Rather than putting out all its solicitation information at once, Marvel prefers to parcel it out to various sites, so info on February’s releases is drifting out here and there…and among them, more cancellations.
Newsarama reports that PUNISHER MAX will end with #22. The Jason Aaron/Steve Dillon series will be wrapping up its storyline before going to the big longbox in the sky.
Meanwhile, CBR revealed that January’s issue of X-23 was the last. Writer Marjorie Liu has more work coming from Marvel, but it’s all part of a downsizing that looks at each book’s bottom line, says EIC Axel Alonso.
In a recent installment of his AXEL-IN-CHARGE column on CBR, Marvel￼ Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso noted that cancellations of titles like “Alpha Flight” came in part due to “new budgetary mandates” while the publisher is bolstering its line in a tough economy by shipping extra installments of it core series in 2012. In that light it is important to note two things. Firstly, at #104 on Diamond’s Sale Estimates for October books, “X-23” was not the lowest-shipping Marvel Universe series. Behind it were such comics as “Thunderbolts,” “X-Factor,” “Avengers Academy” and “Ghost Rider” amongst others. Secondly, in the new X-Title solicitations no less than seven books will ship two issues in February including “Uncanny X-Men￼” and “Wolverine & The X-Men.”
As Graeme McMillan notes, X-23 — which starred Wolverine’s daughter — was the last Marvel book featuring a female solo character:
As hard as it is for me to get my head around that idea, it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise; Marvel doesn’t have the female iconic lead character like DC’s Wonder Woman, and has struggled throughout its entire existence to try and fill that gap (Who’d be the closest Marvel has to a WW? Storm, perhaps? The Invisible Woman, just by her sheer longevity?). It’s a problem not helped by the fact that a lot of its high-profile female characters are simply variants on more established male characters (She-Hulk – whatever version – or Spider-Girl/Spider-Woman – again, whatever version. Or Ms. Marvel, for that matter, or X-23 herself. And remember the appallingly-named Rescue?), which makes them appear even more like after-thoughts than they may actually be. But, still; this is a publisher that has only recently had a year of Women at Marvel, complete with a Girl Comics mini and a couple of Women at Marvel collections. And now there’s not going to be a regular ongoing series with a female lead? That’s terrible – And I’m not sure whether Marvel, the market or some mix of the two are really to blame.
Although DC has always had a bunch of female-led series — and now boasts BATGIRL, BATWOMAN, WONDER WOMAN, SUPERGIRL, CATWOMAN, VOODOO, and BIRDS OF PREY — they also get the majority of the criticism for their treatment of female characters. Marvel, by contrast, has had a strong female readership ever since the X-Men started leading their sales. If you were to ask the average female comics fan about Marvel’s female characters you would probably get positive chat about Storm, Emma Frost, and the legion of female mutants. Despite that, Marvel just can’t keep a book with a female character going, and even their best known ones, like She Hulk and The Invisible Woman. But even our own attempt to get readers up in arms at Marvel’s lack of female-led books garnered a tepid response. Is Marvel doing something right? Or do they just lack the dedicated female fan base that DC has? And could any Marvel superheroine really sustain her own book?
What do you think?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.