Marvel Tries Again to Get Customers to Believe, Like Them
It’s sad to watch a titan tumble. Marvel Comics used to rule the comic stores, but with no clear sense of direction; a willingness to offend new audiences without consideration for how that will kill off future growth; no clear expansion strategy outside their fanboy direct market base (including the failure to reach out to bookstores and libraries); and the messages they’re giving off, like “we’ll go back to what the fogies used to like, will you buy us now?”, stinking of desperation, they’re trying again, with an effort titled “A Fresh Start”. Typical of their announcements, there is little actual information, but there is a promotional video about the “enthusiasm and excitement” for Marvel’s latest new direction.
They are promising “new series, new creative teams, new directions, new beginnings”, but they tried that already and turned tail as soon as a group of grumpy old guys complained that the comics weren’t what they’d been buying for decades. Should we believe now is any different? Particularly since the foreground of the promo image, animated, sticks with the big three white guys from the movies: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Later on we get highlighted Ant-Man and Wasp, Black Panther, and Wolverine, since they also have popular movies, ending with a big ol’ Spider-Man in the middle, which smacks to me of continuing to try and sell the “return to our roots” message.
It remains to be seen who these creators are and what the titles are. If you brought back A-Force, Mockingbird, The Unstoppable Wasp, or Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!, I’d be in love, but I guess that wouldn’t be “new”, exactly. (Just refreshing.) But that’s my point — when you keep restarting, customers quickly learn not to get too attached to anything they like because it’ll be gone in a year. Why should I believe what you say this time, bad boyfriend, when you’ve made these same promises before?
We’ll find out what Marvel’s thinking in May, but really, we’ll find out next week, when the new Previews catalog drops.
Update: I was reminded, also, that this is an example of making lemonade out of lemons, since one of their best-known writers, Brian Michael Bendis, has bolted for the Distinguished Competition. If creators don’t want to work with you any more, then “new!” is the best message you can make out of that, I guess.
Twitter response has been harsh, with people pointing out how this is part of an ever-increasing set of restarts:
Oct. 2012: Marvel NOW!— 💖 Rachel Reed 💖 (@RachelLeeReed) February 20, 2018
July 2013: 2nd wave Marvel NOW!
Dec. 2013: All-New Marvel NOW! (3rd wave Marvel NOW!)
Oct. 2014: Avengers NOW! (4th wave Marvel NOW!)
July 2015: All-New, All-Different Marvel
Oct. 2016: Marvel NOW! 2.0
Sept. 2017: Marvel Legacy
May 2018: Marvel Fresh Start
and others wondering where all the non-white males are:
Where is Jane Thor? Where is Falcon? Where is Iceman? Where is America? Where is Shuri? Where is Riri? Where is Moon Girl? Where is Squirrel Girl? Where are Wolverine and Honey Badger?— Matt Santori 🏳️🌈 (@FotoCub) February 20, 2018
Fresh start feels a whole lot like erasure. https://t.co/r275DtJdMV
Also, most of the books are renumbering again to get rid of the high-value legacy numbers that can be off-putting.