10 Ways Joe Quesada Made Marvel Worse In The 2000s

The ’90s were not a great time for Marvel. Joe Quesada, fresh off the success of co-creating the Marvel Knights line with longtime collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti, was tapped to become the company’s editor-in-chief and led the publisher through a period of growth that saw Marvel recoup the losses of the previous decade. Marvel became a force to be reckoned with, taking command of the industry and not letting go.

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While Quesada is often given the credit for making Marvel great again, he was also a controversial EIC. He made a lot of choices as editor-in-chief that hurt Marvel in the long run during the 21st century. He’s done a lot of good for Marvel but his missteps were significant.

10 Marvel Confused ‘Brave’ With ‘Edgy’ During His Tenure

Going back and reading Marvel comics in the first decade of the 2000s can be difficult for a lot of reasons. For every stone-cold classic that stands the test of time, there are a lot of comics that are painfully set in that decade. The entire industry had started moving away from the Comics Code Authority and Marvel took advantage of that.

Marvel’s books became super edgy throughout the ’00s. Sometimes this update fit the stories but at other times it was just edgelord posturing that reads terribly in modern times. Quesada was at the forefront of this trend, hiring talent and okaying books that indulged in this sort of storytelling.

9 He Failed Completely At Creating Marvel Versions Of Vertigo

Vertigo did wonders for DC during the ’90s and’ 00s. It allowed the publisher to put out adult-oriented comics, most of which were creator-owned, giving artists and writers complete freedom and building new franchises for DC. Quesada tried to do something similar at Marvel several times in the ’00s. He tried to establish a new Epic line and kickstart the Marvel MAX and Icon imprints, none of which ended up working in the long run.

Epic failed right out the gate. MAX basically existed just to mostly put out profane Punisher comics by Garth Ennis and Jason Aaron and Icon published a lot of Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis creator-owned comics, but that was it. Quesada was never able to replicate Vertigo’s success at his company, but he certainly tried.

8 Bendis And Millar Writing Everything Did Not Work Out Well

There was not a book in the 2000s that Quesada thought Brian Michael Bendis or Mark Millar should not write. They both have successful histories as writers, and sales definitely picked up with them on books but there are also a lot of missteps from Marvel in this era. Bendis and Millar were at the height of their powers, but they could not do everything.

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Bendis was basically Marvel’s head writer for years, which was strange for a writer with such a limited style and Millar basically did whatever he wanted, but beyond Wolverine spirit The Ultimates, a lot of what he did missed. It sold, but going back and reading some of their most well-known work reveals how wrong Quesada was.

7 House Of M Wrecked The X-Men For Years To Come

For decades, the X-Men books were among Marvel’s best-selling, but Quesada actively worked to stop that throughout his tenure in multiple ways. The most obvious example was House Of M, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel. The story had wide-ranging consequences for Marvel’s entire line but nuked the X-Men specifically.

By depowering the majority of mutants and stopping any new ones from being created, Quesada neutered the rampant creativity the X-Men books were known for. The team was marginalized and cut off from the rest of the Marvel Universe. These changes did not lead to a creative renaissance for Marvel’s best-selling franchise but to ever more depressing and grim stories

6 He Kept Giving Chuck Austen Jobs For Far Too Long

Writer Chuck Austen has a terrible reputation. He made a splash on War Machine, which got him his job writing Uncanny X-Men spirit The Avengers. However, fans almost immediately soured on the writer, who wrote some of the worst X-Men stories ever, on Uncanny X-Men and later X-Men. The strange part is Quesada kept him writing the X-Men titles for years.

As Austen lost jobs on every book he wrote, at Marvel and DC, he remained on Uncanny X-Men and then took over X-Men after Grant Morrison’s New X-Men ended. Fans hated Austen’s work on the X-books but Quesada left him there. Whether this was deliberate or because Quesada did not care about X-Men fans is impossible to know, but it hurts the franchise.

5 Civil War Did Massive Damage To Iron Man

Iron Man has always been one of Marvel’s top characters but during Quesada’s run as EIC, things got very bad for the character. Civil War took place during this time, and while it’s one of the most important Marvel comics of the 2000s, it destroyed Iron Man in the eyes of fans for years to come. Even today, Iron Man’s popularity in comics has never recovered.

Quesada pretty much allowed one of Marvel’s biggest characters to act like a fascist, destroy the cohesion of the Marvel Universe, and basically devolve into a smarmy, unlikeable villain. It was a mystifying choice that had consequences long past Quesada’s run as EIC.

4 He Ran Grant Morrison Out Of Marvel

Grant Morrison coming to Marvel was a huge get for Quesada. Morrison created some amazing stories for the publisher, most notably the revolutionary New X-Men. However, repeated clashes with editorial, led by Quesada, caused the writer to leave the publisher. This was especially impressive since Morrison had left DC after that company treated them badly, but went right back to the company when their Marvel contract ran out.

Morrison had plans for even more New X-Men before they left. Quesada, whether through his own actions or by just not working to keep Morrison around, got rid of one of the greatest superhero writers ever.

3 He Set Marvel On The Event Cycle

Marvel’s event cycle has become its most famous feature in the 21st century and that’s Joe Quesada’s work. It’s also the most maligned part of Marvel’s publishing output, leading to diminishing returns of more disappointing events. Quesada pretty much built the event cycle, mostly using Bendis’s various Avengers books to build events up over and over.

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Marvel’s event cycle created event fatigue in the fanbase, something which had already started taking hold during Quesada’s time at the publisher. It’s done increasing damage to Marvel’s brand as the years went on, stemming from short-term sales during Quesada’s tenure.

2 He Allowed Ultimatum To Happen

Ultimatum is one of Marvel’s most disliked stories. Written by Jeph Loeb with art by David Finch, the book sounded the death knell for the Ultimate Universe, a creation of Quesada’s during his time as EIC. It’s a grimdark slog of a story, killing off fan favorite characters and turning audiences against the Ultimate Universe. The Ultimate line never recovered from Ultimatum, although the imprint shambled on for six more years.

Quesada read the scripts before anyone else and greenlit the Ultimatum story. It’s impossible to know how a book is going to be received, but just the fact that this story happened and no one threw a flag on the play speaks volumes.

1 The End Of Peter Parker And Mary Jane’s Marriage Was His Brainchild

Marvel has abused Spider-Man fans for over a decade now, and this habit started under Joe Quesada’s guidance. Quesada reasoned that Spider-Man wasn’t as popular as he used to be, despite starring in one of the best-selling solo books in the industry, because he was too grown up. He decided the best way to fix this was to end Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage.

One More Day was entirely Quesada’s idea and when then-Spider-Man writer J. Michael Straczynski did not want to execute it in exactly the way Quesada imagined, the EIC took control. This choice led to years of fan ire and a widespread impression that Marvel did not characterize about its characters or fans, damaging both Marvel’s and Spider-Man’s brands.

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