Saturday, April 17, 2010

Return of Marvelman, part 2

Hoo boy! This press release is a brilliant example of marketing over any other consideration.

Here it is in its entirety:

"Marvel is proud to announce the return of Marvelman to shelves everywhere with the release of MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1 in June! Who is the mysterious Marvelman? And just why is he one of the most enduring super heroes of all time? The answers arrive in this commemorative one-shot featuring interviews with creator Mick Anglo, superstar Neil Gaiman and more who contributed to this character's history over the years! Plus, get all-new pinups of key Marvelman characters by superstar artists Mike Perkins, Doug Braithwaite, Miguel Angel Sepulveda, Jae Lee, Khoi Pham and Ben Oliver! This landmark issue features two covers--one with the timeless art of Mick Anglo and another with the now-iconic rendition of Marvelman by Marvel Editor-In-Chief--and superstar artist--Joe Quesada!

"Then, in July, thrill to the debut of MARVELMAN FAMILY'S FINEST #1, a new ongoing series reprinting Marvelman's greatest adventures for the first time in the US! Plus, no comics fan can miss MARVELMAN CLASSIC VOL.1 PREMIERE HC, reprinting Marvelman's earliest adventures in chronological order!

"Now's your chance to learn just why Marvelman is one of the most important characters in comic book history-it all begins in MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1, this June!"

They claim that Marvelman is "one of the most enduring super heroes of all time" and "one of the most important characters in comic book history," and that Mick Anglo's art is "Timeless" and Joe Quesada's rendition is "now-iconic." What hyperbole! The original Marvelman lasted from 1954 to 1963, and then again from 1982 to 1984, and then again from 1985 to 1994. That's a total of 21 years, including the several years of reprints in the 1960's and the mid-1980's. Just about every member of the original Justice League of America and every Marvel Comics character from 1962 - 1965 has "endured" more, having been constantly in print, either in their own comic, as part of a team, or as a backup story since then. Mik Anglo's art was a decent imitation of C.C. Beck's style, but as such, is quite dated nbow. And to call one's publisher's less-than-a year-old drawing of a character "now-iconic" smacks of self-aggrandizement.

And the big kicker is this: I fit weren't for Alan More's updating and re-interpretation of the character in 1982, and especially if it were not for those estories being reprinted, and then continued by Neil Gaiman, It's likely that Marvelman would have remained a footnote, a trivia question, one of dozens of beloved yet forgotten superheroes from the first three decades of superhero comics. It was those stories that took the concept of "what if superheroes were real people in the real world" to their apocalyptic and utopian conclusion that made him so important. Comics historian Peter Sanderson claims that it was those stories that inspired the trends that led to 1986, the year that changed comics.

And yet, it is the old L. Miller &. Sons stories that are being reprinted. I will admit, I have only seen the ones that wee reprinted by Eclipse in the 1980's, but there was really nothing in them that seemed exceptionally special or brilliant. They were good, fun little stories, decently drawn and enthusiastically presented, but still limited to brief, simple adventures. There were fantastical exploits regarding time travel, space travel, fantastic inventions and deadly crimes, but nothing to compare to, say, the the particularly fine sense of humor of Otto binder, the charm of Mr. Tawny, or the efficiently effective high-stakes drama of "The Plot Against the Universe."

So the Primer looks like it will contain words and art about Marvelman, so that fans will understand who he was and why he is so important, but no actual stories, and the "Classic" will reprint the earliest stories. So if those early stories don't show us anything more exceptional than any other comic stories from that era, particularly any Captain Marvel stories from the preceding decade, then we will just have to take the word of the folks quoted in the "Primer."

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