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January 1, 2012

Marvel Snapshot: New Year’s Resolutions

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Written by: Billy
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Hello and welcome to another week here in Marvel Snapshot! I’d like to start out by saying Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you had a great 2011. This week I’ll be talking briefly about what I think Marvel’s New Year’s Resolutions should be. I’m not going to hit everything on my mind, so feel free to weigh in with comments below with your thoughts, as well.

1. Stop “killing” characters

If it’s one thing that I can’t stand (and droves of others), it is Marvel’s incessant strategy to kill off a character with no intentions of it staying permanent. Translation? It’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy substandard books. They can try to slice it anyway they want, but the seasoned readers know this, and are getting fed up. This tactic makes Marvel seem more like a soap opera than a legit source to read a good story.

2. Cease and desist with the saturation of any character

Yeah, I know Wolverine and Deadpool are trendy, but the fact of the matter is readers aren’t buying any piece of crap thrown out there with these two guys in it. Heck, you can put Spider-Man in this category, as well. The problem with doing this is that it just cannibalizes the regular books’ sales with these characters in them. The thought that people (especially in this economy) are just going to willingly run to the comic shop to buy anything with a character on the cover because Marvel says “it’s the next big thing” is a pipe dream and just plain greedy.

3. Enough with the flooding of titles to hype a movie

With Avengers, Spider-Man (4?), and a host of other movies coming sooner than later, I for one am tired of the crap that Marvel puts out every time a movie is on the horizon. I don’t get fooled by that nonsense anymore, but I have in the past, and when I read that garbage, I was embarrassed for Marvel. Everybody knows who Spider-Man and the Avengers are, because you already have ten titles a month featuring them, no need to print bird cage liners to drive home the point of a movie that will undoubtedly have one hundred commercials a day telling us all about the release date and how “epic” it will be.

4. Please keep things in the correct numbering

I know this point is slightly fan-boy, but hear me out. Anyone who isn’t brain dead realizes this is another method (albeit a poor one) to try and increase sales. I understand that the marketing people (and management) need to try and keep their jobs, but when that is the best that you can come up with, you’re probably in the wrong line of work. No offense.

5. Lastly, and most importantly, keep one writer doing one book at a time

It’s apparent that in the day and age we live in, employers are constantly trying to put more of a work load on fewer people. Does this really help save money in the end? Not when sales of books plummet and get cancelled or don’t even get past issue five before pulling the plug. I’m all for printing less copies and heading faster into the digital realm if that helps with costs, but the bottom line for me is that I’ll always want print first and foremost. The most apparent case of this for me is with Abnett and Lanning. They can tell a story, especially a cosmic one, like no one else of this time (OK, all the Geoff Johns fans can start arguing with me now), but when they are writing multiple books for Marvel and other companies too, well, even their stuff gets watered down to a point where even a loyal buyer like me stops buying. Things must be so bad that even long time Marvel artist Bryan Hitch has announced he’s jumping ship. Yikes.

In closing, I was checking out some sales numbers, and although DC did relaunch with seemingly five-hundred new #1’s, I would still think that Marvel’s ending to Fear Itself and Spider-Island would have kept them even, but that wasn’t so in November. Just a few quick points here. DC claimed 13 of the top 20 books, and 16 0f the top 25. If that isn’t enough, Swamp Thing (good read, by the way) outsold in my opinion Marvel’s best and most consistent book, Uncanny X-Force, by almost 1500 copies. The ultimate insult is the fact that Batgirl, Nightwing, and Aqauman (**shudder**) outsold Uncanny X-Force, as well. That, my friends, is a sad, sad, fact….

Sales info collected from ICv2.

Billy Dunleavy



  1. capekiller

    I think you have to look at DC’s sales in about a years time to fairly compare. I think their marketing campaign for the New 52 was very impressive, and definitely shook up the comic world. I’m not convinced, however that titles like Swamp Thing, Animal Man and Aquaman will be doing so well in about a year or so’s time. Once people get past the “#1” phenomenom (which in my opinion covers books numbered 1-10) I think you will see the fair weather buyers dropping off and sales dropping consistently over the course of the next year. Good for DC and shame on Marvel at the same time. I just think the comic industry is in a very delicate spot overall. And no reboot, from any company is going to change that.

  2. Jeff Jackson

    The Catch 22 is that Marvel wants to sell books, and unfortunately, the deaths, the renumberings/reboots, and the character saturation sells books. This, of course, is the surefire way to that, whereas what we all really want is good storytelling. That’s the sad state of affairs these days.

    I agree with you and Capekiller completely, Billy, and would add that Marvel should be very careful about the double shipping of their books. While it will certainly make more money because people are more likely to buy the books they already collect than new ones, it will also mean more writers and artists on books to ensure they ship on time. We’re already seeing this in Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & the X-Men, both of whose last issues had 5-7 artists on the book. While this gets more books out, it lessens the quality, in my opinion.

    Finally, I would add that Marvel should be the first of the big two to decrease the price of their digital books. I don’t think many folks are going to go digital when they can just get the hard copy for the same price. For instance, I would love to buy digital comics, but I can get the paper copies cheaper than I can digital because of where I get my books. Sell them for 99 cents or $1.50 and I think they’ll sell like hotcakes. People find hard copies as intrinsically more valuable than digital copies.

  3. Billy

    @Cape- I knew the #1’s and maybe even the 2’s would sell well for DC, but I thought by 3 or 4 it would have turned around.
    @Jeff- Well, if Marvel thinks their death/renumbering ploy will last forever, they’re dreaming. This I know from personal experience, because they’ve lost a lot of sales from me. The digital price drop is a great idea and would help tremendously.

  4. I’m ok with Marvel killing characters as long as the keep them dead, at least for a good 5 years. They just shouldn’t bring the back within a few months. Also they should bring back Jean Grey! lol (she’s has been dead long enough especially for someone who is a literal Phoenix)

    Also with the DC vs. Marvel sales, I agree with Cape that it’s too soon to go by the numbers they will die off within this year.

  5. capekiller

    I won’t pay more than 99 cents for a digital book, and I think they should have special deals for arcs and so forth where you can subscribe and they are sent to you rather than me having to look them up and download them. They also need more deals to help with sales. I.E., buy the new digital copy of Avenging Spider-Man and get a digital copy of “The Death of Gwen Stacy” free. This way they make the sale and promote back issue collecting.
    Marvel, I’m available for hire if you would like me to fix your company……

  6. Billy

    @nick- those lesser still surprise the crap out of me. I can understand JL, Batman, Superman, etc. outselling most of Marvel’s books, but not Catwoman and co.

    @Cape- that’s a good idea for sure.

  7. I do agree with you on “killing” characters but I do think if done that the writers and editorial of any company needs to make it actually fit the story and not just a cheap ploy. Because honestly not too many people are caring any more if a character bites the dust when we know he/she will be back within a year. Make us wait it out and allow your writers to develope OTHER characters that may not get a lot of page time. This would also help with the over exposure of characters who appear in wayyyy too many issues a month.

    The writers have to write more than one book to keep food on their tables and mortages paid man! lol Plus a lot of them have their own creative character driven books that they want to be out there as well. Sure it gets a bit silly when one writer is penning 10 books at a time but if they only did one book at a time I wouldn’t be able to read some of the great books that I’ve been picking up lately.

  8. capekiller

    There will always be somebody there to take the mantle. Steve Rogers does not have to be Captain America from now until the end of time. Personally, I think they should have groomed Patriot to be the next cap, and leave Bucky as the Winter Soldier (much cooler character.)

    • Patriot being the next Cap is a whole can of worms that Marvel isn’t ready to do yet. Good idea but they don’t have the balls to do it yet.

  9. Billy

    @Speech- Well, I guess more than one book isn’t too bad, but 3, 4, or 5? That’s when then quality suffers, and the books get cancelled sooner than later anyway, so who really makes out in the end? Nobody. And again, if I went from being a 100% Marvel reader, to maybe 50/50, I’m sure I’m not the only one, and that contributes to the success of DC and smaller publishers.

    • I don’t mind writers writing more than one book. I think it depends on the writer. In the case of DnA, I think they happened to be great at the cosmic stuff, but their gifts are not with other books. They’re kind of a “one-hit wonder.” But that’s why they’re not top tier writers, in my opinion. However, there are a bunch of folks who are writing multiple books and are kicking serious ass. Imagine if Brian K. Vaughn was only allowed to write either Runaways, Y: The Last Man, or Ex Machina? Remender, Aaron, Bendis, the list goes on for folks who can handle multiple books and write them well.

  10. Capekiller

    I think execs need to recognize their writers strengths as well. Keep Fraction off team books, keep DnA in space, Heinberg with the Young Avengers etc.

  11. Billy

    @Jeff- how many “good” books does Bendis do at once? USM and…Avengers? To me, he’s more mediocre than ever on Avengers and I don’t read USM. I honestly can’t think of one guy that is great on more than one book right now.

    • Bendis – Scarlet, New Avengers, & Ult Spidey (I’m not a fan of the Avengers book but it’s due to the roster now that that’s changed I might be a regular reader again.)
      Ron Marz – Artifacts, Shinku, Witchblade, Voodoo, Magdalena
      Snyder – AMV & Batman (and you KNOW how I feel about this guy!)
      Rick Remender – Uncanny X Force, Venom, & Doctor Voodoo
      Chuck Dixon – Snake Eyes & G.I. Joe
      Geoff Johns – Justice League, Aquaman, & Green Lantern
      Joshua Fialkov – I, Vampire, Doctor Who
      Zeb Wells – Avenging Spidey & Carnage U.S.A.

      These are just the ones I could think of on the fly Billy but I’m sure there are more.

  12. Billy

    Bendis? Other than what I hear about Ult. Spidey, I can’t give you that one. I don’t hear anything about Scarlet…nothing, and Avengers hasn’t been more than average in quite a while in my opinion. Marz, I’ll give you, even though I don’t read those titles. That just based on that one issue I reviewed a while back of Witchblade (great book, but he’s off of that now isn’t he?). Remender has been great on UXF, but its definitely better since Doctor Voodoo has been (shame too, it was a good book). Wells, Fialkov, and Dixon, I don’t know about, but I can’t believe Aquaman is doing anything to write home about, and GL hasn’t received rave reviews either since Blackest Night to my knowledge. Not that it is bad, but again, if they’re writing mediocre books, who cares. I want better than that for my money. I want to be amazed, and really want to get that next issue, and I don’t see anybody on that list except maybe Marz that doing that consistently. We could debate this all day, but I guess in the end, most writers that I personally read that are on multiple books, are failing miserably.

  13. infinite speech

    At least Morrison isn’t writing everything lol Though I do miss his run on Batman & Robin everything else wasn’t to my liking.

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