- Posted by Johanna on May 25, 2008 at 9:44 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
In his latest Cup O’ Joe column at MySpace, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada responds to selected reader questions. As is typical of these things, there’s lots of “thanks for asking about (character), (fan). Look for (upcoming comic) where (character) will be appearing.”
However, seven questions in (search for “3r41n14c” to find the start), Quesada tackles one I’m surprised he let through. This is an excerpt:
I’ve purchased Marvel products for the past 25 years, and it is just now I’m coming to say this regarding death/resurrection in comics. I’m tired of reading or hearing about the integrity of storytelling and the medium’s past use of the device, especially when Spider-Man: OMD added up to be the Clone Saga of this decade. Adding insult to injury, and acting much in the way politicians tend to, there was a promise of “dead means dead,” that was thrown out the window in a matter of months. If you can bring back all these supposedly-dead characters, why the hell can’t we bring back Wolverine’s trademark cigar?! He can kill but he can’t smoke…makes perfect sense.
I guess that’s the joy of being E-I-C…you don’t have to bend your will to the wants of the people. Much like George Bush and thousands of others left in charge with “big decisions,” absolute power has again corrupted absolutely. If only ALL the “good” stories could end with a magic spell…
Any chance you’ll go back to drawing and let someone else direct for a while, Joe?
After saying the equivalent of “smoking killed my family members, I’m EIC, and I can do what I want,” Quesada tackles the idea of death being permanent in comics:
As for my promise of “dead is dead.” First, what you’re throwing out here is the sound byte that the Internet and newsgroups ran with, but not the entirety of what I said. Again, you can Google my views on this and if I’m not mistaken, I’ve talked about it a little here in the column as well. I never said we would NEVER EVER be killing off or resurrecting characters again.
Well, no, but that was clearly the desired intention that fans take away, because the only point of making a big deal out of it would be to indicate something different from what went before. And it’s just as clearly no longer the case, what with Bucky returning and even a Spider-Man storyline where Uncle Ben came back.
But I took him up on his suggestion and googled ” “dead means dead” Quesada”. Here are the high points of what I found. I was mainly looking for statements that could be considered official, straight from Quesada or Marvel, and there were fewer of them than I expected.
The earliest reference I found with a primary source was a 2003 Chicago convention report:
Quesada also talked about whether or not Magneto was actually dead in light of the stated “dead means dead” policy: “When I said ‘dead means dead’ I was talking about significant deaths,” the EIC said, citing Karen Page’s death in “Daredevil” as an example (as opposed to an obscure or assumed death). “So we’ll have to wait and see if Magneto’s was significant or not.”
That approach was reiterated in this 2004 Toronto convention report:
While Quesada said he is very much into the philosophy that ‘dead means dead’, he also said that he is willing to have a character return if the writer can prove that they have a really good reason to do it. As for Whedon’s return of Colossus, Quesada “couldn’t say no” and “[Whedon] nailed it.” Joe also said that they will never have a character return from the dead if their death is a ‘classic’ death. Who would be an example? Gwen Stacey or Captain Marvel.
So the oldest references I came across are already talking about exceptions. And I can think of relatively recent major, promoted stories that covered the return of those last two characters, although I think they turned out to be time travel or tricks or clones or something.
Next came a “press conference” about Decimation from October 2005 (link no longer available). This was the major storyline that was going to radically cut down the number of mutants, remember? Here’s the relevant quote from the Newsarama coverage:
Editorially, Quesada added, there is now a mandate that no new mutants can be created wholesale – only five or six new mutant-based characters that were already in the pipeline will be seen. And that the ones going away won’t be coming back…
“As long as I’m here as Editor in Chief, they’re not coming back,” he said, later promising that there won’t be a big event in two years where all the missing mutants come back. Quesada further went on to say that reducing the number of X-Men has been a priority since he began as Editor-in-Chief at Marvel.
(Note: I think that was 2000.) I haven’t cared enough about the mutant books to judge whether or not that’s accurate. I haven’t noticed a bit “mutants return!” promotion, but I suspect that instead, they’ll all just creep back in around the edges until the net effect is a return to the status quo. In reply #28 in that thread, a respondent is already expressing concern that the statement on death meaning something has “clearly not held true.”
The only other major mention that came up was a Joe Friday column from September 2006, back when they used to be hosted on Newsarama (link no longer available). By the way, if the information in the introduction is correct, Quesada is now the third longest-running Editor-in-Chief at Marvel, after Stan Lee and Jim Shooter. In response to a question about going back on “dead means dead”, Quesada says:
you have to be able to change your mind in the entertainment world. If you don’t you’ll find yourself quickly looking like yesterday’s news and or out of business. Let’s also not forget the stuff I say just to get the fans riled up and talking [laughs]. And also, I could just be plain wrong about something and shouldn’t I have the opportunity to change my mind? I’ve now been E-i-C for six years. I’m sure all the talented men you mentioned above knew more several years into their tenure than they did when they began. I’m no different. The idea is that you grow into and with your position.
All of that is very reasonable. Everything an entertainment company leader says about their products should be taken with a boulder of salt, because their single purpose is to SELL THEM TO YOU.
Calling “hypocrite” or “liar” or even “why didn’t you stick with what you said?” is thus pointless. You’ll never know whether plans honestly changed or whether what they said was true at the time (even if the time was only a moment) or not. And they don’t care. Just don’t believe any promises of real changes, because the number two priority (after profit) is maintaining the status quo.
Oh, and I didn’t realize that the storyline in Runaways #19-21 (from fall 2006) was called “Dead Means Dead”.