Monday, March 19, 2012

Manic Monday--What's In A Name?

A couple of brief notes for those casting Marvel as the villain in the whole "Captain Marvel/Shazam" trademark imbroglio:

A) It was DC who sued Captain Marvel out of existence in the first place.

B) Marvel Comics didn't introduce their Captain Marvel until 15 years after the original folded, and 10 years after the trademark had lapsed, during which time DC had shown no interest in reviving the original. It's not as if Marvel were sneaky vultures, leaping on the name ten seconds after the trademark lapsed, or as soon as they renamed themselves Marvel. Other than M. F. Enterprises brief flirtation with the name in 1966, no one else wanted the name.

C) DC didn't decide to licence the characters and relaunch them until 5 years after Marvel's Marvel, so they went in knowing this was the situation.

D) Maybe no one has thought this out, but if Marvel relinquished the rights to DC, they'd be in a ROM/Master Of Kung Fu situation, unable to reprint any of their Captain Marvel material without rebranding it (Hala! ??). Say goodbye to forthcoming The Essential Captain Marvel Volume 2, with all those Jim Starlin stories...

E) Yes, in Happy Fluffy Bunny World, Marvel would relent and, in a measure of astonishing good faith, give up their completely legal and justified claim to the trademark for little or no recompense, just because that's what fans want. Hey, I'd love to see that, too.

Sadly, it's not Happy Fluffy Bunny World, and that's not how businesses--especially Disney-owned businesses--operate. I also can't help but wonder whether, if it wasn't a corporate monolith but an independent or creator-owned book that had snagged the trademark, we'd still be so eager for that person to just smilingly hand the name back to DC for $1 or whatever.

And, as DC caused this mess in the first place, so it's pretty hard for me to see them as victims here. Not to put too blunt a metaphor on it, but they murdered Captain Marvel, and after letting the corpse lie fallow for years, they act like they're the victim because they don't get to freely play with all the departed's toys.

F) And does anybody really believe that the reason a Billy Batson book can't thrive is because DC can do everything except throw the Captain Marvel logo on the cover? Would DC have done one iota better with the comic over the past 40 years, had they had the trademark? I somehow doubt it...

So, yeah, I wish they they could call him Captain Marvel, too. But I'm not shedding any tears for DC.


SallyP said...

I'm fond of Billy, but all of what you say is absolutely true.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, that's all a bit fair and reasonable!