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Wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Jim Henley wonders what’s up with the X-Men’s return to spandex. After all, as Jim points out, Marvel seems to want to make their comics more “Hollywood friendly” so they can license more movies, but the spandex look is actually much less like the movie version of the characters than the New X-Men stylish-black look (although the movies don’t have the crazy puffy yellow vest things that the characters wear in New X-Men). I think the most obvious answer is that Marvel, in addition to deciding to become more movie-friendly, has decided to stop alienating their old loyal readers who were apparently threatened by the nonspandex costumes. This is especially clear considering lines like these in the Astonishing X-Men preview (which is apparently from Marvel Previews, I didn’t know that yesterday when I found it through Alan David Doane):

Scott: Sorry, Logan. Superheroes wear costumes. And quite frankly, all the black leather is making people nervous.

As I said yesterday, that sure looks like a little meta-assurance to the old-school readers that Marvel feels their pain, so to speak. In catering to this group of readers, though, Marvel is apparently alienating another group of readers, who have been complaining loudly about the return to spandex even as many readers are joyously celebrating the return to spandex in various comics message boards. Jim says:

The outrage is mildly ironic, in that devotion to the Morrison run signifies sophistication and the complaints about the clothing change have a whiff of You’re messing with my continuity! about them.

Uh, you know what, I was just about to type up to a whole five sentences explaining why I don’t think a return to spandex is necessarily a sign of lesser sophistication, but I actually don’t really care. Anyway, I hope that whiff of “You’re messing with my continuity!” didn’t come from this blog… now where’s that air freshener? It’s not like I’m offended by the spandex. I’m much more bothered by Chris Claremont’s insistence that the X-Men should be escapist fiction in which the “good” guys defeat the “bad” guys, and I think the fact that Joss Whedon has Scott calling the X-Men “superheroes” apparently without irony plays into that. But I talked about this already, so I won’t repeat myself.

And yes, I realize that this very post is, rather ironically, in the “Superheroes” category. I think we should probably delete that category, so we’ll see what Rose thinks…


  1. Frank says:

    In any corporation, the most valuable opinion belongs to The Guy Who Brings In The Most Money. In Marvel’s case, that guy is Avi Arad.

    The success of the SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN films gave Arad more clout within Marvel than anyone else, and he was quick to extend that clout to the publishing line. Editor-In-Chief and Publisher became meaningless titles, because Arad was now able to veto any idea as being “potentially harmful for licensing purposes.” I buy Rich Johnston’s story about George Clooney’s publishing company killing the proposed NICK FURY film after reading Garth Ennis’s FURY miniseries, and how that sent serious shockwaves throughout Marvel, further elevating Arad’s status within the company.

    The success of the SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN films were, in a very real way, the death of creativity at Marvel. The powers-that-be aren’t taking creative risks anymore, because they don’t HAVE to. All they have to do is hire a group of safe, conservative creators to babysit their properties—making damn sure they’re all recognizable—until someone options them for a film. Or a television series. Or a Saturday-morning cartoon. Anything that makes more money than a comic book.

    Arad was recently quoted as saying, “We’re not a publishing company, we’re a licensing company.” And licensing companies don’t gamble on new ideas.

    I’m just thankful for the all-too-brief Jemas/Quesada era. Years from now, I’ll be saying, “No, really. There was a period of about two years when Marvel books were interesting. I swear! I have the trade paperbacks to prove it!”


    — 1 March 2004 at 11:07 am (Permalink)

  2. Steven says:

    Marvel published plenty of bad comics under Bill Jemas, too—some of them written by Jemas himself, even. I don’t know if Marvel is even publishing more dumb stuff now, although they probably are considering the number of new books they’re launching.

    — 3 March 2004 at 2:48 pm (Permalink)