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Analysis: What’s coming – and what’s not – in Marvel’s revised summer schedule

Marvel's updated schedule of reduced output for the summer months has left a lot of previously-solicited comics in limbo.

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Marvel’s updated schedule of reduced output for the summer months has left a lot of previously-solicited comics in limbo.Back in early April, Marvel announced they were temporarily reducing their output by 1/3rd for titles scheduled to ship in May and June. At the time I looked at the titles Marvel had solicited for release in those months, and engaged in some educated speculation about what might still be released, and what would see delays. Now that Marvel has released their revised release schedule for June, July, and August, let’s take a look at what’s coming, and what’s still to-come.

We’ll start with what’s actually coming from Marvel during the summer months. In a typical month, Marvel solicits around 100 single-issue comics. For the three months+ from May 27th through the end of August, Marvel has announced/solicited just 109 physical single-issue comics — nearly two-thirds less than normal for a three-month period. That’s a significant reduction, and more in line with what Marvel said they were cutting than what they were keeping. A vast majority of the titles on offer during this period are books that were previously-solicited prior to the pandemic and the Diamond shutdown. Here’s a quick breakdown of when the titles scheduled through the end of August were previously solicited:

Month Previously Solicited Count of Single Issues on New Schedule
March 2020* 1
April 2020 51
May 2020 39
June 2020 (pre-pandemic) 13
Not Previously Solicited 5
Grand Total 109

 

*The lone March book is an issue of Deadpool that was already delayed until April, but wasn’t present on the April solicitations.

Of the five books that weren’t previously solicited, two are entirely new releases, Maestro and Fantastic Four: Antithesis; two are reprints either in the form of a facsimile edition or a Marvel Tales collection; and the fifth is the final issue of an Empyre tie-in miniseries starring Captain America.

Honestly it’s a little surprising to see anything that wasn’t previously solicited already on the schedule, especially considering the volume of books that were previously-solicited that now aren’t on the schedule. Here’s a breakdown of how many books were previously-solicited, but that aren’t found on the new schedule for the next three months, as well as what types of series those books are part of:

Month Previously Solicited Count of Ongoing Series Issues Not on New Schedule Count of Miniseries Issues & One-Shots Not on New Schedule
April 2020 17 34
May 2020 24 40
June 2020 (pre-pandemic) 47 37
Grand Total 88 111

 

A majority of the previously-solicited issues not yet on the new schedule are miniseries and one-shots, which I previously theorized would be the most likely titles to not make the cut. The difference between minis/one-shots and ongoing series isn’t as great as I expected it to be, but taking the pre-pandemic June titles into consideration is what evens up the scores. Only 13 previously-solicited titles from that month have made it onto the revised schedule thus far (and of those, eight of them are Empyre-related).

Before we get into looking at the specific books that haven’t yet been rescheduled, I want to note again what Marvel said back in early April. The news at the time was that they were ordering pencils down & cutting their output by 1/3rd, which when multi-shipping books were factored in amounted to around 15-20% of their total line. The updated schedule includes multiple double-shipping titles, though, and as already noted reflects a much larger output reduction than previously revealed. That’s just something to keep in mind as we look at the specifics of what that reduction looks like, and consider that, given the volume of titles, a lot of these comics may already be completed or nearing some form of completion.

Setting aside the June pre-pandemic solicits, let’s break down the titles from the April & May solicits that haven’t yet been rescheduled. We’ll look at the miniseries and one-shots first. Here are the 74 previously-solicited minis/one-shots that haven’t yet shown up again:

Title

Previously Solicited Month Series Type
2020 FORCE WORKS #3 April Miniseries
2020 IRONHEART #1* April Miniseries
2020 IRONHEART #2 May Miniseries
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #101 FACSIMILE EDITION May One-Shot
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE DAILY BUGLE #4 April Miniseries
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE DAILY BUGLE #5 May Miniseries
ANT-MAN #4* April Miniseries
ANT-MAN #5 May Miniseries
ATLANTIS ATTACKS #4 April Miniseries
ATLANTIS ATTACKS #5 May Miniseries
AVENGERS OF THE WASTELANDS #4* April Miniseries
AVENGERS OF THE WASTELANDS #5 May Miniseries
AVENGERS: MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 May One-Shot
BLACK WIDOW: WIDOW’S STING #1 April One-Shot
CONAN: BATTLE FOR THE SERPENT CROWN #3 April Miniseries
CONAN: BATTLE FOR THE SERPENT CROWN #4 May Miniseries
DARK AGNES #3 April Miniseries
DARK AGNES #4 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: GHOST RIDER #1 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: SPIDER-MAN #1 April Miniseries
EMPYRE: SPIDER-MAN #2 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: SQUADRON SUPREME #1 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: STORMRANGER #1 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: THE INVASION OF WAKANDA #1 May Miniseries
EMPYRE: THOR #1 May Miniseries
FALCON & WINTER SOLDIER #3 April Miniseries
FALCON & WINTER SOLDIER #4 May Miniseries
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: NIGHTCRAWLER #1** April One-Shot
GWEN STACY #3 April Miniseries
GWEN STACY #4 May Miniseries
HAWKEYE: FREEFALL #5* April Miniseries
HAWKEYE: FREEFALL #6 May Miniseries
HOW TO READ COMICS THE MARVEL WAY #1 April Miniseries
HOW TO READ COMICS THE MARVEL WAY #2 May Miniseries
IMMORTAL HULK: THE THRESHING PLACE #1 April One-Shot
JUGGERNAUT #1 May Miniseries
MARVEL #2 April Miniseries
MARVEL #3 May Miniseries
MARVEL FANFARE #10 FACSIMILE EDITION April One-Shot
MARVEL TALES: HELLSTROM #1 May One-Shot
MARVEL TALES: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL ZOMBIES #1 April One-Shot
MARVEL ZOMBIES: RESURRECTION #1 April Miniseries
MARVEL ZOMBIES: RESURRECTION #2 May Miniseries
MARVEL ZOMBIES: RESURRECTION #3 May Miniseries
MARVEL ZOMBIES: RESURRECTION #4 May Miniseries
MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN: THE BLACK CAT STRIKES #4* April Miniseries
MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN: THE BLACK CAT STRIKES #5 May Miniseries
MARVELS X #5 May Miniseries
NEBULA #3 April Miniseries
NEBULA #4 May Miniseries
NEW WARRIORS #1 April Miniseries
NEW WARRIORS #2 May Miniseries
POWER PACK #1 April Miniseries
POWER PACK #2 May Miniseries
PUNISHER VS. BARRACUDA #2 May Miniseries
RAVENCROFT #4* April Miniseries
RAVENCROFT #5 May Miniseries
REVENGE OF THE COSMIC GHOST RIDER #5 April Miniseries
SPIDER-MAN NOIR #2 April Miniseries
SPIDER-MAN NOIR #3 May Miniseries
SPIDER-MAN: MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 May One-Shot
STAR #4* April Miniseries
STAR #5 May Miniseries
TASKMASTER #1 April Miniseries
TASKMASTER #2 May Miniseries
THE PUNISHER VS. BARRACUDA #1 April Miniseries
THE UNION #1 May Miniseries
WEB OF VENOM: WRAITH #1 April One-Shot
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #1 April Miniseries
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #2 May Miniseries
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32 FACSIMILE EDITION May One-Shot
WIDOWMAKERS: RED GUARDIAN AND YELENA BELOVA #1 April One-Shot
X-MEN #12 FACSIMILE EDITION May One-Shot
X-MEN: MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 April One-Shot

 

The titles that are indicated with asterisks have been made available as digital-only releases. As you can see, there are more issues left in many of those series, so it’s likely those other issues will see digital-only release as well. The title with a double-asterisk, Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1, was solicited for release in April, then moved up for a March release when the GSXM: Magneto one-shot was delayed, so we can’t really count that as an outstanding release.

Digital titles and bumped-up books aside, there are a few facsimile editions and Marvel Tales books in there, which makes sense. There are also quite a few new-launch miniseries that are pretty easily delayed without impacting other things. A handful of titles that were intended to tie in to the Black Widow movie release have also been delayed along with the movie itself.

Among the surprises here are the 2020 minis, which tie in to the Iron Man 2020 series that’s already been rescheduled (I’d guess 2020 Force Works will make the digital jump along with 2020 Ironheart), and a slew of Empyre tie-ins. Five of the six issues of the main Empyre miniseries have already been rescheduled, as have quite a few of the other tie-in minis and one-shots. Will Marvel make seven Empyre tie-in series digital-only?

As for the other mini-series that were already in-progress, like Atlantis Attacks, Gwen Stacy, Falcon & Winter Soldier, Nebula, and Marvels X, given that Marvel’s already shown their willingness to go digital-only for quite a few other miniseries that were already in progress, I’d wager at least some of these will end up doing that as well.

Now let’s look at the 41 ongoing series single issues, originally scheduled for April and May 2020, that haven’t yet been rescheduled:

Title

Previously Solicited Month

Series Type

AERO #10 April Ongoing Series
AERO #11 May Ongoing Series
AMAZING MARY JANE #7 April Ongoing Series
AMAZING MARY JANE #8 May Ongoing Series
BLACK PANTHER #23 April Ongoing Series
BLACK PANTHER #24 May Ongoing Series
BLACK WIDOW #1 April Ongoing Series
BLACK WIDOW #2 May Ongoing Series
CHAMPIONS #1 April Ongoing Series
CHAMPIONS #2 May Ongoing Series
CHILDREN OF THE ATOM #1 April Ongoing Series
CHILDREN OF THE ATOM #2 May Ongoing Series
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #15 April Ongoing Series
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #16 May Ongoing Series
DEADPOOL #7 May Ongoing Series
DOCTOR DOOM #7 April Ongoing Series
DOCTOR DOOM #8 May Ongoing Series
DR. STRANGE #6 May Ongoing Series
GHOST RIDER #8 May Ongoing Series
GHOST-SPIDER #9* April Ongoing Series
GHOST-SPIDER #10 May Ongoing Series
MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #14 April Ongoing Series
MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #15 May Ongoing Series
MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #18 May Ongoing Series
MORBIUS #6 April Ongoing Series
MORBIUS #7 May Ongoing Series
RUNAWAYS #32 April Ongoing Series
RUNAWAYS #33 May Ongoing Series
SAVAGE AVENGERS #12 April Ongoing Series
SAVAGE AVENGERS #13 May Ongoing Series
SCREAM: CURSE OF CARNAGE #6 April Ongoing Series
SCREAM: CURSE OF CARNAGE #7 May Ongoing Series
STAR WARS #6 May Ongoing Series
STRANGE ACADEMY #3 May Ongoing Series
STRIKEFORCE #8 April Ongoing Series
STRIKEFORCE #9 May Ongoing Series
SWORD MASTER #10 April Ongoing Series
SWORD MASTER #11 May Ongoing Series
THE MARVELS #1 May Ongoing Series
VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #10 April Ongoing Series
VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #11 May Ongoing Series

 

Only one ongoing series, Ghost-Spider, has already made the switch to a digital-only release, but again there are more issues of that series that have been solicited but not yet rescheduled, so I’d imagine those will end up digital as well.

There are also a few new series launches here, including Champions, The Marvels, Children of the Atom, and Black Widow. The delay for the Black Widow ongoing, like with the minis and one-shots, makes sense given the delay for the movie’s release. Champions, along with the Power Pack and New Warriors miniseries, all spun out of the Outlawed one-shot, and will likely all be rescheduled for around the same time. I would also put the ongoing Magnificent Ms. Marvel in that bucket, given the big role Kamala played in Outlawed. Also worth noting is that all of the Conan-related titles, both ongoing and miniseries, have not yet been rescheduled.

Which leaves us with the ongoing series that were already in progress. There are a few odd titles out on this list, as they’ve had other issues already rescheduled. Those include Deadpool, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, Star Wars, and Strange Academy.

The remaining ongoing series have multiple issues that have yet to be rescheduled. Those eleven series are Aero, Amazing Mary Jane, Black Panther, Doctor Doom, Morbius, Runaways, Savage Avengers, Scream: Curse of Carnage, Strikeforce, Sword Master, and Valkyrie: Jane Foster. Glancing at Marvel’s sales for March 2020, three of those books are in the top 50% of Marvel books for the month, while the others are in the bottom half.

Actually, looking at the sales chart, comparing it to what’s been rescheduled already and what’s not yet, is pretty revealing. Nearly every Marvel title in the top half of their sales for March has already been rescheduled. Of their top 43 titles for March (of which five were either one-shots or the conclusions of miniseries), only six of the 37 ongoings/minis have yet to return to the schedule: ongoing series Doctor Doom, Savage Avengers, and Valkyrie: Jane Foster, and miniseries Marvel, Spider-Man Noir, and Gwen Stacy. Of the bottom 43 March titles, seven were one-shots/miniseries conclusions; six have already been rescheduled; and thirty have not (though included in those thirty are the titles that went digital-only like Star and Ghost-Spider).

So what does all of this mean? What does the future hold for the Marvel books that haven’t yet been rescheduled? I’d guess that not all of them will end up being released physically. The titles in the top-half of Marvel’s sellers seem like sure things to return physically, and August’s solicitations only include 48 single-issue comics, so they’re clearly still ramping things up (and giving retailers a break on volume they feel compelled to order). Many of the Empyre tie-ins, which can’t really be released once the Empyre event is over (or at least it would be weird if they were), will likely either go digital-only or straight to collections. Going straight-to-trade and packaging them with the other series that are being released physically would honestly be a smart way to get the most ardent collectors to ‘double-dip’ by picking up collections of issues they already bought just to get the ones they haven’t had the opportunity to read yet.

Going digital-only also appears to have been at least somewhat successful for Marvel. Looking at Comixology’s top sellers at the time of this writing, in a week that saw the return of most publishers to releasing new issues, Marvel has three books in the top 24 – and those are $3.99-priced books competing with digital-first titles priced at a quarter of that price. Of full-priced titles, Hawkeye: Freefall #5 is in second place, Star #4 is in eighth, and 2020 Ironheart #1 just misses the top 10. Those are pretty impressive showings for books that some consider Marvel to have buried by releasing them digitally. Imagine if they were tie-ins to Marvel’s big summer event. Imagine if they were X-books.

One last thing to consider here, with regards to what’s coming and what’s not, is what’s already been printed. Marvel had a slate of 23 single-issues on the schedule for April 1st, all of which would’ve already been printed and sitting in a Diamond warehouse the day they announced their shutdown. Of those 23 titles, thirteen have been rescheduled for physical release; seven have yet to be rescheduled; and three of them — Ant-Man #4, Avengers of the Wasteland #4, and Ravencroft #4 — have been made available as digital-only releases. Physical copies of those titles do exist, then. But where are they? That’s probably a question for Diamond.

Whatever the path forward, here’s hoping Marvel is able to get as many of these books out as possible. We’ve reached out to the publisher for information on how and when the as-yet unaccounted for issues will be released, and have thus far not received a response. 


Correction: a previous version of this article did not reflect that Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1, while solicited for April, was released at the end of March. The article has been updated to reflect that.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “Of full-priced titles, Hawkeye: Freefall #5 is in second place, Star #4 is in eighth, and 2020 Ironheart #1 just misses the top 10. Those are pretty impressive showings for books that some consider Marvel to have buried by releasing them digitally.”

    In the absence of sales figures, those rankings mean either Marvel is really stupid or digital sales are really low. Hawkeye: Freefall #4 sold 12,988 in shops to come in at #134 out of the top 500 comics in March while Star #3 came in at #77 with 22,641 issues sold the same month. If they’re selling ANYTHING like those numbers digitally, why is Marvel even bothering to print them for the Direct Market?

    Mike

  2. Miles Morales: Spider-Man #18 was solicited as being part of the Outlawed storyline. Perhaps Marvel wants to hold the issue back until more Outlawed titles are released. Issue #17 is slated to come out June 10th.

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