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Saturday, August 18, 2018 

Will John Byrne actually make a return to Marvel?

It was recently reported that Byrne, particularly famous for his 1979-86 run on Fantastic Four, and late-80s run on Superman, was contacted by C.B. Cebulski about possibly working again for Marvel after nearly 2 decades, when Byrne stomped out after Joe Quesada canceled X-Men: The Hidden Years in 2000 despite selling well:
“There was some discussion on my website: ‘What if you went back to Marvel?’ and it planted this itch in my brain,” Byrne replied. “I thought, what if I went back to Marvel? Could I go back to Marvel? Can I do that? I haven’t drawn like that in 20 years.”

To scratch that itch, Byrne illustrated a sample page featuring a battle between Wolverine and Sauron in the Savage Land.

“And then I did another one,” Byrne said. “And what the Hell, I’ll do another one. And suddenly, there were 20 pages. And then I got an email from [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] C.B. Cebulski saying, ‘Love it! Let’s talk about this!’ Oh, that’s unexpected. So yeah, it just happened as a fun thing. It’s still just a fun thing as far as I’m concerned.”
So far, some news sites are discussing this as if it's a possibility, and maybe it is. Much like his X-Men co-writer Chris Claremont's returned yet again, and reportedly is even introducing a new character. Maybe Byrne could even take up the writing on Fantastic Four again as in the past, because from what I know, Dan Slott's revival is thudding in sales, proving audiences have woken up to just how bad his storytelling actually is.

But under the current conditions, who knows if Byrne would be able to turn things around? The sad answer is basically no. Even the 4 dollar pricing has to be considered, because there's less people today who want to spend that much for what could be just 20 pages of story content. In the past, when comics were just 20-30 cents, it would've been fine, but today's expenses don't make that easy. And Byrne's had some questionable content in some of his books from the time he was more active in mainstream (I'm not forgetting that bizarre "Byrne-hold" by the neck that appeared in at least 3 of his Superman stories).

Obviously, Cebulski must want to rehire Byrne because he figures a veteran like him might present a better example than some of the radical leftists he still hasn't shown the ability to get rid of. And maybe Byrne would be a better choice. But it's all coming at a time when superhero comics are facing a collapse that's going to happen sooner or later, and the chances Byrne would be able to turn around a dire situation, alas, are minimal. Too bad, of course, but that's also the fault of publishers who vehemently refuse to make shifts in formats for comics from pamphlets to trade-only, and thus weaken their business structure.

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Hiring John Bryne would contradict Marvel's rebranding efforts.
John Byrne's work art won't appeal to the "Young Adult" aka "Diverse" audience that Marvel has been overhauling all their IP to appeal to. Byrne will attract the audience several of Marvel's employees openly despises; (white) straight men.


It would make more sense for Marvel to hire
KATE BEATON...or...FIONA STAPLES or..JENN ST-ONGE or...SARA ALFA...If you don't recognize almost all those names, that is perfectly alright. Marvel's is a "lifestyle brand" now. Marvel does not market its comics based on name recognition of it creators but on the "lifestyle" of their creators. I suspect many of the names I listed above share a similar "lifestyle" of Intersectionality.

Beaton is probably too much in demand to find the time to work for Marvel. Byrne is problematic; he has.done a lot of good work and you can see his love of comics in all of his early work, but much of his last tenure at Marvel in the 90s was really bland and boring; if is like his interest in comics petered out even as his artistic craftsmanship improved. He has a reputation of being hard to work with, and that would scare away some editors. Fiona Staples is as dynamic as Byrne and has the advantage of not being colorblind; she would be better known to fans under 30, male or female. Marvel would be salivating to get either of them to do some work. Sara Alfa would be quirkier, but would be a find. And all three of them would be an improvement on a lot of the current line. St onge's work is more quiet.

Marvel doesn't really market its books on either creator or lifestyle, apart from a few well known names. Those things come and go. They market based on the characters.

Still, in name recognition, Staples would be better known to the younger crowd, Byrne to the older fans. Beaton's fans would probably never have heard of Byrne but some of them would know Staples. Alfa is less well known than any of them, but has talent.


Byrne helped introduce T'Challa and Ororo, he put the power back in Power Man when Luke Cage went under that name, and he was responsible for the first black-white inter-racial romance involving the title character of a Marvel comic, between Iron Fist and Misty Knight. He also introduced the first acknowledged-as-gay super hero to the Marvel Universe, in Alpha Flight. Why paint him as someone whose art appeals primarily to (white) straight men? It demeans the man and his art to limit him that way.

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