Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rant #79: Minnie Mouse and the Incredible Hulk Announce Wedding Plans

I am sure you have heard by now that Marvel Entertainment Inc. , and its subsidiary Marvel Comics, has now been bought by Disney for the sum of $4 billion. Thus, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy will be in the same family as Spider-Man, Thor and the Fantastic Four.

It is certainly not the first time that the worlds of entertainment and comic books have merged. Forty years ago, Warner Brothers bought DC Comics, and that marriage has been a good one for the past four decades.

However, as a die-hard comics fan in my youth—and still the owner of 2,000 comics (anyone want to buy them, contact me directly), I have to shed a little bit of a tear at this announcement.

Comics were my “out” in my youth. The couple of minutes or so it took to read them allowed me to leave my real world for a few moments and jump into a world that put my mind at ease.

Comics were my world, a world that adults generally didn’t enter. Superman, Batman and the rest were there for me, and me only.

Comics were not highly regarded back then. Remember, the mid 1960s were only 10 years removed from the hysteria caused by Dr. Felix Wertham and his “Seduction of the Innocent” wrath, where he testified before Congress that comic books led to juvenile delinquency.

Well, I guess I was a closet juvenile delinquent.

Although DC Comics have been owned by a major conglomerate for 40 years, Marvel’s story is, well, another story.

In the early 1960s, Marvel was more than a competitor to DC, it was an alternative to DC. DC superheroes were all hunk and brawn, with little brain, and were not real in the truest sense of the word.

Marvel superheroes had thought processes, worries like the rest of us, and heck, Peter Parker, a/k/a Spider-Man, lived in Queens, just like I did.

Marvel changed the face of comic books forever. Yes, even DC paid attention, and by the late 1960s, comics became relevant, with stories about drug abuse and racism.

And because of that, they weren’t really for kids anymore.

So, in my mind, the purchase of Marvel by Disney is a double-edged sword. Will Disney take the edge off of the Marvel Universe and make them kid friendly again, or will this marriage have its ups and downs and not work out real well?

I just don’t know. Warner Brothers’ influence on DC has been minimal, but again, we are talking Marvel here.

Will your “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” come out of his shell and dress in the latest designer clothes and drive a Ferrari?

Maybe the Shadow knows, because I certainly don’t.

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