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Jumping On or Jumping Off?


#1

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.


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#2

I’m not so sure I’m the norm but I haven’t picked up much Marvel in a long time and I’ve been giving a handful of the new #1’s a shot. I really liked the first storyline on Invincible Iron Man but am dropping with Marquez gone. I’m really enjoying Mighty Thor though I understand that one pretty much picks up where the last one left off, something I need to go back and read. I’m looking forward to giving Black Widow a shot mostly because of the creative team and the potential.

I think Marvel and DC are best treated in cycles. Hop off for a while until things change enough for it be interesting enough to get back on and see where everything’s going. I also only pick up books where I’m interested in the creative talent. I think there is still good talent at DC and Marvel but I think Image and their offer have been a huge brain drain on the Big 2. I think they really need to step up their creator retention and development.


#3

I grew up loving to read and re-read and collect comics. Collecting was borne from not having many of them, liking them and wanting to read them sgain. I copied drawings from them and in no small part that love of the medium taught me to read. I have my collection at my parents. It’s too unwieldy for my house. I have a load of valueless comics that take up considerable space that I couldn’t part with as I remember choosing them.

When the heroes reborn bit started in the early 90’s I was all for it. I’ve now seen too many reboots, too many no1’s and too many reimaginings.

The core DC and Marvel characters are sound. They just need the right people writing and drawing them. The big 2 need to define who actually makes up the comic buying public. I don’t see many kids in my lcs. I don’t want to read lots of sweating or adult content in my superhero comics. I do want to read something aimed at me. A 40 plus year old bloke who has read comics for 35 years.

I don’t need a relaunch every few years. Lord knows Marvel went decades before catching reboot fever. Just give me consistent writing and good art. Don’t bend me over to buy a load of extraneous titles in order to follow one story and don’t publish books featuring 30 pages of talking heads. I should be easy to please. I browsed the shelves at Daves Comics in Brighton last Saturday seeing lots of great cover art containing poor interiors and some primitive story telling. I deserve better.


#4

I used the the new #1s as jumping off points for the Marvel books


#5

I would likely be a bit more interested in new Marvel if:

  • Civil War II wasn’t on the horizon
  • They weren’t doing this ‘everything changed in 8 months but we’re not telling you what’ trick

For those new to it all, it’ll be more fun, but for longer term readers I doubt there’s a narrative technique they haven’t seen in terms of events stories given how many of them Marvel do.


#6

How difficult would it have been to continue original numbering on the covers? To print volume 2,4,26 whatever?


#7

I haven’t purchased a Marvel or mainstream DC book for a very long time, primarily due to their constant “event” storylines and incessant reboots/renumberings. I prefer to spend my money on books from Image and Dark Horse and other “indy” publishers that focus on good storytelling and trying new things.

Understand, I was a Marvel Zombie throughout the 70s, buying virtually everything they published (including reprints of their Western, war, and horror titles), and also bought as many DC books as I could afford (Teen Titans, Batman, GL/GA, Flash, Action, Adventure, and the Kirby books). As much as I have a nostalgic love for the characters, I don’t appreciated being manipulated and taken advantage of, just so that Marvel and DC can artificially boost sales of their tired old titles.

Nothing Hickman writes for Marvel can hold a candle to his East of West; Brubaker’s Captain America run may have been great, but I prefer his Criminal and Fatale and The Fade Out; ditto Rucka’s Lazarus and Stumptown, or Ellis’ Trees and Injection, or Brian Wood’s Massive and Rebels.


#8

Based on the spoilers coming out of Secret Wars #9, it sounds like it would make a great jumping off point for Marvel Comics as a whole.

I haven’t read a DCU book since June 2006 and read my last Marvel Universe series in February 2014. I used to get almost EVERY Marvel book but in 2008, that changed when they started jacking up the price to $3.99. It was a wake up call for me. I thought I was going to switch to trades but I started realizing I just was caring about the books that were coming out. That was the beginning of the end for me and Marvel. I still scan the solicitations but nothing grabs me. Big and small “events” and constant relaunches just wreck the flow of series. Marvel kept making it easier to drop them.


#9

I saw that there were new Green Lantern and Wonder Woman #1s this week, and I asked the owner of my LCS, “oh, what’s DC up to now?” Without missing a beat he fired back, “going out of business.”

According to him nothing except for Bat-books sells for DC, like at ALL, even though he and I agree they’re putting out some pretty good books.

Anyway, to the question at hand, yes I think it is sustainable. Maybe I’m older, maybe the Big Two have slowly conditioned me this way, but I won’t even think about buying a series that’s past issue number 3 or 4. So keep making the #1s. The constant reboots are likely the only thing keeping superheroes afloat at this point, although boy, they do seem to be getting closer and closer together, don’t they? Maybe life is just moving faster and faster.


#10

Yes, reboots work more often than not. The New52 was huge for both DC and retailers, bringing in a new audience and greatly expanding both sales and readership. It was a fantastic success. As did Civil War and a few other events from both companies. Generally if the event was great it would have a 3-4 year impact on the market.

So like anything there’s no hard rule, when it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t. Marvel have been really hurt by the delays in Secret Wars. Devastated pretty much. They’ll be scrambling to try to generate something to fix the hurt, hence why I think they’re resorting to Civil War 2, which was their best selling event ever. I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but you never know.

Readership overall seems to be up, sales are up too. So for all the old term fans jumping off they’re still getting new blood. Trying to sustain old blood is pretty difficult - eventually most long term fans drop off, the lengths you’d have to go to in order to entertain a 40 something who has 30 years of comics in his brain is much more of a challenge than offering something new to a teenager relatively new to the hobby. I’ve always said comics are cyclical, both with creators, tone, trends and stories. You can only love so many cycles before you go off and do something else.

I think there’s other factors for the dissatisfaction most feel for DC and Marvel at the moment - events aren’t really the problem the way I see it. Lack of really great writers, uninspiring artists, a saturation that feels like every idea and angle has been taken already, corporate influence to push characters even when the market doesn’t respond, editorials that aren’t really corral a cohesive shared universe, creative teams that go on wild tangents that are then abandoned. What’s happened to the Guardians of the Galaxy is a nice microcosm of all those issues actually.

It feels like readers aren’t satisfied by Marvel or DC, and it feels like neither company knows what to do about it. I think things felt that way in the 90’s too. But we got Image, Wildstorm and Ultimates out of that need for new, and I hope we’ll get the same thing over the next few years. When we wondered who would replace Millar, Johns, Ellis and Bendis we got Aaron, Hickman, Gillen and Snyder. There’s some greats waiting in the wings (Tom King for example). It’ll come, it just takes time. And they’ll deliver events that are fantastic that we’ll all love.


#11

I now read Marvel via their Unlimited service. That really changes how you approach things like crossovers and pricing because it really doesn’t matter.

They probably have the highest level of quality across their line that they’ve ever had, very rare to find a dud, however there aren’t really as many standout books as in previous eras.


#12

I read a few articles on Marvel’s future storylines after the Secret Wars series. Some have piqued my interest and I might buy an issue here and there but overall I see these huge events as closure and a good chance to make a clean break.

As for DC, I will follow Hitch’s run and maybe DKR3, but that will be about it.

Not much of a pull list anymore.


#13

I don’t know if it’s really the highest quality, that’s a subjective thing. I think their output from Civil War thru Seige was their peak. I agree there’s no standouts today. A decade ago we had Ennis Punisher, Bendis Daredevil, Ultimates, Morrison X Men, Brubaker Iron Fist, Waid FF, Ultimate Spidey, Morrison X Men, Runaways and Young Avengers, Astonishing, X Factor, Winter Soldier, Thunderbolts, Annihilation - just book after book that was amazing. Marvel from 2004-2007 ish were off the charts spectacular. Essential.

If you look back at their output for the last 5 years and look for greats it’s hard. Hawkeye, Superior Foes, Ms Marvel, Thor…it’s slim pickings.


#14

There were great books in those days but also a fair bit of dross (and yes it is all subjective, including your picks.) :wink:

Remember that when Morrison was on X-Men Chuck Austin was doing the other book. Secret Wars is a much better book than Secret Invasion which was a non-event.

That was really my point. You can pick up any Marvel book nowadays and it’ll likely be good, there’s not as much ‘great’ though.


#15

Are you buying new books or reading unlimited? The post Secret Wars books are all not great.

Except Vision.


#16

Are you counting the Star Wars books?


#17

Unlimited. My point is that they are good, not great. I sample a fair chunk and can’t recall one recently I thought was a bad book.

Vision is great.


#18

I haven’t been big on DC in a long time but long ago stopped even checking in on what they were doing because their top tier artists were generally pretty poor. Capullo’s stellar, but he’s leaving. That said, I would gladly subscribe to a DC Unlimited app/site, just to read great old stuff.

As for Marvel, the relaunches have put me off - I’ve been using Marvel Unlimited for 18 months now, but tend to read just older stuff and stand-alone books (Hawkeye, Waid’s DD, Howard the Duck, Superior Foes). I’d love to dive into the universe proper but don’t even know where to begin. I admit the 6 month delay complicates things because it makes me not stay up to date with the Marvel thread here for example, or comics news stories.

What did Hickman’s Avengers epic lead to? I read all of it up to and including Infinity and enjoyed it, but didn’t know where to go from there.

I’m reading “Spidey: Renew your vows” on account of the Adam Kubert art but have no idea where this world with Regent came from, or how it fits into the sequence of things.

At this point I don’t even know if the All New Marvel books are on Unlimited yet because there are so many first issues each week regardless.

I know that with corporate comics it’s always been inconsequential, but things now feel less consequential than ever before.


#19

Just read Avengers and New Avengers from that point on, that covers all you need until they finish and there’s a note to keep reading the tale in Secret Wars.

That’ll also answer your Spider-Man question.


#20

When Marvel were producing great books it was at a period where they were taking risks

This kind of contradicts your point earlier about writers taking the books on wild tangents - when Alonso first came over and they were allowing their writers a lot of freedom that is not offered now.

That period of multiple highs came about because they essentially let a bunch of ex2000AD Brits, with different sensibilities than their US cohorts, shift the the US comic book landscape and let them do what they want with the characters.
These sort of things cannot be reproduced, because like the British Invasion of the late 80s, it changes comic books forever and goes on to influence the US creators.
Also, the people at the top have lost their balls (this is true of cinema also - anywhere the execs/committees have more influence than the creatives), therefore the freedom is not going to happen in this day, so they will need to instead concentrate on producing good, solid runs.

Now the direction Marvel are more interested in is making advertising pamphlets for their movies or changing the sex & colour of their characters in order to increase ‘diversity’ (read ‘media attention’) than allowing their writers to tell a good story.
Ms Marvel was s success, so let’s produce another 5 books just like it in the hope of replication.

I’ve read every new book of the relaunch and it’s far too early to decide what’s great. I’m sure there’s a few runs in here that will be fondly remembered in 10-20 years time. Perhaps they won’t have the impact of before, but that was a one-off.
They are all only a handful of issues in, so no-one knows. There’s other books that are just as good as The Vision, it’ll take a bit of time until we figure out what they are.

The problem for me is, that I don’t see the point in getting invested in any of these stories when I know there’s another reboot or event going to be round the corner that’s just going to derail what I’m reading.
Lemire’s Hawkeye & Robinson’s Scarlet Witch books are both very promising for example, but I’m reluctant to continue to invest in tjem because I don’t trust Marvel not to have a tie in by issue 7.
I’d have stuck with Invinvible Iron Man if a couple months later they did not announce another
The Spider-Man books have become ridiculously convoluted again with the number of titles they are producing.

And this, in a nut shell is the problem and I sense I’m not alone in this. It’s fleecing the readership who spend a lot of money on their books. It’s a message that ‘we are not interested in you as a consumer, just give us your money, and as much of it as possible’. ‘And give us it right now’.

It’s an uncreative and overly simplistic way of running a business and it’s all focuses on short term gain without looking at the long term affect. ‘Oh this worked last time, let’s do it another hundred times over’.

The creators are there, unfortunately those at the top are clueless. Hence the success of Image, and why every wants to work there instead.