Adele in the comments to my recent ‘Wednesday/Thursday/Happy Day Comics‘ post asked:
“So how do you feel about Marvel being bought up by Disney?”
I’m glad you asked, Ms Adele.
I feel absolutely ebullient, superlative and outright erect.
Yes. Ironic riposte was my immediate response. I couldn’t help it – sorry, please don’t take offence, it’s just that…in truth, I feel a little numb toward Marvel in general.
I grew up watching the 90s Spiderman thinking that Marvel and DC characters all existed in the same universe and could never figure out why Superman didn’t help Spidey out now and then – until I hit 12 and began to understand the differences.
You see, Marvel’s the introductory universe for me: they adopted Kirby’s ‘Young Romance’ approach of giving their characters a real-life set of relationship problems much earlier than DC and so were great for me growing up. However, just as soon as I realised the differences between the two [and yes…the fact that they don’t exist in the same universe :*D] I also realised that DC was my preferred universe because, for all it’s ‘boy’s own’ origins, it has the better character sets: the ubermensch Supes, the Amazonian feminist Wonder Woman, the anarchic pederast Bats and many more. That still stands in many ways. When I read the Wednesday Comics, I read them with a glass of Ribena – had I grown up on milk and cookies, I’d read them with those. The last thing to mildly warm me from Marvel was Civil War and that was lukewarm – before that, Grant Morrison’s ‘New X-Men’ and that was a long time ago. [Stay with me, I’m getting to Disney.]
Now Marvel’s brought out Strange Tales [doing roughly what Wednesday comics are doing – i.e. taking unusual artists and letting them work on what they want] and it’s interesting. I have the first issue in my bag and intend to re read it at lunch today but this – like Marvel’s adoption of Marvel Knights or MAX quickly after DC opened up Vertigo – feels like an afterthought. A “Shit that’s innovative, let’s do that” move.
Disney have been playing a “Shit that’s innovative, let’s BUY that” game since Pocahontas flopped and Toy Story flew. So when Disney sees Marvel superhero movies doing particularly well at cinemas – even with pretty shitty, obvious remakes like The Hulk – they see an open market that DC hasn’t quite caught up on. Sure, the recent Batman films have been some of the highest grossing ever but I get the impression that while DC wants quality crystallisation of their stuff, Marvel wants quantitative delivery.
Disney buying Marvel is a business choice. Nothing more.
I give it a year or two before the Disney canon characters start entering the Marvel universe. Then, after that, maybe there’ll be a postmodern-mixing rejuvenation of the Disney characters – it would be interesting to place those cutesy, ideal characters in a world that makes no sense to them – coming to light but I highly doubt it can keep up with the quality DC will have capitalised on since then from the Wednesday Comics project.
So, finally, how do I feel?
I feel as though Marvel’s been going this way for some time and I feel a little remorse at not being more maddened.
My youngest self tells me that this shouldn’t happen, that any vestige of quality that might have existed in Marvel comics will be screwed out of it by the non-comics, high-movie making fools at Marvel but the rest of me says, I should have seen that one coming.