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Saturday, April 07, 2012 

Why making Carol Danvers the new Captain Marvel may not work out

The Nashua Telegraph writes about Marvel's turning Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird into the new Captain Marvel, the role originally taken by Mar-Vell of the Kree from 1967-82, and if there's anything here that's really weak, it's what they say about chances to find an audience:
Another strike against “Captain Marvel” is that titles starring females traditionally have a hard time in the male-dominated comics landscape. Currently, Marvel has no solo titles – zero – starring women.
Well there are some logical reasons for that, and I can think of at least 3:
  • They don't know how to market and promote them, and/or have never seriously tried, not even to a female audience. This is mainly because they concentrate far too many of their efforts on the flagship casts like Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men, and the "third-tiers" never get the kind of promotion they could use.
  • Additionally compounding that problem is the fact that, under today's MO, they hold even the series with female stars hostage to editorially mandated company wide crossovers like Civil War, making it impossible to establish a stand-alone direction, and the fact that whomever's given the task of writing the series seems to go along willingly with the mandate doesn't help one bit.
  • In fact, the shadow of Joe Quesada and even currect EIC Axel Alonso could be another barrier discouraging many from bothering, because if even new members of the audience are aware just how disrespectful they are, right down to how they've treated Mary Jane Watson-Parker, they may prefer to stay away.
Even shoehorning Carol Danvers into the role once held by Mar-Vell could be another problem: instead of selling her based on her own roles and codenames, they try to do it by putting her too obviously into the role of her predecessor.

Based on these estimates, even if the book is written well enough on its own terms (by Kelly Sue deConnick, one of the few female writers they're willing to hire today), there's little chance it'll receive decent promotion, and the aforementioned editors' reputations could easily lessen the enthusiasm too. The character and costume design they came up with here doesn't look very appealing (the black costume with the light streak was far better), and even if the writing isn't a problem, the artwork could be.

And now that I think of it, one more reason why the book might not do much better than the previous series with Carol Danvers is because nobody in the mainstream press has ever bothered to critique Marvel's approach to promoting their output, which favors the flagships far more than the third-tiers. Why should they be surprised if it doesn't find long-ranging success?

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So do you like anything, or do you get a kick out this whole "bitter old comic fan" thing you've been doing for years?

It seems like they don't know what exactly to do with Ms. Marvel, so they're constantly changing everything about her in an effort to make her more appealing, which hasn't worked.

Carl

Well, the name "Ms. Marvel" is extremely dated. "Feminist" heroines of the 1970s are sort of obsolete in the post-Buffy age. :) They've tried a few things, and this is probably the least bad of them so far.

The problem, though, isn't with the title. It's with the "creative talent" that will be making it as lazy and awful as everything else Marvel puts out these days...

Indeed, Drizzt... the fact that the writer who's apparently in charge the new series happens to be Matt Fraction's wife worries me, because she may or may not have the same far-leftist viewpoints as him.

Carl

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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