Marvel Vice-President, Tom Brevoort, agreed to grant this independent reporter an interview over breakfast under the condition that I pick up the tab. He asked me to meet him at a McDonalds just off Times Square. I entered the restaurant and saw him sitting by himself in a booth wearing his signature brown hat and duster.
TL: Good morning, Mr. Brevoort.
Brevoort: [looks TL up and down] I thought you’d be taller.
TL: I’m 6 feet tall.
Brevoort: [motioning to a restaurant employee approaching with a platter full of Egg McMuffins and hash browns] Pony up, son!
TL: [hands the waitress a credit card] I don’t think I’ve ever spent $80 at a McDonalds before.
Brevoort: [hands TL one Egg McMuffin and one hashbrown; keeps the rest for himself] Really? I have. Regularly.
TL: I’m a little surprised you granted me this interview. I mean, given that we’ve had a pretty contentious set of exchanges in the past.
Brevoort: Wilth, Shceeber culdnt bay tady.
TL: Excuse me?
Brevoort: [swallows mouthful of Egg McMuffin] Well, CBR couldn’t buy today.
TL: Of course.
TL: I just finished reading NINO #20 and I wanted to get your reaction to some of my observations about NINO in general and this issue in particular.
Brevoort: [rolls eyes] Again with the NINO stuff? Really? He’s ‘Nova’ because I made him Nova. There’s no ‘In Name Only’ to it. Take it or leave it. I replaced Rider with Sam; and it’s Sam or nothing.
TL: I know that’s you position, and I’m glad you brought it up because that was going to be one of my questions. He’s never been inducted into the Corps by anyone empowered to do so, he doesn’t report to a higher authority, he’s had no training and is unfamiliar with any pan-galactic law granting the Corps law enforcement authority, he doesn’t live up to the ideals of the Corps, and even after issue #20 it’s not clear whether the so-called ‘Black Novas’ were criminals or eventually officially sanctioned. He’s wearing his dad’s uniform and pretending to be a Nova. How is he anything other than a Nova In Name Only?
Brevoort: You cosmic fans think about stuff too much. Look – we just want to sell books. That’s what we do. It doesn’t have to make sense. The zombies will still buy it. My advice to you and your little cosmic fan friends – just stop thinking and start buying.
TL: In other words, become zombies.
Brevoort: Sure. Whatever. [Drops some McMuffins into the pockets of his duster; puts a McMuffin and a hash brown under his hat].
TL: So now I understand the outfit.
Brevoort: Yeah – the coat has deep pockets for snacks and the hat traps heat to keep one warm for a mid-morning snack later.
TL: What about the child soldier issue then. You say forget logic and just go with it. But, come on. In this issue he skips school, almost dies from poisoning, and destroys the defenses at a military outpost that he should have protected. In fact, why were the defenses activated against him anyway if he’s a real Nova as you claim? Particularly since the computer recognized him as Jesse. Furthermore, isn’t it poor parenting for both of his parents to encourage him to risk his life? Isn’t it a poor example for him to skip school and to be disrespectful to teachers as he has in the past? Aren’t you sending the wrong message to the 8-year-olds at whom this book is presumably aimed?
Brevoort: [slowly finishes a hash brown before answering] Bucky, Mulan, Katness, Arya Stark, Joan of Arc, etc.
TL: Precedents? Your argument is precedents? Just because minors have risked their lives before in fiction and historical fact doesn’t make it morally right in reality or in fiction in the present. And most of those weren’t encouraged to do so by their parents. And presumably you’d like these 8-year-olds at whom this book is aimed to be able to read so they can continue to buy your products – so what’s with the disrespect for school and teachers?
Brevoort: [motions to my untouched hash browns] You gonna eat that?
TL: It’s all yours.
Brevoort: [finishes the hash brown; un-raps another McMuffin] You do know this is fantasy, right?
TL: Of course. But shouldn’t it follow some internal logic? Otherwise, it talks down to the reader. Also, don’t you have a responsibility to send an appropriate message to the young readers you’re trying to capture? Is glorifying using children as soldiers and deprecating education the right message?
Brevoort: It’s selling above cancellation threshold, so the zombies like it well enough. Like I said before…………
TL: Stop thinking and start buying.
Brevoort: [winks] Riiiiiight. On to a more important topic. Have you tried their new Peaches & Cream fried pies?
TL: No. But order away if you like.
Brevoort: [waves at the employees to get their attention; Points at the fried pie rack and puts up 5 fingers]
TL: Sorry, but I have to follow up because that unbridled Capitalism argument just doesn’t cut it. What about the moral implications of using a child as a soldier? You claim NINO is a real Nova just because you say so. If he’s a real Nova, that makes him a soldier. Rich was at least enlistment age when he was deputized. NINO was 14 when he was first sent into battle with minimal training. The entire world is now condemning use of children as combatants and as shields for combatants. Why is Marvel/Disney glorifying it?
Brevoort: Well maybe if this place would hire a few 8-year-olds, I could get my fried pies a little faster. [yells at the front counter] Hey! Where’s my pies?
TL: You can’t be serious.
Brevoort: Like I said……….
TL: Stop thinking, start buying.
Brevoort: [winks] Riiiiight. [snatches a sack full of pies from a McD employee] You don’t want one of these do you?
TL: [hands credit card to McD employee] All yours.
TL: All right. What about the weapon of mass destruction issue? NINO is portrayed as an irresponsible minor. He skips school, is disrespectful to teachers, he’s negligent in babysitting his sister allowing her to put on the ‘magic helmet’ and inadvertently do damage. He’s portrayed as having at least Centurion level powers – essentially, the destructive powers of a tactical nuclear weapon. How is it that all the adults in the Marvel Universe are just fine with him having enough power to level a city – yet being demonstrably irresponsible in its use?
Brevoort: [stares with a mouthful of fried pie] Haff yubn lstning?
TL: Stop thinking, start buying.
Brevoort: [swallows the pie] Right. And speaking of buying, I’m getting a little thirsty. [motions at the shake machine and puts up 2 fingers]
TL: Go for it.
TL: Let’s move on to characterization. In this issue, Rocket is written completely out of character as a thug who beats up a doctor who is only trying to help him. Fans have also been upset by the writing out of character of most of the cosmic characters who have appeared in NINO’s book and in GotGINO. Starstalker was recently written as a cowardly idiot. Spaceknights have been written as buffoons. Cosmo has been written completely out of character every time he has appeared. And don’t get me started on the wreck Bendis has made of the GotG team. Simple question. Why? And don’t tell me, ‘Stop thinking, start buying,’ if you want me to pay for those shakes.
Brevoort: Look. We understand how to sell comic books. You don’t. The zombies aren’t all that imaginative. They have to have someone who’s relatable – you know, like a Norse God, a Billionaire Inventor, a World War II Soldier, a Canadian Guy with a metal skeleton and claws, a smart-ass mercenary who can’t be killed, a human with the powers of a spider, or a guy who turns into a giant green monster when he gets mad. Anybody could relate to them, right? But these space characters – now they are just weird! Totally un-relatable in comparison! I mean, who could relate to a weirdo like Star-Lord? Now – a female version of Thor – that I can relate to in an instant. Who couldn’t? And why would anybody care about anything happening outside the surface of the Earth anyway? We had to dumb down and camp up those weirdo cosmic characters – and also contrive some reason for them to be obsessed with Earth in order to get the zombies interested. In the case of Sam, Loeb just wanted to create a character with a readymade fan base – and we didn’t think there were enough of you Rider fans to make much of a fuss if we replaced Rider. In fact, we didn’t think you’d even notice and that you’d buy it anyway. [motions to the approaching McD employee holding 2 shakes] Now how about those shakes.
TL: [hands the McD employee a credit card] I think you’re under-estimating the intelligence of your readers.
Brevoort: [belly laughs, spurting a mouthful of shake onto the table] That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week!
TL: The art used to be the best part of the cosmic books. Lately, it’s taken a turn for the worse. NINO #20’s art was cartoonish.
Brevoort: We have a saying. Why pay for good art when the zombies will buy anything – and then take to the forums and insist the bad art is good! [laughs, shakes his head] Gotta love those zombies.
TL: I must say that I’m feeling more discouraged about the future of cosmic than I did when I walked in the door. In closing, can you give me any hope for a better future?
Brevoort: Absolutely! I have a better future planned beginning tonight!
TL: Really? Can you talk about it?
Brevoort: Of course! It’s ‘all you can eat steak night’ at The Golden Corral! The future is looking pretty good to me right about now. Care to join me tonight to finish this interview? You pick up the tab, of course.
TL: No, thanks. I think we’ve just about covered everything we need to cover.
Note: This continues the series of satirical/parody reviews of Marvel’s so-called Cosmic books.