Disney Buys Marvel

Did not see that coming. I wonder how that will effect the current people running the comics side. I suspect there will be changes.

The Walt Disney Co. is buying Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion in cash and stock, bringing such characters as Iron Man and Spider-Man into the family of Mickey Mouse and WALL-E.

Under the deal, which was announced Monday and is expected to close by the end of the year, Disney will acquire the rights to 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend Stan Lee.

Disney CEO Robert Iger said Marvel’s comic books, TV shows, movies and video games amounted to “a treasure trove of content.” Iger said the deal would bring benefits like the ones Disney got from buying “Toy Story” creator Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion in stock in 2006.

“The acquisition of Marvel offers us a similar opportunity to advance our strategy,” Iger said, and “to build a business that is stronger than the sum of its parts.”

I suspect there will be personnel and editorial changes there. There always is when a big company swallows another.

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10 Comments

  1. I hope their first change is to send Joe Quesada packing. The quality of Marvel’s output has been sliding down to the gutters since he took over as EIC.

  2. I feel the same way, Paul, but so far Quesada has survived Jemas-gate and the constant delays and cancellations in solicitations for as long as he’s been EIC.

    He’s gotta be a Class-A suckup to the higher-ups to survive as long as he has. There are a ton of older Marvel fans and retailers who can’t stand Joe Quesada. A number of older Marvel writers and artists also won’t work for Marvel as long as he’s EIC, too.

    As egotistical and nasty to people as Jim Shooter was, the books shipped on time. Shooter’s tenure as Marvel EIC also coincides with the last time that I feel Marvel Comics had a general overall quality of excellence. There were a lot of good people working at Marvel back then who liked their jobs and it showed. Not so much since then!

    Heck, even during the DeFalco and Harras tenures at Marvel, books still shipped on time. As bad as the writing and editorial in 1990s Marvel generally was, it looks practically good and gaffe-free compared to some of the stuff Quesada has let happen — most infamously in the Spider-Man comics, the corporate logo for Marvel!

    It’s very true… Marvel is no longer the company any of us remembered. Its true Golden Age was in the 1960s and 1980s with a few classics produced in the 1970s and 1990s but little to nothing new that was very good (unless it was regurgitated plotlines) since the late 1990s.

    These days, if I get anything from Marvel, it’s generally a reprint of older comics or something not superhero related (at least not any of their monthlies).

    Since they put an indie artist in charge as EIC, I have felt that their ethical standards and the integrity of the characterizations have fallen. Iron Man has practically been turned into a villain. Captain America is dead (but will soon be back and better with no real consequences). The Avengers just aren’t the Avengers but a bunch of loners or second-stringers who aren’t leaders. (I’m sorry, but Bendis and Co. just aren’t writing the Avengers no matter what the title on the book says!) Again, as bad as the 1990s comics were, there was still more integrity back then than there is today at Marvel. You don’t know what’s going to be canon or true about a character from week to week!

    To be fair, DC is hardly better in those senses, too… But DC generally follows Marvel’s lead nowadays and seems to mimic the worst Marvel behavior, too.

  3. I have a feeling Disney will clean house at some point and put in their own crew. That’s just the way these things tend to work. Quesada survived the Jemas era because they probably didn’t see editorial as that much of an issue. But Disney will. Watch.

  4. Thing is Hud that Quesada’s responsible for making sure people DO their jobs and GET things done on time…

    He’s done a lousy job of that and as a result scheduling at Marvel is a joke and there are many people who seem to mail in their work whenever they feel like it and the editorial executiveship (ie, Quesada) lets them get away with it. I’ve heard the excuses that nobody wants fill-in issues or other artists to “disrupt story” flow and do art in their own styles but c’mon! The delays and cancellations were never this bad before! I’m sure a couple dozen comic shops have closed altogether or reduced orders because of delays and cancellations in books. This stuff has to be ordered 3 months ahead of time and paid ahead of time, too. When it doesn’t arrive on time, that’s money and customers that shops lose. Image was flakey this way and that’s what ultimately did the Bad Boys of Image in, too. Marvel and DC have less excuse for this nonsense.

    The worst recent example of turning work in months late is Frank Miller. He’s constantly abused his star power and been late on 3/4 of his Batman projects since The Dark Knight Returns.

    Granted, I think the only worthy Batman project he’s done in 25 years was The Dark Knight Returns and I really only liked the first two books in that series, too. (I hated DKII and did not care for the revisionism of Batman: Year One, either.) It set a tone that other writers and artists have emulated when they felt they could get away with it and I don’t see many people suffering for it.

  5. Yes, that kind of stuff really used to bother me and I railed about it a lot in the 90s. The companies only have themselves to blame. They keep hiring the same people to write all the books. And they are not giving seasoned pros a chance, people who could do the job well. And I am not talking about me, I haven’t even tried to get work a those places.

    If you ask me they are dying off in some ways. The only real future will coe from new ideas and that is being done outside of the big two for the most part.

  6. I know what you mean, Hud.

    I met a lot of pro writers at last year’s Mid-Ohio Con. Nice bunch of guys. Solid writers. A number of them wrote and created concepts in books like X-Men and Iron Man — ideas that got used in the movies that have been made in the past 10 years.

    They’re not all starving for work, though.

    Some guys moved to LA and write in television. Gerry Conway, for instance, writes on CSI/detective shows now. Bob Layton has been getting work with entertainment companies and still regularly contributes designs to the Iron Man comic.

    (Frankly, Layton, Michelenie, and their other collaborators are the only guys who have contributed anything to Iron Man in the past 30 years that’s been worth a damn. They’ve created the iconic stories in that series and the flavor of the character that was encapsulated so well in the movie. Layton wasn’t crazy about what Marvel has done with Tony Stark lately, either…)

    The guy I’m surprised I don’t see more of is Roger Stern. He was one of the most solid writers of the 1980s and 1990s. He’s about the last guy that wrote Spider-Man consistently well and wrote some very nice Avengers and Captain America comics. I’d take him over any of the guys writing those comics now. (Not crazy about Bucky being brought back from the dead 40 years later or the current Avengers’ teams’ line-ups…) Quesada has given way too much power to some guys with strange ideas about comics and frankly I just don’t recognize the characters anymore. “That guy looks like Spider-Man but sure doesn’t act like the character I remember…!”

  7. I agree completely, George. Marvel seems to be focusing on their movies lately, and abandoning the source material in the comics to total mediocrity or worse. Jacking their cover prices up to $3.99 isn’t helping matters either. I can count the number of monthly titles I buy anymore on one hand; that move makes my decision to drop a couple more much easier.

    I hope clearer minds at Disney can turn it around. Hopefullly they realize the treasure trove of iconic source material they just purchased and will bring in some fresh talent (or experienced talent that has been driven away) to get Marvel back to its glory days. At least get the heroes to start acting like heroes again!

  8. I don’t have as much faith in Disney, Paul.

    If they can’t even handle their own classic character (Donald, Mickey, Goofy, Chip and Dale, etc.) well and are afraid of acknowledging the existence of both Walt Disney AND Song of the South, I don’t know how they’re going to force editorial and writers at Marvel to treat its stable of characters better!

    Disney rarely does quality short films with its classic characters anymore and instead shuffles them off to TV in low-quality fare like the mentally-challenged children’s CGI Mickey’s Clubhouse. Mickey has been a hard character to write since the early 1930s but he used to have fairly decent adventures and even the last theatrical Mickey short, “Runaway Brain,” was an excellent animated short by anyone’s reasonable standards. Darn shame doesn’t treat its own characters better and that they don’t let the theatrical talent do new things with the old characters. Instead, it’s always focus on the Disney Channel shows and the new animated features!

    (Speaking of Disney Channel, does anybody think Miley Cyrus’s antics the past year have been anything that you’d want a kid to emulate? From that pedophilish photo shoot with the financially and morally challenged Annie Lebowitz to her recent spinning around a stripper’s pole in a music awards ceremony, what the hell are handlers and parents thinking? For that matter, why other than money does Disney want her to stick around? You would never have seen Disney kid actors before her or Lindsay Lohan do the crap they’re doing now!)

    **************

    One other thing I haven’t liked about Marvel since the 1990s is that it hasn’t been treated as a cohesive universe. Instead, titles get split into Spider-Man, Avengers, and X-Men tiers and they exist almost completely independent of each other! I don’t want company-wide crossovers all the time either but damn it at least acknowledge Spider-Man, Cyclops, and Cap exist on the same world in the same decade!

    DC likewise has problems with its own universal coherence…. They can’t seem to avoid doing a Crisis mini-series at least every 5 years now.

    P.S. — The CEO of Disney, Bob Iger, is the nephew of Jerry Iger (dec.), former partner and co-founder of the Eisner-Iger cartoon studios in the late 1930s. Jerry Iger was a pioneer in the American comic book industry.

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