Quick Reaction to Disney/Marvel

AOL Comics.

Not long after Joe Quesada became Editor in Chief at Marvel, he started referring to their main rival, DC Comics, as "AOL Comics." See, DC is owned by Time Warner, who were actually purchased by AOL, although America Online is usually listed as a division of Time Warner. Quesada was looking to kick up a little dirt, stir up a little fight, by saying that DC was just one branch of a corporation, and that said giant corporation was just a business like any other, not a place that existed solely for the purpose of creating comics -- in other words, not like Marvel.

Granted, absolutely none of that was true, at least not from Marvel's side, and it hasn't been for years. But it was a myth that Marvel had done a great job of perpetuating, even after the disaster that was the 90's. Regardless of what they actually were, Marvel made it a point of acting like they were anti-establishment, that they were in the business of making comics and that was their only focus. They weren't like the other guys. They weren't sell outs and old men. Heck, there was a point when no one outside of the world of comics even knew who their biggest sellers were (a little team called the X-Men), and they suggested to their fans that that's exactly how they preferred it. DC's a cog; Marvel's all about the comics, man.

Again, it's kind of astounding that Marvel managed to maintain that image after the great speculator boom and bust of the 90's, of which Marvel played a huge role. And they've been a company like any other for years; one would be hard pressed to argue that even the Stan and Jack days were "all about the comics." But Marvel has always been able to sway public opinion better than Time Warner's comic book division. They held on to that image even while the X-Men, Spider-man, and Iron Man started selling out movie theaters. And it was a smart move by Quesada to try to recapture that image, because it's something that's always worked for them...even if it wasn't real.

There's no turning back now.

I have little worry that Marvel's publishing out put will change in any dramatic way. Part of the genius behind how Disney operates is that they have divisions of their company that can do things they can't. You're never going to see a Disney logo on a Miramax film, for example, but it's still technically theirs. Disney could never get away with publishing the types of comics that Marvel are currently putting out, but they don't have to. They continue to let Marvel do what it does, and, honestly, no one will associate that material with the people who produced Mikey or Donald. And that, of course, is the point.

But Marvel does lose what had been a rather long standing, self-created image. They are no longer rebels. Comics are not their bottom line. Their target demographic might stay the same (for now, at least -- how long until the higher ups at Disney want to know why their comic book division isn't selling better to girls?), but they've lost something...they've lost their righteous indignation, however flimsy it might have been to begin with. They can no longer play that card, at least not without looking like complete idiots.

There's something kind of sad about that, about a Marvel without it's swagger, or at least without one that you could actually believe in (even if it took some work).

I have no idea how this deal will play out, but I do know this: Marvel is very different than it was 24 hours ago, and that's a hard thing to wrap my head around.