Joseph "Joe" Quesada (born December 1, 1962 in New York City, New York) is an American comic book editor, writer and artist, who was the Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics between 2000 and 2011. Started off as an artist, gaining early attention with his variant covers for Valiant Comics books, but probably best known for his work on Daredevil. He took the editor job in 2000 and he was the longest-serving Marvel editor-in-chief other than Stan Lee himself, and is the first artist to attain that position. Currently holds the position of Marvel's Chief Creative Officer, tasked to "ensure that all portrayals of Marvel's characters and stories remain true to the essence of Marvel history."
Like nearly all of Marvel's EIC right from Stan "the Man" himself, Quesada is a very polarizing figure, especially among fans, and even then he has a "more respected than liked" reputation among his defenders. Artists, writers, and professionals have different opinions but overall he's seen as a positive figure within his staff. He became EIC in one of Marvel's lowest periods after their bankruptcy in The '90s, and he took the editor job in 2000 and his editorial decisions are credited with pulling Marvel Comics out of a slump, though they are still a shadow of the sales in the The Silver Age of Comic Books through the 1980s. Even then many argue that Marvel's return to form arguably belongs more to the success of its properties being turned to successful movies (the rights of which were sold to bail it out of bankruptcy to start with and whose returns led them to attract capital to build their own massively successful studios, with which Quesada has little real involvement) bringing new readers to comics than vice-versa. As an editor, Quesada is seen as being hands-on, much like Jim Shooter (ironic since Quesada disagrees with many of his decisions), rather than Stan Lee (who was quite laissez-faire). Quesada also had to run Marvel at a time when it was under ownership by hands-on figures such as Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter who became CEO of Marvel Comics in 2005 who also wanted to push his own agenda which undoubtedly added to his difficulty in managing both the creative and corporate sides of the business.
Is part of an interesting Production Posse with Kevin Smith. He was the artist for Kevin Smith's Daredevil comic, did the intro to Mallrats, and actually appeared in Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. He also was a guest on Smith's Fatman on Batman podcast.
His editorial decisions include:
- The creation of three successful imprints: Marvel MAX, Ultimate Marvel, and Marvel Knights. Ultimate Marvel in particular proved to be a runaway success, launching the career of Brian Michael Bendis in particular. Bendis is often seen as Quesada's "golden boy".
- Attempting to avoid the comic book stereotype of Death Is Cheap and prevent C-List Fodder by adopting a "dead is dead" policy, which was later ignored to bring back Psylocke, Colossus, Magneto, and Harry Osborn. Quesada stated that the policy wasn't an absolute mandate, but rather a rule of thumb to present to writers so that stories requiring a death or resurrection of a character wouldn't become frequent or produced without gravity.
- Changing the Sins Past story arc of JMS' Spider-Man to replace Peter Parker with Norman Osborn as the father of Gwen Stacy's children, as that would make Spider-Man appear too old.
- Spider-Man's One More Day, which attempts to make Peter Parker Younger and Hipper by dissolving his marriage to Mary Jane Watson... via a deal with a Satan expy. His name has become proverbial thanks to this story becoming the embodiment of chasing the Fleeting Demographic Rule to ridiculous extremes. The fact that he decided to return to artist duties for this story, more or less in his words, "putting his money where his mouth is" as he described it also makes it hard for it not to become his hair-shirt. Quesada for his part always defends this story on corporate grounds rather than artistic ones.
- The Spider-Girl ongoing title, which was Marvel's longest-running comic starring a solo female superheroine, which on account of weak sales was canceled but then revived later at his support and initiative. Quesada continuously stated that he liked the title and cites his defense of it as a corrective to the idea that he dislikes Spider-Man's marriage when he's merely seeing it from a company perspective of defending their mascot character.
- X-Men: Jean Grey coming Back from the Dead was also corrected by having her killed off, despite her massive Character Development since then.
- He evidently preferred Emma Frost being altered to more of a HeelFace Turn and Spoiled Brat than even when she was a villain. So he "rewarded" Emma by sticking her into Jean's place, including being Scott Summers's Love Interest, which started with them kissing over Jean's grave.
- He and Brian Michael Bendis had The Wasp killed off, again claiming that her now widowed husband, Hank Pym, is now "more interesting" without her.
- Forced Wolverine and Nick Fury to drop their iconic cigars, which they'd had for roughly 30 and 40 years respectively.
- The Decimation of Mutants that happened after House of M, which reduced the number of mutants (hundred of thousands, though obviously only a tiny percentage were named characters) to just 198. Apparently, this was done to counter Quesada's perceived Uniqueness Decay of mutants.
- Censoring trade paperbacks.
- He likes big, big, BIG crossover events.
It's safe to say he's not very popular with Marvel fans, to say the least. Possibly because of that, his successors, Axel Alonso and C.B. Cebulski have steadily walked back the majority of those changes to Win Back the Crowd: Jean Grey and The Wasp are back (initially, Jean came back as her time-travelled teenage self, before her adult self eventually returned as well in Phoenix Resurrection), mutants in general are - with a couple of wobbles - now thriving, and Peter Parker and MJ Watson are seriously dating again with hints that Peter will propose. However, aspects of the Ultimate Universe have been retained, Brian Michael Bendis was still prominent until he took over Superman, and massive crossover events are still common. In other words, love him or loathe him, Quesada definitely made his mark on the Marvel Universe.
Joe Quesada's work provides examples of:
- All Deaths Final: When Joe Quesada took over as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, he instituted a "Dead means dead" policy. It didn't last very long because, by his own admission, it was like closing the gate after all the horses have already escaped. Gwen Stacy was almost brought back as well.
- Animesque: Joe's early 90's work with Ninjak was influenced by Manga.
- Author Tract: He was the mastermind between not one but two stories written solely to remove the Spider-Marriage from existence via Cosmic Retcon. (Because having a divorce is worse than a literal Deal with the Devil.)
- In One Moment in Time, Mary Jane conflictingly tells us that marriage is just a piece of paper, while ALSO telling us that children should not be born out of wedlock.
- Backstory Horror: In his often forgotten mini-series Daredevil: Father we find out that the man Matt lost his sight saving was actually an abusive drunk who molested his own daughter...seriously.
- Big Applesauce: Daredevil and Spider-Man are New Yorkers, like Quesada himself.
- C-List Fodder: The dead is dead policy was supposed to give writers pause before using lower-tier characters a Sacrificial Lamb. Unfortunately it also prevented previously killed characters (like Jean Grey, Colossus, Moira MacTaggert and Psylocke) from being brought back.
- The Cameo: Has appeared in some of the View Askewniverse films. The Starter Villain in the Daredevil movie is named after him.
- Creator's Pest: As the chief architect of One More Day, it should come as no surprise that he has no love for Mary Jane Watson as Peter's wife, or for that matter anyone as Peter's wife from a corporate perspective. He states that he likes her as a character and central figure in the mythos and despite feeling Peter is best single, his time as editor did oversaw the longest period in which they were a married couple, while also producing issues like "To Have and to Hold" (by Matt Fraction) which celebrated their romance. Most notably he kept defending and un-cancelling Spider-Girl despite weak sales and often stated that he saw that as the natural evolution of their relationship, which shouldn't happen in the 616 continuity in his view.
- Crisis Crossover: While Quesada was EIC, the main Marvel books had Avengers Disassembled, which lead to House of M (Which also continued into Messiah Complex, Messiah War, and Second Coming for the X-Men books), Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion which lead into Dark Reign and then Siege. Meanwhile, Marvel Cosmic had Annihilation (happening at the same time as the Civil War on Earth), followed by a sequel called Annihilation: Conquest. War of Kings spun out into Marvel Cosmic from Secret Invasion (fitting, considering the Skrull are space villains), and the fallout from THAT finally finishes with The Thanos Imperative. In the Alternate Universe Ultimate Marvel there was Ultimatum.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Quesada started out at Valiant in the early Nineties. Before he became a major player for Marvel, he helped introduce a modern version of Golden Age hero The Ray and co-created Azrael (who would become Batman during Knightfall) at DC.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He colors the heroic Daredevil dark red with lots of black shading.
- Death Is Cheap: Tried to Avert this with the aforementioned Dead is Dead Policy, later Played Straight with the aforementioned characters brought back to life.
- Executive Meddling:
- Back from the Dead due to the "whoever is dead stays dead" policy, though that mandate probably kept them from killing characters willy nilly as well. Writers of the X-Men had difficulty bringing fan favorites
- Though JMS was part of the planning process, he fought with him over the execution of Spider-Man: One More Day to the point that JMS wanted his name removed.
- Flip-Flop of God: Joe Quesada was adamant that the mainstream Marvel Universe would never crossover with the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and is on record saying that the idea would be creatively bankrupt. Fast-forward to 2012, where Marvel launched a heavily-publicized crossover between Peter Parker, the mainstream universe Spider-Man, and Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man. This was largely done to celebrate Spider-Man's 50th anniversary, as well as cash-in on the success of the The Amazing Spider-Man movie. The two worlds would be merged after Secret Wars (2015).
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: When he draws Daredevil's face in shadow, he still puts in two reddish slits where his eyes would be. Mephisto's eyes glow as well. Also a case of Red Eyes, Take Warning.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover for Guardian Devil has a solid black background, and a blood red Daredevil cradling a white (as in no color) girl.
- Orwellian Retcon: He's legendary for trying to put this as editor and publicist. Leaving aside the shenanigans over the Spider-Man titles, there's the fact that he has tried to claim that the term 616 used to designate the Marvel Universe is a term that is entirely Fanon and dates from the time of Ultimate Marvel. In actual fact, the term 616 was invented by Marvel UK for one of its Captain Britain stories (created by Alan Moore no less) and introduced by Chris Claremont into the X-Books and is canon to the main continuity.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Inverted with Daredevil, who looks sinister and terrifying but is a hero. Mephisto, on the other hand, is a straight example: he looks like a devil, and yes, he's basically the equivalent of the Devil himself in the Marvel Universe.
- Running Gag: Did we finish that last crossover? Good, start another one. Fans have noticed that characters tend to have their marriages ended. Also, while the stated intention is to explore storylines where they are single, the characters tend to get paired with another love interest not long after.
- Running the Asylum: Joe is one of the many comics executives that like bringing back elements of the comics from when he was a kid by trying to undo the past 20 years of comics that current fans enjoy. Though he also sponsored titles like Ultimate Marvel which provided a Setting Update.
- Shrug of God: Quesada infamously responded to questions and objections about how OMD's magical retcon works or how it would affect past and future continuity with "It's magic! We don't have to explain it!"
- Smoking Is Not Cool: Had Wolverine drop his smoking habit to avert Smoking Is Cool. Though this was also a corporate decision given and encouraged from up top by the likes of Ike Perlmutter and obviously once Disney bought them it remained for good.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Superheroes having their wives killed or erased from history makes them 'more interesting'.
- Take That!: His One More in Time begins with a rewrite of Spider-Man's "The Wedding" issue and as noted by critics it's basically vandalizing a historical issue and a Take That! to Jim Shooter.
- Writer on Board: A number of readers suspect he dislikes the institution of marriage in general and married women in particular, pointing to both the number of prominent married Marvel women killed off (Janet van Dyne-Pym, Jean Grey-Summers) or Put on a Bus (Mary Jane Watson-Parker) during his tenure in the EIC's chair, and the fact that his ex-wife was said to have treated him terribly during their marriage. Suddenly any male character is "more interesting" without his wife or longtime love interest, and said love interest often gets a date with a bus, or worse, a bridge, even if (like the aforementioned Jean and Janet) said love interest has years of history as much more than just "male character x's lover."