Bad Marvel Decisions

Some recent news headlines involving Marvel comics that made me shake my head sadly. First, the sum total of a recent press release:

Heroes for Hire #15 cover

World War Hulk has arrived…and The Heroes For Hire will be no more.
Some will die.
Some will live.
The only thing certain is that the future just got a lot DEADLIER!.
HEROES FOR HIRE #15
Rated T+ …$2.99
On-Sale In October!

It was illustrated by an image of all the team members’ heads as skulls. If sex doesn’t work to build sales for the title, I guess death comes next.

That PR is notable for its lack of real content, even given the light standards of usual superhero comic marketing. The October issue won’t even be ordered until August, so why are they starting to tease now? And does this mean they’re canceling the title, or just breaking up with the team? (Plus, with only seven lines, there shouldn’t be errors of punctuation and capitalization.)

X-Factor #21 cover

Next came information on next month’s issue of X-Factor, plugging the return of the Isolationist, who first appeared in the previous X-Factor run, almost 15 years ago. Plus, this issue contains a chapter of the X-Men: Endangered Species story.

I haven’t been enjoying this title recently, and these elements helped crystallize why for me. I liked the team when they were spending more time interacting with each other than the greater Marvel universe, continuity, and history. I don’t care about the next crossover, and I find the bigger mutant storylines implausible at best and overall uninteresting.

I know that’s just why others read comics, though, so I’m glad that they’ll presumably like it. I’m not getting enough of what I’m looking for out of the team any more, so I’ll drop it for a while and maybe try back later. Maybe I have some kind of internal quota for mutant books. I’m excited about the new X-Men: First Class series, so maybe that’s taken the only place in my heart.

Last comes the most jaded announcement I’ve heard in a long while. I’m astounded at the contempt this shows for readers. Instead of publishing three Spider-Man different titles a month by three different creative teams, Marvel is going to keep everything the same and change the titles of all of them to Amazing Spider-Man.

You see, ASM sells better than the other two, so Marvel figures that simply changing the name will raise sales overall. The sad thing is, they’re probably right. There are too many people out there who buy superhero comics based solely on brand name, regardless of creators or storyline or level of enjoyment they get from it. It’s transparent manipulation of the completist impulse, and it smacks of desperation.

Similar Posts: Marvel Announces Spider-Men § Marvel Launches Heroic Age § Marvel Spinner Rack: The New Avengers #16, X-Factor #224.1 § Marvel Cancels More Titles § Why Is Marvel Running an Ad for Princesses?


20 Responses to “Bad Marvel Decisions”

  1. Charles RB Says:

    “The October issue won’t even be ordered until August, so why are they starting to tease now?”

    Presumably the idea is to build interest and hype before the October solicits come out, so the orders will be higher. That sounds like a good plan, except they’re doing it too _soon_ before the solicits. We’ll have forgotten this by then. They might think the hentai cover mess has drawn attention to the comic and they can capitalise on it if they start the hype now; this would be daft, as that attention is mainly contempt and mocking.

    And wouldn’t it make more sense for the text of the hype to go on the picture? Make it more like an ad? Use the same image, but with a slogan on it – “Out Of Business. Out Of Time.”, to borrow from another version of the press release I’ve seen.

    On the weekly Amazing – I quite like this idea. From a sales POV, it makes sense, and having an almost-weekly title would work better for the soap opera/arc stuff tht Spider-fans seem to generally like.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Good suggestion to make the PR image more like an ad… but it’s easier just to send the cover out, and goodness knows we don’t want anyone to do any extra work! :)

    I still can’t agree with the ASM plan. I think familiarity risks breeding contempt in this case.

  3. Charles RB Says:

    “but it’s easier just to send the cover out, and goodness knows we don’t want anyone to do any extra work! :)”

    Too true! :(

    It’s a pity too, because they could really do something with this. They’ve just made sure everyone knows in advance half or all of the cast will die. They could build on this. Every issue could be announced with as a countdown, both in online PR and on the covers – “They Have Only Three Months Left.”, something like that. Get readers and potential readers eagerly trying to work out which event or moment will lead to the inevitable slaughter. Make an _effort_, at least.

    “I still can’t agree with the ASM plan. I think familiarity risks breeding contempt in this case.”

    I admit I may be biased from being from the UK and growing up on weeklies & fortnightlies. A weekly frequency just seems like the best if you can do, especially if you want to do soap opera stories, long arcs and multiple cliffhangers. The new Amazing could be the comic equivalent of a (good) regular TV show.

    Probably won’t, but hey…

  4. James Schee Says:

    I’m guessing the one series probably makes it easier for an editor though with being able to put together arcs. Plus it gives Marvel the “Hey we stole DC’s weekly comics guy, to do a nearly weekly comic for us instead, so score!”

    What you describe about X-Factor is how I feel when I read the Runaways digests. It feels so awkward to me when a Marvel superhero or storyline pops up in it.

    Oddly I was liking X-Factor during the first couple of storylines, but something came up that made me miss a few issues. Oddly once that happened I just wasn’t motivated enough to catch up.

  5. Charles RB Says:

    “What you describe about X-Factor is how I feel when I read the Runaways digests. It feels so awkward to me when a Marvel superhero or storyline pops up in it.”

    I’ve found the current one – with Kingpin and Punisher – working a lot better than, say, the New Avengers/Cloak and Dagger NYC trip story. The reason for the guest stars makes more logical sense – the Runaways need to hide out and are turning to their parent’s contacts (and the Punisher just shoots everyone near the Kingpin _anyway_). The New Avengers could’ve easily been taken out, especially when the quite good scene with Spider-Man and Gert & Victor ended with “*beats him up when don’t need to* Him grown-up! Grrrr!”. What a waste.

  6. caleb Says:

    I just want to know how the Heroes for Hire died. Whatever it was, it melted their faces clean off, but left their heair pristine.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the ASM plan. I like weekly comics (when they’re good, anyway), and if they can rotate creative teams per storyarc (rather than issue), I think it could be pretty great.

    The problem with the current model is that only the stories in Amazing (or Civil War or wherever) really matter, leaving the other titles to just kind of mill around waiting for the next big status quo change (For example, the last four months or so in ASM have chronicled a night or two of Spidey’s life, while whole other story arcs are going on waiting for him to not kill the Kingpin and change clothes again).

  7. Thad Says:

    The extra-absurd thing about the Heroes for Hire/World War Hulk promo is that it looks basically identical to the promo for Avengers Disassembled a few years back.

  8. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Some will drink. Some will eat. Some will fart. And some will endlessly masturbate to storylines that were old when the dodos still roamed the Earth…

  9. Charles RB Says:

    “For example, the last four months or so in ASM have chronicled a night or two of Spidey’s life”

    They really should’ve done that story as a weekly, both so it’s out of the way of the other comics and as a trial run for doing it permanently. (Why do it blind when you can test it first?)

  10. Johanna Says:

    Caleb, that’s a better joke than mine, which involved them all having the same head shape and features, distinguishable only by hair.

    I had no idea what the current ASM storyline was, so thanks for educating me… I’m still not interested.

  11. Crowley Says:

    It gets worse, from Marvel Solicit text:
    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=118469

    “HEADED FOR THE CHOPPING BLOCK?

    “Black Cat, Mary Jane, and Aunt May?

    “Is it one of these ladies that take a dirt nap in the upcoming storyline ‘One More Day’?”

  12. Charles RB Says:

    That’s not Marvel’s solicit text, that’s a piece by Wizard (as it says in the article). Marvel’s solicit text came up a week or so ago and bears no resemblance to what Wizard wrote.

  13. Crowley Says:

    No it’s Solicitation Text in PREVIEWS, there’s no mention of Wizard:

    Despite somewhat vague wording, Diamond Comics Distributors is reporting in their Splash Page section in the newest edition of Previews that someone close to Peter Parker is headed six feet under during One More Day, “Gwen Stacy style”.

    Reads Diamond’s piece:

    “HEADED FOR THE CHOPPING BLOCK?

    “Black Cat, Mary Jane, and Aunt May?

    “Is it one of these ladies that take a dirt nap in the upcoming storyline ‘One More Day’? You heard it here, folks. A re-assuring voice and shoulder-to-lean-on is going to be taken out permanent-style in this four-issue storyline, which kicks off in Amazing Spider-Man #544 and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #24. This body check is whipped up by war horses J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. Pain is promised. No tissues will be issued!

    “Who next gets thrown under the bus like the long-lost Gwen Stacy? Details are hard to come by, but what we do know is that there ain’t much joy in Mudville. Spidey’s gonna get left out in the rain again, and oh, how the tears will flow.”

    Just to review the syntax for clarity, despite mentioning Black Cat, Mary Jane, and Aunt May, these characters are only referenced in an open question manner. The only definitive claim made by Diamond is a “re-assuring voice and shoulder-to-lean-on is going to be taken out permanent-style”, seemingly implying it isn’t necessarily one of those characters

    For their part, Marvel responded, “no comment” when asked by Newsarama for clarification of this story.

    Talk amongst yourselves…

  14. Charles RB Says:

    I could’ve sworn it said “Wizard” on that article earlier… Oops.

    However, it’s still not Marvel’s solicit text. Marvel’s solicit text can be seen here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=10925

    “Get ready for what will be the most talked-about and controversial comic event of the year — brought to you by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada. The stakes have never been higher for Peter Parker. At his darkest hours — and he’s had plenty — Peter has always had one shoulder to lean on, one person who’d remind him who he is, who he was, and who he can be. Now he’s about to lose that person. What would he do…what would you do, if you only had One More Day?”

    And as noted on the Newsarama article, Marvel said “no comment” on the Dirt-Nap piece. This is a big sign they didn’t write it, as they wouldn’t be saying “no comment” about their own press releases (unless office communication is very bad there).

  15. crowley Says:

    Well the text in Previews regarding comics is written by the company.

    Diamond and Previews magazine generally have nothing to do with it.

    and Solicitation text can vary.

  16. Charles RB Says:

    If Marvel wrote it, why would they then be saying “er, no comment” about it?

    And “solicitation text can vary” – Marvel’s providing websites with completely different solicit text and data to Previews? I thought the data the websites got was FROM Previews. Furthermore, the Newsarama article says this is from the “Splash Page” section, not that it’s solicit text. (What IS the Splash Page section?)

  17. crowley Says:

    When we run Splash page text in previews… it’s from us. Thus Splash page Text= solicitation text… unless PREVIEWS magazine wrote it… which seems very unlikely.

    Replying “no comment” doesn’t mean it’s not from them. It could have been a version of solicit text that slipped out.

  18. Charles RB Says:

    The text does have those bits like “You heard it here first” and “Details are hard to come by, but what we do know is…” and an informal style. It reads more like Diamond wrote it rather than Marvel. It also doesn’t fit with how Marvel’s been promoting it beforehand, as a Big Drama with the “what would do with One More Day?” bit at the end of everything.

  19. crowley Says:

    Again it’s HIGHLY unlikely that Diamond would be writing Marvel’s solicitation text… it’s a conflict of interest. Other companies could sue.

  20. Johanna Says:

    There are folks at Gemstone that write some of these articles and such. If it doesn’t match Marvel’s official solicits, than it’s possible that Marvel didn’t write it.

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