Marvel Tries Again to Get Customers to Believe, Like Them

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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:

and others wondering where all the non-white males are:

Also, most of the books are renumbering again to get rid of the high-value legacy numbers that can be off-putting.



4 comments

  • James Schee

    Even as an “old fogy” lol I find myself wondering what Marvel is doing. I’m an older white male reader, but their lack of information on who is writing the books or what books are even coming has me going meh. Just putting the old characters back in their old roles doesn’t make me excited about anything. I want to know who is going to be writing and drawing them and Marvel has been seriously lacking in that regard.

    I found other things to read when the Marvel books I liked, which aren’t that many, became things I didn’t care for. Not because of who the characters were, but how the stories were done. (Nazi Cap was a really dumb idea) So far I see nothing to get me to come back. Nor to really make anyone else do so either….

  • James Schee

    BTW just to add on, I didn’t have any problems with the books Marvel was doing when I wasn’t reading them. I tried some, most were not for me and that was fine. Its good for the industry if there are things not for me. And its good for me as well, as I already have a long list of books I want to read anyway. (that I now realize I’ll never ever finish)

  • That’s a really adult attitude, too bad more don’t share it. And I sympathize for reaching the point in your life where you have to realize you have more books you want to read than you will be able to get to.

  • James Schee

    Yeah I know I’ve seen the groups of those you speak and don’t understand it. I don’t like Thai food, that doesn’t mean no Thai restaraunts should exist. Maybe its because I didn’t really get into comics until later in life. I have favorite characters or versions but I’m not just a Superman fan or a Batman fan or a Captain America fan etc.I just like stories I enjoy. If something happens I don’t like, I don’t take it personal it just means, hey let’s try something else for a bit.

    On last part. What’s really bad is there are so many ways to get things now too, and while a part of me says stop buying new and get to those you always wanted. It seems like there’s always something new out that makes me go “OH that sounds cool I’ll have to check that out.”

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