Super Hero Squad Rumorbuster

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Super Hero Squad is for kids!

This is my favorite rumor, one that I keep hearing and one that I kind of enjoy.

There are two main forces that support this rumor: Fans of Mature Adult Collector Line X, and Super Hero Squad customizers.

Mature Adult Collectors are generally fans of lines like Marvel Legends, DC Universe Classics, Legendary Comic Book Heroes. The kind of folks that appreciate a good Brood Queen Build-a-Figure or a Red Tornado variant, and who are frustrated at the lack of finger articulation.

The key points, distilled from a few conversations I've had or witnessed with these folk are

- the packaging says they're for 3 and up.
- they're too cute
- "just look at them" (note: that was the direct, non-ironic argument once made to me. "Just look at them"... the equivalent of the legal argument "Come on now!")

The counter points:

- the packaging for Marvel Legends says 4 and up. Thankfully, by cutting off that 3 year old market, Marvel Legends retains it's adult nature. Or maybe Marvel was just concerned about the highly mature Marvel Legends line falling apart easier than Super Hero Squad and thus being more of a choking hazard for it's mature collectors.
- Also "too cute": those ridiculously expensive Marvel Q-Type figures of a couple years ago, the ever popular Justice League Unlimited figures and recent Doctor Who aliens, the Adipose. That doesn't stop you from enjoying any of those does it?
- Just look at them? Come on!

Now, the customizers, they were the shocking realization. People who love the line enough to use it as their muse! But then in their eBay listings and on forums they post things like "well, the line is too kid friendly to ever have a Carnage, Winter Soldier or Red Skull. Keep dreaming!"

I understand a little bit of this is marketing. If you're never going to get figure X, then damned it you shouldn't take your one chance! But it's the people who genuinely think that Super Hero Squad is too kid-friendly to ever have X character that make me a little sad.

Now, ignoring the fact that Carnage's figure has already been shown, promotional art for Winter Soldier has been released, and the Red Skull 2-pack's SKU has been passed on message boards for months now, the theory is flawed.

Unlike DC's policy of not mixing Vertigo and DC because they don't want kids following a character from one line to another and getting into mature territory, Marvel has no such policy, which is why we have Ultimate Hulk and Wolverine so kids can act out that scene in Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine where Hulk bisects the little guy and leaves his bloody entrails on the side of the mountain. We also have abusive traitor Ultimate Giant Man, drunken drunkard Ultimate Iron Man. And I'm pretty sure Ultimate Cap and Nick Fury aren't charmers either.

Just because a character has a hard edge in the comics, doesn't necessarily mean the character is off-limits for Marvel. Crazy psycho-cannibal Venom appears in both Marvel's new Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon and it's mature-readers-esque Thunderbolts (albeit, in two different versions). Serial killer Carnage was last seen being ripped in half by Sentry, and in cutesy form shown at Toyfair NY. Fellow serial killer Sabretooth was recently killed by Wolverine (himself not an all-ages character I might add) and will apparently be resurrected by a mutie-centric KKK Kousin. Winter Soldier, currently the gun-toting Captain America, is shown, guns and all, in promo art. Cable too retains his gun, and murderer of many Punisher was one of the line's earliest figures. Both Punisher and ever cutesy former motorcycle stuntman who made a deal with the devil Ghost Rider will soon see their second sculpts released! Of course, now that Spider-Man makes deals with devils, maybe he should be added to the list of "mature" characters.

So the next time someone points out how the line is aimed at kids, whip out your collection of gun-toting maniacs, serial killers, drunks, and devil-dealers and get them ready for a tea-party in Hell. That'll teach 'em.

Of course, this whole thing could just be a sad commentary on how Marvel realizes that their properties are worth more as merchandise than as gateways to comic books and comic story-telling. Who knows.

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