When Disney bought Marvel in the summer of 2009, a slew of superhero/cartoon mashup images flooded the Internet. Popular images at the time were “Spidey with Mickey Mouse ears” or “Mickey Mouse in a Spidey costume”, those sorts of things. Well, after everyone had their fun, it turned out this was nothing but hype and hysteria. Or was it?
Since then, a few official mashups between Marvel characters and Disney properties have surfaced – but as truth is stranger than fiction, we didn’t get Donald Duck wearing an Iron Man suit as predicted. Instead we got Tron variant covers to promote Tron: Legacy, (one of which is an Alpha Flight appearance) and the ESPN NBA preview for 2010-2011. For those of you keeping score (get it? Haha I love FUNday posts!), ESPN is four-fifths owned by ABC, which is an indirect subsidiary of Disney.
ESPN The Magazine
Nov 1, 2010
Published biweekly since March 1998, ESPN The Magazine is one of the top magazine publications out there, ranked 35th with a current (latest data from 2009) circulation of approximately 2 million subscribers, making this one of the most widespread appearances of Alpha Flight, ever. The magazine in its current format is 10×12 inches (the same size as Life magazines) and carries no issue number, just a cover date. Extrapolating from its inception date, this issue would be approximately the 331st regularly published issue, being briefly available on the newsstands from October 22 to November 5th, 2010.
The NBA Preview [for the 2010-2011 season] in this issue consisted of a short article, followed by a series of thirty variant cover images based on both current events in the NBA and Marvel characters. ESPN went out of their way to make all of the artwork freely available to anyone who wanted to use it – and why not? Disney was just moving money from one bottomless pocket to another to create these images, anyway. The project is explained by the introductory text to the article:
When the Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN, bought Marvel Entertainment last year, our reaction was quick: “Sweet!” Not because we thought we’d be invited to the opening of “Iron Man 2.” (Didn’t happen.) We just realized that now we could e-mail the guys who draw Spider-Man, The Hulk and Captain America and put a whole new spin on the idea of synergy — which is exactly what we did. Result? A pairing of Marvel’s ability to create iconic images with our season preview of the NBA, the league that trumps all others in producing larger-than-life superstars. Together, we developed concepts for all 30 NBA teams, which Marvel’s artists then turned into “variant covers.” Combined with the rest of our 2010-11 outlook, it’s a spectacle we think you won’t want to miss.
And if that’s not enough of an explanation, ESPN, in their maniacal style of media frenzy, also produced a “making of” video for those who still couldn’t wrap their minds around it or preferred to watch a clip on the Internet to explain why a printed sports magazine was doing something with comic books.
Some of the variant covers were based directly on classic Marvel covers and other Marvel images and really hit the mark, and others, well, were more difficult to conceptualize. Falling into the latter category, the Toronto Raptors, who ESPN predicted would finish second to last in the Eastern Division (and at the time of this blog post are in a tie for second to last place in their division, coincidentally), naturally picked up the font of the Alpha Flight logo from v3, along with Alpha Flight jocks Sasquatch and Northstar, courtesy of Marvel cover artist John Christopher Tyler.
The accompanying unflattering caption explains what you’re looking at:
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Alpha Flight is a team of obscure superheroes from Canada. The same could be said of the Raptors– minus the superheroes part. Marvel figured the eight-foot Sasquatch and speedy Northstar (shown sporting a No. 96 jersey) could give Toronto a boost on D: The Raptors allowed a league-worst 119 points per 100 possessions with starters Andrea Bargnani (7) and Jose Calderon (8) on the floor. High-flying DeMar DeRozan (10) might be the team’s next star– which mans he’ll fly the coop as soon as he can.
For those of you who didn’t memorize his OHOTMU entry, Sasquatch is ten feet tall, not eight as mentioned in the caption. In the cartoony background, a few of the more widely known Marvel characters gesticulate their unfamiliarity with the Alpha Flight heroes, which is also a glaring error, as of course all of them have met, notably Wolverine. Notice also that the members of the Raptors pictured are wearing Alpha Flight costumes – Andrea Bargnani in Guardian’s costume and DeMar DeRozan in Shaman’s.
At first, you’re all, “obscure superheroes? OMG” and then you’re all, “what’s with the unfinished feet in that image? WTF” but then when you realize that Jose Calderon, at 6 foot 3 inches, is wearing Puck’s costume, you’re all “LOL”, which is what FUNday is all about!