Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Pulp Culture
Will 'Captain Marvel'
survive? U-Decide!


July 4, 2002
By Franklin Harris

Despite being one of Marvel's most critically acclaimed comics, "Captain Marvel" is flirting with cancellation.

So, to boost sales, Marvel Comics is relaunching "Captain Marvel" in September with a new No. 1 issue and a new direction. But fans of the current series need not worry. Writer Peter David and artist Chriscross aren't going away.

For the multitudes of you who are not reading "Captain Marvel," here is what you're missing:

Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel
Genis-Vell, son of Mar-Vell, is trying to live up to his dad's heroic legacy. But following in the footsteps of an intergalactic legend isn't easy, especially if you grew up in a test tube and, despite your outward age and book smarts, you are still something of an adolescent.

Fortunately, Genis is stuck, literally, with the best teacher he could ask for: Rick Jones, professional sidekick.

Over the years, Jones has played second fiddle to the Hulk, Captain America, the Avengers and the original Captain Marvel. So, he knows as much about being a superhero as anyone.

The turnabout, with the sidekick showing the hero the ropes, is what makes "Captain Marvel" such a fun read.

With any luck, the new No. 1 issue and a big promotional push from Marvel Comics will save "Captain Marvel" from the chopping block.

But it's more than a promotion. It's a triple-threat match.

In a stunt that looks like a pro-wrestling plot, Marvel President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Jemas has challenged David to a contest to see who can sell the most comics over six months.

It's called U-Decide — as in you, the reader, decide who wins. And you vote with your dollars.

Not since Vince McMahon faced off with Stone Cold Steve Austin has an employer/employee relationship been so tense.

Jemas is writing his own, six-issue miniseries, which, if successful, could become an ongoing title.

"Marville" is Jemas' satirical take on the comic-book industry, and, as much as I hate to say it, the previews for the book are intriguing.

The art for "Marville" is by penciler M.D. Bright and inker Paul Neary.

Of course, Jemas isn't taking chances. He is stacking the deck with alternate covers featuring the two things that seem to sell the most comics these days: giant robots and sexy women.

Meanwhile, David is fighting back with alternate covers of his own, provided by fan-favorite artists Alex Ross and Joe Jusko.

And just to keep things interesting, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has entered the fray with "The Ultimate Adventures of Hawk-Owl and Zippy."

Quesada helped design the characters, but Ron Zimmerman will write the series, and Duncan Fegredo will supply the art.

"Hawk-Owl and Zippy" will chronicle the adventures of a strangely familiar dynamic duo, except told from the sidekick's point of view.

Quesada has so much confidence in the book that it won't have alternate covers.

The stakes aren't high. They involve baseballs, a dunking booth and cream pies. Marvel Comics will determine each book's fate independently, so all three could rise or fall.

But clearly there are some big egos on the line, too. If you're a pro like Peter David, you don't want to lose to your bean-counting boss. And if you're Bill Jemas, well, you don't want to lose, period.

Quesada has the least stake in this, which is probably why he is the least grouchy of the three during interviews.

U-Decide starts in September, and comic-book shops are taking advance orders now.

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