I don’t feel like starting with the biggest news, so instead, it will come second. Let’s talk about comics instead, as Comics Disassembled, a look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, begins with an anticipated reveal.
1. Hickman and Schiti’s Comic, Revealed!
In long-awaited Marvel news that was immediately overwhelmed by other long-awaited and far more consequential Marvel news, we now know what that mysterious Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti project is! Kind of! We know a little about it! It’s called G.O.D.S., and it’s Hickman writing, Schiti drawing, and Marte Gracia coloring, and its focus will be on “dramatically reshaping Marvel’s pantheon of cosmic beings and the entities behind the very fabric of reality.” So, you know, extremely Hickman stuff. Aiming low, my guy always is.
To be honest, very little was revealed about this book in the announcement. That’s classic Hickman as well, as he’s not big on revealing details about his comics ahead of time. But here’s what we do know:
- It was described as Hickman’s “most ambitious undertaking to date,” which is quite the take
- It appears – appears – to be an ongoing or at least a series of undetermined length
- It features, or maybe even stars, Wyn, “a mysterious player in a war that exists outside of the orders we know and a vital member of an eons-old hierarchy that includes the omnipotent rulers of the universe” like the Living Tribunal and Eternity, so quite the position for a regular beard looking dude
- Maybe the most intriguing note in the announcement was that Hickman said that this idea dates back to his return at Marvel with House of X/Powers of X, with the story bible for G.O.D.S. arriving on the heels of the one for HoXPoX. This is clearly a big Hickman idea, and one that’s looking to refresh and reimagine a lot of ideas “at the intersection of science and magic,” which is a repeated phrase in the announcement
That’s about it. The simplest version is Hickman, Schiti, and Gracia are going home to New York City…and then going very, very big. G.O.D.S. is launching in the vague – but slightly less vague than before! – timeframe of “Fall 2023,” but presumably, this was announced early because it’s going to have a story in the Avengers/X-Men Free Comic Book Day release from Marvel. More to come, as they say.
2. Perlmutter’s Out at Marvel…But at What Cost?
The biggest news of the week arrived on Wednesday, and it dropped like a series of hammers from the sky. The first was a happy one. It seems as if Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter – the much, much maligned former owner of Marvel Comics turned chairman of Marvel Entertainment/serious Disney shareholder whose greatest mistakes and issues as a leader made for a sizable chunk of an entertaining article on the subject by Heidi MacDonald at The Beat – was laid off for “cost-cutting” purposes. When that hit, the people were dancing in the streets of social media, delighting in the irony of the famously tightfisted executive leaving as Disney looked to save money.
But then, everyone moved on from the headline and the concern took hold. It seems that in the New York Times article announcing it, one that was behind a paywall which meant many missed this item, also revealed that Marvel Entertainment – the home of the comics side of the business – was considered “redundant and would be folded into larger Disney business units.” That’s when the Y I K E S started to hit, because in the parlance of corporate speak, that’s where the fears of no more Marvel Comics lies. A Variety article titled “Disney Absorbs Marvel Entertainment Amid Layoffs, Dismisses Chairman Ike Perlmutter” arrived shortly thereafter, and it revealed that others from Marvel Entertainment would be leaving as well, with most known to be Perlmutter’s people, with those being Marvel Entertainment’s co-president (and former CFO) Rob Steffens, VP of Brand Assurance Marisol Garcia, chief counsel John Turitzin, and the strangely titled “Independent Security Expert” Rob Grosser, per Popverse’s reporting on the latter two.
Naturally, the language from that NYT article and that Variety headline quickly changed the conversation from “Yay Perlmutter is gone!” to “Wait…what’s going to happen to Marvel?!” The short answer is no one knows, and anyone who is suggesting otherwise is either playing an angle online in the way that people do that (“See, told you Marvel is failing!” the angry person on YouTube yells) or is just making stuff up. We have no idea what is going to happen to Marvel. But here is an important detail that suggests the end is not necessarily near.
Marvel President Dan Buckley is sticking around, per that same Variety article, and he will continue to report to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige as he was before. Unlike the execs listed above, Buckley’s a comic guy, and if Disney was really looking to dissolve Marvel Entertainment and move on from comics altogether, they probably would have continued the cost-cutting to include Buckley. But they didn’t, which suggests to me that whatever shape this “folded into larger Disney business units” business entails likely will not result in the immediate demise of the comic-making arm. That’s my read on it, at least, and nothing I’ve heard since – privately or publicly – has convinced me otherwise.
That doesn’t mean things can’t change. I’ve been through reorganizations where everything seems great for a bit…and then it isn’t so great. Corporations playing around with words like “redundant” is extremely scary, and for good reason. It can mean the end of companies and/or jobs. I don’t know if this is that. The dominant speculation coming out of this was Disney had to get rid of Marvel Entertainment as a standalone entity to remove Perlmutter, but that’s just speculation and we have plenty of that already. Personally, I’m not overly concerned about Marvel as a comic-making entity going away in the near term because Disney’s not big on erasing channels that make them money, which by most accounts Marvel is.
My hope is this proves to be a good thing in the long run. Perlmutter was famous for harming Marvel’s ability to do its job to the best of its ability in a variety of ways. As MacDonald noted in another piece, he also failed to recognize why Marvel would want to carry enough inventory for shops and bookstores to order more if they sold out of it. Maybe this will lead to an idyllic future where Marvel…has trades and graphic novels in stock for everyone to order! GASP! We’ll see. It’s the early days and there’s much more to come for sure. For the sake of the fine folks working diligently to make comics at Marvel, I hope this ends up being a positive result in the long run. We shall see.