Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Simple Question Concerning Marvel Comics

Doug:  What is the most important property owned by Marvel Comics?  (and you can interpret "important" any way you'd like)


J.A. Morris said...

Spider-Man. He's arguably the most recognizable comic book character of all time(I'd even say he's bigger than Superman or Batman).

He's more important to the company than the X-men,any Avenger,etc. Spider-Man is the character that defined the "Marvel Age Of Comics" when it launched in the 60s and remains their signature character.

Unknown said...

I tend to agree with J.A. on this one .

david_b said...

I took more liberties with the term 'property'..

1965/66..? I'd say Jack Kirby (Hey, he worked for 'em, didn't he..? They owned him..)

1967..? Steranko

As for 'copyrighted creations'..? Sure, I'd go with Spidey, with Hulk arguably ruling more when his show was on CBS.

Despite the beating the comics industry (and characters..) underwent in the late 70s, early 80s as revealed in 'Untold Stories', Spidey (and Hulk) stayed the flagship characters.., just a few short years before Wolvie and the mutants resonated with new readers in times where racial and lifestyle tolerance seemed in short supply.

Humanbelly said...

Except. . . Marvel Comics doesn't own Marvel Comics anymore, right? Disney does?

(I know, I know-- I'm just being a troublesome gadfly, is all. . . )

And heck, Marvel Comics Entire probably pales in comparison to some of Disney's other properties. (Star Wars, anyone?)


Anonymous said...

Ah...important to who (or is it "whom")? To Disney? To today's comic buyers? To the BAB crowd?

I have to also agree with J.A. - a great, concise, to the point answer that hits it on the head. When I first got into comics, Peter/Spidey seemed to live in a real world, with real problems that I could relate to. This was a totally different approach to superheroes that had always previously been bigger than life. Even in Marvel's epic scale stories with other characters, it had always been this type of characterization that had shown through - but Spidey was the standard bearer of the Marvel way.

I just don't know if these things are important "anymore".


William said...

I agree with JA as well. Spider-Man is definitely Marvel's most valuable single property. I would argue that he's the world's most popular, versatile, and recognizable superhero.

I think part of Spidey's universal appeal is the ingenious costume design of Steve Ditko that utilizes a full bodysuit and mask. Because even though we all know that under the costume he's a white kid from Queens, Spider-Man could really be anybody. Without knowing his backstory, the image of Spider-Man alone is very anonymous and has no clear race or ethnicity. So, technically he could be anyone of any race without having the adjust the image of the character at all. So, you could sell Spider-Man merchandise in Japan, India, Africa, South America, etc. and the kids who buy it can assume Spider-Man is just like them. Which is very appealing to children.

Almost all the other major superhero characters, Superman, Batman, Wolverine are showing some skin. So, you clearly can see that they are all white men, which on a broad scale cuts down somewhat on their universal appeal.

MattComix said...

I would have to say Spider-Man because he is the character that most embodies what Marvels take on superheroes is all about. Superman is aspirational, Spidey is relatable. They are both (ideally at least) the embodiment of their respective rosters. But with both companies churning dumb gimmicks, excess grimdark, and bad fanfic as the hot new storyline they all blur together right now.

Anonymous said...

Good arguments for Spider-Man, and if we are talking about comics alone, then I agree. I mean, hell - they killed off Peter Parker in the main universe and replaced him with Doc Ock (sure to be temporary, but it has been over a year now) and Spider-Man is still one of their best selling titles (though these days the #s are so low it would have been a cancelled comic in previous eras). Also, Spider-Man merchandise (t-shirts, toys, cartoons) have always done well.

But in general, in terms of earning "Marvel" (aka Disney) money? Then I'd say the Avengers, right now.

david_b said...

Well, try this on for size..

What would Marvel Comics (historically and now..) look like without a Spiderman..? I'm talking his angst, his supporting characters and their characterzations, his ongoing struggle for normalcy (as Peter) fighting his desire for justice (as Spidey)..

Stan can gleen Norse characters from the tales of old, and sci-fi fables about outer space travelers, building their own sense of self-troubles and pity (ala Ben Grimm..), but once you really get down to it.., a Marvel Comics, through the Silver, Bronze and chapters since, where Spiderman never existed perhaps would not be recognizable, nor the very least appeal as deeply to 'the human condition'.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Spidey...he'll always be popular and recognizable.

Mike W.

William Preston said...

Taking this another way (since, like everyone else, I said, "Spidey, of course!"--who brought me into Marvel), the question might be, What character could the company not have lived without?

Maybe the answer is still Spidey. But can you imagine Marvel without him? Okay, you'd have lost that wholly relatable figure, and that might have changed a hundred other things: for instance, Marvel Team-Up would have become another rotating roster comic (or maybe relied on the Torch to fill that Spidey role). But the company would have still, perhaps, have survived and thrived in the Bronze Age, yes? Spidey is an early crossover character (as the FF show up in his first full issue), but he's not the first, as the Hulk showed up in the FF. Is there a comparable character who could have provided the template for the crossover that becomes the key to the Marvel Universe? (The Avengers is both a JL ripoff and a way to cement that cross-over permanently, but I think it's the casual way characters show up in books that's the trick.)

What if the FF didn't have Blue-Eyed Benjy? Or what if we see the FF as the book that really had to exist?

What if Marvel hadn't set itself in (largely) one location, NYC? Is the city the "character" without which Marvel never becomes Marvel?

Rip Jagger said...

I tend to think it must be Spidey. I have never seen so many so excited about the debut of a movie as when the first Spider-Man movie was heading toward the theater. Young, old, and older were all equally trilled by the prospect and talked about it openly, some often humming the Spider-Man TV song to prove the point.

Not the Avengers, not Cap, and certainly not Shellhead or Thor. They are anticipated now, but as part of the bigger bill, not so much for themselves.

The FF movies are better than generally perceived, but sadly I feel their day has passed for widespread popularity.

The Hulk should get people jazzed, but despite my own full-fledged love for the Ang Lee flick, few others seem to share that ardor. The second one was lost in the all the other Marvel movies.

X-Men maybe, but not so much now, and even Wolverine seems to find only momentary attention.

The real deal is still Spidey, the only Marvel property on a par with Batman and Superman.

Oh wait, did I forget to mention Howard the Duck....oh...sorry...never mind.

Rip Off

Teresa said...

Just to give a different answer, (although I agree: Spiderman)
New York City is the most important Marvel property.
I think it was a gutsy and wise decision on Marvel Comics part to ground their fictional universe in the "real" world.
It allowed for crossovers that didn't feel forced.
Spidey's troubles had a reference point. His financial issues, school...everything.
Invisible Girl trying to navigate the streets of a crowded NYC felt real.
Of course I could go on and on. There are so many examples. Maybe it doesn't mean as much anymore, but it did in the beginning of the Marvel Age.

Redartz said...

Must agree with the consensus: Spider-Man, without doubt. As much fondness there is for the whole Marvel array, when you mention the web-slinger (Peter Parker, the hard luck Everyman)the resultant smile is instant and heartfelt.

But just for discussion' sake, I propose the most important property is the name Marvel. At least in the 60's and 70's, there was a sense of excitement prompted by the very word itself. DC , Dell, Archie- all had countless devotees; myself among them. Yet if someone told you they had a box of Marvels, look out! The race was on to sort through the stack.

Today, both the big two are Big Corporate Enterprises. The names Marvel and DC can almost seem interchangeable. Nonetheless, marvel still has a personal edge; I still hope to find Marvels when haunting the flea markets.

Doug said...

Hey, everyone --

I had an all-day curriculum meeting, so wasn't able to get involved in the conversation. I'd agree with everything that's been suggested. I liked the secondary nod to NYC, and even the creators that David nominated. And those of you who said today's market is mired in corporate handling that doesn't always "get it" in regard to what us "oldsters" (it's relative... hang in there!) liked.

And I'll 15th that Spider-Man nomination from J.A. But the Avengers sure are hot right now. Who knows -- comeback by the X-Men next year when the new film hits?


Anonymous said...


- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

Karen said...

Mike from T&T said it, I believe it, that settles it -Spidey!!

Joseph said...

I don't think there is much argument here: it's gotta be the web head.

Doc Savage said...


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