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Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]
Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]
Secret Wars, the 1984-1985 limited series that launched a toy line, introduced Spider-Man’s black costume and marked the beginning of the crossover era, looms large in Marvel history. The 12-issue comic spawned an immediate sequel, and has been revisited or referenced more recently in Beyond!, New Avengers: The Illuminati and Spider-Man and the Secret Wars.
But now, more than 25 years after the conclusion of Secret Wars, is Marvel planning a return to the Beyonder’s Battleworld — in a video game? It certainly looks that way: Siliconera discovers that, just last week , Marvel filed a trademark for “Secret Wars” that covers everything from software and video-game cartridges to bicycle helmets and sunglasses.
The website points out the registration could be for the third installment of Activision’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance; the second game, released last year, closely followed the events of the 2006-2007 crossover Civil War. There’s little preventing a sequel from mimicking a decades-old Marvel miniseries (Destructoid certainly hopes it isn’t for another Ultimate Alliance, saying “that cash-cow has been milked rotten at this point”).
However, it’s perhaps just as likely that, following Disney’s $4-billion purchase of Marvel last year, any plumbing of the publisher’s back catalog would be done by Disney Interactive Studios for its own games. “We are evaluating the entire Marvel library,” Disney Interactive’s Mark Orgel said last spring. “Not just the characters that everybody knows and loves from the motion pictures today, but the little-known characters.”
So, sure, why not the 25-year-old Secret Wars? Although conceived by then-Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter to help introduce a line of Mattel action figures, the series’ concept translates easily to role-playing video games: A cosmic entity known as the Beyonder teleports numerous superheroes and supervillains to a world stocked with alien weaponry and technology, then pits them against each other, with the winners promised anything they desire.
“Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”
–The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates on the influence of superhero comics on hip-hop culture and marginalized people in general. “I tell you [Jim Shooter's writing in Secret Wars] was Faulkner to me,” he says. “I’m 35 years old, and I’m still walking around saying to myself, ‘The Beyonder himself is close at hand…’”
Here’s a fun piece of comic history … back in the early 1980s, Marvel released their big crossover series Secret Wars. It was the series that introduced Spider-Man’s black symbiote suit, brought She-Hulk into the Fantastic Four, drove a wedge between young lovers Kitty Pryde and Colossus, and spawned a toy line. Mattel released a couple of waves of figures, starting with characters from the series — Dr. Doom, Spider-Man, Wolverine and several others — then followed it up with some who didn’t make it to the Beyonder’s battle planet, like Falcon, Hobgoblin and Daredevil. Just as a third wave of figures was being created, the line was killed — so abruptly that three of the figures from the third wave were already in production. So Europe saw the release of Iceman, Constrictor and Electro.
But as Jason Geyer details over on Action Figure Insider, that wasn’t quite the end of the line. Geyer has posted artwork for several figures that never made it into production, including Mr. Fantastic, Abomination, Thunderball, Mystique and the Dazzler. He even includes artwork from the lenticular shields that would have come with each figure, one of the trademarks of the line. Go check it out.
Just in case you have some sort of crippling emotional block that prevents you from checking Robert Goodin’s wonderful Covered blog every day — since that’s the only reason I can think of why you wouldn’t — I just wanted to bring Jeffrey Brown’s cover version of Al Milgrom & Steve Leialoha’s cover for Secret Wars II #8 to your attention. (Actually, it’s sort of an X-Men-centric remix of the original.) Above is a small portion–believe me, you wanna click through and see the whole thing, if only to marvel that yes, the major antagonist for a line-dominating crossover event once dressed in an all-white version of Eddie Murphy’s leather jumpsuit from Delirious.