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Subj: Re: What would your ideal Marvel be?
Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 09:37:37 pm EDT
Reply Subj: What would your ideal Marvel be?
Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 01:15:59 am EDT

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We've all been critical of Joe Q, Bendis, JMS, and the like (and I'm no less guilty, I admit), but the thing is about criticism is that sometimes critics ought to put up or shut up.

So, if you were running Marvel, how would you run things? Bear in mind that this is ideal, and doesn't necessarily reflect the realities of the comics industry-I suppose it's as much about your ideal MU as anything else.

As for the way I'd handle it...

1) Decentralized storytelling. Characters don't need to continually guest star in each others' titles. If the writer on Spider-Man wants to keep Peter in the Spider-Ghetto, focussing only on Peter Parker and his supporting cast, he's free to do so. If a writer doesn't want the Avengers ever dealing with the X-Men, fine. If the Hulk never crosses paths with Wolverine as long as the writer doesn't want it, great.

Bear in mind, of course, that this only applies to certain characters, most notably the ones with titles. Iron Man may never interact with the Black Panther, but they can both be struggling against A.I.M., for example. Many of the familiar traits of the Marvel Universe-things like Vibranium, SHIELD, Atlantis, gamma radiation, the Mindscape, etc., would all be freely available for use, which shows that, even though there isn't always a plethora of guest stars and crossovers, there's still a lot of common ground. Someone like the Kingpin or the Red Skull, since they're not the focus of an ongoing title, could just as easily be used by different writers without difficulty. Kingpin might have some intrigues going against Daredevil at the very same time he's manipulating Sleepwalker to do something else.

In a nutshell, it basically means to keep the guest appearances and mega-crossovers at a minimum, and let writers decide if they want their characters to team up, fight, or whatever. In Lorendiac's Superhero Writings, Continuity of Isolation would be important, although writers could just as easily have their characters team up or whatever if they agreed on it beforehand.

2) Hands-off editorial control: What this means, basically, is few if any editorial mandated mega-events. Storylines like Maxmimum Carnage and Civil War probably wouldn't happen much if at all, going for things that have a more limited impact, like Acts of Vengeance. Inferno wouldn't require that Spider-Man put his monthly thrashing of Green Goblin on hold just so he can fight demons, for example.

Editorial would only intervene if writers were doing things that would drastically alter the very concept or nature of the character, or if it was so grossly out of character that it all but amounts to self-destruction. I've made it pretty clear over at the spider-forums what I'd put the brakes on, so I won't repeat it here. Another example would be, for instance, turning Hank Pym into a wife-beater; that would never happen on my watch. Lorendiac identifies this as Continuity of Theme or Tone.

I freely admit I'd also put the kibosh on anything that seems too Women-in-Refrigerators.

3) Organic storytelling, both in individual books and as a whole: Something like Civil War would only occur if the line as a whole was in some sort of serious trouble, or if the whole thing was stagnant. Smaller-scale events can happen all the time, of course, but these should be things that only affect a specific title or series of titles, instead of affecting the whole universe, as House of M and Civil War have done.

Same thing for individual stories-let the characters develop more slowly and gradually, instead of injecting all these radical changes one after another. The Spider-Marriage was built up over a few years, and when it finally happened, it was a natural outcome. Jim Rhodes had been developed for years in the Iron Man series, and so when Tony Stark took a hiatus to deal with his alcoholism, it was only natural that Rhodey would fill in for him until he got his head together, and could otherwise pinch-hit in the armor when necessary, such as if Iron Man and Stark needed to be seen at the same time. Portal had been shown to be experienced with the Darkhawk armor and his relationship with Chris Powell had been developed from almost the beginning, so when Chris was indisposed, Charles Little Sky could step up to the plate.

Turning Peter Parker into a teacher would be a natural growth of his interest in science and his previous experience-he was a lecturer at ESU-and would offer a way to expand the supporting cast with his students. The Professor Hulk could be seen as a way to help Banner get a grip on his life and the multiple personalities of the Hulk. All these things work out great-unlike some things I'm sure we can all mention.

Well, that would be my ideal version of Marvel. What's yours?

I'm not a writer, so there's not a whole lot I can authoritatively. There are a few things, though, that I think I'd like to see...

1) Return of editor's notes & footnotes. This has been mentioned elsewhere in the thread.

2) A character doesn't get their own series (or mini even) until they have guest starred in a couple of pre-existing titles. A title featuring a new team...I guess I could allow some leeway there, but I'd still prefer if the team debuted somewhere else to whet the buying public's appetite.

3) Titles would "partner up". They wouldn't necessarily cross over in a "continued in Daredevil #725" kind of way, but they WOULD share a few supporting cast members, cross-over on occasion, and reference developments in each others' books. (i.e. New York gets taken over by aliens in Daredevil, it's partner book at least mentions that it happened.) Basically the writers (if they aren't written by the same guy) would have to sit down and talk once in a while, and be aware of what's going on in the other book.

4) More minis. Fewer ongoings. The minis has been where it's at in the MU for a long time now. Agents of Atlas, Annihilation, GL whatever, The Hood. Go ahead and tie them together in little ways for us long time readers, but keep pumping out quality minis.

The rest, I gues are more about marketing and expanding Marvel's readership.

5) Hire Christopher Priest as a consultant for widening Marvel's market. And then LISTEN TO HIM! He had some cool ideas for getting young black readers on board for The Crew, but it never came to pass.

6) Work to establish some sort of public school partnerships. I've been teaching middle school for 8 years now, and many (if not most) school libraries have graphic novel sections. Get some donations happening. Get Spidey Loves MJ, Runaways, Annihilation, Marvel's Masterwork, and more into the hands of young readers who have nothing to do in study hall next period.

7) Hire women from the entertainment or literary world outside of comics, and get them involved in restructuring a corner of the MU that female readers would feel comfortable in.

8) Keep the brand marketing going. Put Spider-Man, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four on EVERYTHING. Do more as the movies keep coming.

9) Get some (more?) cartoons out there! Warlock & The Infinity Watch, Runaways, Agents of Atlas, and Annihilation would all be great as ongoing animated series.

10) Maybe creat some movie shorts to go in front of feature legnth movies, like Pixar does?

11) Hand out free copies of Marvel Comics at sports events.

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