It’s Not Because They’re Girls…

Recently, cancellations have been announced for Manhunter (ending with #38) and Spider-Girl (with #30, although that’s after a previous 100-issue run). Both have faced cancellations before, only to be “saved” more than once; the Spider-Girl title had something like four or five reprieves. Both have devoted fan followings with voices out of scale to their size (by which I mean, they’re talked about more than actually bought). And both star women. That last has Valerie D’Orazio concerned (link no longer available).

are comics starring superheroines in trouble? Is it the Minx effect?

She goes on to answer her own question in the negative. No, it’s probably not.

I am also willing to see this or that book go (or to be reconfigured or have the characters move on to other titles), and not feel it was a “sexist” thing that they were canceled.

I agree with her eventual conclusion. Yes, superhero books starring women have an uphill battle in reaching the mostly male core market. But these books weren’t singled out because they feature females. In my opinion, they’re getting canceled again because they’re doing the same things that got them canceled before.

All superhero serial comics have a declining readership over time. Many of the customers are easily distracted by whatever’s new, different, or a big event. By returning with the same premise, characters, and creative teams, there’s no reason to think that the end result — not enough sales — would be any different. The promotional bump from “you get one more chance — better make sure more people buy it this time” doesn’t work as a strategy, especially once you’ve gone to that well four or five times too many.

Similar Posts: Superhero Comic Readers Still Mostly Male § Archie’s New Focus on Boys, Not Girls § Second Sunday Spidey § What’s Up With the Kids? § Women in Comics Roundtable


16 Responses to “It’s Not Because They’re Girls…”

  1. Paul O'Brien Says:

    And Spider-Girl got 130 issues, remember. There’s an odd tendency to assume that in an ideal world, everything would run forever – instead of running its course, getting cancelled, and being replaced by something new. If anything, there are too many books that seem impervious to cancellation.

  2. caleb Says:

    Yeah, counting spin-offs and the like, Spider-Girl was an incredibly successful comic book in terms of longevity (especially since it was one of those out-of-continuity books that a lot of super-fans think of as books that don’t “count”).

  3. Dave Rose Says:

    Well, at one point, I was an avid follower of Spider-Girl and the other MC2 titles. I continued with Spider-Girl for years as well as buying the other MC2 short-run titles and mini-series. I really liked the glimpse into a future for the Marvel heroes which would never be seen in the regular comics.

    However, around issue 80 of Spider-Girl (maybe a bit sooner) I grew tired of the series. In the beginning, here had been stories of her relationships with her high school friends and the other heroes, but these had been fazed out in favor of never-ending plots involving crime lords. I stayed with the series for a while, but it never went back to what I’d enjoyed most about the series.

    The story’s pretty much the same with Manhunter. I enjoyed the premise when the series started through about issue 20. I didn’t care for the final story prior to the first cancellation mainly due to Wonder Woman not being consistant with her portayal in other titles.

    When the series returned, I glanced at the art and didn’t care for what I saw. Perhaps I was being unresonable and didn’t give the relaunch a fair try. I suppose I’d simply lost interest after the cliffhanger ending when the series was first canceled.

    Sometimes a series goes on too long, whether it be a comic book, a TV show, or whatever. I once was a big fan of both of these series, but I’m past the point where I care if they get canceled.

  4. Dave Rose Says:

    I said the Wonder Woman story in Manhunter was prior to the first cancelation. Actually, it was part of the short second run (#26-30), after the first letter-writing campaign. This was followed by a second letter-writing campaign which brought the series back as an ongoing with #31.

    The cliffhanger was in #30, which I thought was cold since we didn’t know if #31 would ever come out.

    It’s hard to keep track of all of these things. :)

  5. afdumin Says:

    It wouldn’t suprise me at all if “Spiderman Loves Mary Jane” was next on the chopping block.

  6. Jimmy palmiotti Says:

    I think its awesome that both books lasted so long…and agree that manhunter should have been started at #1 again after it was cancelled the first time.

    the audience of comics have so many things thrown at them each week, you really have to bend over backwards to keep them focused on your book, especially if its a new title.

    as far as spider-girl, well…130 issues? thats just plain awesome.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with characters being female.

    take a look at what else is getting cancelled and you will see that.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Isn’t Spider-Man/Mary Jane just a miniseries?

    Now I’m wondering what else is getting cancelled — Blue Beetle?

  8. Jimmy palmiotti Says:

    I was talking in general Johanna about cancellations. seems there are a few books each month from the top 5 companies.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Oh, sorry, I misunderstood.

  10. Kenny Says:

    They were canceled because of poor sales. Marvel’s better about this than DC, generally speaking. I think a whole lot of other books should be canceled to, but I’m just a shareholder looking at my portfolio and not an employee. Still, no one sheds a tear when companies they own stock in have laid me off in the past, so I’m having a harder time feeling bad for comic creators that get laid off because the books they work on have bad sales.

  11. JD Says:

    Well, there’s been a wave of cancellations in the lower rungs of Marvel’s ongoing titles : Marvel Adventures Iron Man, Marvel Adventures Hulk, X-Men: First Class (switched back to “series of miniseries”), Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (ditto), and now Spider-Girl.

    Also, they just cancelled Black Panther, so they may be starting to cull a bit higher (New Exiles, New Warriors, Punisher War Journal and Eternals don’t look very healthy).

  12. Dave Rose Says:

    It’s too bad about X-Men: First Class. I’m still enjoying that one.

    Regarding the others, I’ve never bouught some of them and I’ve already dropped the others. Like Jimmy said above, I (and many others) can’t buy everything, so something is always getting canceled.

  13. Johanna Says:

    Thanks, JD, for the elaboration. I didn’t even know some of those mid-list titles were being published, but I’m not the audience for them. I’m used to the superhero books I like being at the bottom of the heap, sales-wise.

  14. JD Says:

    And it’s now been announced that New Warriors has been been cancelled with January’s #20.

  15. Rob McMonigal Says:

    I’ve been with Spider-Girl since about issue 30 of the original run. I have complained repeatedly that the “reboot” has been nothing but the same stories over again. Honestly, I’m still on the pull list–and I read most things in trade, not pulls–because I like *that style* of comic, not because I really like Spider-Girl any more. There’s only so many times you can read the “I’ll never be Spider-Girl again” followed by “I AM SPARTA–er, Spider-Girl.”

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