Marvel Comics: Is This Really A Fresh Start?

Marvel Comics dropped an announcement today about a new direction for Marvel Comics in 2018. My opinion of this “fresh start” is going to become very apparent as this article is dripping with sarcasm. We’ve all been down this road before, so let’s just in this Spider-Buggy and take a ride.

Spidey may just be talking for all of us.

Here’s the announcement from Marvel:

The Analysis

C.B. Cebulski, who once worked for Marvel against company policy under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida, said in the video that not since Marvel Now, has there been “such an overarching, line-wide change of talent.” Let’s just not pay attention that Marvel Now was just six years ago, unless we’re talking about the second Marvel Now, which was not even two years ago. In case you miss what I’m trying to say, this change is coming very suddenly. Looking at that line-up of heroes, the new Marvel ideas seem to involve a lot of old versions of characters.

Joe Quesada emphasized that this was an effort to make Marvel comics and its characters accessible to both new readers and old readers that had been away for a while. This is as close as admitting an error in direction as the two get in the roughly one-minute video. Fans are already online commenting that this is a reaction to Marvel having a miserable 2017 in sales.

While correlation cannot equal causation, Marvel did have a horrible 2017. This is the same year Marvel brought a culmination to the very unpopular Secret Empire event. It also corresponds with a push from a group of fans being very vocal about Marvel introducing new characters carrying on legacy roles of varying characters like the Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor. It remains to be seen if these vocal critics are a minority or majority. From the looks of the roster, it seems like Marvel is paying attention to them. Of course, correlation cannot equal causation.

Can it work?

Can this tried and true method of rebooting the entire line, started in 1985, work again? That all is going to depend on the creative teams, the stories created for this new direction Marvel wants to take, if it is indeed a new direction at all. We have been promised massive waves of change before by Marvel, only to have a status quo reinforced. The past few years have been very volatile with shake ups to characters and their direction, seeing some critical successes with diverse new characters like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Gwen. Unfortunately, a commitment to diversity only seems able to last as long as sales don’t suffer. I must reinforce that correlation cannot equal causation.

The possibility could exist that sales have dropped because of a push towards variant covers that rely upon retailers over-ordering on titles, sometimes unrelated titles, in order to receive variant covers. The promise is that these variants could possibly sell for several times the cover price of the original issue. Of course, then again, correlation cannot equal causation.