Before his promotion at the company, Joe Quesada oversaw Marvel’s publishing division during several major stories — most notably, “Civil War.” The massively successful crossover not only reinvigorated sales, but introduced a whole new base of fans to Marvel’s characters.
In Part 3 of CBR’s interview with Quesada from Comic-Con International: San Diego, the former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief looked back on the major turning point at the company and explained how DC’s philosophy handling its characters differs from Marvel’s, among other topics.
Asked about the death of Bruce Banner in “Civil War II,” Quesada told CBR’s Albert Ching, “I think it’s awesome. It shakes the readership up.”
“You have a plan for what comes afterwards, what comes during, all that sort of stuff, which we do, that’s always been our way of working…it’s always been my philosophy, and it’s a philosophy that’s been carried on. Which is, if we’re going to have these significant deaths, what does it mean? What does that give us? How does it stir everything else? What I love about our publishing division is that they’re feelers, they really are our feelers.”
Quesada contrasted Marvel’s approach handling its characters in the lead-up to a film with DC’s, saying, “I remember when I was entrenched at DC in my career very early on and I was doing some Batman stuff, the Batman movie was coming up, I remember there were a lot of mandates coming down from above, to DC, that ‘You better treat Batman pristinely, you can’t kill off the character, you can’t do anything to screw it up, because we got a movie coming up.’ So they wanted to make sure nothing got shaken up too much.”
Whereas, at Marvel, Quesada says there’s more freedom on the publishing front. “On the flip side, for us, we had movies coming up — Captain America and Avengers coming up — and we did something called ‘Civil War,’ where Tony Stark is perceived as a villain, and Captain America would die. And, ultimately, those kinds of stories helped by shaking things up and making people worry. Iron Man wasn’t a household name, and suddenly you had this character that had people questioning his ethics and morality. And before you knew it, our writers of all our other books found Tony Stark so fascinating that he ended up appearing in every Marvel comic just because his character was so rich at that point, because you gave him some gravitas, whether you agreed with him or not. And then the Death of Captain America brought upon us the idea of Winter Soldier, thanks to Ed Brubaker, and it actually elevated Cap.”
He continued, “I’ll never forget it was here in San Diego where I asked the audience at my Cup ‘O Joe panel — Cap was dead — I said, ‘How many people here want to see Steve Rogers back?’ and the audience erupted. I said, ‘How many people want to see Bucky remain as Captain America?’ and it was just as loud.”
Overall, Quesada said the Captain America death was beneficial for Marvel. “Once Cap came back and Bucky became Winter Soldier again, it helped,” he said. “And that’s where our fans are so important. Like I said before, they’re the Johnny Appleseeds. They spread the word about this stuff and when the movie comes out there’s an immediate recognition. And even for the layperson. if they doesn’t know who or what a Winter Soldier is, they probably have someone in their life who says, ‘Oh, that is…’ and they explain it to them. Or they get that there’s a buzz online, and they’re immediately intrigued.”
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