Friday, December 7, 2012

On "Marvel NOW!"

I've had a few people write me and ask if I had thoughts on Marvel Now!, which I take as a good sign for Marvel since I don't remember anyone asking me any Marvel questions in, literally, years.  But a bad sign, because nobody seems to know what this thing is.

For those of you not in the know, Marvel Comics - home of The Avengers - is starting a lot of their series over with a new #1 without feeling the need to reboot their entire universe the way DC did with the New 52, about 16 months ago.

DC immediately took a dollar share lead with the New 52, and all of Marvel's attempts to stop the bleeding with events like "Avengers versus X-Men" didn't really help.  I still think a lot of DC's success had to do with slapping #1 on the covers more than any reboot, and their willingness to embrace digital delivery.

I think, but I am not sure, that Marvel is doing something neither of the big shared universe companies has ever been good at, and that's treat the end of an event as the end of an event and thus a time for starting new things rather than just cramming the next event down our throats.

Personally, I haven't read much Marvel since the end of Civil War, so none of this has been on my radar all that much.    I've been reading Brubaker's Captain America, Waid's Daredevil and Rucka's Punisher, but I quit Spidey years ago when he was refreshened for a younger audience and I sort of just jumped off the Spidey train.

I did pick up Remender's Captain America #1 and the beautifully illustrated FF #1, but won't continue with either.  They just didn't sell me anything I really want to spend that much money on per month - even with Allred's stellar artwork on FF.  Waid's Indestrucible Hulk,* however, was very much in my wheelhouse, and I've never been much of a Hulk fan.

In short:

  • I bought Cap because I like Cap - but not this Cap, so I won't keep reading it.
  • I bought FF #1 because I like Mike Allred, but saw another #1 issue that seemed like a lot of style but nowhere to go.
  • I bought Waid's Hulk because it was Mark Waid, and I like his writing, and I like the artist (Yu).  And, hey, it looks interesting and seems written by a smart guy, and that's more rare in this business than I want to admit.

I guess I would probably have picked that book up with or without the marketing push, but I'm also a 37 year-old comic reader who doesn't get hot and bothered by events or #1's.

The long and short of it is:  My comics habits have changed a lot in the past 18 months, and Marvel's tap-dancing isn't going to get me to buy a title.  Nothing about the ad campaigns was interesting, and I never heard a hook for why any of this was worth 3.99 a comic.

In many ways, I sort of think Marvel's marketing team deserves to be fired for whatever it was they chose not to do and keep the Marvel Now! initiative totally vague while remaining uninteresting.

*I liked Jenifer's pitch for "The Indefensible Hulk".  She didn't specify the plot, but I imagined a drunk, racist, homophobic, green guy who shoots his mouth off and cons the elderly, especially Granny Hulk, with whom he still resides while selling drugs out of her basement.


Jake Shore said...

It just makes no sense to me. Are they rebooting the universe? Is the continuity exactly the same? Is this just a bunch of new #1's? Or are they trying to create new titles that go in different directions?

I have looked everywhere, but cannot find a comprehensible explanation of what this whole event is. Is it all smoke and mirrors marketing or Are they really this incompetent? Remember when comics were so consistent, they had * to keep give readers context for everything? Not possible today.

The League said...

It's not a reboot, for sure. Continuity is all intact. It seems to be just a bunch of new #1's and a reshuffling of the creative teams for no particular reason other than that Bendis is now on X-books. I don't know that it's all smoke and mirrors, but it is definitely half-baked.

Simon MacDonald said...

It's just another excuse to market a bunch of #1's to the comic buying masses. Retailers still over-order number one issues followed by massive drops in the 2nd and 3rd issues. If things don't stabilize by issue 4 then you have a dud of a series.