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Do successful comic book movies create new comics readers? As the “Watchmen Principle” demonstrates, when a movie is based on a finite graphic novel or series, the answer is yes. When it is based on an ongoing 50 year saga, the results are not so clear.

CBR’s Greg Hatcher chanced upon a display of bagged comics at his CostCo which showed that Marvel had put together a product that seemed to be aimed at people who liked THOR and wanted to know where to go next: A photo-cover of hunky Chris Hemsworth as Thor graced the front of the package and an assortment of alluring titles lurked beneath.

Or was it alluring?

It was when I settled in to read them that the wheels came off the wagon. The Thor story was chapter one of Fraction and Coipel’s “The Galactus Seed,” featuring not just Thor but also the Silver Surfer. It seemed like a well-crafted piece, but the story sure wasn’t any kind of introduction or jumping-on place for a new reader. At times it was a pretty hard slog even for me to figure out what was going on, and I’ve been reading Thor comics off and on for forty years.


While Hatcher’s puzzlement is kind of blogger standard, he

does it one better

by taking the comics to his cartooning class for kids, providing a kind of focus group testing that only other CBR writers seem to be engaged in lately:

As I suspected, the students who took me up on it were my hard-core geek kids, the ones who sign up for cartooning just to wallow in being around comics at school. Troy lunged at Captain America, Eileen took Thor, and Josh got the X-Men.

A minute later Troy was back. “This isn’t Captain America,” he said, scowling. “And it’s part two. Shouldn’t it be part one?” He was clearly disgusted. His face had the same expression you have when you’ve fallen for someone’s practical joke.

Troy was so annoyed he decided he didn’t want to do a review, and handed it back to me. Niko reviewed it instead.


*sigh*

This is a real dilemna for Marvel and DC. The only way to be successful in the direct market is to flog their characters to their existing fanbase. But those comics don’t seem likely to bring in new readers?

What to do?

1 COMMENT

  1. Kids these days. When I was a kid, if we’d gotten part 2, we’d have been HAPPY to have it!

    Seriously, entitlement much?

    That said, that’s what Marvel is up against, and they need to keep it in mind. All cross-marketing stuff needs to be part 1 and be kinda close to the core concept.

  2. This doesn’t sound like THAT complicated a dilemma. Make the comics you’re doing just generally more accessible. Don’t create spurious first issues or confusing covers just to try and TRICK passing trade into buying comics saturated in continuity, just make comics that have stories with a little bit of continuity service, instead of continuity with a tiny bit of story.

    If the industry paid more attention to the basics of making stories that invite instead of repel, I genuinely believe increased readership would follow. But there’s this ongoing issue where they SAY readership, but PITCH for sales.

    One key problem here is that there’s this middle tier of comic reader who is completely ignored by publishing strategy. If you’re a hardcore spender, or a journalist/comic retailer with access to all the titles and the will to read them, you might stand a chance of following Marvel and DC’s output, but even a semi-pro comic fan like me, with an £80 budget a month, is going to struggle to keep up with the continuity in either company’s books.

    If that tier of reader can’t keep up, there’s no way a non-reader is going to be able to pick up a comic and find their way in.

    The stupid thing is, the publishers KNOW this. Initiatives like the Ultimate universe, Astonishing X-Men, and even back as far as Crisis On Infinite Earths, were a direct response to comics becoming too confusing and exclusive. But either pandering to that hardcore audience’s rampant geekery or short-term profit-chasing always ends up sabotaging the point.

  3. LOL @ Glenn… I know what you mean. Having said that, when I was a kid, you could easily piece together what was going on in part 2, or part 53, or whatever, just from that one comic. I reckon that isn’t really the case any more.

  4. Doesn’t Marvel still put recap pages at the front of the issue? I haven’t bought a single issue in ages, but I always found those sufficient when checking out a title.

  5. And when I was a kid, if I wanted the part one (and that’s a big if), I could try to find it at the 7-11 (aka the cornershop) or the Circle K or even the drugstore. Since they were all serviced by different distributors, there was a shot of it being somewhere else.

    But see, I’d have to want it first.

  6. Wasn’t this sort of problem *exactly* what the Ultimate Comics were supposed to solve? A decade later the Ultimate line is now undergoing a massive reboot because it is (surprise, surprise) shackled by continuity and doesn’t appeal to readers who have invested a lifetime’s worth of time and money into the standard Marvel U Continuity.

    DC doesn’t suffer from the problems arising from grand scale continuity that Marvel does, they just make up and remake whatever they feel like about whatever character (like their recent butchery of Swamp Thing), yet they can’t get around this issue either. Fans of Nolan’s batman will be shocked if they think they can pick up Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and see anything more ‘realistic’ than Green Arrow, the Mutant Gang and Superman.

  7. “Kids these days. When I was a kid, if we’d gotten part 2, we’d have been HAPPY to have it!”

    The thing is, “kids these days” have more entertainment options than to be happy with whatever DC and Marvel are offering them. Surely, that’s a good thing. “Kids these days” emphatically do not need Marvel or DC comics, so if Marvel and DC want the kids — which I’m not sure they do –, then it’s Marvel and DC’s job to think about not just how to get their comics in front of those kids, but also how to make comics that the kids may actually want to read.

    And it’s not just kids, either. I’ve been reading Marvel and DC comics for, what, 25 years, at this stage. I used to be a pretty hardcore fan and I’ve contributed to a couple of “handbooks” for Marvel, so I’d consider myself better-versed in that particular “lore” than the average reader. And yet, despite the fact that I still enjoy the heck out of a good superhero comic, they’ve pretty much lost me — because Marvel’s line now is an incestuous and indistinguishable murk to me, and, plainly, it’s too much of a hassle for me to figure out which book happens to be readable without having to follow seven other books to get what’s going on anymore.

    I’ve thrown in the towel, and that’s despite the fact that I already know and like their characters and am a huge fan of most of the creators working on those books. If they are losing readers like me because their major franchises have become too damn bloated and complicated for me to follow, I’m not surprised that “kids,” or your average movie audience for that matter, aren’t exactly flocking to their books.

    I don’t know — maybe they’re happy with a hermetically sealed market that keeps contracting. But the public statements and the cross-promotion attempts whenever a movie comes out suggest that they’re not. And when I look at the content, I’m sincerely baffled. What’s the point of that “Point.1” initiative, for instance, when a lot of the books turn out to be fill-in material, or random interruptions of ongoing storylines? What are they thinking? Are they thinking about this at all? If they are, the incompetence at display is nothing short of embarrassing. I don’t know, but the jarring cognitive dissonance between their stated goals and the content that Marvel and DC actually put out suggests to me that something, somewhere in the way those companies operate, is broken in a major way.

    As for recap pages: Bluntly, I don’t waste time with those. There’s plenty of good entertainment, including comics, which doesn’t require me to read three crammed paragraphs of poorly written prose to understand what’s going on in the story. Maybe other readers are more charitable in that regard, but I doubt it.

  8. Marvel does have a recap page in most (all?) of its titles. They’re not as good (but also not as expensive) as the gatefold text+panels recaps that Marvel did in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

    I think the “Watchmen” crossover audience lesson is broader than what Heidi said: The best way to appeal to a non-comics audience is with a chunk of story that feels like a complete story. Marvel has mostly transitioned to using the pamphlets as a lead-in to the collections, and any deliberate outreach that Marvel does should be with collections or with comics deliberately designed as complete chunks of story (e.g., Marvel’s FCBD releases).

    I mean, yeah, I grew up in the era of “we were happy to get parts 2 and 3 of a 4-parter, uphill, both ways”, but that’s not the time we live in now.

  9. I get the feeling that we’ll all end up like the end of Miracle Man where we’ll all be burning our comics and books and films because there’ll be no need for them anymore. We’ll all have super-powers. Or surrogate robot bodies.

  10. Does it really matter?

    Marvel seems to be completely capitalizing through the Simonson omnibus for old fans.

    For new fans though, isn’t the point to get them to eagerly await Issue #4 (the Cap movie) and the Giant-Sized Issue #5 (Avengers). I’m not suggesting (nor do I think anyone here is) abandoning the publishing arm, but I thought that indeed was the (ingenious, comics-borne, Marvel Universe-style) plan.

    Watchmen had a “Dude, the book is intense and I always heard of it” aura, I think, but I’ve been seeing big displays of great Thor tpbs at bookstores, too. Some people will buy books. Do we have to save comics by buying them after the movie? Or is everyone going to the movie saving them already?

  11. Marc-Oliver…great post all around. I’m in my early 40s and am totally lost also. I find that I’m seeking out things like THUNDER Agents which is disconnected from the other dense, dark, convolutions in the main universes.

    On Thor – my wife LOVED the movie, and she’s not a comic reader. I was so surprised that I went to my local shop to get her a good Thor story that would reflect some similar material and stories. I haven’t read Thor since the Simonson era, so I didn’t know what to buy. There was no “if you liked the movie, read this!” paperback collection. Everything I saw was either hardback (an extra $10) or part of Secret Wars/Crusades/etc. or part of the Simonson collection…there really wasn’t any “Thor for newbies” collection. Which is too bad, because they lost a sale. I can’t be the only one.

    I’m sure people will respond with lists of suggestions, but that’s not what I’m looking for at this point. Just the fact that people on message boards have to suggest what to buy demonstrates the point-of-sale marketing gap on Marvel’s part.

  12. omg, simple answer: Collections (either TPBs or Archie-style digests) for new/mass market audiences, regular issues for existing fans.

  13. One time, back in the 70’s, I went to a movie about a war that takes place in the stars. The beginning of the movie opened with text telling me and my fellow movie goers that it was PART FOUR of a story. I immediately left. I wasn’t about to partake of a story that didn’t start at the beginning.

  14. I’d just like to gently remind everyone that people have been getting tired of Marvel/DC Comics and “aging out” of them — either permanently or temporarily — since at least the 1950s. There are plenty of ways into the continuity if you’re interested. If you’re not, why NOT take a break?

    Also, just to address the beginning of the article: I’m suspicious of the wisdom that cross-marketing only helps when there’s a single volume, like WATCHMEN or V FOR VENDETTA, tied to the film. It’s obviously easier to TRACK when there’s one volume. But consider these completely spurious and made-up numbers: If the single volume of V FOR VENDETTA sold 10,000 extra copies when the film came out, and the 25 THOR volumes each sold 400 extra copies, does that make THOR a cross-marketing failure? Or is it just harder to see the sales bump?

  15. Rick Rottman, I doubt you saw Star Wars in the 70’s.
    Just sayin’………..::rollseyes::

    Back on topic….I agree totally with Marc-Oliver.
    I read and collected both The Avengers AND Green Lantern for over 30 years and have dropped both franchises in the last couple years.
    Weird considering that this is probably the best time ever to be a fan of the both of them.
    Books that I was able to keep up with for decades began to cost over $100 a month to follow which is just ridiculous. It would have been slightly differant if I could have just kept one book to follow but both franchises have become so convoluted and bloated that I just gave up. Something I never imagined I would do.
    I have turned a few people on to comics after the recent flicks but all of them gave up in a couple months. Too many books. No end to the stories and x-overs plus the over-inflated prices killed it for all of them.

  16. I don’t know how apropos this is to the discussion, but I was at Big Apple Con this weekend with a table full of ‘Thor and the Warriors Four’ and got a ton of interest from parents and kids because of the Thor movie.

    Several people even said they had come to the Con on a whim because there kid liked the movie, and they wanted to encourage further reading.

    THAT said, the most frequent thing I heard was, “Is this book okay for kids, because everything here seems to be violent.” I’d assure them Warriors Four isn’t, and (though I’m horribly, horribly biased) was a great next step after the movie, because you don’t need to know anything going in.

    Granted: these are parents or kids who have decided to go to a comic convention, so that’s already a big step. But I think it comes down to figuring out a way to push the next steps in right way. My two cents.

  17. Jon: The Thor, The Mighty Avenger by Langridge and Samnee is the perfect gateway book from the movie to the comics. Unfortunately, Marvel killed it 3 issues too early, ut there’s 2 cheap trades chock full of single-issue stories that anybody can read cold and GET it.

    Marc, Ed and, especially, Nicholas: Awesome comments, I can’t improve on.

    Stuart: you just described without intending to do so why quality books like Thor, The Mighty Avenger and Chase drown and get forever lost in a sea of mostly mediocre comics and even more mediocre reprints. Why does the crap always seem to find its way to the top?

    FWIW, bought a replacement copy of Watchmen at my local Costco just aft WB released it… For $12 too!

  18. Thinking about it a little further – when the Superman movies came out, DC issued tabloid-sized comics that were designed to appeal to Superman fans and newbies (Fortress of Solitude and other movie guides). They also issued their first miniseries to debut alongside the movie (World of Krypton) which was quickly repackaged into a mini-paperback.

    The content in the monthly comics didn’t change much, but at least they had something designed to appeal to the moviegoer. Even Swamp Thing had a movie adaptation!

    Just trying to figure out why there’s no similar content today coming out of Marvel.

  19. Stuart:

    “There are plenty of ways into the continuity if you’re interested. If you’re not, why NOT take a break?”

    Well, I know I’m interested.

    I’d love to read, say, an X-Men or Avengers book that has its own flavor, tells its own story and has enough clout to actually advance the plot and the characters that star in it.

    But the last time that was possible was when Grant Morrison was doing NEW X-MEN. That’s a complete story, contained to one book, that has a beginning, a middle and an end (thematically, at least, which is the next best thing with corporate franchises), and it does a great deal to advance the characters and themes of that franchise.

    Marvel no longer makes that type of X-Men comic. Instead, you get to (a) follow ALL the X-Men books, or (b) follow one X-Men book that reads like an incomplete fragment of a larger patchwork and doesn’t have much of an identity (no stable cast or creative team or direction of its own to speak of), or (c) follow an X-Men series that maybe tells its own story but can’t actually do anything interesting or progressive with the characters, because those developments are reserved for the bigger, more “important,” more connected titles.

    Believe me, I’m interested, and I’m not remotely tired of superheroes. If Marvel got someone as interesting as Fraction or Gillen, paired them with an artist who can keep a monthly schedule and actually let them tell stories that aren’t filtered through seven layers of committee and “grand Marvel Universe scheme” first, I’d pay FIVE bucks per issue to read that.

    I’m not saying Marvel needs to keep me happy, or that I need Marvel to keep me busy. But it seems obvious to me that the type of material they’re producing is diametrically opposed to the type of material they say they want to produce, and looking at the numbers, and reading what writers like Straczynski, Whedon or Busiek have said in the last couple years, it doesn’t look I’m the only one to notice.

    If you’ve got a lot of readers and creators who love your stuff in theory but simply find it too much of a hassle to get involved in practice because of the way you’re running the ship, then that says to me that there may be a better, more effective way of running that ship.

  20. At least when the first Iron Man movie came out, there was the Invincible Iron Man series for fans of the movie to jump on to.

    For Thor? There seems to be nothing but one shots and miniseries currently flooding the market, with Marvel hoping SOMETHING will stick. Thor: TMA is the only title I’ve been recommending to friends who have been asking me what to read. The current Thor title being involved in Fear Itself isn’t going to to hook new readers.

  21. “The only way to be successful in the direct market is to flog their characters to their existing fanbase. But those comics don’t seem likely to bring in new readers?

    What to do?”

    Gear most comics toward new/younger readers and assume that the direct market audience will come along for the ride because they’re junkies who can’t stop reading. :D

    “Kids these days. When I was a kid, if we’d gotten part 2, we’d have been HAPPY to have it!

    Seriously, entitlement much?”

    The kid wanted to read a properly structured story, rather than just getting thrown into the middle without knowing what was going on. That’s a good thing, as he’s showing discrimination and not just mindlessly reading whatever makes its way into his hands the way many of today’s adult fans did in their youth.

    “I’d assure them Warriors Four isn’t, and (though I’m horribly, horribly biased) was a great next step after the movie, because you don’t need to know anything going in.”

    Oh no, that shouldn’t be considered your bias talking. I let a young cousin read it and she had no trouble understanding what was going on at all. She may have even enjoyed it as much a I did, which would be no mean feat. :p

    “Thor, The Mighty Avenger by Langridge and Samnee”
    “2 cheap trades chock full of single-issue stories”

    I’m not sure what Marvel was thinking with those, as they’re undersized, have only four issues worth of new content, but still cost as much as the average larger trade paperbacks. I don’t think that Thor’s silver age origin story needed to be reprinted yet again, especially when it is at odds with the rest of the book’s (quite excellent) contents.

  22. Marc: That’s a very rational, well laid out explanation of your preferences. On the other hand, it was much harder to jump into a Marvel title in the ’90s, wasn’t it?

    And I’m pretty sure Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men fits your criteria. Whether or not it was to your taste, of course.

    On a more trivial matter: I’m just old enough that I THINK the “Episode IV” part of the crawl was added during the first rerelease, about a year after the movie first came out. I know it wasn’t there in the initial release.

  23. Earth2-Chad,

    Star Wars was originally released as Star Wars. It had no Episode IV. It wasn’t A New Hope. It was Star Wars. It wasn’t until Empire Strikes Back was released, and it’s crawl indicated Episode V, Empire Strikes Back. At about that same time, Star Wars was re-released in theaters with Episode IV: A New Hope.

  24. Stuart:

    “And I’m pretty sure Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men fits your criteria. Whether or not it was to your taste, of course.”

    Yes, and I loved it, actually. (I didn’t like the schedule, and I even recall us discussing that at the time on The Engine, but that’s another matter.)

    But the Whedon/Cassaday X-MEN kind of illustrates my point: That book — even as it was selling gangbusters and leading the charts with numbers that Marvel or DC struggle to get with a popular #1 these days — was being marginalized while it was coming out, by other, more publicized crossover stories. And by the time ASTONISHING concluded, its major developments were already old news.

    In part, I’m sure that also goes back to the scheduling problems, in fairness. But in principle, I still find it bizarre that they had this self-contained, sure-footed title by top-flight creators that was being very well-received and sold upwards of 100k — and instead of using that as a model for their line, they opted to leave it behind. (The same goes for Straczynski’s THOR.)

    As far as STAR WARS is concerned, I think it makes a profound difference whether starting in medias res is a conscious storytelling choice or the random result of the kind of scattershot distribution you had in the 1970s — more power to the former, certainly, but where I’m concerned, it’s a good thing that readers don’t have to rely on their thrills being stimulated by random distribution hiccups.

  25. Stuart:

    “the 25 THOR volumes each sold 400 extra copies, does that make THOR a cross-marketing failure? Or is it just harder to see the sales bump?”

    Failure, for the market, at least.

    Sure, not for Marvel, but each of the participating venue that comprise the market is not seeing sales growth they can detect or project, or significantly gain from.

    Success or failure of *marketing* is not simply about the bottom line — not for the marketing partners.

    -B

  26. The best way to attract new readers (but more importantly, new BUYERS) is to have a book stall in the cinemaplex.
    Or make a prequel comic and sell it to the people waiting to see the film. Or “can’t wait for the sequel? Read the comic” banners after the movies.

  27. Nick: Agreed on using the the lee-Kirby origin story in the first collection. About the sizing, however, I like it better cause both volumes are the current size of my granddaughter’s seven-year-old hands and are easier for her and her peers to hold onto to and read!

    Marc: Finally realized that I’m NOT the audience the big 2 needs to be catering to, and that I’m lucky to find anything consistently to read from them. Lately, it’s been Batwoman, Doc Savage, Strange Tales, Batman Inc. and Thor: TMA, all limited series or books in the single-digits. The rest are from indy sources like Top Shelf.

  28. I seem to remember Bob Harras being chased out of his office by a pitchfork-wielding mob for failing to align the X-Books to more accurately reflect the continuity of the first X-Men film.

    Double standard much?

  29. “About the sizing, however, I like it better cause both volumes are the current size of my granddaughter’s seven-year-old hands and are easier for her and her peers to hold onto to and read!”

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the smaller size, just the fact that the price remains the same as the normal trade collections. If you look at the digest-sized collections of Runaways or Power Pack, they have the same amount of (or more) content but cost about $5 less. It’s the same story if you make the comparison with similarly-sized paperback books for adolescents, which cost around half to a third of Thor the Mighty Avenger’s cover price.

    “Finally realized that I’m NOT the audience the big 2 needs to be catering to,”

    Sir, you have my full approbation. :D

  30. You people have blown my mind — and rewritten what I thought was a pretty clear memory from my seventh year on the planet.

    Crazy.

  31. (The same goes for Straczynski’s THOR.)

    I read JMS’s THOR for a while, and dropped it when he announced he was leaving the title. Interesting stuff, a major point being that the Asgardian gods were dependent on humans for their recreation.

    Now, in FEAR ITSELF, Fraction has a recreated Loki and Odin, with Odin lording it over the puny humans, lecturing Thor, and taking the Asgardians back into space. Well, what are they? “Gods” dependent on human belief for their existence or technologically advanced humanoids? They can’t be both.

    Those technical foul-ups are happening constantly in Marvel comics nowadays. Practically nobody there writes decent time travel stories anymore. Fraction and Gillen had Wolverine’s immune system react to adamantium, impossibly, in UXM. Decades worth of continuity and unfamiliar settings and events probably put off more would-be readers than technical mishaps do. but the mishaps certainly don’t draw readers in.

    SRS

  32. I believe we’ve seen Wolverine get adamanitum poisoning several times before.

    Yes, I’ve seen references to those episodes — but adamantium is supposed to be indestructible. If it’s indestructible, it has to be chemically non-reactive. The body’s immune system won’t know the adamantium is there. The human body is a big watery bag of chemicals reacting with each other.

    SRS

  33. Synsidar – for what it’s worth, I would speculate that most people don’t know that something has to break down in order to be poisonous.

  34. Nick: Right there with you about size and pricing on T:TMA, especially since said granddaughter likes those Power Pack digest books, and so do I at less than $10. Which is why I buy a lot of GNs via Amazon. Bought the 2nd T:TMA trade for $10.12 via Amazon.

    As far as understanding my place in the comics audience, I wish my mainstream brethren would “get the memo” too, rather than complain about the state of DC and Marvel.

    Fact is, I buy comics as much to follow the work of my pals in the biz and my fav artists — Brown, Haspiel, Villarubia, Samnee, JHW3, GS Millidge, Koslowski, Aja, Campbell, Francavilla, Thompson (Craig and Jill), Owen, Cariello and the Kubert family — who consistently WOW these 55-year-old eyes.

    Appreciate the approbation, which made me look up the word one more time… ;)))

  35. Hm . . . why not close the gap and just straight-up hand people a comic when they go to see the movie? I remember when the first few Pokemon films came out, most theaters would have special cards for the card game as giveaways.

    And if full issues are too expensive, why not a little pamphlet recommending GNs/ongoing titles? Like “If you enjoyed the movie, check out this collection of great Thor comics!”

  36. @Glenn, it’s definitely the comics. Gone is the Shooter era edict that anybody should be able to pick up a comic any random month and follow the story.

    These things are written for people who are willing to buy the supermega Summer-long story arc intertwined with six other titles.

    On a tangent, I miss those Costco bundles. I don’t think they were there to bring in new readers so much as make a buck while not getting pulped. Putting Thor on the top was to make the package look more attractive to casual buyers.

  37. You said it, “finite graphic novel or series” – The current superhero format of Marvel and DC is similar to soap operas on TV, which go on forever. You know soap operas are in trouble these days, right? My favorite comic book groing up was Peter Bagge’s “Hate” and the single thing I like most is that each issue was its own contained story. I’d get some superhero comic books, mainly X-Men, but I’d lose interest after a few issues. I preferred to buy them as single-story paperbacks like the Death of Superman and The Dark Knight Returns.

  38. I got into comics as an adult around 2004 because of the second Spider-Man movie. I didn’t grow up with comics but knew they existed. I had no idea where to find them but an internet search pointed me to my local comic shop.

    I was a bit overwhelmed that first visit because it was all so foreign to me. But I was so impressed with the comic shop experience – looking through all the new comics and trades to see what interested me, talking with the owner and seeing his passion. I had just found a whole new world waiting to be discovered and it drew me in.

    Seven years and thousands of dollars later I am still reading and collecting, so yes these movies do bring new readers to the medium.

  39. We should all resist the temptation to bring up any example of getting into comics that is more than 20 years old (i.e. Shooter) because anything further out than that just doesn’t apply. When Jim Shooter got canned from Marvel in 1987, the world didn’t have DVDs, the internet or Carrottop, so I think we can safely say it was a very different place.

  40. What to do?

    From the publisher’s position: The comics exist solely to maintain copyrights and trademarks. As long as publishers know the fans are going to buy them no matter what, they don’t need to care about expanding their audience.

    The pack up above, and things like Zuda and Minx, are lip service to the idea that they want an audience beyond the forty somethings that keep their IP testing publishing arm afloat.

    Thus, do nothing.

    From a comics reader’s position: Vote with your wallet. That other people keep voting for continuity porn is not your problem.

    For the creator who actually wants to create rather than make their superhero fanfic official: Bypass the whole mess and go to the web. You’ll have pretty much an equal chance of success.

  41. That kid sounds hilarious! I can just image it! haha…

    The question is what douche put these packs together? How hard is it to include three part 1 issues? – Or even better – a couple of done in one stories???? I miss those myself! haha…

    Hopefully someone from Marvel is reading this article so maybe they can do a little better for when Captain America is released – and heres a tip Marvel – DON’T include a Bucky Captain America comic!

  42. @James – it appears to me that they were using books that had recently been published and could easily be redirected into the packages. In fact, the deal might have been made a while back and the alternate covers printed at the same time as the original print run.

    Picking something from months or years prior would have meant coming up with a whole new print run just for the 3-packs.

    Just speculation.

  43. Think of it this way: back in the day, kids would just turn on TV and watch whatever was on. Now when you discover a new show, where do you start? Season 1 Episode 1.

    Those are the expectations now, and I’m not surprised that this generation doesn’t want to read issue 2 of something. Especially when issue 2 was obviously written for people who read issue 1, because writers write differently now too.

  44. We should all resist the temptation to bring up any example of getting into comics that is more than 20 years old (i.e. Shooter) because anything further out than that just doesn’t apply. When Jim Shooter got canned from Marvel in 1987, the world didn’t have DVDs, the internet or Carrottop, so I think we can safely say it was a very different place.

    _____________________________

    True, but the world did have VHS tapes, laser discs,music CD’s,cable TV,and video games (both home consoles and video game arcades).

  45. I think it’s worth remembering that the average comic is better now than at any previous moment in time. Even taking the U.S. market in isolation, the level of craft on display is at an unprecedented high. There’s still much room for improvement, certainly, but let’s keep that in perspective.

    If we’re talking about Marvel and DC, though, it’s pretty obvious that those companies are choking creativity right now, because they generally value their “universes” and “mega-narratives” more than they do accessible stand-alone books with strong creative voices and distinct flavors. (There are exceptions; Bendis, Johns and Morrison seem to have carte blanche, presumably because pretty much anything they touch is guaranteed to sell.)

  46. Marc-Oliver:

    I’m currently reading more X-Men-family titles than at any point in history. (What can I say? I started reading X-Men 40 years ago when I was 5 years old, and that left very deep traces in my brain.) Except for the annoying semi-annual crossover events, each of the titles has its own continuity and storyline; while there is an overall storyline that is loosely advancing in a bunch of titles at once, each specific title is mostly written and marketed with the expectation that the reader is only following that title.

    The crossover events generally rope in only a few of the titles–e.g., “Age of X” really only affected X-Men Legacy and New Mutants. The really big events can tie up four titles; e.g., Second Coming ran in Uncanny, Legacy, X-Force, and New Mutants (and involved the recently concluded Cable series). Other titles participate with peripheral stories that acknowledge the big events but didn’t get overwhelmed by them.

    Frankly, I like the occasional crossover event. I like the idea of events so big they splash water all around the ocean of the Marvel U. The execution is mostly fourth-rate, though.

    (X-Men Legacy, by the way, is an excellent title; I would never have guessed that Mike Carey would be a great X-writer. And Matt Fraction’s Uncanny run was delightful as well. And the overall quality of the X-titles is very high right now, which continues to amaze me.)

  47. I’m currently reading more X-Men-family titles than at any point in history.

    I’m reading UXM and AXM, which is enough, as far as I’m concerned, to keep track of things.

    Didn’t you get a whiplash, though, going from “Oh, the X-gene is gone and we can’t replace it!” to a storyline in which the X-Men are facing artificially-created genetic duplicates of themselves? The absence of scientific literacy, or just a lack of caring about whether an event (e.g., M-Day) makes sense is bothersome and can drive away readers or prevent them from even starting to get into Marvel or DC comics.

    SRS

  48. Kevin:

    Yeah, I know the spin-off books are mostly self-contained; I’ve been enjoying X-FACTOR.

    In terms of a flagship title that sets the agenda for the X-Men, though, there basically hasn’t been one since 2004. Instead, we’ve had Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and now Kieron Gillen following the dots provided by editorial, story conferences and a five-year-old storyline that never quite worked to begin with.

    What I’ve been looking for was an Ed Brubaker X-Men book, or a Matt Fraction X-Men book, or a Kieron Gillen X-Men book, in the same way that we had a Grant Morrison X-Men book. But it hasn’t happened, and I think that’s Marvel’s loss, on a whole range of levels.

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