March 2011 Previews: Marvel Comics Due in May

I find myself increasingly confused when reading Marvel’s Previews supplement. I don’t know if it’s because they’re now only speaking to the converted, those who buy a majority of their publications every month, or because they’re making silly choices, or whether I just don’t care enough to follow them more closely. But here are some examples:

Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #1

The six-issue miniseries Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt (MAR11 0625, $2.99) begins in May. I admire Sean McKeever’s dedication to the teen heroes of the Marvel universe, regardless of how many times their books aren’t bought in comic shops and get cancelled as a result. I’d like to read more teen superheroes, but Marvel doesn’t seem very good about that these days. (Which is odd, since Spider-Man and the X-Men used to be adolescents, and their success made the company.) And then they promo this attempt as featuring “Avengers: The Initiative stars Thor Girl, Ultragirl, Cloud 9, Komdo, and Hardball”. I thought there was something wrong that I didn’t recall a series with that title (since I do like Ultragirl and Thor Girl). No, it’s just that they’re referencing something that was cancelled a year ago. Since it, like this, tied into another fake big event (several of them, actually, over its three-year lifespan), I ignored it. (And as I expected, it’s Komodo — typo. Not the only one in this catalog.)

It gets sloppier with Alpha Flight #0.1 (MAR11 0629, $2.99), intended to be a stand-alone introduction to the team. Only they run a quote with the page that says someone thinks they are “deliver[ing] a comic that caters to both newcomers and long-time readers”. That can’t be about THIS issue, since it doesn’t exist yet, and this kicks off a series, so it can’t be about the same title — so just what was being praised originally? Plus, this promo lists “artist X”, indicating to me that someone forgot to stub in the name of the penciler, Ben Oliver. Even though he’s not the artist on the maxiseries being introduced. (That’s Dale Eaglesham.) More bait-and-switch from the House of Ideas, I guess.

Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1 cover

Speaking of which, if I were a retailer buying for my shop from this catalog, I would be a bit annoyed that Marvel didn’t bother to tell me that the Pixar Presents: Cars Magazine (MAR11 0632, $5.99) is a reprint of a series from another publisher. Especially since nothing’s returnable any more, and Marvel seems more interested in talking to fans in these pages than their real customers, the stores.

As I was saying, I am glad that Marvel keeps trying to find a way to make their teens salable. The latest approach seems to be canceling miniseries that come in with low orders and then trying again with a one-shot. Arcade: Death Game was announced in December, only to return as Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1 (MAR11 0644, $7.99). I griped about how depressing this sounded back then; now I’m just glad we get a chance to see the Avengers Academy and Young Allies characters team up. (Marvel’s pushing the AA brand this month; they also guest-star in Amazing Spider-Man #661-662, written by AA writer Christos Gage.)

I haven’t even started in on the pricing, yet, with Marvel putting out lots of $4 books. The one that takes the cake, though, is the promo magazine to tie into the film: X-Men: First Class #1 (MAR11 0723, $9.99). It reprints three comics with “all-new interviews and feature articles”, and they’re charging $10 for it. On the facing page, an all-text Spotlight is half the size for only $4. Is printing already existing comic art that much more expensive?

6 Responses to “March 2011 Previews: Marvel Comics Due in May”

  1. Charles Knight Says:

    I think it’s simply a reflection of the fact that internally that they know that these titles will not beyond a certain level whatever the (non-existent) marketing says – so why bother?

  2. Grant Says:

    “a comic that caters to both newcomers and long-time readers”. That can’t be about THIS issue, since it doesn’t exist yet, and this kicks off a series, so it can’t be about the same title — so just what was being praised originally?”

    Wouldn’t that be the original Alpha Flight series they’re talking about? As well as the various attempts to start new Alpha Flight series after the original series 10 year run ended in the mid 90s? They’ve been popping up occasionally for the last decade.

    As to Marvels Teen characters, I’m really enjoying the New Mutants revival (now in trade). I loved the original series. Avengers Academy is pretty good too, but I’m wating for the trade on that series.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Could be, Grant, but I don’t think it’s very fair marketing. It’s like pulling a quote from a review of Goldfinger and running it on Goldeneye.

    The New Mutants put me off with the seemingly never-ending demon dimension storyline. And most of the time, it seems to be written only for those who already know the characters from long ago.

  4. Dave Says:

    “Is printing already existing comic art that much more expensive?”

    Likely yes. For the comic stories they will likely have to pay royalties to all of the creators involved. For the all-text Spotlight they can pay a tiny per word rate to one writer.

  5. Grant Says:

    I agree they could have been clearer. I just took for granted when they said longtime readers that they were refering to fans of the Alpa Flight mythos in general. But I’m one of the converted so Marvelese is like a second language, like a secret handshake.

    On New Mutants, that’s funny. I like it for the same reason you don’t. ;)

  6. Johanna Says:

    Does Marvel pay reprint royalties, Dave? I’ve never been clear on that.

    Grant, I’m going to remember that, and ask for help whenever I need a long-time Marvelite. :)




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