Last Friday, Marvel lifted the curtain on a new publishing initiative. This week on The Marvel Rundown I’m weighing in on some cursory thoughts at the publisher’s first steps of announcing a huge new launch, taking a look at what they presented fans with and some of the ways that House of Ideas can steal back some momentum from across the pond with Marvel Legacy.
I wanted a fresh start and you did too:
After months of touting what was Marvel’s answer to DC’s Rebirth, the publisher announced an announcement last Friday that ended up being the debut of a number of animated GIF’s homaging classic covers. You heard me right…a bunch of GIF images homaging classic covers. That’s how Marvel chose to reveal an “exciting new initiative kicking off this fall across the entire Marvel Universe.”
I just couldn’t help but think: where does the publisher go from here? It seems obvious that, even though we haven’t seen creative teams for most titles yet, many books that will be rebooted with Legacy will retain their current creative teams. A number of series are continuing with little change, leaving lots of readers scratching their heads wondering what the point of all this was in the first place. True believers wanted a reboot with new titles and a new creative direction, but Marvel gave them a legacy instead.
Readers can only assume that the newly released covers are teases at books returning to the slate, but there’s less than a handful of new books teased in the bunch. Is Marvel Legacy not a back-to-basics approach for the publisher but an effort spanning over a couple months to play the hits? Piecing together exactly what Marvel was trying to say with these animated cover images is cryptic and doesn’t give the lapsed Marvel readers much of a reason to pick up the line again. There’s no interviews or formal explanations of what these books have in store for fans. The messaging is leaving everyone in the industry confused.
It does seem that this is the first steps of a very soft reboot, something that was needed to keep fan interest going. Instead of shifting all the focus over to bigger heroes, the spotlight has been shown to be reflected towards newer and older heroes alike. Both Miles and Peter have books in the new launch which shows that the publisher definitely has the right mindset when they went into planning the roster of books. There are a ton of readers who want to see these characters in solo books and on teams. Thankfully Champions and Avengers are also both sticking around placing each Spider-Man in a tam book as well, but keeping the same talent and roster on these books is making them feel less fresh than they did then they first launched.
The Old Guard remains in power:
Like most fans reading these books I wanted Marvel to shuffle around creators and launch a ton of new books. At one point, I was even worried at the prospect of the line going for a back-to-basics feel that would seem too pedestrian. However, Marvel is still bringing the weird with books like America and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Seeing the line take some more risks than DC right now is certainly cause for celebration but lots of alienated readers are still looking for a clean entry point that doesn’t quite give the last headache of a title with the three digits in the overall number. Seeing comics end so soon after they launched would have been a shame but getting series like Luke Cage reverted back to legacy numbering with a simple homage cover doesn’t quite have the same impact that an all-new ongoing series does. I’m not sure why the titles that launched over the past few months weren’t held back for this sweeping reboot.
While getting a couple of surprises in the overall line was definitely fun, it does seem as though some of these mini-series that were brought back may have stuck around for the wrong reasons. A couple of recent titles like Thanos and Weapon X started off on the wrong foot with me and getting to see those talent pitch some other books for Marvel Legacy would have given this reboot more excitement and a cleaner slate. Going back to some of these titles with little-to-no change is not the best way to get back readers who wanted something more. Some of these books are playing with the same status quo for years with little change. Old Man Logan and and the time-displaced X-Men have stuck around in the Universe for far too long now. Somehow Marvel has avoided bringing back some of the original mutants they killed. At this point in time Cyclops, Professor Xavier, Wolverine and Jean Grey are (mostly) dead. It feels like this is as good a time as ever to start bringing those characters back and awakening some of the potential in the X-Line as a whole.
How to fix it:
Now that Marvel is here and the new books have been announced, I would love to see the creative teams on these titles shuffled around as much as possible as they have not been formally announced. Don’t give readers exactly what they are expecting because it is another chance for them to tune out. While I do think that this overall line is taking a lot of risks, Marvel needs to go back to focusing on what they made them popular in the first place. Touching on the familiar, older heroes is something that people are actively hungry for. With Marvel’s trinity front-and-center on the Mark Brooks-drawn promotional art for the series it does seem that some of the aspects are changing here and that the publisher does want to shine the spotlight back on these beloved characters.
As hinted at earlier in this column, I have been looking for Marvel to push the envelope and rocket (raccoon) into some of the newer parts of the Universe. They are spinning some interesting concepts out of existing series which is a great start but I think the aspect about Marvel Legacy that hurts the most is that so much of it doesn’t feel new. It seems obvious that the publisher is holding back some big books. I expect Iron Man, Captain America and the original Thor all to get some brand new series with classic Marvel heavy-hitters. Perhaps when those books come to fruition that could be the first steps of fans finally coming around to what the publisher has to offer. Aside from that huge new launch, they could potentially keep the momentum going with The Fantastic Two series teased by Axel Alonso’s Twitter. Getting a Generations book, switching some creative teams around and bringing back the original heroes and going from there could definitely get the publisher enough steam for a big relaunch.
Another aspect that does sour fans is the staggering amount of crossovers that readers are endlessly complaining about. Over the past few years there have been a certain number fans that stick with a title, hit a crossover and then decide to jump off. After Secret Empire the publisher has promised to stay quiet for 18 months. 18 months later readers will be begging for the status quo of some of the series to be shaken up and finally ready for your next crossover. If Jason Aaron could possibly come back and kick off the second wave of Marvel Legacy with a big crossover we could be in a totally different place.
The bottom line is that Marvel is still publishing a ton of great books and a lot of them are sticking around when Marvel Legacy launches in what seems like just a few short months. With the announcement of some big books still on the way, the publisher could be in a better place than most fans expect. The House of Ideas may not be in a position to eclipse Rebirth just yet, but it is refreshing to know that the publisher is keeping the Legacy heroes alongside the founding Avengers.
Please stop talking now:
As this column has proven, I’m a huge Marvel publishing fan and unlike much of my peers, I’m actually reading a high quantity of the line still. I believe that the quirkier side of the Marvel Universe still has lots of potential to deliver a reading experience of immense quality but those quirky series aren’t the books that are front-and-center in the line. Lots of these books are continuing with the returns of Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Thor and some new favorites including Black Bolt and Generation X sticking around for Legacy.
I get the impression that Marvel may have stated some of their marketing language too ambitiously. If the previously announced one-shot and introduction of these books is the complete scope of the publishing initiative. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to try and be cautiously optimistic and hope that there is something else that we haven’t heard about coming down the line that just hasn’t been announced until Secret Empire is a little bit closer to the finish line. Announcing a few animated GIF’s and using verbose language is definitely confusing messaging but I couldn’t be more happier for the legacy heroes to team up with their older incarnations in Generations and we couldn’t possibly know everything that the House of Ideas has rolled up their sleeves yet! Let’s see where we’re at with all this in another 18 months.
That’s all for this week, see you in seven with our normal format!