers crossed. Sure, Disney has always had a mixed record on live-action films, but the same goes for Marvel — or don’t you remember “Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider,” or the “Fantastic Four” movies? The hopeful side of me remembers that Pixar has a lot more say in Disney than they used to have — and Pixar’s one superhero movie was one of the best ever.

Are we going to see crossovers? Not on film, not on TV. Maybe in video games — the “Kingdom Hearts” series crammed in every Disney character they could, and they might try something like that again. But we’ll definitely see some crossovers in the comics, and probably before the end of next year. Probably not “Hannah Montana: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” or “MODOK in Wonderland” — but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some sort of kid-friendly crossover, similar to DC’s “Superman and Bugs Bunny” crossover a decade ago. I’ll admit I’d really love to see if the Hulk can get as mad as Donald Duck can…

But there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that’ll happen that we’ll have no way to predict. We’re down the rabbit hole now, and it’s definitely a whole new world out there…

Comments off

Disney Buys Marvel?!

Holy guacamole!

The Walt Disney Co. said Monday it is acquiring Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and WALL-E.

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including favorites such as the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend Stan Lee.

I have no idea what this means. I’m still a bit besmoggled by the whole announcement.

I know that this definitely solves what I always saw as one of Marvel’s weaknesses against DC — DC has been owned and supported by Time-Warner for decades, while Marvel was mostly on its own, despite all of its successes. Marvel now has Disney’s considerable economic and marketing clout to fall back on, if necessary.

Does this mean we’ll see Howard the Duck go back to his more Disneyesque appearance that he used to have? Heck, are we gonna see a Howard the Duck/Scrooge McDuck crossover? That might be fairly cool.

Okay, I’m also looking forward to the inevitable Wolverine/Mickey Mouse team-up.

Wow, still pretty blown away by this. What are y’all thinking about this whole thing?

Comments off

Marvels vs. Miracles

Miracleman3

So Marvel announced at the just-completed Comic-Con in San Diego that they’ve acquired the rights to Marvelman — and right now, I don’t think I can bother to be excited.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know that we can trust Marvel to do right by the character or its creators. When you read the convoluted publication history of the character, it becomes clear really quickly that, while the story itself is acclaimed, the history of the comics themselves have been a tawdry and embarrassing mishmash of conflicting legal claims. Marvelman was originally a 1950s British ripoff of DC’s Captain Marvel; when the title was cancelled in the ’60s, no one touched it again ’til the 1980s, when the great British comics anthology “Warrior” resurrected the character — they didn’t have the rights to the character originally, but assumed that no one would care if they used him. The new storyline was written by Alan Moore, who believed that all the necessary permissions were in order.

The series moved to Eclipse Comics, which changed the name of the character to Miracleman because Marvel Comics was threatening to sue (Oh, the irony). After Eclipse went out of business, Todd MacFarlane bought Eclipse’s back catalog — Neil Gaiman, who was, as far as anyone knew, the last person to hold any rights to the character, sued to keep MacFarlane from using the character. Gaiman eventually won the suit, but there was no expectation that the old Eclipse stories, which have always been considered the best, would ever be published.

But now Marvel has the rights to the character… but no one seems to be talking about what rights those are. Is Marvel limited to just writing new adventures about the character? If so, big deal — they can’t reprint Moore’s or Gaiman’s classic Miracleman stories, much less re-tell them, without facing another punishing lawsuit. If they do have the rights to reprint the older stories, that may be good for readers — Eclipse’s “Miracleman” comics are very rare and very expensive — but that may be bad for Moore and Gaiman, unless Marvel is going to do something DC has always avoided — pay the original creators some significant reprint fees.

And on a fanboy level, I wonder if Marvel is going to shoehorn Marvelman into their regular superhero continuity. In only the last few years, they’ve added Superman-level characters like the Sentry and the Blue Marvel — do they really need another nigh-omnipotent demigod running around their universe?

Marvel’s press release is pretty vague about their plans. I’d like to think they’ll pay Moore and Gaiman — and orignal creator Mick Anglo — a tidy sum, if only to stick it in DC’s eye. But will they? I really have no idea — but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. Comic history is filled from its beginnings with comics creators getting screwed out of their money by the publishers, and my pessimistic nature suspects that the same thing will happen this time, too.

Comments off

Monkey Horror!

hauntlovecraft3

H.P. Lovecraft’s Haunt of Horror #3

The final issue of this miniseries sticks to the same high standards as the previous two. Once again, it’s the stories and poems of horror master H.P. Lovecraft, illustrated by brilliant horror artist Richard Corben. In this issue, we get the tale of Arthur Jermyn, who discovers that there’s a nasty case of root rot in his family tree; we get the story of “The Well,” in which something unpleasant and dangerous is lurking underground; and we get “The Window,” which considers just how empty the space on the other side of a wall can be.

Verdict: Thumbs up. “Arthur Jermyn” is one of my least favorite of Lovecraft’s stories, but Corben still makes it work. The other stories, based on very short poems, work out wonderfully as full-length comic stories. Pick all of these up, if you can.

marvel-youruniverse1

Marvel: Your Universe Saga

Basically, this is a combination of a short addendum to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and a brief summary of the last several years’ worth of Marvel storylines.

Verdict: Not much to it? I’m still giving it a thumbs up. It’s free, baby! And it’s pretty good anyway — Marvel has been a pretty convoluted place lately, so it’s nice to have a little scorecard to keep track of everything that’s been going on.

Comments off

Marvel Heroes Stamp Out Crime!

Well, maybe more like “Marvel Heroes put stamps on envelopes.”

marvelstamps

If you remember last year’s DC stamps, they’ve finally gotten around to putting out some Marvel stamps, and they’re coming out tomorrow!

If you collect stamps, there will be a special superheroes pictorial cancellation for local collectors from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Singer Slaton Post Office at 4901 S. Loop 289. The Post Office will also sell special cachet envelopes with the pictorial cancellation for $5.

My opinion on these stamps? I like ’em and will probably pick up two or three sets of ’em, but I actually think it’s a slightly weaker set of stamps than the DC stamps. Elektra, but not Daredevil? Spider-Woman and not, well, anyone else? I realize they wanted to have a couple of female characters, but why not She-Hulk or Storm? They’re much more popular and important characters than Elektra or Spider-Woman.

Ya know what else I noticed? They’ve got a stamp of Wolverine, but the corresponding comic cover stamp is of “X-Men #1” from 1963 — nine years before Wolverine was actually created…

UPDATE: Ya know, the more I look at that sheet of stamps, the more I think to myself, “Wow, I am going to own stamps with illustrations by Jack Kirby himself.” And that is solid, 24-carat awesome.

Comments off