To me it’s the only path forwards.
I’ve read through the last 200 or so posts. It’s clear that Marvel have huge customer dissatisfaction right now, at a time when their characters are at an all time popularity level. I’m a big believer in the cycle of comics and markets, and I’ve said before we’re in 1997 again. Marvel worked their way out of their rut then by doing three things:
- Recruiting the hottest new talent they could find.
- Reimagining the Marvel universe with the launch of the Ultimate line.
- Reimagining the main Marvel universe beginning with Avengers Disassembled.
Those happened in 2002 thru 2004. It took them 5 years to figure out how to right the ship. Luckily for retailers DC are strong with their past couple of reboots, but I don’t know how many can survive 5 years of bad Marvel sales. Seeing the retailer in open rebellion is new, and I’m not shocked The Big Bang is one of the generals leading the charge, but at the end of the day all parties need to resolve this situation quickly.
The big question is what’s going wrong now? I know the usual moans are event fatigue, not enough good comics, not letting creators do their thing, confusion numbering, editors mandating things and all that stuff, but I think something else is underpinning things. The success of the movies. You now have a separate and more popular movie/TV-verse that the comics can’t really emulate or set stories in. And those other properties are there to give fans their kick of the characters they love. Love Luke Cage? Here’s the Netflix show, with another season coming. Love come Luke Cage? Here’s the impossibly complex situation he’s in right now and good luck finding the comics he’s featured in.
I think this has happened before with Superman and Batman. Superman I don’t think ever righted the ship - his books were adrift for years after the movies, eventually they killed him just to garner some interest, but I’d argue it’s been 30 years since Superman was a good selling comic character. The movies essentially ruined the comics.
Batman was different. Now they had to reinvent Batman - we got the Dark Knight Returns, and a grimmer Batman emerged in the 80’s. And so he’s still hugely successful - easily the most popular fictional character in history. They capitalized on the movies with him.
So what was different? Both had the best creators. Both had lots of marketing. Both were afforded every opportunity. I think ultimately it comes down to one thing - you know who Batman is and what the book is about. Bruce Wayne goes out at night and fights madcap costumed villains. The same applies for every single Batman story, mainstream or elseworlds. We know what he is. Continuity doesn’t matter in Batman. You can read the stories in any order, from any time period, and you’re good. It’s accessible.
This is where I think Marvel have gone wrong. Continuity is the enemy.
I think they need to ‘Batman’ their 30 main properties. No more proxy characters, no more confusing continuity. No old man Cap or Unworthy or robot Tony Stark. And let creators tell whatever stories they want, so long as the character Scooby Doo’s and reverts back to norm at the end of the story. That’s how you get Hawkeye. How you get Vision. And to me it’s how you turn around things quickly.