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Wednesday, September 02, 2009 

Disney Corp. buys Marvel properties

Very surprising news has come up, and I've finally been able to get around to commenting on it: the Disney company has just bought Marvel for $4 billion:
LOS ANGELES – The Walt Disney Co. is buying Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing such characters as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and WALL-E.

Under the deal, which was announced Monday and is expected to close by the end of the year, Disney will acquire the rights to 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend Stan Lee.
Now this whole deal appears to have partly what to do with Marvel's movie deals. The challenging question here is, what does this mean for Marvel as a comics publisher? Will Disney actually do whatever's possible to make them workable - and profitable - as a comics publisher? That's why any optimism here has to be the cautious type. Almost all the articles I've seen about this deal so far have only dealt with the movie project prospects and merchandise, and there's nary a word about their comic book output.

I certainly don't think Disney, upon taking ownership, would "sanitize" Marvel's output (even though they actually do need it, to clean up some of the more gratuitous elements that have plagued their books for several years now, including Chomskyism) - it's not like they ever did when they bought ownership of ABC, and they've always dealt with more than enough adult material ever since they came up with the Touchstone label in the early 80s. Most likely that they'll take a "hands off" approach like they did with Pixar (and even the DiC animation company, which they'd owned for 7 years before it went solo again). Even so, if something is broken at Marvel, will they still try to fix it? I don't know. Time Warner has owned DC ever since the early 70s, and not only did they just regard as little more than a moneymaking source to go to for movie material, they certainly never did anything to curb artistic disasters like Identity Crisis. So there's no telling if Disney Corp. would do any better and curb disasters like Avegners: Disassembled and One More/Brand New Day.

Now that Marvel is becoming part of a conglomerate though, their publishing staff may have to change its stance considerably, and that's the good part: they won't be able to attack DC by calling them "AOL/DC" as Marvel was doing when Bill Jemas was in charge, and they may not be able to make insulting statements like "we don't need to explain anything, it's magic" anymore either, or they could bring the frowns down from upper management. But whether or not Disney does anything about Quesada - and Dan Buckley - I do know that if many of the editors, writers and artists working for them want to keep their jobs, that's why Marvel's own book sales need to do well, because a company that's not making any money will not last long, even under a conglomerate ownership. So even if Marvel's been bought by a bigger company, they're still going to need to make money, which they won't as long as people like Quesada are destroying their core output. As a result, I hope they will finally decide to oust him.

The buyout could be a great thing, but it might just as well be a flash-in-the-pan news item that might not mean much at all, and in time, I suppose we're going to find out.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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