Mike Gold: Marvel Does The Right Thing – And More!

I cribbed the information contained herein from the piece written by our pal Rich Johnston over at his Bleeding Cool website which, for what it’s worth, I endorse for its honesty and professionalism. But instead of simply posting the link and letting it speak for itself, I shall wax poetic.

It’s easy to blame all sorts of bad, evil things on corporations and, damn, the Supreme Court recently made that a whole lot easier. But in the interest of fairness we should endeavor to embrace the whole enchilada.

No doubt you were one of the 160.1 million dollars worth of humans worldwide (and counting) who have seen the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. If you haven’t, there are no spoilers here: I thought it was great fun, as did the other minions of the Lower Connecticut Comics Mafia that occupied the theater last Thursday. The fact that we all seemed to be in agreement was, in and of itself, the highest praise I can heap upon any movie. But unless you don’t have a television set, a comic book habit, and/or friends, you are probably aware that the movie stars a small sentient rodent-like creature named Rocket Raccoon.

Rocket was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen. One of the true horrors of comics history is that in 1992 Bill was the victim of a hit-and-run driver while rollerblading, suffering irreparable brain damage and ending his career in both comics and in law as a public defender. After awakening from a coma, he has spent the ensuing 22 years in a health-care center.

When work on GOTG commenced, Marvel (part of Disney, which I might not refer to as “the evil empire” any longer) renegotiated Bill’s deal regarding Rocket Raccoon, providing some ongoing income to help offset his enormous ongoing medical expenses. This alone is, as we say on 47th Street, a mitsve. Last week, Marvel outdid themselves – big time.

As quoted by Rich, Bill’s brother Michael reported “Marvel hooked Bill up with a private viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy, and my wife Liz and my beloved cousin Jean assisted Bill throughout, enabling him to sit back, relax and relish in the awesomeness of what is going to be, in my humble opinion, Marvel’s greatest and most successful film ever! Bill thoroughly enjoyed it, giving it his highest compliment (the big “thumb’s up!”), and when the credits rolled, his face was locked into the hugest smile I have ever seen him wear (along with one or two tears of joy)! This was the greatest day of the last 22 years for me, our family, and most importantly, Bill Mantlo!” Marvel execs David Bogart and David Althoff arranged for the screening and joined Bill at the event.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Marvel did not have to do this. Their only obligation here was moral and, even then, arranging for all of this goes beyond even that high standard. I am impressed, and as a person who has toiled in the four-color fields for almost 40 years, I am proud of how Marvel’s consideration reflects on the creative industry we all enjoy.

As for Bill – who we miss, and whose work we miss – his legacy is now assured.