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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 2,623
Subj: Marvel Comics vs. Marvel Films
Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 at 05:00:15 pm EST (Viewed 125 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Yikes
Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 at 08:21:53 am EST (Viewed 124 times)


    The problem you have with a new #1 every year is that it comes with yet another reinventing of the wheel, and usually a new creative team, and also a load more of that hyperbole I was talking about earlier. Personally I prefer a little continuity in both numbering, the direction of the character, and the creative input.

I'm guessing I'm in a definite minority on a site like this, but I *do* prefer to see the wheel reinvented (as opposed to an eternal, unchanging status quo). I like getting different creators takes. Different strokes, I suppose.

    Well Marvel have pretty much said that this is what theyre doing.

Where did they say this?

    They have commented that the problem with their product is that people who watch a movie or TV show are intimidated by the idea of picking up a comicbook because either the characters (such as Nick Fury) have no similarity to what they recognise, or titles have such a long and unwieldy histories that there is no natural jumping-on point for a new reader.

    New #1's are predominantly for this reason. They are not for existing fans, they are for the benefit of potential new fans to make the transition easier and more natural for them. I can see the business sense in that, but as a long-time reader i find it very frustrating because everything seems geared towards dragging in new readers rather than retaining the existing ones.

These are two totally separate issues, though:

#1 new readers being scared off because the characters in the comics don't resemble the characters in the films
#2 new readers being scared off because of the weight of in-universe history and continuity

To my mind Marvel is clearly more concerned about #2 than #1. If they were very worried about issue #1, then Thor wouldn't be a woman and Captain America wouldn't be black. Period. My guess as to why some minor* changes have been to resemble the MCU? The changes to the supporting cast of SHIELD characters allow Marvel to sell a SHIELD book to existing readers who want to see a SHIELD comic that involves the folks in the movies and TV show. Also, see my answer below about the relationships between the various Marvel companies as to why there are especially strong similarities between the way SHIELD is depicted on TV and in the comics...

*minor in the sense that, unlike Cap or Thor, Fury doesn't lead his own solo book and isn't on the active roster of the Avengers

On the other hand, addressing issue #2 gives new readers a chance to jump in AND tends to juice sales to existing readers who also jump on first issues. Traditional superhero comics are a uniquely weird phenomenon in entertainment. There is virtually no analogous form of shared-universe storytelling with so much backstory (aside from maybe Coronation Street?). Certainly there's nothing like this approach in Japanese comics. And that massive shared backstory is appealing in some senses but it also means that Marvel has to deal with the fact that they are constantly dis-incentivizing new readers. So yeah, they need to constantly worry about it.

    You are right in one respect - comics ARE small potatoes at the moment - which is why Marvel are trying to better intergrate their product accross all mediums. Make no mistake, Marvel DO have the movie-goers in their sights. Marvel movies arent just about watching a film, they are about buying the T-shirt, getting the mobile game, buying your kids the playset or pajamas.....and picking up the comics book.

    The tail is more and more wagging the dog.

Ahh, here's the thing - I don't think Marvel are really worried at all about better integrating their product across mediums (except in certain specific instances) because it's incorrect to talk about "Marvel" as if it's one business. Marvel's comics are produced by Marvel Entertainment. LLC (a corporate subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company) actually has relatively little to do with Marvel Studios LLC(which is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios, which is also a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company). Marvel Studios doesn't report to Marvel Entertainment (or vice versa) and they have totally separate governance structures. There's very little connection except for rights to the same intellectual properties. Otherwise they both report separately to Disney.

On the other hand, Marvel Entertainment *does* control Marvel Television, which produces the Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD and Daredevil. So the fact that the depiction of SHIELD characters is very consistent across TV and the comics - compared to the hugely varying depictions of MCU film characters in the movies vs the comics - is really no shocker.

And I know I'm getting long-winded here, but honestly I doubt that Marvel Studios cares at all whether viewers read the comics published by Marvel Entertainment, because it makes literally no difference to the bottom line of Marvel Studios whether they do so or not. And certainly the box office will have taught them that far, far more people are rabid for MCU films than have ever bought a comic book.

The tail isn't wagging the dog. The dog is almost completely incidental to the tail.

    And my issue with this as an existing fan is that those changes are in many ways superficial or inferior to what came before.

    Nick Fury is the best example of this. Marvel have effectively erased a classic silver-age character from their history in order to replace him with a much less interesting character with ridiculous origin simply because he bears a superficial similarity to a famous actor who plays a character on the big screen, apparantly because they dont trust readers to be smart enough to understand how there can be a white and black Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe (In farness, the mess they made of Juniors origin story didnt make this any easier)

    Thats the very definition of using a character as a 'marketing tool'

I personally find both Nick Fury characters to be rather uninteresting, myself, so I'll recuse myself from arguing with you on this one.

    And in fairness to yourself, the books you list fall into what I described earlier as 'smaller' or 'more niche', and I did give those types of books credit as the only place where creativity still runs unhindered.

    It has been quite some time since anyone in an Avengers or X-Men title acted like a hero. For the most part they all spend their time being miserable, stabbing each other in the back or acting like arseholes.

Well, I'd quibble that Thor is hardly niche given that the current volume has been a regular top ten Marvel book (and Ms. Marvel is apparently their best seller digitally). But yeah, the X-men seem to have been defined by angst forever and New Avengers went to some pretty dark places. I far and away enjoyed New Avengers compared to Avengers and Avengers Assemble/Avengers World, which I didn't think really dwelled on the same kind of infighting until the time-jump just before Secret Wars.

    I read quite a bit from other publishers, but all that does is help confirm to me what a terrible job ?Marvel are doing with their product.

    One of my favorites is IDW's Transformers franchise. In there 'More than Meets the Eye' book you have a title that has in the space of less than 50 issues managed to introduce compelling characters, gay relationships, interesting and capable female protagonists, and real world politics and absolutely nail it first time. Hell, the latest issue even manages to cover mental health.

    The key to that titles success has been continuity in the creative team, not making a massive song and dance about the fact you have a gay robot or a female robot (if you just create a good character people will identify with it - you dont have to TELL them that youre trying to create a character they identify with), and trusting the reader. Its a 30 year old boys toy franchise that has all sections of the demographics pie falling over themselves to read, because people arent stupid - women, gays, ethnic minorities, the young - they know when theyre being patronized, when someones 'trying too hard' to please them, they know that 'diversity' isnt allowing a minority character the opportunity to wear an established characters duds for a few months. Meanwhile, white males like myself who have been reading Transformers since 1984 have no cause for complaint because the whole thing has been so well done.

    Marvel have been fumbling these issues for years and cant seem to deal with any of them without patronizing the reader, forcing it in with a shoe-horn, or sounding like theyre preaching. Its ironic that a book about robots manages to do this in a much more 'organic' way.

Not something I've read. Cool.

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