The news of Marvel’s retreat from diversity after Secret Empire practically broke the Internet. Vloggers, bloggers and news sites went out of their way to criticize and analyze the news and the possible reasons behind the relaunch and the possible directions all of this could go. If you were expecting me to be different, then I can only hope that my take is a little more personal.
On Free Comic Book Day, combined with the Marvel offering of a Secret Empire introduction, I took advantage of a half off cover price sale and got Secret Empire #1. I read it and could only liken it to recent episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where we’re seeing a virtual world dominated by Hydra. Unlike the television show, I’m not being asked to watch other shows to get more of the story, and only have to wait a week for the continuation. The story itself I could follow, knowing that this Steve Rogers had been for lack of a better term, brainwashed by the Red Skull and the Cosmic Cube. This Steve Rogers was also apparently acting in what he saw was the best interest, completely drinking the Hydra Kool-Aid, if you will. His partners in the takeover seem to be in the position of having achieved their goal and wanting more.
I can get into the story, if this was where I could find it, but similar to Secret Wars, we are expected to buy a multitude of titles to get the full story, now more so than ever. I have to agree with numerous others who have made this comment, these type of demands for me to buy ancillary comics to get the story is what is driving me away from Marvel. I love Spider-Gwen, but in the course of a year, she’s been in two crossovers with other titles. Others have noted similar things with other characters like Ms. Marvel and Black Panther. It’s almost as if we’re in the schoolyard being shaken down after having our lunch money stolen, “I know you’ve got more, fork it over.”
Marvel has announced no more big events for a year and a half after Secret Empire, but nothing is said of the crossover or the character co-starring or guest appearing in other titles. Unless we start, and sales figures are beginning to show that we just might be, rejecting the impulse to collect everything the moment it comes out, Marvel will continue to try to wring every last penny from our pockets. Could it mean the end for Marvel Comics? Perhaps, but we can keep them from taking the industry with them. Talk to your local comic shop and tell them that you want to spend the money that you have been spending on Marvel on something else. This way, they don’t waste their money on buying copies of Marvel Comics that will sit on the shelves. Find independent titles that interest you. If you haven’t given them a try, then now is a good time to spend that monthly Marvel budget on a collection of the title you couldn’t afford, or just talk to others and get suggestions for new titles to try.
Marvel, DC or any other publisher need not be the house of cards that the industry relies upon. The real backbone is the local comic shop. support them and communicate with them so that they can budget wisely. In the 90s, too many shops didn’t budget wisely and failed to notice the exodus of speculators. There were multiple distributors then. Now there is only one, and if shops start closing, the sole resource for getting physical copies of comics will vanish. That relegates the industry to the Internet, which is a fickle, fickle place.
But that’s an entirely other article for another time.