Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Mouse Assimilates Spidey!

The editorial you are about to read is true…I have not yet changed my name to avoid embarrassment…the opinions therein are my own and are not intended to reflect the opinions of CBJ or any employees therein….this is the city…New York, New York…they say there are 12 million people in the naked city…(to which I say “get dressed”!)…many people live and work here…most are good law abiding citizens who don’t persecute Mutants or plot global domination …except sometimes they do…that’s when they call me…I read comic comic books… (somebody play the theme to Dragnet please.)

Dr. Doom couldn’t do it…Galactus couldn’t do it…The Red Skull and Magneto couldn’t do it…heck THE BORG couldn’t do it…but THE MOUSE did it…Disney, in a 4 billion buy out deal today assimilated Marvel Comics. Don’t bother to fight it. Trust me when I say that resistance was indeed futile. The Mouse is inevitable…The Mouse is a force of nature…the Mouse cannot be stopped even by the crew of the Enterprise. Just ask all the former owners of all those naughty books shops and ladies of the night (notice that I don’t use the “adult” words here…the influence of Disney is all pervasive!!) that The Mouse banished from Times Square after decades of attempts by elected officials failed. Get used to it fellow members of The Merry Marching Marvel Society, Wolverine now reports to The Mouse. Spidey has to see The Duck when he wants a raise. Reed Richards now parks cars at Epcot Center.

There is no question that things are going to change for Marvel. DISNEY is the all devouring black hole and Marvel merely a piece of flotsam sucked therein. The only question that remains is “Is this a bad thing?”. Not necessarily…but then again maybe. So please Front Facers don’t panic…or do. Here is the way I see it. Let’s start with the positives:

First , this is a phenomenal business decision on the part of both Marvel and Disney. There is no doubt that the infusion of resources that Disney can bring to bear in the areas of market penetration, television exposure, merchandising and animation ( oh and also MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!) can only increase the value of the Marvel stable of characters. The additional revenues that come Marvel’s way from this merging will allow them to bring even more of the very best talent in the comics industry to the legendary Bullpen. Disney will also be able to almost immediately close the gap between Marvel and DC in terms of the quality of their animated properties. Let’s face it DC Animated is head and shoulders ahead of Marvel right now. That will change at least from a technical point of view.

As for Disney, they are THE BEAST and THE BEAST must be fed. They acquire an enormous amount of content and characters with which to populate their Theme Parks, retail outlets and TV stations. I for one am looking forward to the Spiderman Pavilion in Epcot (opening in 2012!). And who would not want to bring their kids to a character breakfast featuring Herbie the Robot? How about The Red Skull Rollercoaster of Nazigoodness? (maybe that last one went a bit too far.) The possibilities are truly Homeric if not downright Orwellian.

In short, the good thing is that we will see more Marvel in more markets than ever before. That’s good for Marvel. It’s good for the comic book industry in general. We will undoubtedly see a large influx of new comic readers and circulation could potentially reach levels not seen since WWII all due to the Disney acquisition of Marvel. How can that be bad?

Now for the other boot dropping.

There is perhaps no entertainment entity MORE mainstream , more establishment, more status quo than Disney. If you think the Comics Code Authority was tough wait until The Mouse starts to edit Marvel Comics! Will we see Wolverine’s claws go from Adamantium to chocolate pudding? Will Dr. Doom change his name to Dr. Cranky? Will Ebenezer Duck become the Nemesis of the Fantastic Four? Even worse , will Emma Frost (gasp!) COVER UP??!!!

The possibilities are astounding!

Remember that Marvel has always been the maverick, the edgy company. It is Marvel that used a superhero team in The X-Men as an allegory for racial discrimination. It was Marvel and NOT DC that first defied the Comics Code in addressing the drug issue head on and it was Marvel that killed off the beloved Gwen Stacy. Marvel took on the issue of individual rights versus the power of the state in Civil War and the fall out of that war in the Dark Reign books. Marvel has in it’s stable two very popular protagonists in the Punisher and Wolverine who regularly KILL their enemies and enjoy doing it to boot. Does ANY of this sound like remotely like Disney approved content? There is a very real possibility that we could see, in the next few years, a “defanging” of Marvel as it becomes completely a product of the Disney philosophy.
Don’t get me wrong here. I personally love Disney. I have been to their various parks over thirty since times 1986 so they love ME too. (Now I go every year just to visit my money!) I own copies of every one of their Theatrical films and enjoy them immensely. Disney often does a lot of innovative and creative work. They also go through long stretches where they merely ride the formulas that they made popular and creativity dips. As I said earlier Disney is very much an example of “The Establishment” . They are not in the business of taking risks. Owning Marvel is not going to change that philosophy. No matter what else happens it will always be about what is good for DISNEY first and foremost .

It is naïve to think otherwise.

On the bright side, Disney is also comprised of some very smart people in decision making roles. We can only hope that those people are smart enough to allow Marvel to do what they have always done best. There is bound to be a lot of debate in Disney’s halls of power on just how much direct control they will exert over Marvel in an editorial sense. Be smart Disney, let Marvel stay…Marvel.

What will Marvel be in two years? In five years? No one really knows. Stay tuned.

That’s 30!

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