Game Review: Diablo 3

Diablo 3 is out. But is it a game? Or is it the most brilliant money making scam in internet history?

Movie Review: The Avengers

Okay, okay, I posted my Avengers review. Get off my back already, geez.

The Most Important Comic Book You've Never Heard Of

Action Comics #1. Detective Comics #27. Why is All-American Men of War #89 as important as these great comics -- and why have you never heard of it?.

Tales From the Vault: Lois Lane #93

If you thought Superman was a total tool before, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Mass Effect 3: The Official Review

Mass Effect 3 isn't the end of the world, it just portrays it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marvel at Disney World: A Brief Review

Hello folks. I know you've been in serious withdrawal since my last post, lo, these many weeks ago. But now I am finally back from vacation and have found a few moments of free time to provide a brief recap of what I saw at Walt Disney World. No, I don't mean the rides and the characters and the tens of thousands of out of shape tourists (and that was just in mirrors around the park); no, I'm specifically talking about the presence of Marvel Comics at the Disney World resort.

Or, more to the point, the lack of presence. granted, it has only been a year since Disney purchased Marvel, so no doubt many of the strategy meetings on how to best integrate the Marvel brand into the existing Disney world are still taking place. And the theme parks and their attendant resort areas are bound to be one of the trickier arenas to figure out, because frankly, the tone and style of the Marvel Universe isn't necessarily a great match for Disney World; I have a hard time, for instance, picturing am X-Men roller coaster sharing space with the Country Bear Jamboree, for instance.

Still, Disney bought Marvel for a reason, namely the fact that Marvel's superheroes are becoming the 21st century version of Disney's animated stable; in a real sense they are creating the pop mythology for this generation as Mickey, Donald and Goofy created the pop mythology for the Depression era. So there has to be a way to integrate the characters into Disney World in a way that both utilizes them properly and allows them to co-exist with current Disney favorites without affecting the successful atmosphere that has made Disney a family destination for decades.

Putting Marvel rides in the parks, however, is likely to be the last step that Disney undertakes simply because it takes years of planning to design a ride and then build it. With this in mind, then, it makes some sense that during my trip to Disney I saw only a very minimal Marvel presence -- but still a presence that could lead to bigger things.

The only signs of Marvel that I actually saw at a park was at Hollywood Studios (the most logical place for a Marvel presence, as I will get into later), this being a small side shop that used to be devoted to Disney-themed stationery but which now is basically a coffee shop with a few books in it. Among those books, however, there was a full shelf of hardcover Marvel collections for sale. Best of all, as part of the decorations there was a poster-sized reproduction of a pre-code Atlas romance cover.

I've also learned, thanks to the folks at Robot 6 (these photos also belong to them), that I missed a big display of Marvel comics at the Villains store at Hollywood Studios.

Beyond this, my only encounter with anything Marvel during my trip was a rack of Iron Man merchandise at the gift shop inside the Port Orleans resort area. I didn't have a chance to visit the shops in Downtown Disney, but my understanding from Robot 6 is that there is also a Marvel section in the World of Disney store there that sells TPBs, clothes and toys from across the Marvel line.

While this all still adds up to a pretty minor presence for Marvel at Walt Disney World, I think they are going about things the right way. After some thought, here is my three stage plan for integrating Marvel into the Disney World experience:

1) A Marvel Store at Downtown Disney Having a section in World of Disney is nice, but in order to really maximize and promote the Marvel brand -- and more importantly, begin to get tourists used the the idea that Marvel is part of Disney and the Disney World experience -- I think they need to build a whole Marvel-only store. Perhaps they could call it "World of Marvel" or something; whatever the case, having a Marvel-themed store filled with Marvel merchandize -- including, importantly, exclusive Walt Disney World Resort merchandise featuring Marvel characters -- would be a good first step towards leveraging the Marvel brand within Disney World.

2) A Marvel-themed Resort Area Disney World already has oodles of themed resorts, including stuff like All-Star Sports and the Pop Century resort. A Marvel resort area would fit right in with this. Logically it should service Hollywood Studios, but wherever located, it could become a destination resort for Marvel fans by allowing you to choose which Marvel headquarters you wanted to spend your week in, with hotel rooms inside replicas of Avengers Mansion, the X-Mansion, the Baxter Building, Stark Enterprises and the Daily Bugle. This is an experience that Universal, even with their Marvel rides at islands of Adventure, cannot offer.

3) Marvel Rides at Hollywood Studios Finally, once tourists are used to the idea of Marvel being a major part of their Disney vacation, rides should be introduced. This is the diciest part of the plan, as currently rival Universal Studios has a deal with Marvel for rides at their Islands of Adventure park. Whatever they need to do to get out of it, though, Disney should eventually plan to have Marvel rides at their Hollywood Studios, which is the only one of the four parks that thematically makes sense for Marvel rides. And frankly, Hollywood Studios is currently the weakest of the parks and could use a bit of a boost. My suggestion would be to put them at the opposite end of New York Street from the Muppet Theater; New York is a central character in the Marvel Universe and would be a good place for the Marvel heroes to hang out and sign autographs, and right now there's really nothing down at that end of the street anyway.

Lastly, an entire Marvel-themed park wouldn't be completely out of the question, but I'm not sure how viable it would be. It has been well over a decade since Disney's last new park, The Animal Kingdom, opened, so a fifth park at Disney World wouldn't be a surprise. Whether or not there would be enough interest in Marvel characters to anchor an entire theme park, well... hard to say. But in the meantime, the previous three steps I've outlined would be a good way to integrate Marvel into the Disney World experience over the period of five years or so, something that could only help Marvel in terms of expanding their brand visibility -- and help Disney begin to realize the ancillary profits they no doubt expected when they decided to buy up the stable of Marvel characters.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

In-House Ad Showcase: Sabre

Hey guys. You're probably wondering if I've been eaten by a panther or something, but calm you fears; I've just been so blasted with work that I haven't even had a chance to update the Week in Geek depsite the fact that feature's sole purpose is to allow me to present content when I'm too busy with work to do anything else. It's just been that busy.

Part of the reason it's been so busy, though, is because I've been trying to get ahead on work to clear the decks for a Disney vacation. Which I am now going on. Don't worry, once I get back I expect to be able to get back on a regular schedule and answer those questions you submitted, as well as catch up on other things.

In the meantime, in honor of my trip, I thought I'd present a special In-House Ad Showcase featuring the original ad for Sabre. For those of you who may not be familiar with Sabre, it's like this: Sabre is basically an alternate universe version of Jimi Hendrix, only with mad king-fu skills and a bunch of pirate-style weapons. He lives in a post-apocalyptic future where, alongside his main (inter-racial) squeeze Melissa Siren, he battle the forces of future-fascism -- all inside a near-exact replica of Walt Disney World.


It was also originally released as one of the first graphic novels back in 1978 for a then-unheard of sum of $6, this at a time when the cover price on most comics was 35 or 40 cents.

So am I hoping to run into a dystopian kung-fu version of Jimi Hendrix while I'm at Disney World? Duh, of course I am. In the meantime, here's the kick-ass original ad for Sabre, from the pages of Heavy Metal, featuring art by Paul Gulacy. As always, click on it to enlarge:

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