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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Alternate History: What if Jim Shooter successfully bought Marvel in 1988?

    I remember the story of Valiant Comics -- it was formed by Jim Shooter when he failed to acquire Marvel in 1988, having had the second bid and losing out to Ron Perelman. As we all know, Perelman nearly led Marvel to their demise, using his authority to maximize profit in the short-term, and leading to the comics crash.

    So what if Jim Shooter successfully purchased Marvel back then, thus making him the lead of Marvel?

    Shooter is known as a controversial figure. He led Marvel to a golden age of creative storytelling and maturity that hasn't been matched, yet he also clashed with the staff as he became controlling and micro-managed them to get things done on time, working on a professional level they hadn't known before. Though many of the Marvel staff now do have kind things to say about him, it's also in the form of a mixed bag (essentially "he was a great leader, but one hard to deal with").

    I do wonder what would happen if Shooter once again became the ultimate authority in Marvel. He was fired from his position in 1987, whereas being put back on top the next year definitely would've changed things. Maybe Marvel would've done better in the '90s, maybe the conflicts would've overlapped with each other so much that Marvel would implode on itself. Who knows, really.

    This could've had long term ramifications. Such as if bankruptcy was avoided, then they never would've had to sell the movie rights to stay afloat. Likewise, if they were doing just fine financially, would they still have gotten bought by Disney? I'm starting to think a lot of butterfly effects are in play here.

    On another hand, this would mean no Valiant Comics, which would kind of suck...

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    So what if Jim Shooter successfully purchased Marvel back then, thus making him the lead of Marvel?
    That's a big hard What-If you know.

    The truth is that until Marvel's purchase by Disney, Marvel had historically been shuttled between different corporate owners. At one time it was some chemical company in the '60s and 70s who then sold it New World Entertainment by Perelman which happened in the 80s and then in the 90s it was bought by Toy-Biz which is where Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad entered into the picture (and never really got out), and in 2009 it was bought by Disney and it's likely to be its permanent eternal home in the same way that DC found one in Warner Bros in the late 60s and have remained in its warm, loving embrace ever since. Jim Shooter owning Marvel outright would have been bold, gutsy, and controversial but odds are high that eventually he would have been bought out or he would have sold out eventually. Who knows maybe WB buys Marvel (and DC and Marvel become integrated into one continuity). The reason for corporate consolidation and why publications cannot be independent anymore are some high level economic reasons and cannot really be controlled or opposed meaningfully, not if you want to be a mainstream comics brand at least.

    Stuff like Marvel giving licenses to other companies for their properties and so on would have happened because that was Marvel's business model for a long time and Shooter was trying to get Marvel movies made. Already in the 80s, there was that weird Dazzler project that Shooter wanted to attach to the disco craze (which is why she was created after all), and there were talks of a Spider-Man movie in the 80s multiple times. Including an attempt to do a horror movie and so on. Specific things like the speculator bubble and other trends in the 90s which led to bankruptcy might have been avoided. The Clone Saga might have been avoided. Beyond that things are hard to decipher.

    There will definitely be Marvel movies going to the screen but what kind and what form, and which titles might be hard. Kevin Feige who began his career working at Fox on the early X-Men movies and Daredevil movies will probably still be involved some way or some form...

  3. #3
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    On another hand, this would mean no Valiant Comics, which would kind of suck...
    That doesn't necessarily mean their IPs wouldn't exist though. They'd just belong to Marvel.

  4. #4
    CBR's Good Fairy Kieran_Frost's Avatar
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    It means we'd never have had any LGBT+ characters; because he was supremely active in not allowing any writer to include any. So I'm happy this reality never happened.
    "We are Shakespeare. We are Michelangelo. We are Tchaikovsky. We are Turing. We are Mercury. We are Wilde. We are Lincoln, Lorca, Leonardo da Vinci. We are Alexander the Great. We are Fredrick the Great. We are Rustin. We are Addams. We are Marsha! Marsha Marsha Marsha! We so generous, we DeGeneres. We are Ziggy Stardust hooked to the silver screen. Controversially we are Malcolm X. We are Plato. We are Aristotle. We are RuPaul, god dammit! And yes, we are Woolf."

  5. #5
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    ^ That doesn't mean Shooter is homophobic. It was part of the time.

    IMO, Marvel (and New Universe, Valiant, Defiant + Broadway) was at its best during the Shooter era. 1990s Marvel would have been more entertaining had Shooter been in charge.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran_Frost View Post
    It means we'd never have had any LGBT+ characters; because he was supremely active in not allowing any writer to include any. So I'm happy this reality never happened.
    The Shooter Era was also when homosexuality was sill widely considered to be a mental illness by professionals, despite the DSM entry being altered before being stricken. Even after it was removed from the manual, it was still widely believed to be a mental disorder since, shock of all shock, simply striking something from a record doesn't remove that sentiment, especially from the morons who run the Comics Code Authority despite their waning power.

  7. #7
    CBR's Good Fairy Kieran_Frost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shooshoomanjoe View Post
    ^ That doesn't mean Shooter is homophobic. It was part of the time.
    a) I didn't say he was homophobic. I said he was supremely active in not allowing writers to openly use gay characters. Which was true. Many wanted to (Claremont springs to mind), and Shooter wouldn't allow it. My statement was 100% correct. b) if we add the fact he's never apologised for his "No Gays in the Marvel universe" rule, and the VERY important fact Shooter did think to include same-sex attraction... in the infamous "Hulk gets raped at the YMCA". Where he justified Banner not "Hulking out" because it was so terrifying... I think brushing it aside as nothing more than "it was part of the times" is potentially naive. Just my opinion.
    Last edited by Kieran_Frost; 10-20-2019 at 02:15 PM.
    "We are Shakespeare. We are Michelangelo. We are Tchaikovsky. We are Turing. We are Mercury. We are Wilde. We are Lincoln, Lorca, Leonardo da Vinci. We are Alexander the Great. We are Fredrick the Great. We are Rustin. We are Addams. We are Marsha! Marsha Marsha Marsha! We so generous, we DeGeneres. We are Ziggy Stardust hooked to the silver screen. Controversially we are Malcolm X. We are Plato. We are Aristotle. We are RuPaul, god dammit! And yes, we are Woolf."

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    I think Jim Shooter ought to be held accountable for not allowing gay characters in Marvel Comics of that decade. I think you can accept that Shooter was a great EIC and overall wonderful creative who nonetheless fell short in representation.

    At the same time Shooter wasn't personally a homophobe. He was the one who organized Peter and Mary Jane's wedding in the 1987 Annual, and most notably he got Willi Smith, an African-American LGBT designer who was also afflicted with AIDS, to design Mary Jane's wedding dress. And Willi Smith even appears in ASM Annual #21 (the Wedding Annual, he's there when MJ visits him to pick up the dress and he's in the crowd during the ceremony). This was Smith's last work before he died of AIDS (just weeks before the comic published, as such MJ's wedding dress is Smith's final work).

    IT's generally true that mainstream superhero comics (and Marvel has always published that) didn't tackle LGBT issues. If you look at DC in that decade you won't find much. Comics as a whole were pretty behind that issue even in the '80s during the AIDS epidemic. You can point out that Stan Lee during the '60s was also quite chickens--t about the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement and Lee in his letter's pages was generally quite liberal and middle-of-the-road for his time (albeit in current times, he comes across as a raging hippy because that's how extreme politics has gotten). It was only later that Lee became sophisticated like in ASM #91-92, which came out in the '70s, several years after MLK died.

    Shooter also had issues with morality clauses. Marvel remember licensed characters for deals with various companies and part of the clause involved with licensing was certain morality clauses. Shooter famously vetoed Bill Mantlo's pitch for a Spider-Man story where Felicia Hardy would give birth to Peter's child out of wedlock. Shooter pointed out that they signed contracts that involved them not doing stories with characters that would invite the wrath of the Bible Belt down on them. You might say that's corporate cowardice. You would be right. Shooter wasn't different from others in that era. He should be judged on that basis. But not in excess.

    We must also acknowledge that Shooter's era saw an increase in representation in other areas...Monica Rambeau's Captain Marvel, likewise James Rhodes replaced Tony as Iron Man, and indeed when Shooter wrote Secret Wars 1984, he included both of them as major heroes. He didn't have to do that, remember that Doctor Doom was apparently dead in that time and yet Shooter revived him for Secret Wars since he needed Doom to showcase Marvel's best. He could have insisted that Tony return to the armor, or revived Mahr-Vell (after his death in that Starlin OGN) or featured the blone and blue eyed Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel...instead he decided to pick the newest Captain Marvel and featured her. You also had more female characters in comics in that time.

  9. #9

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    might as well bring him back to edit/exec. produce a series of graphic novels. Out of continuity is fine. Or in. who knows.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member K7P5V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hypestyle View Post
    might as well bring him back to edit/exec. produce a series of graphic novels. Out of continuity is fine. Or in. who knows.
    That sounds like an idea worth exploring, Hypestyle.

  11. #11
    Incredible Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Not sure if Jim Shooter was personally homophobic, or if the "no gay" thing was for brand reasons. Remember, it wasn't nearly as acceptable for people to be LGBT in the '80s as it is today, where they were widely hated and ridiculed. Shooter may not have wanted that for the reason being that kind of bad press would hurt comic sales and viability. He wanted to avoid being surrounded by controversy, that this would've caused. Because of that stigma, it was even "edgy" to include LGBT characters in works not specifically meant for that demographic.

    I know that even after Shooter left, Marvel as a whole was still very reluctant to have gay characters in their comics for a long time. It didn't change until the mid-'00s, and even then, Wiccan and Hulkling were lucky to even hold hands, while Xavin kept changing into the male form around Karolina. Like with many things, it progresses with the times.

    So would Shooter have eventually allowed gay characters? Who knows at this point.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    So would Shooter have eventually allowed gay characters? Who knows at this point.
    Shooter is active and accessible on his blog online. You can try contacting him and asking him.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member JudicatorPrime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by U.N. Owen View Post
    The Shooter Era was also when homosexuality was sill widely considered to be a mental illness by professionals, despite the DSM entry being altered before being stricken. Even after it was removed from the manual, it was still widely believed to be a mental disorder since, shock of all shock, simply striking something from a record doesn't remove that sentiment, especially from the morons who run the Comics Code Authority despite their waning power.
    We're also talking about a time where a vast number of uninformed/misinformed individuals believed AIDS to be the "gay disease." Never mind Marvel, I don't recall any of the major companies pushing for more representation of LGBTQ community at that time outside of the music industry. Sad, but that's just the world that we live in and it doesn't change as quickly as we like. It's really no different than in the Golden Age where there were few if any African American heroes in comics. Hell, it's 2019 and you still can't find many who have their own perennial or ongoing title outside of maybe Spawn.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Xalfrea's Avatar
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    SFDebris in his retrospective review miniseries "Rise and Fall of the Comic Empire" put forth the possibility that if Shooter was successful with the buyout, the big exit that would eventually form Image wouldn't have happened. Or at the very least, it would've been significantly lessened with only Liefeld and McFarlane leaving and just being under Malibu Comics instead of starting their own company. Anyone agree with this?

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member JudicatorPrime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xalfrea View Post
    SFDebris in his retrospective review miniseries "Rise and Fall of the Comic Empire" put forth the possibility that if Shooter was successful with the buyout, the big exit that would eventually form Image wouldn't have happened. Or at the very least, it would've been significantly lessened with only Liefeld and McFarlane leaving and just being under Malibu Comics instead of starting their own company. Anyone agree with this?
    Was Shooter willing to give the artists and writers full control and royalties over their creative content? Because at the end of the day, that's what they wanted more than anything else. I think they leave either way, if only as an orchestrated gambit to get Marvel, DC, or whomever to buy out their holdings in the new company at a premium. From a business standpoint, there was just too much of an upside not to leave Marvel.

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