With the release of Secret Wars #9 today, I’ve been wondering about whether the mainstream comics cycle of increasingly frequent reboots and relaunches is working to bring new readers on board, or whether it’s instead acting as an inadvertent opportunity for longtime followers to jump off.
From my perspective, a lot of the Big Two’s major status quo-altering events of the last few years have felt like they have capped-off the eras that preceded them; setting the stage for new reinventions of the characters and superhero universes, but also acting as perfect opportunities for older fans to consider the story that they were following ‘complete’.
Spider-Man’s One More Day was a good example of this, as was the abrupt New 52 relaunch at DC, which effectively brought to an end the stories of many DCU characters, and severely altered the histories of others (continuing a cycle that had previously brought similar changes with the likes of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Infinite Crisis).
And now, with the soft-reboot of Marvel’s universe - including the incorporation of the Ultimate universe - that has been going on over the past few months to coincide with the ending of Secret Wars, it feels like Marvel is also paving the way for a significant break of its own, offering new readers a great jumping-on point but also - perhaps - unwittingly giving others the perfect moment to step off.
Do the numbers bear this out? Do these relaunches offer sustained new interest that goes beyond the initial sales spikes that accompany the reboots? Or do sales end up settling at the same level as before (or even lower)? DC rebooted its entire line just a little over four years ago, and already people are asking whether they need to do it again in order to generate the interest that they need to compete with their rivals.
And talking of which, is the increasing frequency of these relaunches an indication of a vicious circle? Will there come a point at which these properties have been rebooted and relaunched and recycled so many times that there just isn’t any interest left from newer readers in seeing more All-New versions of these characters and universes, and any longtime readers have been dissuaded from expecting any kind of long-term commitment to the characters they follow?
I’d be interested to hear what people think of this trend, and whether it’s at all sustainable.