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Friday, November 24, 2017 

Why are they concerned about corporate greed at Marvel of yesteryear but not today?

Channel News Asia recently did a history report on the corporate greed that wrecked Marvel in the 1990s, but doesn't seem as worried about the same having occurred over the past 15 years under Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada's managements. At the beginning, they do acknowledge how people like Ronald Perelman, who took up ownership at the end of the 80s weren't interested in the source material as it began:
"The owners of Marvel became progressively less knowledgeable about and less interested in the comic books," said Mr Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

"They weren't in it for the long haul. They wanted to make as much money as they could make right now right here, and damn the consequences," as former sales director Lou Bank put it.
And the leading buffoon is cited after talking about how Marvel's Silver Age success began:
But that changed as the industry boomed worldwide in the 1980s, when Marvel attracted the interest of businessman Ronald Perelman, who bought it for US$82.5 million (S$112 million) in 1989.


“He was a corporate raider. He was somebody who had no emotional connection to the comics,” said Mr Howe.

Mr Bank remembers the first time he saw the new owner, who “looked as if he owned the world, being toured through the offices by a young woman dressed as Spider-Woman”.

"To me, that's who Ron Perelman will always be: This guy who owns the world and who can make young women dress up in spandex," he said.
What about Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada, to say nothing of Dan Buckley? They may not have been taken on a tour of the office by a gal wearing a costume like Jessica Drew first had in the late 70s, but they sure didn't - and still don't - show any genuine signs of love for the creations they were sadly given the kingdom's keys for. The erasure of the Spider-marriage, a topic that'll have to be cited for a long time to come, is just one example. Another is the terrible handling of the Avengers, with Scarlet Witch a definite victim in 2004.
Mr Perelman's entrance came amid a period where comic books had evolved from more than just cheap, disposable entertainment, to valuable investments and collectibles. Speculators and collectors could make thousands off a vintage issue - one that cost US$400 in the 1970s for instance, could be exponentially more valuable at US$5,000 in the 1980s.

To drive growth by appealing to collectors, Mr Perelman first set out to raise the price of comics by appealing to collectors through, for example, glow-in-the-dark covers, foil covers and hologram covers.
A gimmick still prevalent today in the form of variants, along with prices now reaching 4 dollars or worse.
Artists and writers were told to engineer more crossover stories featuring its best-selling superheroes. Plots also began to intertwine, so readers had to buy all related issues to make sense of them.

“All (we) had to do was put those (best-selling) characters into a low-selling comic, and suddenly (we) sold more copies because people wanted to maintain their complete Spider-Man collection or their complete Wolverine collection,” said Mr Bank.
Brian Bendis did stuff like this too, when he was writing the Avengers in the mid-2000s. Not that this factors into the report, unfortunately.

When they get to the turn of the century, and Peter Cuneo's entry into the picture, another man who knew next to nothing about comics, they say:
He also tasked comic fan Bill Jemas, the former sports and entertainment vice-president of The Madison Square Garden Company, with reviving Marvel’s superhero comics.

At the time, the company was publishing 50-odd monthly titles filled with plots threading back to the 1960s, which made it difficult to woo new readers and get them emotionally attached to the characters.

So Mr Jemas started a new series of comics that retold the stories of Marvel’s major characters with story upgrades for the new millennium. By the early 2000s, the company had reclaimed its lead in the industry.
Wow, you don't say! Jemas, a comics fan? He did all sorts of boasting and attacking rival publishers, and had no problem with Quesada's mandates on Spider-Man, which eventually led to the terrible handling of Mary Jane Watson and wipeout of the Spider-marriage. He also did a needless "competition" between him and Peter David, supposedly to see if people would be willing to buy more of the Captain Marvel title David was writing at the time than a crummy series Jemas launched called Marville. Seeing how it banked on covers showing hot women, I can't help wonder if Jemas's rock bottom conduct is what led to the kind of SJW mentality that became prevalent recently. I'm sure he wouldn't care though, ironic though it may sound. He was also one of the early executives who led to the constant relaunchings of series and multiple volumes, seeing how Captain Marvel by David was relaunched in another volume at number 1. He left after his attempted stunt with Fantastic Four backfired, but oddly enough, it's unclear he was actually fired from the company by the management board. From what I've gathered over the years, there've been suggestions he did it as his last insult to fans on his way out voluntarily.

Furthermore, if continuity as they put it is such a bother, all they had to do was gear the storytelling towards a more stand-alone approach, not rely too much on costumed supervillains as nemeses in every instance, and that way, they could've solved some of the problems, IMO.

And this is where the article starts to drift away from serious criticism and objectivity and devolves into a sugarcoat of the more recent editorial boards and publishers. They begin to blabber about selling intellectual property and getting into movies, and then, wouldn't you know it, they even sugarcoat the diversity stunts towards the end:
Not only has the company been looking for Asian artists – like Singaporean illustrator Gary Choo, who freelances for Marvel – to bring in more authenticity, it also has new characters that are starting to reflect its diverse fanbase.

Take, for example, its first Muslim superheroine, a Pakistani-American teenager, to headline her own comic as the latest Ms Marvel. Singaporean illustrator Jerry Teo : “It's great because right now they're getting fans to understand that there's a bigger picture.”

So although films and licensing deals are now Marvel’s main business, it continues to develop its comics for a more global audience, based on a tradition of storytelling.
Oh yeah, there is one alright, and it's a whole propaganda angle intended to whitewash a repellent ideology. Not mentioned are the stunts involving an Asian Hulk, female Thor, and black girl replacing Iron Man, all at the expense of the established white heroes instead of giving them their very own separate roles without shoving out the folks who came before them. Those too are some of their biggest mistakes that cost them audience because it became very obvious by the time they did so that it wasn't really talented storytelling they were looking for, but catering to a PC crowd who had no love for the protagonists that came before. And above all, another problem is insularity and ghetto mentality eating up Marvel. This is why the comics proper have never been able to break free of marginalized status, because you had screwballs taking over and dragging them back into the dark alleyways they shouldn't have to be confined to.

And however diverse the fanbase is, it's not like they were ever asking for the heroes to be changed so drastically as Alonso's bunch did these past 3-4 years, and Marvel's biggest mistake was the belief they wouldn't judge story quality or be objective. That's exactly why they've lost even that, because everyone saw through their whole superficial stunt, and didn't want the wool being pulled over their eyes. There's no telling if they'll ever abandon these PC steps like they ought to be doing now, even though it's obvious that so long as they stick with them, they're bound to hurt, both critically and in sales.

The TV channel disappointed by limiting any criticism to men like Perelman, all because his errors now reside in the past, and give the modern managers a free pass, which only demonstrates how their objectivity is selective, and not altruistic. Problems will never be solved that way, and if corporate greed still prevails at Marvel, chances are the current managers will be let off the hook by these fraudulent journalists.

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"The erasure of the Spider-marriage, a topic that'll have to be cited for a long time to come..."
Please (Dear God!) No!
Maybe not more than once a week?
Seriously, the continuity redo that made Mary Jane single again was a big mistake, an awful reminder of how the characters are just puppets on the string for editors, and if I read between the lines correctly, probably the reason why Straczynski, the writer with the best feel for Peter Parker since Stan Lee, left Marvel entirely (perhaps his departure was instead the opening for them to redo the character that way; but his departure from the company did seem abrupt and he alludes to it being a matter of principle).
But - it has been, like, a decade, there have been other good story lines that have evolved and grown since then from the new roots that readers would hate to see undone. And MJ is married to Peter in, still, about half his regular series (Renew the Vows, the comic strip). Time to give this one a rest?

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