SDCC 2012: Axel Spells It Out — Marvel Now Is Business As Usual, Just With More #1s

By Todd Allen

I suspect part of the rhetoric is an attempt to differentiate Marvel Now from the New 52, but in a video interview with Newsarama, Marvel EIC Axel Alonso sure does make it sounds like the only changes happening are fallout from AVX.

It’s a game of musical chairs, but everyone lands on a great seat.

Props for honesty.

We always plan well into the future.  We just had a retreat where all of the writers sort of laid out their plans for their individual titles, so we can get a sense for what the larger Marvel Universe will be, but we also were able to get a very clear sense of what our next big summer story will be.  Events are huge.  Events are a moment that brings fans to our books the same way a big movie like Marvel Studio’s The Avengers.  It scratches a certain type of itch.  We have a great idea for something next summer that will be the culmination of a lot of things that will be building in the books.

I guess they’re not looking to break the cycle of event-driven storytelling.

Axel does tout the concept of accessibility while respecting longtime readers.  Certainly, there were a number of people offended by the reboot aspect of the New 52 and that clearly isn’t happening here.  You could probably argue that Marvel’s New 52 was the original launch of the Ultimate Universe.

On the other hand, will a parade of #1 issues and what sounds predominately like a redistribution of the existing creative teams generate enough buzz?  Time will tell.  A lot of this is still being kept close to the vest.

Comments

  1. I wonder how many new readers honestly even look at issue numbers. I think a better allusion would be to have every issue be self-contained, which goes against the whole cycle thing, as easily mockable as that is.

  2. Apollo9000 says:

    Stating that Events bring people to your companies books like audiences flocked to a summer blockbuster rings false and highlights a problem that the Big 2 still suffer with.

    Gaining honest to god new readers.

    Most of the Marvel Now plans look like Marvel is simply mixing the Avengers and X Men together even more and clearing space for what will actually be the true relaunch of this intuitive – new Marvel Cosmic line of books.

    I think Marvel/ Disney’s ultimate goal is to get the “new” Star Wars. Despite the massive success of the Avengers, it feels like they’re more focused on having a space/ sci fi property that they can exploit to the length that Lucas has done so with Star Wars. DC also hoped for a similar success with Green Lantern but the cinematic planning save for Batman has always left much to be desired.

  3. Player 2 says:

    “Stating that Events bring people to your companies books like audiences flocked to a summer blockbuster rings false and highlights a problem that the Big 2 still suffer with.”

    I work in a shop and the Events definitely bring in new readers and boost sales.

    *Keeping* those customers can be an issue but the gain is more than 0%, so it’s usually a net win.

    “I wonder how many new readers honestly even look at issue numbers.”

    Not many. They seem to be looking for a good jumping-on point. Only in that sense is a #1 useful. A newbie will feel much less resistance to trying a #1 than trying a #87. And consider that superhero comics are mostly soap-opera – the draw is to see “what happens next”. If every issue is self-contained there’s no emotional investment for the reader, so they can drop out at any time.

  4. Ron Catapano says:

    What this means is shorter reserve lists for retailers. When they cancel “New Avengers” and launch a diferent book with the title “Uncanny Avengers” it starts with no reserves.

    To make matters worse, Marvel is saying that this is not a reboot, so they are ending books that have readers and shuffling things around so now, not even lifetime readers will have a clue what the hell is going on.

    Way to screw up a good idea! I quess that even with Liefeld, DC should expect another bump in their readership.

  5. Player 2 says:

    “What this means is shorter reserve lists for retailers. When they cancel “New Avengers” and launch a diferent book with the title “Uncanny Avengers” it starts with no reserves.”

    This is true. Oddly, we survive books being cancelled all the time, whether singly or en mass.

    “To make matters worse, Marvel is saying that this is not a reboot, so they are ending books that have readers and shuffling things around so now, not even lifetime readers will have a clue what the hell is going on.”

    This is false. “Lifetime readers” will have no problem continuing the same “Marvel Universe story” they’ve been reading their whole lives. When Marvel cancelled Andy-Diggle-Daredevil and started up Mark-Waid-Daredevil not one person said, “what the hell is going on now?” It’ll be like that only times 15. Long-term readers are used to books ending, books starting, and changes to the creative teams. At most, these readers will need to be kept informed about the creator and title switches. A simple flier could do the job. The DC reboot was a disaster for long-time readers because all their emotional investment in past stories went out the window. That isn’t the case here.

    “Way to screw up a good idea! I quess that even with Liefeld, DC should expect another bump in their readership.”

    This is just nerd-rage. It reminds me of the time a customer came in and complained about the cancellation of X-Force. “This new Uncanny X-Force will have Deadpool in it! Way to fuck things up, Marvel!” He shut the hell up after he read the new comic.

  6. “The DC reboot was a disaster for long-time readers because all their emotional investment in past stories went out the window….”

    Here Here!!

  7. James says:

    Cant stand the over priced Marvel event books. I actually hope they continue the same trend – that way I’m not tempted to try any of them!

    Their best titles are their ‘mostly’ self contained, ‘cheaper’ or ‘regular priced’ titles like – Daredevil, Punisher, Thunderbolts/Dark Avenger and X-Factor. No over inflated egos. Just great books with great creative teams! :)

  8. Nate A. says:

    This is so obvious it barely needs saying, but new #1 issues are an easy way to create an illusion of change and excitement without shaking up the status quo in any meaningful way.

  9. saipaman says:

    As with DC, I see many jumping off points in my future.

  10. This time last year Marvel made fun of DC’s New 52 in the solicits for renumbering all of their books. And at the time they had issued a soft boot of a lot of their books beginning in 2010. Now this.

    Until Marvel recognizes the error of a $3.99 cover price, they will continue to struggle with their future direction.

    “… we also were able to get a very clear sense of what our next big summer story will be.” Lessons never learned.

  11. Jerry Smith says:

    Superhero comics are leaving me so apathetic. Stop event-driven storytelling. No events for one year and let every book play out naturally, telling stories the writer wants to tell.

    I don’t think any comic will over make it over #100 again, and Marvel has screwed its numbering up so bad it really doesn’t matter. Just put a month and year on the cover and try to tell a good story!

  12. Ron Catapano says:

    When DC “rebooted” they created a break between the old stories and the new.

    This allowed a certain amount of continuity for long term readers yet the new stories are not dependent on anything that came before issue #1 making them fully accessible to new readers.

    If all Marvel is doing is continuing stories that are already losing readers under a different title, why bother?

    The new #1’s mislead readers with the idea that it is a beginning when in fact it is only a continuation.

    The new #1’s profit from retailers having to speculate on how readers are going to react to each of these (how many?) new books.

    As a retailer, I have about 2 weeks before I have to start getting orders ready for these books and figuring out how to market these “new” books to my customers and I have almost no information about these books.

    This does not fill me with confidence in Marvels ability to pull this off.

  13. Synsidar says:

    From an editorial perspective, I’d compare Marvel NOW! to two soap operas deciding to cross over regularly. If you’re really into the two soaps, you might be excited. New romances! New affairs! New betrayals! If you’re not into them–who cares?

    Given how often Marvel Editorial, and Brevoort specifically, complained about event fatigue and event-related workloads several years running, I’d be pleased if they just had someone say, “Okay, we have revenue and profit goals to meet each quarter, and events are the only way to meet those goals. If we don’t meet those goals, we’re all fired, or the characters are licensed out to someone who can meet those goals.” That’s more likely than thinking that what they come up with at the retreats are actually good storylines.

    SRS

  14. Snikt Snakt says:

    For the past few years I’ve steered clear of books that tie-in to other books, usually during an event.

    I dropped Avengers Academy when almost every issue during & after Fear Itself became a tie-in.

    DD is the only Marvel book I’m currently buying. If that one falls into the same trap AA did, then I’m done w/Marvel…

  15. “Business As Usual, Just With More #1s” — doesn’t that describe the last 25 years of American comics?

    Points for finally coming out and saying it, at least.

  16. I stopped reading a few years back, so I guess it doesn’t matter what they do. It’s unlikely that they will pull me back any time soon, so the continuation of the “big event” stories that finally drove me away won’t affect me one way or the other.

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