Marvel Cancels More Titles

The past couple of weeks have featured continuing reports of Marvel comics being cut, including some abruptly cancelled on a cliffhanger. Today, Robot 6 reports two more Marvel books are ending: Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive with #529 and Ghost Rider, which was Marvel’s only female-led book after yesterday’s news that X-23 was done as well.

So Marvel has no books with a solo female title character any more, and more to the point, the only things that seem to be surviving are the big movie franchises and already-known properties — your X-Men, your Avengers, your Spider-Man, the brands that have lots of toy and cartoon and tie-in potential. DC’s sudden and newfound sales dominance seems to have their traditional rival running scared. Or perhaps the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats, that the DC effort was bringing in new customers and not damaging sales of other company titles, may not be as widespread as hoped. Especially when it comes to the publisher whose products are most similar to theirs.

Graeme McMillan (link no longer available) speculates that we’re going to see new Marvel titles introduced to replace those that they’ve cancelled. That’s an optimistic take, and if it happens, I’d be curious to see what those books might be. My jaded side thinks that it’s unlikely we’ll see many new launches, and the ones we see will be more of the same, not the slightly quirky, unusual books that attract readers like me.

Update: Kiel Phegley has a good analysis of what this might mean in the bigger picture for Marvel’s direction in publishing.

For the most part, titles that remain untouched are those built off of properties and franchises that have proven to have long runs in the market, be they spin-offs of popular titles or series that have lasted for hundreds of issues, even through market fluctuations and creative changes. Even the lowest selling comics that remain, such as X-Factor, have shown a level of sales consistency from month-to-month, pointing toward a dependable place in the market….

Marvel’s new strategy of shipping more than 12 issues a year for its top sellers has wide-ranging implications. This coming February, no less than 13 monthly comics are shipping two issues in the five-Wednesday month … a comparison between February 2011 and February 2012 shows that the types of comic series that fall outside the core “tied to the spine of the modern Marvel U” construction has been noticeably cut. The number of kid-centric offerings from the publisher have been halved in the past year from four titles to two. The mature readers MAX line will soon have only one book standing in the DeadpoolMAX limited series. And a previous string of non-continuity or stand-alone miniseries (some tied to the release of Marvel’s popular films, others strictly Direct Market fare) has dwindled in the face of twice as many Avengers ongoing issues, a resurgence of Spider-Man-related product, and the steady growth of the X-Men line to include nearly a dozen ongoing comics.

Similar Posts: An Excellent Snapshot of the Current State of Comic Retailing § Marvel Kills the Marvel Zombie by Exploiting Customers § Speakeasy Cancels Titles § Marvel Relaunches All-Ages Titles to Match Cartoons § CrossGen Dies Again


13 Responses to “Marvel Cancels More Titles”

  1. Thad Says:

    “the only things that seem to be surviving are the big movie franchises and already-known properties — your X-Men, your Avengers, your Spider-Man, the brands that have lots of toy and cartoon and tie-in potential.”

    And even that doesn’t seem to be much of a guarantee, seeing as there’s a Ghost Rider movie due in the next few months.

    Course, odds of getting a new #1 with Johnny Blaze back in the lead role again around that time?

  2. john Says:

    Well, there were two Marvel titles I looked at picking up – i.e. the two John Carter series, but at 20 pages for $3.99 with 10 pages of ads interspersed through the story, Marvel are just taking the mickey. I simply refuse to pay that. And 6 months or a year down the line if they bring out the collections, I’ll be looking hard at the price of those too, and comparing it cost of a library card quite frankly.

  3. Mark Says:

    “That’s an optimistic take, and if it happens, I’d be curious to see what those books might be.”

    I’m not sure what’s so optimistic about it. There is much less evidence that there is massive belt tightening than the comic blogging chicken littles seem to think.

    Oversaturation has always been the rule of thumb at marvel. Their “I never met a story arc I didn’t release in trade” mentality seems to still be going strong. Marvel wasn’t exactly hurting during september in spite of DC’s dominance and sales of many of their titles went up. So yes, there was some boat raising all around.

    This cutting of the weeds thing happens on a regular basis and isn’t, as some bloggers continue to believe, another sign of the comic book “end of days”. It looks more like cutting dead weight in preperation for more product. Only they’re doing it more deliberately and subtly than DC. And that can’t be a bad thing.

    “My jaded side thinks that it’s unlikely we’ll see many new launches, and the ones we see will be more of the same, not the slightly quirky, unusual books that attract readers like me.”

    When did Marvel ever put out comics like that? Or DC for that matter? The only thing that comes close to matching that description is possibly Strange Tales (which should be noted does horribly in sales). So given the type of product you traditionally lean towards and promote on your site, was Marvel product ever going to be something you had any interest in? Doubtful. Consequently, it seems a little disengenuous that you’re pining for something that never existed.

  4. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Mark: Virtually everything gets released in trade paperback these days; that’s hardly unique to Marvel.

    While it’s true that low-selling titles get culled periodically, this does seem to be different. Some of these books have been selling at levels which Marvel were previously quite willing to tolerate; one had only just been upgraded to an ongoing series in the first place; and we’re seeing minis guillotined in mid-series, which is almost unheard of. All this suggests a policy change being implemented rather suddenly – though it’s also fair to say that books like Punisher Max genuinely appear to be reaching the end of their long-term storylines and would almost certainly have been heading for a relaunch anyway.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Thad, you’re probably right. Stick with the familiar character versions, that’s the current strategy.

    Mark, there was a time when you could read books around the “corners” of the DCU or Marvel U, without having to follow the big books or never-ending crossovers. But that was years ago now. As for when Marvel put out comics I loved, I point you to these two posts as a start — but they were from 2006 and 2008:

    I Only Like Marvel Now: Nextwave, Young Avengers, X-Factor

    Marvel Comics I Liked: Twelve, Iron Man, Mary Jane

    Thanks, Paul, I’m always honored when you stop by.

  6. Tony G Says:

    If it doesn’t have X-men (Wolverine) or Deadpool in it, they could care less. Same thing happened in the 90′s. There was an overabundace of titles of Wolvy and Deadpool and theit comics tanked. They went for quantity over quality, looks like it’s happening again.

  7. Mark Says:

    @Paul

    re: “Virtually everything gets released in trade paperback these days; that’s hardly unique to Marvel.”

    Actually that’s not true. DC has made huge cuts in the amount of older material they release in tpb and hardcover in favor of more recent collections while Marvel continues on without blinking in spite of the so called belt tightening with more and more Masterworks editions and upping the ante with the Marvel Premiere Classics line. DC is finally starting to test the waters again after what, four or five years, with a few archives such as Sugar and Spike and Lois Lane. Don’t take my word for it. Compare the DC Archives site with the Marvel Masterworks site or just read, well, any comic news site where you can read about DC cutting back on trade and hardcover collections on a regular basis.

    @johanna

    re: “I point you to these two posts as a start — but they were from 2006 and 2008″

    That actually kind of validates my point doesn’t it? And how does The Twelve, Iron Man, Young Avengers or Xfactor fall into the “quirky and unusual” catagory? If those titles don’t fall into the “more of the same” file then I don’t know what does. That’s not to say they aren’t good books, but hardly unique or quirky.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Mark, you said I wasn’t interested in Marvel books. I showed you that I was, when they put out more interesting, diverse titles. I don’t think that’s validating your point. Although I’m not exactly sure what your point is, unless it’s “whatever you’re saying about Marvel, DC does it too.” :)

  9. Mark Says:

    “Mark, you said I wasn’t interested in Marvel books. I showed you that I was”

    Um, no. That’s not what I said. You said you were interested in Mavels “quirky, unusual” books and wondered if they would ever make more or just give us more of the same. I pointed out that Marvel, with the exception of possibly Strange Tales, hasn’t done “quirky” or “unusual” in years. You said they did and then pointed me to a six year old post to prove your point which really didn’t prove anything other than it’s been 6 years since Marvel did anything “quirky and unusual”. I then questioned your choices, neither of which were quirky or unusual but simply “more of the same” which further proved my point.

    “I’m not exactly sure what your point is”

    I thought the point was pretty clear. You’re assumptions regarding Marvels strategy are pretty bizarre given your experience with the industry. Why would anyone assume that McMillans observation that Marvel canceling a handfull of titles that don’t sell to make room for new product that hopefully will sell (which is, you know, what every company including those who make comics does on a regular basis) is overly optimistic given everything we know about Marvel?

    Marvel isn’t DC is the point. Marvel oversaturates is the point. You are jumping to conclusions that have no basis in fact, is the point. You, like other bloggers, are jumping on a bandwagon(“Marvel cancelled 4 or 5 books! This must be the end of Marvel! DC has destroyed Marvel”), is the point. Although you are more subtle about it I’ll grant you that.

    Hope that clears it up.

  10. Johanna Says:

    Oh! I misunderstood what you were saying. I agree with you, Marvel no longer does quirky or unusual books much. I wish they did.

    I also agree with you that Marvel isn’t DC, but I have to correct one of your assumptions. I wasn’t pointing out Marvel canceling books to say that “DC destroyed Marvel”. (I wouldn’t say that, because I don’t expect DC’s bump to last over the long run.) I think the cuts are in line with Marvel’s other recent cost-cutting, so I don’t expect to see as many books reintroduced as were removed.

  11. Mark Says:

    “I don’t expect to see as many books reintroduced as were removed.”

    I have a hunch they’ll prove you wrong as we get closer and closer to the new Avengers and Spider-Man films. That is if what they did when Thor and Cap hit the theaters is any indication.

    I also don’t believe that the cutting of various poorly selling titles has anything to do with the cutting of personel. But that’s a hunch that won’t be proven out until Marvel replaces their cut titles. What are you going to give me if I’m proven right? ;)

  12. Johanna Says:

    If it’s the case that person X was let go, and books X was editing are cancelled in mid-run, then I think the relationship between those two facts is pretty obvious. I do agree with you that Marvel is likely to soon throw out a bunch of movie tie-in miniseries that they can collect, but that’s not the same as new ongoings.

  13. Maverickman874 Says:

    ” So Marvel has no books with a solo female title character any more, and more to the point, the only things that seem to be surviving are the big movie franchises and already-known properties — your X-Men, your Avengers, your Spider-Man, the brands that have lots of toy and cartoon and tie-in potential. DC’s sudden and newfound sales dominance seems to have their traditional rival running scared. ”

    I don’t think DC’s relaunch success was factored into the decision to cancel the Marvel books. The sales on the cancelled titles were poor for a long time. The new budgetary restrictions just mean that seeing new titles launched by Marvel will be that much rarer.

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