No hype, no BS, the most important episode of ‘Rama Ram – in fact, never mind. That’s even less believable coming from me than it is from Marvel.
That said, the House of Ideas started off the week strong with the release of February’s sales figures from the Direct Market, which showed that if Joe Quesada was Edwin Starr, then we’d find out that War, huh, is good for absolutely growing Marvel’s market share:
From a Market Share standpoint, Civil War and Stephen King’s 1-2 punch helped Marvel register two of the highest unit and dollar shares in the current Diamond era, 47.38% and 42.35%, respectively.
At 34.93% and 32.80% market share respectively, the 12.45% margin in unit share and 9.55% in dollar share between Marvel and DC represents some of the largest in months, and their combined market shares of 82.31% unit and 75.15% dollar also represent significant – though not all-time – highs.
And as if that wasn’t enough to make Marvel Zombies wet their pants in pleasure, there was also the announcement of a brand new Marvel theme park. In Dubai:
United Arab Emirate-based Al Ahli Group and Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL) announced today a partnership that will bring Marvel’s full library of Super Heroes — including Spider-Man, Iron Man, The X-Men, Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer — to Dubai for a major new theme park destination being developed by AAG. The development is in line with the vision set by HH Shk. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, through his innovative entertainment and hospitality driven expansion projects for Dubai and the UAE.
The Al Ahli Group, under the leadership of Chairman Nasser Ali Khammas and driven by the idea and dedication of CEO Mohamed Khammas, is poised to bring the region’s first and only global theme park destination directly to the heart of the Emirates. AAG and Marvel are also in initial stages of discussions about additional projects throughout the greater Pan Arabia region.
As you might hope, the talkback thread for that story had exactly the kind of commentary that makes Newsarama posters hated and feared by a world that they’ve sworn to protect:
“This has been posted for over 3 hours and no one has found a way to make a Haliburton joke yet?”
“Oh what the hell is this? It is official. Marvel Comics is officially with the terrorists. First Marvel wrote Captain America surrendering at the end of Civil War, then they killed him off. Now Marvel itself is teaming with an Arab country(Dubai) for a theme park. What’s next? Marvel is moving it’s operation Dubai to avoid paying American taxes? At least DC still have there true blue boy in Superman. Where he fights for truth, justice and the American way. You hear that Marvel? The American way. This is the worst move that Marvel have ever commited since that anouncement of Princess Diana in X-Statix Series back in 2003. Shame on you Marvel. Are there anyone left there with a conscience? Or rather is there anyone there that is still an American?”
“I kinda see this as Marvel’s way of subverting any potential threats in that area, ya know? Like, if the kids grow up loving Captain America (Ooops, he’s dead!) or some other American hero, they may be less inclined to take radical political stances. Instead, when they got angry, they would think, ‘What would Tony do?’”
That’s right, people: Marvel Comics – Saving the world from terrorism by making people follow the example set by Tony Stark. But not the alcoholic example. Nor the war-profiteering one. And that whole “paying a supervillain to attack you in front of Congress so as influence political policy” thing is probably out, as well. But other than that, have a ball.
Over at Joe Fridays, meanwhile, Joe Quesada was giving you reason to pick up the next X-Men event, Endangered Species:
This is the place to be, the ground floor, where the groundwork will be laid for this November’s X-Men event. It will run across 17 consecutive weeks and it leads to, yeah like I’m going to tell you yet, but let’s just say that Endangered Species and the event it leads into will be the thing X-fans (and comic fans) will be talking about in way they haven’t since the days of Mutant Massacre, Inferno, and Fall of the Mutants!
That’s right – It’ll return us to the days when fans complained that they had to buy multiple series to understand stories, and thought that Cyclops was a dick to walk out on his wife and kid. Happy days. Of course, a couple of weeks ago, Joe Quesada used the Joe Fridays column to duck a question about where Ultimates 2 #13 – currently seven months late – was by saying “I can’t publish a book I don’t have” and adding that we should ask artist Bryan Hitch. This week, the mothership did that very thing:
I DID finish the pencils last DEC as Joe can confirm from the last invoice date… Joe knows where we are as [Marvel editors] Ralph Macchio and John Barber get updates from us when they want them and there has been a steady influx of finished pages. I imagine they were trying to show the exasperation we have all felt from this project, proud though we are of it from start to finish. Those guys do like [their] one-liners after all.
Ah, fun and games. Still, it could be worse; they could be DC, which this week cancelled orders for the first couple of issues of their new Doctor Fate series, with the following press release quoted in its entirity:
DC Comics has cancelled orders for DOCTOR FATE #1 (FEB070270), DOCTOR FATE #1 Variant Edition (FEB070271) and DOCTOR FATE #2 (MAR070199). These issues will be resolicited at a later date.
Short and to the point, but missing the fact – reported by writer Steve Gerber on his website – that the reason for the cancellation and future resolicitation is that original artist Paul Gulacy is off the book, replaced by Justiniano. Fans with good memories will remember that this is actually the second DC series Gulacy has been announced for and then replaced on before his first issue recently (Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis being the first), which may mean nothing, but is odd nonetheless.
More positive DC coverage came with an interview with Blue Beetle’s John Rogers, as that series moved into a second year (Beetle fans could also enjoy an excerpt from an upcoming book about the various characters with the name Blue Beetle) as well as an interview with Gail Simone about the latest issue of Birds of Prey, which happened to bring back someone from the dead. No, I’m not spoiling it for you here; go read the comic. Or the ‘Rama story:
Here’s the thing, for several years, when some of the more innocent or charming or fun-loving characters were killed at both of the major companies, we’ve always heard that it’s because (and it’s hard to argue this point) of our fondness for them that their misfortune has dramatic impact. If you don’t love the character, then it means nothing if they sacrifice their lives. As much as I love Ted Kord and miss him, his telling Max to go to hell had real agony in it because it wasn’t, you know, some forgotten Global Guardian or somesuch.
I do understand that, but to me, it means the opposite with these characters is also true, that something positive can make you cheer just as something bitter can make you weep.
Such may be the thinking behind the announcement of a new Booster Gold series spinning out of 52, as co-written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz:
It’s like a scene from the movie Ed Wood – and I keep thinking of Booster about it – Johnny Depp’s on the phone with the studio head, and the studio head tell shim that the movie he just gave him is the worst movie that he ever saw. And Ed Wood’s entire response is a giant smile and saying, “Well my next one will be better!” Booster’s kind of that kind of guy. He tries very hard. Geoff and I made the analogy that in some ways, Booster is like that guy who’s just out of college for a year or two, and is finally getting his feet on the ground and realizing what real life is and is ready to step up and accept what responsibility it, and is ready to take on life, only to realize that life isn’t quite the way he expects it to be.
Booster’s spot on the schedule was, of course*, cleared by DC’s cancellation of The Boys – the book that DC dropped earlier this year only for it to be picked up by Dynamite Entertainment. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson talked about the changeover and future plans:
My reasons for going with Dynamite had everything to do with Nick Barrucci’s enthusiasm for the book and ability to do product in house and handle all the financial and PR challenges that we would need. While each publisher could offer one thing, we would find a place we’d have to sacrifice something. With Dynamite, we can have our cake and eat it too in many ways.
Dynamite’s cake this week was definitely Newsarama-flavored, considering the publisher had stories about their new Terminator 2 franchise, their new Zorro franchise, their ongoing Lone Ranger franchise, and weirdly enough, their Dorian Gray franchise. Next year, expect to see The Happy Prince: Unbound. Still, at least Joe Rybrandt will be happy.
Other interviews at the ‘Rama this week included Warren Ellis talking about his new superhero series at Avatar (“There are still questions to be asked of the superhero genre, but, after all these years, most of the ones left are pretty esoteric and involved. I was looking for the simple question, the one that gets to the heart of the central notion of people disguising themselves and taking up arms to fight for justice with total commitment.”), Renee French talking about her webcomic-turned-printcomic Micrographica (“I’ve had strips online before that were right off the page, drawn exactly like my print work, and in fact were done for print and then just posted online. But this particular project is very different from my print work because of the drawing process I used this time. I wanted to have some fun, and I wanted to force myself to somehow draw in a more spontaneous, less detailed way, and so I decided to draw the originals at around one centimeter square with a really teensy nib. I figured if the drawings were that small, there would be no way I could obsess over textures and noodle for hours on a drawing. It worked, and it seemed to effect my writing too. The writing on this project is more spontaneous than my other work.”) and Adam Warren talking about Empowered, his new book from Dark Horse:
A few years ago, during one of my many (if not essentially continuous) bouts of underemployment, I was plowing through a large number of commissioned sketches for some kind, free-spending people. Soon, I hit a long stretch of what one might tactfully and euphemistically refer to as “damsel in distress” art requests, if you catch my meaning. I’m not particularly fond of doing pin-up illos in the first place, let alone ones of a John Willie-ish stripe, so instead I chose to start cranking out very short “stories” about an oft-distressed superheroine. (Hey, I’m all about the storytelling, meng.)
And for those keeping track, yes, Newsarama really has featured references to Rob Zombie, Oscar Wilde and John Willie this week. Who says comics aren’t the point where all cultures collide?
(* – Not really.)