1997 Fools: [PRESS] Marvel Flashbacks to Continue Through 1998
Subject:      [PRESS] Marvel Flashbacks to Continue Through 1998
From:         mblase@ncsa.uiuc.edu (Marty Blase)
Date:         1997/04/01
Message-Id:   <mblase-ya02408000R0104971013220001@news.cso.uiuc.edu>
Newsgroups:   rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks,rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe

PRESS RELEASE: Marvel Flashbacks to Continue Through 1998

NEW YORK, April 1, 1997 -- Following the marketing success of Marvel's
special "Flashbacks" issues coming out this May, Marvel Entertainment Group
decided to continue the format through the rest of the year into 1998 and

The "Flashbacks" issues, which replace the regular May issues in each of
Marvel's major comic titles, will all be numbered "-1" and will feature a
single-issue story about that books' characters which occured previous to
the first issue. Instead of simply retelling the origins of these
characters, the stories will uncover events in the characters' lives
previous to their joining the "mainstream" Marvel Universe.

However, Marvel executives recently decided that the marketing potential of
such a series of stories was too good to save for just one month. And so,
beginning in April, all of Marvel's major titles will be numbered "-2" and
will continue to count backwards, relating stories further and further back
in the Marvel chronology.

"We feel this is a simply brilliant move on our part," said Ron Perelman,
CEO of Marvel Entertainment Group. "Many of our comic titles have fallen on
hard times lately, especially in light of Marvel's recent financial
troubles. We simply haven't had the money to hire writers capable of coming
up with new, interesting stories. This reverses the problem and gives us
the chance to bring Marvel back to its 'glory days'."

According to Perelman, Marvel's comic empire enjoyed tremendous financial
success in the late eighties and early nineties due to a boom in popularity
and a number of "hot artists" available, which led them to hire many young
artists in lieu of talented, competent writers. Now that the popularity of
comics has waned, however, Marvel finds itself unable to retain either the
artists or the writers that made many of its most popular comics - the
Uncanny X-Men, the Avengers, and the Spider-Man titles - the household
names they are today.

By converting the entire Marvel Comics universe to a permanent "Flashbacks"
model, however, Perelman hopes to reverse this process. "When Marvel's
keystone comic titles were first released, comic artistry was nowhere near
as popular as it has become today. So, we had to make up for that
difference with dynamic characters, interesting stories, and knockout
writing," he said. "This gives us the chance to reverse time, in a sense,
and reclaim those characters and stories that made Marvel an initial

Most of the higher Marvel staff are in agreement with Perelman's strategic
move. "I think it's absolutely ingeneous," said editor-in-chief Bob "The
BOB" Harras. "From my position I can testify that our comics' writing has
been going downhill for years. Then one day I said to Ron, in an off-hand
sort of way, 'I wish we could just start over and go back to when things
were more entertaining.' And he just took the idea and ran with it. Pure
genius, I tell you." 

Bob continued brown-nosing for a raise for several minutes before
continuing with his statement. "What I meant to say, was, I'm glad Marvel's
got a chance to do something new and different here. If this strategy is
half as popular as our marketing surveys indicate, we could be back on the
road to success in no time."

Several writers for Marvel voiced their approval as well. "I can tell you,
first-hand, that much of Marvel's previous continuity is a tangled mess,"
said Scott Lobdell, writer for "The Uncanny X-Men" and "Generation X", two
of Marvel's best selling titles. "When Bob asked around to see if the
creative staffs would support this strategy, I said, 'Hell, yes!' and threw
every script I'd been working on for the past three months right out the
offic window. You didn't want to see it, anyways. You really didn't. I'll
give you a hint: 'Onslaught vs. Phalanx: Age of Apocalypse'. That's how
strung-up I was for new ideas. Another week of that and I would've been
ready to let Gambit and Rogue tie up Leech and put him in any damned closet
they liked."

According to Lobdell, Marvel's new "Flashbacks" model for its titles means
that writers are now free to create and re-create past continuity as they
see fit. "By writing the issues in reverse order now, from negative-one and
backwards from there, the word 'retcon' is no longer meaningful. If we need
to create previous events for a story that never actually happened in the
stories, we can just leave a Post-It note to ourselves to write it a few
months later. This new strategy has single-handedly saved my career."

Some writers were dubious of the plan, however. "Flashbacks, schmashbacks,"
said Peter David when asked for an opinion. "I had two years worth of ideas
ready for 'The Incredible Hulk', three issues of which had already been
pencilled and inked, and now I'm supposed to just forget about all of it
and go back to 'Hulk smash!' and a teenage Rick Jones? Forget it. I quit."
David went on to state that he would spend the rest of his creative career
writing "Star Trek: The Next Generation" novels, pointing out that that TV
series is already ended and he is now free to do "any damn thing I like"
with those characters.

Rumors persist that this event is related, at least indirectly, to Chris
Claremont's return to Marvel in an editorial capacity. In a phone
interview, Claremont said, "I've been refusing to return to 'X-Men' for
five years, and always for the same reason: the characters on the book
weren't the characters I created anymore." General belief is that Perelman
hoped to persuade Claremont to return by offering him the chance to write
the "X-Men" titles before they became, in Claremont's words, "the clueless
and directionless half-wits they are today. Oops, did I say that? Strike
that from the tape, would you? Whew, thanks. I owe you, buddy," he added.

Marvel writer and artist Rob Liefeld could not be reached for a comment,
but sources at Image Comics reported that he was "extremely excited at the
opportunity to write 'X-Force' again, expecially since it means I don't
have to work on that sinking ship 'Youngblood' anymore." When asked about
the likelyhood of Liefeld's return to the title he helped create, Harras
simply stated, "Not in my lifetime. Marvel's going to start counting issues
in imaginary numbers before that happens."

Perelman was about to speak on this latest possibility before a dozen
editors and writers bound and gagged him and shoved him down a laundry
chute. He could not be reached for comment the rest of the day.


               Marty Blase - mblase@ncsa.uiuc.edu
         The Uncanny X-Page - http://x-page.com/hotlist/
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