Comics : Marvel 1994 Annual Report

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

While operating as a publicly traded company, Marvel began to issue, both quarterly and Annual Reports. While quarterly reports came in the form of card- stock, or gate-fold reports, the annual reports, tended to be comicbook-sized booklets, with the first 32 pages a comicbook stories staring various Marvel heroes punching out Marvel villains while pontificating on the financial standings of Marvel the company. This was then be followed up by more detailed (and more traditionally-presented) financial information about the company.

In Detail...

"Media Blitz!"
Marvel 1994 Annual Report
Dec 1994 : SM Article
Summary: Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, & Spider-Woman (Carpenter) appear
Editor:  Glenn Herdling
Writer:  Gary Fishman, Jim Kruger
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk, Geof Isherwood, Mark Pacella, Mike Gustivich, Paris Karounous, Robert Brown, Sal Buscema, Tom Morgan
Inker:  Dan McConnel, Derek Fisher, Mark McKenna, Tom Palmer
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Review

This is a 62-page comicbook-sized booklet with the first 32 pages set up as a comicbook detailing information about Marvel's operations during the course of the calendar year 1994. Another 32 pages of financial information presented in a more traditional fashion follow this section. Yet, even here Marvel has peppered the report with images of its various heroes, as well as unique graphs and charts with them showing off the company's financial information.

In General...

This reports starts off with The Mandarin facing down Justin Hammer, with Modoc and several other supervillians standing around, as Newswoman Trish Tilby on TV discussing the repeated appearances of the Malibu heroes (Marvel had purchased Malibu Comics during '94.) Tilby goes on to state that during '94, the value of Marvel's shares increased approximately 10% to $0.60, from $0.55 the previous year. Plus the Net revenues increased 24% to $515 million compared to $415 Million the previous year. These results were tempered by the fact that the company chose to increase reserves for returns of Baseball and Hockey cards as the sales of these cards were impacted by labor disputes in both sports.

Tilby is displayed in a TV studio with various TV monitors behind her showing off numerous Marvel ventures, including Marvel Comics, Welsh Publishing Group, Panini, Fleer, Malibu Comics, Toy Biz, as well as images of various heroes (including Iron Man, the FF, Spidey and the Hulk). Tilby then announces that after the break, she will continue on with her report on Marvel Comics, as hosted by many of the Marvel Heroes.

As Tony Stark, who is in the West Cost Force Works lab, completes donning his Iron Man gear, an alarm goes off. He summons the Force Works team (Hawkeye, Quicksilver, War Machine, Spider-Woman (2) and Scarlet Witch). Apparently, someone has tapped into the signal that Stark Industries is broadcasting to the Newsnet special that Tilby is hosting, in an attempt to bust up the special. Iron Man puts his team on tracking down who the culprit is, while he goes live with his interview.

During the interview, Iron Man spouts off facts and figures about Marvel's earnings during '94, including toy and trading card profits. During the interview, he is attacked by Ultimo, who strangely disappears as soon as the Golden Avenger confronts the mechanical monster. As it turns out, Ultimo was merely a hypnotic illusion cast by Hypnotia, who was captured by Hawkeye. As Iron Man continues with his report projecting charts and statistics for Tilby, Hawkeye carts the villainess off. Tilby cuts to an interview with Wolverine in Westchester as the X-Man confronts a Sentinel mock-up in the team's Danger room. As Wolverine picks up the interview talking about the 2099 characters he is attacked by Backlash, who, in turn, is subdued by Quicksilver.

While Quicksilver carts off the villain, Wolverine returns to the interview explaining how the company is going to cut some of its less-popular titles to refocus its business on its more popular heroes. Next up on here interview list is the FF located at their HQ in Four Freedoms Plaza. As she joins the team during one of their training sessions, they stop long enough to tell Tilby about some of Marvel's Licensing plans for the year.

Just then, several of the team's machines come to life and attack the heroes. The FF handily subdues the errant machinery and determines that it was they menacing Modok that caused them all to come to life. Just then, War Machine enters the fray and subdues the AIM machination, removing him so that the interview can continue. Cutting to a crew across town, Tilby zooms in on Captain America playing some hoop with a bunch of local kids.

As Cap explains to Tilby that Marvel's trading card business is increasing in both sports and non-sports cards he is attacked by The Grey Gargoyle. Just as the two foemen square off the Gargoyle attempts to touch Cap and turn him into stone, only he is prevented in this by the Scarlet Witch, whose hex powers help Cap bring the villain down.

Tilby next jumps to Spider-Man facing off against Venom while astride, a moving uptown bus. Spidey, while trading punches with Venom explaining about how Panini's stickers cover various licensed characters, including Disney, Barbie, the Flintstones, and many others. Just then he is attacked by Blizzard, who causes the side of the building to which our wall-crawling hero is sticking, to turn to ice, and Spidey to fall.

He is saved from hitting the ground by his female namesake (Spider-Woman). Spidey finishes his portion of the interview, and Tilby cuts to Hulk, who talks about the new FAO Schwartz boutique, and the Toy Biz line. Hulk is then attacked by Whirlwind, who is taken down by Iron Man. Hulk completes his portion of the interview, and Tilby cuts over to Thor.

Thor begins a chat about Marvel's clothing line, and is attacked by Dreadknight, and is joined by several fellow Avengers and members of Force Works, who quickly defeat Dreadknight. The interview is wrapped up as Iron Man captures Hammer who admits that Marvel's financial force is very powerful and he was destined for defeat against the company. This wraps up the Comicbook section, and sequel into the text financial section of the report.

Overall Rating...

This has to be one of the most unique Annual Reports ever presented, and it is this presentation that earns it its high grade.

Footnote...

The cover of this Annual Report featured Spider-Man, Iron Man, The FF, Storm, and Wolverine.