The latest armor clad Marvel Comics news items from October 6th - 8th, 2013!
Iron Man teams up with M&M's and gets a theme park ride!
The character of Tony Stark/Iron Man is a tycoon who understands things such as product placements or valuable licenses and patents, so it is fitting that the character himself is attached to two stories which appeal to lovers of merchandising and little else. The first of which involves the first major union of a Marvel superhero and a snack food since those famous Hostess ads of the Silver Age. To this end, Iron Man is set to team up "M&M's Brand Chocolate Candies" characters Red, Yellow, and Ms. Brown in a special one shot comic. The staggering thing is that it features a story by David Liss and art by Tom Grummet, who are a dynamite creative team for a throwaway story where Iron Man teams up with sentient candies to fight - who else - M.O.D.O.K. It seems product placement comics are becoming more regular, as last month Marvel published a comic teaming Wolverine with a celebrity chef who also happened to write the comic as well.
In addition, Iron Man will also become the first Marvel hero to gain his own themed ride at a "Disneyland" park since Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009. The "Iron Man Experience" will be part of "Hong King Disneyland" for the park's 2016 opening. It will feature a mock Stark Expo with a "hall of armor" as well as a motion simulation ride. This isn't the first major theme park attract patterned and designed around Marvel heroes; "Universal's Island of Adventure" in Orlando, Florida has had a "Marvel Super Hero Island" section since 1999.
"Disney Kingdoms" imprint comes to Marvel Comics!
Continuing on a theme of increased synergy between Marvel Comics and Disney, a brand new imprint of Marvel Comics has been announced via a press release and Marvel's senior vice president of publishing, David Gabriel. Much as Disney have released films loosely based around their rides or attractions ("Pirates of the Caribbean"), they now seem to be releasing comics with plots patterned around those rides and attractions as well. The imprint is called "Disney Kingdoms" and "promises new and exciting adventures expanding upon already beloved lands, attractions, characters, and worlds of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts". The first of these is a five part limited series debuting in January 2014 called "Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird" written by Brandon Seifert ("Witch Doctor") and drawn by Karl Moline ("Avengers Arena", "Avengers: The Initiative").
The story is about two teenage siblings Melody and Maxwell who have to team up "with their mysterious and swashbuckling uncle" to save their parents from a secret society within a strange museum. Considering that Disney did make the expense of buying a comic book publisher, it makes sense that they'd contract out some work which they may be testing for a potential film or at the very least offer as a trade collection at their parks or stores someday.
Marvel lawyers squash "Punisher" fan film!
Small filmmaker Mike Pecci had announced online that he was producing a fan film based around the recent Greg Rucka run of "The Punisher" since May. Called "The Dead Can't Be Distracted", it had gained major attention, such as Comic Book Resources, and was set to debut soon. Unfortunately, since reclaiming the film rights to "the Punisher" from Lion's Gate after many years, it seems Marvel is becoming more zealous in regards to their licenses. To this end, Pecci has announced that he received a "cease and desist" letter from Marvel's legal team, which is often akin to a "warning shot" from a legal team threatening suit if further action is taken. Pecci has made an appeal to industry insiders to "save" his film, but it looks unlikely.
Meanwhile, a Punisher fan film starring Thomas Jane reprising the role as well as an appearance by Ron Perlman debuted at least year's San Diego Comic Con, is still garnering over 4 million hits on YouTube. Directed by Phil Joanou, it made quite a splash and I imagine did not see a "cease and desist" letter issued. Make of that what one will.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." sees 30% ratings drop with second episode!
When Disney and ABC's first live action TV show saw ratings of over 22 million for its debut, the future looked bright for this show produced by Joss Whedon, who hadn't seen a show he headed last beyond two seasons in almost a decade. While it was expected that the second episode would see a drop, its initial airing scored just over 8.4 million views, which is down from the near 12 million views the pilot got. Ironically, a 30% drop between the first and second installment would be considered just about average for a comic book.
It sparked enough of a concern across the industry that Jeffrey Bell, one of three executive producers of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (alongside Whedon, his brother, and sister-in-law) went onto Comic Book Resources to play down any fears that the show would be yanked swiftly. He noted that the ratings are bolstered by "playback" figures which show an increase in people who view the show later via DVR or watch it online via legal viewing sites (such as ABC.com or Hulu), and that ABC and the producers are satisfied with how the show is performing and what target group is it appealing to. Some perspective is also key; while 8.4 million viewers may have been a step down from the pilot, it represents the near peak viewership which "Smallville" had when it debuted on The WB in 2001. Thus, it may hardly be time to panic.