0:00-1:40:16: Greetings! Emergency greetings! Because the shit hit the fan at the end of last month, as far as Marvel goes, and then re-hit the fan on Friday, we thought it prudent to hold an emergency “What the fuck is happening with Marvel” episode.  Because it’s more or less all one topic, and because Jeff is a big diaper baby and thought he had a Sunday without editing, we aren’t doing show notes so much as a show note. This note. If you listen to this episode, you will hear us discuss Marvel’s reply to the X-Men Gold controversy, the public reply to Marvel’s earlier in the month controversy, and much, much more.  Trust us, you will be in for a wild ride, and by the end you will have even greater respect for Graeme McMillan’s patience with his mouthy, intemperate, not-especially-well-informed cotalk-host.
1:40:16-end: Closing Comments!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
Next week:  This time for sure:  Baxter Building! Issues #261-270!
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14 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 222: Was I What You Wanted Me To Be?

  1. Jeff Lester Apr 9, 2017

    And if you are the type what likes a little cut & paste action:

    http://theworkingdraft.com/media/podcasts2/WaitWhat222.mp3

    • Martin Gray Apr 18, 2017

      I don’t actually get why Graeme has a problem with the very idea of Nazis as villains in a comic today. Sure, if Marvel unambiguously comes out in favour of Adolf’s thugs, that’s terrible, but it’s a story. Mind control, reality altering, defined bad guys…. did you not grow up on Commando book, Battle Picture Weekly and (the UK) Warlord? ‘Achtung Britisher’ and all that, Graeme?

  2. Rob G Apr 9, 2017

    This is what David Gabriel said to explain Marvel’s recent poor sales performance:
    “We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”

    Saying that diversity, female superheroes, and nonwhite superheroes are the reason sales are down is an obvious attempt to direct blame away from marketing and editorial and put it squarely on the audience. Who is that audience?

    This is from an ICv2 interview with David Gabriel from August, 16, 2016 (https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/35283/icv2-interview-marvels-david-gabriel-part-2):

    “Q: Now, obviously, you’re trying to reach a much broader demographic and you’ve been successful at that, so who do you see as the Marvel customer now? Who makes up the dollars and who are you publishing for?
    A: Again it’s still kind of anecdotal. From things that we gather from some analysis that Disney does on who is buying Marvel as a brand, and from talking to retailers and looking at our titles, we’re probably up to at least 40% female, which eight years ago might have been 10%. And 15 years ago might have been nothing, while they were all buying manga. So there’s really been a shift, which is great, and it even could be even higher than 40%. I’m sure if you go into some retail shops in different parts of the country, that’ll be 50-60% female, and some lower. But that’s about what we’re seeing now.”

    Can that possibly be right? I get the feeling that percentage may be off. It should be noted that his interview took place just prior to the precipitous sales drop-off Marvel experienced in it’s fourth quarter of 2016.

    All of this causes me to question what information Disney is providing to the Marketing Department at Marvel, what kind of anecdotal evidence is being considered and relied upon, and how much of this is a total lack of knowledge and information on the part of David Gabriel. I agree with Jeff that he needs to go. His incompetence and poor job performance based upon declining sales and bad P.R. for Marvel warrants his departure. He’s a salesman and clearly not very good at doing his job, as reflected by poor sales. I also think Marvel needs new editorial direction, because they obviously don’t have a clue as to what their audience wants.

    I’m not saying that I do either. All I can state with 100% certainty is what I know personally and what I feel in regards to why I’m not buying Marvel Comics right now and why I wasn’t interested in DCU. I am interested in the core Marvel and DC characters. It’s not nostalgia, per se, but I grew up with these characters and I like these characters, and I like the traditions and mythology of these characters. Caveat: When they are done well. When they are not done well or the characters are unrecognizable to me, I’m outta there. I’m not going to allocate my resources (time and money) to something that does not interest me. Just gimme something good.

  3. Say what you will about Marvel, but at least they aren’t publishing this cover of Suicide Squad 15 by JRJR:

    https://biggoonie.tumblr.com/post/159005234187/suicide-squad-15-by-john-romita-jr

    I have no words.

  4. Mike Loughlin Apr 11, 2017

    Older fans might not want newer versions of familiar characters or new super-heroes but newer fans don’t want to pay $4 an issue and have to buy 25 comics to finish a story.

    I think Marvel was trying to get new, younger, more diverse readers with non-white male characters but didn’t get enough to offset losing older readers. Because their comics all connect, have a ton of continuity baggage, and cost too much.

    As for art, the devaluation of art in super-hero comics has hurt the genre. Talky super-hero comics are rarely satisfying, and forcing artists to draw characters in visually static conversation isn’t smart. Super-hero comics should have more visual excitement than what we’re seeing in most Marvel books.

  5. Mike Murdock Apr 12, 2017

    I was just thinking the other day that Marvel heard you were taking a three week break from comics news and decided to release all their bad PR at once. You got Diversity not selling comics, Marvel treating their artists like crap, and whatever the hell the whole fiasco is with their X-Men Relaunch. They were probably like “The Wait, What people will have a field day for this, we gotta time it so they have to release a Baxter Building episode instead.”

  6. Gonzo_The_Great Apr 12, 2017

    Guys – while I love the debate in this episode, I think you’re both discounting the historical component here. Comics fans have always resisted new properties and new versions of old favorites, even when you take out the modern identity politics angle.

    I’ve got one word for you – HEAT. An ardent and loud segment of the fan base fought tooth and nail against Kyle Rayner taking over for Hal Jordan for years. There’s no way you can infer an identity politics angle to the change from Kyle to Hal, and yet (at least some) fans fought back hard, Kyle’s sales never really took off, and Hal was eventually returned to the Green Lantern mantle in a move almost identical to DC Rebirth (it was also called “rebirth,” it reestablished the “classic” pre-Kyle status quo, and it was a mea culpa for the perceived character assassination of Hal).

    G Willow Wilson really hit the nail on the head here: ” launching a legacy character by killing off or humiliating the original character sets the legacy character up for failure. Who wants a legacy if the legacy is shitty.” A lot of the current hemming and hawing at Marvel can be explained away this way (see, e.g., Ironheart, Jane Foster Thor, Sam Wilson Cap).

    You also have to reconcile the dramatic difference new characters and properties are introduced in the modern comic market with how they were introduced in earlier points in comic history. I don’t think there’s any other point in Marvel’s history where you would have seen so many new characters and properties launched from scratch that didn’t have some significant build-up in another book first. You guys often cite to Deadpool as the last original character Marvel successfully created/launched. Deadpool spent years toiling as a supporting character before getting his first ongoing. If he had been created yesterday, he would have been launched without appearing anywhere else first, with a no-name creative team and very little marketing push and cancelled after five issues.

    • David M Apr 13, 2017

      Marvel in the 70’s? Ghost Rider, Deathlok, Killraven, Werewolf By Night, Iron Fist, Shang Chi, Werewolf By Night, Son of Satan (unless an appearance in Ghost Rider#1 counts as some significant build up) and Luke Cage. I’m not including Frankenstein, Dracula, Conan or Kull as they brought their own build up. There’s significant fondness for most of these characters now, but as titles as many swiftly sank as swam.

      • Voord 99 Apr 15, 2017

        There were some identity-politics aspects to bringing Hal Jordan back.

        With regard to Kyle Rayner, by the time Hal Jordan came back , Rayner had been retconned into being Latino on his Mysterious Dead Father’s side.

        (Kyle was also Really-Unfortunate-All-Irish-People-Are-In-The-IRA Stereotype on his mother’s side, and presumably still is. But let’s forget about that…)

        I remember that at the time, his retconned status as a mixed-race person was pointed out as a problematic aspect of replacing him with Hal.

        More importantly, though, there is also the detail that at that time, John Stewart enjoyed much greater salience as a Green Lantern than anyone else among non-comics readers, thanks to the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series, and there was a definite case for promoting him instead of insisting that Hal Jordan had to be pushed back to the forefront.

  7. Mike Murdock Apr 15, 2017

    One thing about using a Cosmic Cube to reboot everything: a “back to basics” reboot that focuses on the “core characters” would be inherently less diverse than the current Marvel. Do we really want a scenario where the heroes defeat the Nazis and then use the Cosmic Cube to get rid of all the women and minorities anyway?

    • Voord 99 Apr 16, 2017

      One would like to think that Marvel would have the sense to realize that, to the extent that people want “back to basics” (and I’m not sure that they really do), that’s about the type of story, which is not the same as the characters.

      If you look at prominent characters that add diversity, both Kamala Khan and Miles Morales are supertraditional characters that have all the classic teen superhero stuff. They’re just versions of that teen superhero character that look as if they were created nowadays, not fifty years ago. “Back to basics” is what those characters’ stories have been doing since their inception.

      But, yes, I do fear that Marvel have looked at DC and gone “Look, they brought back the old Superman. We need to do that, only with Wolverine. We can call Laura Kinney Talonette or Pine Marten or something.”

  8. Dasbender Apr 16, 2017

    Gabriel’s comments make a lot of sense if you view them from the insider perspective he might very well have regarding Marvel’s upcoming publishing roadmap. I doubt very much he’s saying “diversity doesn’t sell” to imply Squirrel-Girl would be selling better if she were Squirrel-Man. What I hear between the lines is “our world-famous, culturally-saturated heroes tend to sell better than temporary replacement heroes over the long run.” Who can argue with that? I don’t think it’s sexist to suggest that Batwoman won’t sell as well as Batman.

    Replacement heroes bump the needle when they come out (just see Thor, or hell, even Reign of the Supermen). But ultimately as old customers drop out, new customers will wander into the comic shop and want to try a comic that’s recognizable as the Captain America they watched in cartoons via Netflix. Thus is the nature of corporate-owned intellectual property.

    We’re all expecting Marvel Rebirth this Fall. Especially since their Summer event involves a realty-changing deus ex machina that can literally (word chosen for you, Jeff) push the Marvel reset button to resolve said event. Does that mean Gabriel is lobbying to change Moon Girl into a 40-yr-old white male? I doubt it. He’s just trying (badly) to promote the idea that everyone is longing for the classic heroes.

    I find myself physically repulsed by his comments only because I hate what they imply about our nation, and because I’m imagining all the douchebags nation-wide in comix dungeons high-fiving one another. But is that implication true? I have no idea. But I don’t fear that diversity will ever go away in art and popular media. I look forward to the creative new ways diversity will present in comics, and the other characters that will spring up to fulfill this audience desire. I’ll gobble up future Amadeus Cho stories the same as I crave more Connor Hawke stories. But I was never fooling myself to think that Connor Hawke was going to be the one and only Green Arrow for my great grandchildren. All things pass, and I savor the break from monotony they provided while they held their mantles.

    Meanwhile I’ll support new characters as best as I can, to ensure my great grandchildren can someday complain about replacement heroes and demand the return of their childhood “meat and potatoes” Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl.

  9. Thank you for taking your bold stance against the cumbucket-industrial complex

  10. Jensen Apr 21, 2017

    I’m super late on this but does Graeme not get that the allegedly “super different” interpretation of that Koran verse is not super different at all? The line about “if you’re friends with Christians and Jews, then you’re the same as them” is NOT about inclusivity; rather it’s saying “if you’re friends with them, you’re the same as them, i.e. you are INFIDELS”.

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