As the year 2000 dawned, Marvel Comics had only recently escaped bankruptcy and the company's future stood on shaky ground at best.
Flash forward 10 years. With landmark achievements in film, animation, publishing and digital media behind it, Marvel not only solidified its hold on the comic book world, it established itself as an incredibly successful worldwide entertainment brand with few peers.
As the company stands at the edge of 2010, Marvel.com takes a look back with the people who made it all happen speaking in their own words; this is Marvel Decade.
Tom Brevoort has been a part of Marvel Comics since 1989, when he started out as an intern. He served as an assistant editor, associate editor and editor before being promoted to his current position as Executive Editor in 2007. Over the past decade, Tom has overseen the revitalization of the Avengers franchise, presided over major crossover events including Civil War and Secret Invasion, and served as editor on titles including NEW AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA, FANTASTIC FOUR and many others.
There's no way not to start with 9/11 [September 11, 2001], that one singular day that defined this decade. It was incredible how quickly Marvel mobilized to provide what support we could, in the form of the HEROES charity book. The highlight of that special for me-if anything can be considered a highlight in the wake of such a tragedy-was getting to interface, however briefly, with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons on their contribution. I've kept Alan's fax of his script to this day.
Worlds Finally Collide
After two decades of waiting, and the appearances of numerous lesser crossovers, we finally got to do AVENGERS/JLA [a four-issue limited series pairing the Avengers with DC Comics' Justice League], and in the large-scale style that allowed us to make it a 200-page epic once-in-a-lifetime event. And while it may not have been quite as good as what was in people's imaginations, it was still quite spectacular, especially George Perez's cover to #3, onto which he fit every last single character who'd ever been a member of either team. There was a funny-in-hindsight moment where, after George had sold the original art for a colossal sum, an intern packed up a full-size Xerox of the cover and sent it to George, rather than the original. It was a typical Marvel mistake, but I've never heard George speak faster than on the answering machine message I received the morning he got that package.
The World's Greatest Comic Once Again
The lowest point of the decade for me personally, and the one that came close to driving me out of comics entirely, was when I was forced to fire Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo from their run on FANTASTIC FOUR. So it was an incredible thing to have that decision ultimately reversed, and then have the cards fall in such a way that Mark and Mike came back onto the book without missing an issue, and carry on for another year or so. I view every issue of FANTASTIC FOUR that they did starting with #509 as a gift, especially precious given that Mike passed away not long thereafter.
The ascendance of the Avengers into the preeminent franchise at Marvel. While the birthing process was difficult, it was certainly worth the effort, as NEW AVENGERS under Brian Bendis and a string of world-class artists has been at the center of the Marvel Universe ever since. I've edited AVENGERS, in its assorted forms, longer than any other person, for over a decade now.
The Next Generation
It was great fun joining with the delightful Allan Heinberg and the talented Jim Cheung in defying expectations when we launched YOUNG AVENGERS. This was one of those projects that, beforehand, sounded like an absolute abortion-thus prompting the tagline "They're Not What You Think." And once issues started to come out, it took the readership no time at all to come around and embrace the series and its characters. In particular, Allan is one of my favorite people in or out of the business.
Death of an Icon
What's bigger than the front page of the New York Daily News? That's what the death of Captain America earned us, coming at just the right point in the zeitgeist of the American landscape that it seemed to take on all manner of meanings for each segment of the political spectrum. It was the right story at the right time, and kicked off a wave of publicity unlike anything I'd experienced before. Best of all, it pulled a ton of eyeballs onto the excellent work that Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting and [company] had been doing on CAPTAIN AMERICA for the previous two years, and catapulted the series to the top of the charts.
Who Will Wield the Shield?
So Marvel promotions guy Jim McCann comes into my office, and asks me if he can borrow my Captain America shield for Joe Quesada's appearance on the Colbert Report to promote the death of Captain America. This is the shield I've had for years, one I inherited from Mark Gruenwald when that beloved Executive Editor passed away. So I tell Jim yes. The next day, he won't look me in the eye, and I need to corner him before he'll tell me that they've somehow given my shield to Stephen Colbert permanently. Despite my better judgment, Jim is still alive-and the shield has remained a part of Colbert's set ever since.
I was the strikeout king, despite one or two near-misses, in getting acquaintance [and Pulitzer-winning author] Michael Chabon to write a Fantastic Four story. But in an effort perhaps to divert my attention, he did put me in touch with [National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author] Jonathan Lethem, who had an interest in revisiting OMEGA THE UNKNOWN, the cut-short Steve Gerber series of the 1970's that had been a great source of inspiration to [him]. I can't say that I had much impact on the final shape of the story-Lethem's way smarter than I am, and in control of his narrative on an almost sub-atomic level. But his and Farel Dalrymple's jazz riff on the original 10 issues of OMEGA THE UNKNOWN is perhaps the most idiosyncratic and personal vision we've published at Marvel this decade.
It seems like a no-brainer to outsiders, but it was a tremendous thing to be invited onto the still-being-constructed sets for "Iron Man," to discuss both the character and the current draft of the screenplay with [director] Jon Favreau. That was the moment where, for me, it became a reality that Marvel owned a movie studio, rather than licensing properties out to others. Kevin Feige and his team couldn't have been more welcoming or hospitable, and despite the distance between the two coasts, we truly felt like a single entity. And "Iron Man" turned out to be just as good and just as successful as we hoped it'd be.
The Man & The King
Looking backwards in time, it was a particular and personal thrill to be able to pull together all of the extant pieces of the last unfinished and unpublished Stan Lee and Jack Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR story, complete it and publish it. While it wasn't the most wonderful story in the world, this was the closest anyone could come in the 21st Century to being a part of that classic Marvel bullpen. And it's always special to work with giants such as Stan or inker Joe Sinnott. My one big regret-and it gnaws at me every time I see the book today-was that an additional lost page turned up shortly after the LOST ADVENTURE one-shot was published, and so wasn't included in the book.
Come back tomorrow, Dec. 30 for Dan Buckley, Marvel CEO & Publisher, Print, Animation & Digital Media and Thursday, Dec. 31 for Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President as Marvel Decade continues.
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