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Marvel Observations

 

This commentary was posted originally on the What's New page for October 12. It was written by guest contributer Kurt Wilcken. I liked it so much I asked Kurt to write a monthly piece for us at Tandra dot Com. Kurt graciously agreed and his comments and observations will appear in this section every month from this point forward. This is a repeat post. Kurt's commentary for January 2015 will be posted here this weekend. Enjoy, -h

A couple years ago, I posted a diary about Ike Perlmutter, the Man Who Saved Marvel Comics and it's CEO, (Pinching Pennies at the House of Ideas).

Give the man credit: he brought Marvel back from bankruptcy when the previous owner had run it into the ground. His management style, though, is all about increasing profit margin through cutting costs and not about investing in the staff who make the funnybooks and whose talent and creativity made Marvel the House of Ideas.

My previous diary linked to a story about him firing a good chunk of his staff, including several beloved and respected artists and writers. He knows which of his company's books are important and which aren't. But I don't think anyone's going to be making a big box-office movie about his company's financial report anytime soon.

Which brings me to this week's story. If the Bleeding Cool website is correct, Ike is not only super-cheap, he is also super-petty.
A big chunk of how Perlmutter was able to turn Marvel around was to establish Marvel's own movie studio so that they could develop their comics as movies in-house, so to speak. It was a risky move, but it proved very successful, resulting in a string of popular money-making movies and being bought by Disney, resulting in more money for even better movies.

Part of the success of the recent waves of Marvel movies is that, like the Marvel Universe itself, they are linked together; they have a shared background that connects the films.

But there are gaps in the universe. Back during the days of Marvel's bankruptcy, the company sold the movie rights to X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR to 20th Century Fox. Marvel was desperate for money and got a crappy deal that they have been regretting ever since. So although the Avengers could possibly meet, say, The Inhumans, in their next movie, they won't ever meet Magneto. And they never will, as long as Fox retains the rights.

Several months ago, Bleeding Cool News noticed that Marvel Comics was no longer doing a lot of in-house promotions for its X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR books. A piece of cover art the company published celebrating its 75th Anniversary featured Spider-Man and the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy and some other characters, most of whom are appearing or will soon appear in movies, but did not show Reed Richards or the Ever Lovin' Thing or even Wolverine.

Bleeding Cool observed:
The Fantastic Four is Marvel’s longest running comic book and is the foundation of the Marvel Universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961, even if its sales have varied, it’s considered the cornerstone of the comic books.

Officially, Marvel pooh-poohed the idea that leaving these characters off that cover was a particular snub; but Bleeding Cool claimed that according to a Marvel source, Marvel is putting it's FF books on hold, and that artwork featuring the FF is being taken down at its corporate offices. The reasoning is that why should Marvel promote movies made by Fox that are going to take money away from Marvel's own movies? Yes, the previous Fantastic Four movies were flops, but another one is coming down the pipeline.

(Marvel also sold the rights to SPIDER-MAN during their bankruptcy, but their deal with Sony was much better. The company actually gets a piece of the gross when a Spider-Man movie does well; they get virtually nothing from the Fox deal.)

This week, the earlier speculation has been confirmed: as of Fantastic Four #645, the title has been cancelled. During the summer, reports have trickled out about artists being told not to do sketch cards of FF characters and of the poster publisher Mondo and of Diamond Select Toys being denied permission to make Fantastic Four merchandise. Now it's official.

FANTASTIC FOUR #645 will be a special, triple-sized issue. This could be so that the title goes out with a big event, but I suspect part of the reason is that they had three issues worth of story and piled them all together to get it over and done with.
Now granted, sales for the FANTASTIC FOUR have been fairly weak; so it's conceivable that Marvel is just cutting a floundering title, as they did to X-MEN back in the '70s, to perhaps be brought back sometime later when the stars are right. And the fact that 20th Century Fox plans to release a new Fantastic Four movie this year is totally coincidental.
Or maybe Ike Perlmutter is an angry and petty little man.


Kurt Wilcken draws the webcomic “Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine” at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/ and writes a weekly blog about obscure Bible stories, “The Ones You Didn’t Hear in Sunday School” at: http://onesyoudidnthear.blogspot.com/ He also sometimes refers to himself in the third person and he lives for feedback.