The Iron Age of Comics: Jim Shooter's Return to Marvel

UrsineTroll said:
I had read that Jim Shooter’s bid for Marvel Comics was actually the second highest bid when New World Productions sold the company. A businessman named Ron Perelman put in a higher bid, but that died with him in the automobile accident that claimed his life. How different would have Marvel been if Perelman had not died? Would we still have the superhero boom of the nineties in cinema?

Cryo said:
That is a tricky question to answer, but it was obvious Perelman didn’t want to buy Marvel out of fondness for the characters or a particular desire to see the company succeed. For all of his personal faults, Shooter was a lifelong fan of the medium and a proponent of creator rights that offered incentives and royalties to creators who performed. Granted, that didn’t stop Rob Liefeld from jumping ship in ‘91. Todd MacFarlane and Jim Lee had mentioned that Liefeld had been attempting to convince a walkout of Marvel’s top artists to form their own company in protest of Shooter’s policies, but no one was interested. Thus Liefeld went to DC Comics where he worked on the New (Teen) Titans spinoff, Team Titans with main series writer, Marv Wolfman. A Perelman-owned Marvel could make it quite possible that Liefeld could have been successful in organizing his walkout under different circumstances.

Liefeld wouldn’t be the only one to jump as Shooter is a rather divisive figure in comics and there were many creators who loathed the man. John Byrne was probably the most infamous example as he drew a parody of Shooter’s Starbrand character in 1987’s Legends crossover. He opted to stay at DC when he caught wind that Shooter and his partners acquired Marvel. It would be safe to assume that the Claremont/Byrne reunion on Justice League would be butterflied away.

On the multimedia front, things could have been much different than they are today. Marvel’s partnership with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment in 1992 set the stage for the superhero boom. For one, it forced then-DC president Jenette Khan to reconsider her plans for a Superman-centric television series and focus instead on planning his return to the silver screen in response to Marvel/Lightstorm’s Spider-Man and X-Men announcements. There were even rumours of Christopher Reeve donning the cape again to team up with Michael Keaton’s Batman, but alas it wasn’t to be (though Brendan Fraser as the Man of Steel in Superman ‘95 was a surprisingly nice consolation prize.)

Had Perelman survived, Marvel Entertainment would be a completely different animal as the man made his millions acquiring companies. In all likelihood, he probably would have bitten off more than he could chew by buying more companies and merging them with Marvel. One wrong move, for example, acquiring the wrong distributor could have been catastrophic. Worst case scenario, Marvel could have declared bankruptcy by the late 1990s had it grown too large and that is not accounting for all other butterflies. Thankfully, this is all big, “What if?”

-Excerpted from the thread “WI Jim Shooter never returned to Marvel Comics?” on, April 30, 2020


And thus after spending the last few years contributing or ghosting pop culture threads, I have posted my own comic book themed TL.

So the PoD is Ron Perelman dying in a car crash in 1989?
Yes. I would have gone with "struck by a bolt of lightning" for how the comic book industry is still suffering because of his actions in the 90s, but thought that would be too flashy (no pun intended.) However, there will not be be any major butterflies until 1991 or the TL will begin that year.

Do you have a publishing schedule for this TL?
Honestly? Not really, I have other (non-alternate history) projects that have higher priority and a job. I only have a rough outline in my head as such. However, I will at least provide a substantial update at least once a week.

Will you cover non-superhero/comic book subjects?
If it catches my fancy, yes, but I want to focus on comic books and related media as much as I can.

Do you accept suggestions/submissions?
I do, but please PM me about it for approval.
Interesting, I've considered what would've happened if Shooter had bought Marvel.
I've always wondered if he might've brought the Gold Key characters to Marvel.
Chapter 1 - Mr. Liefeld Goes to DC
“Contrary to popular rumour, I never hated Rob. Was I particularly fond of his art? No, but X-Force was one our top sellers at the time and he believed that he deserved more. I could look past that, but then Tom [DeFalco] called me to tell me that we had a problem. Rob was trying to organize a walkout of our top artists and I obviously couldn’t look the other way and dismissed him. I wish him well at DC, but he burned whatever bridges he had at Marvel when he pulled that stunt.” - Marvel Entertainment Group President Jim Shooter on Rob Liefeld’s dismissal, Wizard Magazine (June 1992)

Rob Liefeld’s attempts to organize a walkout with his fellow artists at Marvel Comics were a dismal failure. Neither Todd MacFarlane nor Jim Lee were interested due to the company’s generous incentives and royalties programs and Jim Shooter fired him before he could convince anyone else to join. Despite this, he was still an industry superstar and rival DC comics was eager to accept him.

He was able to reach an agreement with managing editor Dick Giordano to co-write and pencil the New Titans spin-off with main series writer, Marv Wolfman: Team Titans. [1] Liefeld built the team around the premise that American culture would treat superheroes as would actors and professional athletes where the characters would balance the pressure of their celebrity lives with fighting super-villains.

Founding Titan, Roy Harper AKA Arsenal , would form the nucleus of the team as its leader and, aside from a redesigned Harlequin [2], one of the few established characters on the team. Badrock was the team muscle; a behemoth of solid granite with the maturity of a teenager (because he was one prior to his transformation.) Die Hard was a cyborg version of Marvel’s Captain America created by S.T.A.R. Labs; Chapel was a government assassin who shared a history with Deathstroke while Combat and Photon, a Khund and a Tamaranean, rounded out the team.

Team Titans functioned more as a foil to the Justice League titles than the main New Titans as the US government sponsored this incarnation of the Titans and the League operated under a UN charter. The title was DC’s highest selling title of 1992, but Liefeld began falling behind schedule with issue #5 and left altogether after #8. His replacement would Joe Quesada, who would be the title’s main artist until cancellation with #24. Critical consensus on the title today is that character development and plot took a backseat to action-packed sequences, bizarre anatomy, and guns. Lots and LOTS of guns. However, that changed after Wolfman took charge of the title and attempted to build on the characters until 1995's Zero Hour event ingloriously erased the bulk of the team from continuity.

[1] Liefeld did indeed pitch a Teen Titans book to DC in 1991, but couldn't come to an agreement with Giordano according to him. He came to an agreement TTL, but Giordano held the upper hand in negotiations due to Liefeld's dismissal from Marvel.

[2] Duela Dent, and not Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn who would later debut on Batman: The Animated Series.
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I don’t even read superhero comics but I do read the history books about them, you better believe I’m down for a Pyro timeline on the subject !

Excellent POD and already some cool ramifications on the broader entertainment industry, I’m certainly intrigued to see more :)
Excellent POD and already some cool ramifications on the broader entertainment industry, I’m certainly intrigued to see more :)
Thanks, and the next update will indeed explore Marvel's foray in into other media where a case of copyright infringement leads to a lasting partnership. ;)
So Spawn is a Marvel anti hero like Venon ?
And G 13 will be the Teen Titans of Marvel ?
Demonites and Kherubim as new alien civilizations ?
Chapter 2 - Marvel does what... Nintendon't?
“It certainly wasn’t something I expected would happen when Marvel learned about our unauthorized use of Spider-Man in our game. Jim [Shooter] calls my office to ask, ‘Hey Tom, would you be interested in making video games for us?’” -Tom Kalinske in a 2016 interview with Sega-16.

The inclusion of Spider-Man in Revenge of Shinobi for the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive overseas) was reportedly supposed to be a placeholder until the character designer would later substitute with their own design. Word of this eventually reached Marvel’s legal department, and eventually the desk of Jim Shooter himself. While thoughts of legal action against Sega did cross his mind, Shooter saw the potential of the video game company as an ally. Upon a couple of playthroughs of the game, he asked for a meeting with Sega of America CEO, Tom Kalinske.

Marvel was no stranger to licensing its characters to other companies to produce video games on multiple platforms, but the results were often mediocre to outright dismal. Shooter’s research into Sega’s repertoire revealed the quality of their games. While Marvel would have certainly benefited from also licensing games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (and its successor, the Super Nintendo), Shooter that a partnership would better serve Marvel's interests in the long run and thus hammered out an five-year exclusivity deal with Sega to develop games using Marvel’s characters.

This deal also benefited Marvel as Kalinske approached Shooter for help developing the world behind their new killer app the Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog. Shooter along with Bob Budiansky (who developed many characters for Hasbro’s Transformers) developed the game’s characters and backstory for American audiences. In turn, Sega licensed the blue blur to Marvel to publish under its revived Star Comics imprint. Sonic the Hedgehog #1 by Mike Gallagher and Dave Manak arrived in comic shops and drug store spinner racks in March 1991--three months before the game’s release on June 23, 1991.

However, video games were merely part of Marvel’s multi-pronged media strategy. The company would look next to the silver screen after the success of Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989.
I've always wondered if he might've brought the Gold Key characters to Marvel.
The Gold Key characters won't be heading to Marvel, but the rights are still up for grabs so it's entirely possible that another publisher and creator may take that ball. Stay tuned!

So Spawn is a Marvel anti hero like Venon ?
Spawn will be covered in the next chapter

And G 13 will be the Teen Titans of Marvel ?
Marvel already has the New Warriors to fill that niche, so Gen-13 and most Windstorm characters will be butterflied away because Jim Lee will be staying with Marvel for the foreseeable future.

Demonites and Kherubim as new alien civilizations ?
Never say never. It depends on where Jim Lee goes after he leaves X-Men in 1993. Will it be the Fantastic Four? Avengers? Forbush Man?
Sega making Marvel games has some interesting butteflies.

We will probably miss out on the X-Men beat em up by Konami, which is a shame.

Also makes me wonder about the fate of Marvel Vs. Capcom. Perhaps Capcom could look elsewhere for a crossover fighter. Street Fighter vs Justice Legaue, perhaps?,
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With Marvel working with sega could we get a Fantastic four arcade game to go with X-men, Spiderman, and Captain America & the Avengers?
Does Shooter relax his previous stance on LGBT characters after returning?
Considering where LGBT rights are at the moment ITTL, I am leaning on no. However, Shooter is more involved with the business side of Marvel than he is in editorial and thus delegates most of those decisions to Tom DeFalco, the incumbent editor-in-chief. Northstar is still going to come out in Alpha Flight and we will see some LGBT characters appear in the coming years from the Big Two and smaller publishers.
Some suggestions:

Jim Starlin brings Dreadstar to Epic, leading to Dave Cockrum using the label to sell his own successful title- Futurians. Leading to Lee, McFalane Etc having an outlet for their creativity on projects they own. Perhaps Byrne can be persuaded to publish Next Men there. Maybe TMNT goes there instead of to Image later?

Is Paramounts network going to take off? I remember reading Stan Lee was trying to pitch series at them. Maybe X-Men is made there instead of at Fox, and the marvel Animation universe actually truly comes together? Maybe DS9 is Paramounts headline show instead of Voyager?

If Marvel are looking to expand perhaps an eyeball falls on Magic: The Gathering and TSR as ways to expand - Marvel had beeen involved in the D&D cartoon after all.

I wonder if New Universe will get revived now Jim owns the place? Perhaps his own Epic line?

More please Says UrsineTroll.
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Something like the Image is still possible or in any case a massive exodus of artist from Marvel to DC...Shooter was not easy to work and there were 'tension' between him and people like Byrne.
Said that, if DeFalco is basically the defacto editor in chief, thinks can be really much more smooth