Marvel Editor Stuart Moore Resigns;
Dominoes To Follow?

A behind the scenes shake-up could be happening at Marvel Comics, with the first rumbling coming from yesterday's resignation of editor Stuart Moore.

Zendra #1
Of course, it's our job as members of the internet press to read more into than what Marvel says, and on the surface, it all seems innocent enough. Moore, currently editor of the Marvel Knights line and many of the MAX titles, wants to devote time to writing instead of editing. Already Moore has a mini-series, Zendra, scheduled for release later this summer from Penny Farthing Press.

In Marvel's press release, Moore offers, "I'm very grateful to Joe and Nanci Quesada and to Bill Jemas for all the support and encouragement in letting me run through the Marvel Universe with big nasty cleats, and I'm confident that I'll be leaving the Knights imprint in good hands. This is a completely amicable split, and I'll still be around at Marvel Knights through late July to make sure the transition to the new editor is smooth."

Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada adds, "And despite what the rumor mill may say, Marvel Knights and MAX are as healthy as ever. The fun part for fans and industry experts alike is going to be trying to guess whom will be the next person to sit at the helm of Marvel Knights! Keep watching the skies."

Before working at Marvel, Moore had been the editor of DC's Helix and Vertigo lines of comics, and his hiring by Quesada aided a transition for Vertigo creators such as Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, who finished Preacher for DC in time to re-launch The Punisher under the Marvel Knights imprint. Both titles were edited by Moore.

And now on to the rumor mill that Quesada quashes above. While the resignation may be amicable, Rich Johnston at Silver Bullet Comics reports that things may start falling like dominoes.

According to the often reliable Johnston, Moore's resignation follows, and may be related to, the release of his assistant, a fat-cutting move Marvel made in preparation for some major cancellations. Like cutting out the whole concept of the Marvel Knights and MAX lines. After the previously announced titles run their course (such as Ennis' upcoming The Punisher: The War Where I Was Born), those ongoing series that are successful will be folded into the regular Marvel Universe. (ALIAS could easily make the transition, now that the shock of being able to swear has worn off.)

But if Marvel is doing so well, you might ask, why take away these innovations? If Johnston is right, there are two possible reasons, both stemming from Marvel's (and comics in general's) recent higher profile.

What do you mean,
the party's over?
These days in America, a higher profile means closer scrutiny. Thanks to Spider-Man the movie, parents are taking a look at comics again for their kids. And when that happens, you can bet that parents will complain about some of the content. It's an annoying tautology that ruled comics for years: kids read comics, therefore all comics should be suitable for kids. When no one notices that the latter isn't true, it's okay to have books with huge red explicit content labels. But for a suddenly family friendly again company like Marvel, the Bill Jemas/Joe Quesada frathouse party approach may be wearing out its welcome.

We still love these guys; they really have been responsible for a re-birth in quality. But a publicly owned company like Marvel Enterprises may like publicity and still want to keep controversy to a minimum. No matter how much fans may dig the MAX titles, cutting the concept wouldn't hurt the financial bottom line.

And the financial bottom line is pretty important to Marvel. Long-time readers know that Marvel has been pulling itself out of the morass of bankruptcy, and doing a good job of it, too. (For details, check out Dan Raviv's recently released book Comic Wars : How Two Tycoons Battled Over The Marvel Comics Empire - And Both Lost.) However, the company is not yet out of the woods. reports that the week before Spider-Man opened, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter started shopping the company around to potential buyers. Sony has been considering it, and rumors are that Disney, too, is interested. (How bizarre would that be?)

Doomed to be cogs in the same corporate machine?
Almost every major studio has been approached, including AOLTimeWarner (aside from the strangeness of one company controlling every superhero worth considering, there would be sweet irony, as Bill Jemas has stopped referring to DC as DC and now calls it AOL, pretty much just to annoy DC Publisher Paul Levitz). Toy companies Mattel and Hasbro have also taken a look at the ledger.

That ledger, by the way, still needs to be cleaned up if a deal with any company is to go through. Though Marvel has made a near miraculous recovery, they still have junk bonds in the closet, and are not as healthy on paper as they appear.

In their report, Comicon speculates that you'll know the concept of a Marvel sale is serious when fat starts getting trimmed. You know, things like, an editor leaves, side deals like Marvel Knights get terminated, low-selling titles get cancelled, and movie rights get untangled.

Hmm. Last week Sony paved the way for Ghost Rider, which had been attached to a couple of other studios. Nah. It has to be coincidence, right?

You decide.

Derek McCaw


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