Thursday, March 25, 2010
Marvel reprints MarvelMan!
Marvel Comics has just announced that it will be reprinting old Marvelman stories starting in June. Here's the article in Marvel News:
Does this look familiar to anyone? The irony here is rather thick. This sounds a lot like the announcements that were made when DC acquired the original Captain Marvel back in 1972 and started reprints in '73, and every time they produce a reprint volume, like the "Shazam Family Annual" a few years back, and their hardcover "Archive Editions" and softcover "Showcase" editions.
So DC sued Fawcett saying that Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman. Marvelman was a blatant rip-off of Captain Marvel, bu no one sued L. Miller & Sons back in the 1950's. When Marvelman was revived in the 1980's, it was Marvel Comics who sued, but that was only about the trademark "Marvel," which is why in America he was called "Miracleman." DC, despite having sued Fawcett in the 1940's, and owning the original Captain Marvel in the 1980's, did not sue to claim that Marvelman was a rip-off of the original Captain Marvel. But now Marvel is essentially re-creating DC's marketing campaign for the Big Red Cheese, to wit: reprint the old stuff to establish the character, then create new stories.
The comic book market is very different these days from what it was in the 1940's - '50's. Back then it was almost reasonable to think that someone would confuse one superhero for another from such superficial similarities as the fact that they wore a cape, were super-strong and invulnerable, and threw cars around. Today there are so many superheroes that it's hard not to find similarities between them, but the readers are savvy enough know one character from another.
If DC had any claim on Marvelman, they should have (would have?) staked it when Eclipse published their books in the 1980's, so it's not likely they will be suing Marvel for this. But now Marvel will find out if they can attract an audience with their character that has been dead for 20 years, and that had been dead for 17 years before that.
I'll ruminate on that in my next post.