By Todd Allen

We’re a little less than three weeks away from Comicon and there’s a ton of speculation about Marvel’s next move.  Which is assuming there is a *formal* next move, granted.  If you look at the May sales estimates, AVX is distracting from a sad state of affairs.  Throw out the AVX minis, and no estimate breaks 70K.  Throw out the Avengers and X-titles getting pumped up by the event (which are just under 70K and would likely be clustered about 60K without the bump).  Selling in the 50Ks are three Spider-Man issues and Uncanny X-Force sneaks in.  So the 40K  band is pretty decent sales at Marvel these days.  Throw out their most successful sales stunt in years and the rest of the line is as low as Marvel has been.

It has been announced that Brian Bendis will be leaving all the Avengers titles, somewhere around the end of 2012.  It has been announced Jonathan Hickman is going to be leaving Fantastic Four and FF.  (Begging the question of whether you need to still have FF without Hickman.)  The rumor mill is churning that Fraction is off Iron Man and Thor.  I’ll admit Iron Man has felt like it’s in an awful hurry to wrap up lately and Thor looks to be in a crossover with Journey Into Mystery where both titles are double-shipping in September to end that mini-Event.  You hear a lot of other things bandied about like the X-titles getting creative refreshes.  This has led to some theories.

It’s a pretty commonly held belief that Marvel’s going to be doing a large creative shuffle, based on the Bendis and Hickman announcements and the persistent Thor and Iron Man rumors.  It is suspected this will be turned into an Event, similar to DC’s New 52 relaunch.  Fresh creative teams, mass jumping on point.  At this point relatively few people think Marvel will reboot their continuity (that’s what the Ultimate universe is for), but a lot of people are openly asking if there are a LOT of new #1s heading our way in October.

I decided to try and backtrack the Hickman and Bendis announcements to see if there was anything concrete pointing to October, since those are the only two “official” data points.

According Marvel’s website, Hickman’s last issues are supposed to be Fantastic Four #611 and FF #23, both which would ship in October.  Which is not to say those titles couldn’t double ship  in October with the new team following.  Marvel does plenty of double shipping these days.

I haven’t seen a last issue for Bendis on any of the Avengers titles, but I also haven’t seen any solicitations for “Ultron War,” thought by some to be the end cap to the Bendis Avengers saga.  Will he be running Ultron War in Avengers?  Will it be an Event mini-series?  Will it be an event mini-series that brings the cosmic portion of the Marvel universe into the forefront?  (Ultron was involved in the various Annihilation Events that took over the Marvel cosmic line.)  For that matter, is Bendis going to take the reigns of the cosmic titles, post-Avengers?  All valid questions.  All questions the make you wonder if coordinated changes are coming en mass to October or, if such things are really happening, will it be later?

And there we are.  Two confirmed creators, one without a firm end date and a major project not yet scheduled.  Another with his last issue scheduled for October.

The October solicitations should drop just as people are heading to San Diego, if things follow the normal schedule.  In recent years, Marvel (among other publishers) has backed off making really major announcements at Comicon because all the film and television tends to drown out the comics announcements.  If Marvel was rebooting their entire continuity (again, this isn’t a popular theory and mostly is only spoken of because DC did it), yes — that would probably break through into the type of media they’d want to get, even at Comicon.  If they’re just going to be having new #1 issues, that’s going to be lost in the shuffle where the non-comics press is concerned.  If there’s just some creative teams swapping around, as most people think, that’s going to be completely lost.

So we sit and we wait.  If Marvel’s really going to be doing a modest shuffling of their creative teams in October, they’ll probably drop some news about that in the next couple weeks and let some buzz build prior to Comicon.  If this rumored swatch of changes is really going to be November, they’re more likely to drop the news during the show and court more attention afterwards.

The announced departures, the rumored changes, DC’s relaunch and Marvel’s sagging non-Event sales have combined for some pretty serious speculation.  I figure we’ll have a better idea what’s really going on in three weeks or less.


  1. Bendis on x-men fits pretty well. He does the little character moments well and I think he could do a lot with some of the characters that have fallen to the wayside in the last few years. The titles aren’t bad but they need to be reorganized.

    I like aspects of what is going on in the last few years of x-men but it’s lost that “fight for a world that hates and fears you” philosophy and it’s kind of strayed away from what makes it unique (maybe that’s the point but still)

    I kinda hope they trim an x-book or two and move them out of utopia. The most glaring problem with the franchise is that, with the exception of x-factor and wolverine and the x-men none of the books have much of an identity.

  2. I will cry blood if Kieron Gillen leaves the X-Men. Wolverine & The X-Men is a fairly terrible title, and with each new issue it becomes worse. Jason Aaron can’t do light-hearted silliness for an extended period of time, and he doesn’t seem to know much about the characters he’s using — especially poor ol’ Kitty Pryde.

  3. I will give up Marvel if they reboot their universe. That would be direct copy of DC…..they better come up with something creative cause number 1s wont cut it either. Marvel has relaunched everything like 14 times only to renumber and sometime relaunch to no1 again! Lets see….but it better be more interesting than Fear itself which was one of the worst event I remember (Flashpoint was as bad!).

  4. So, if you remove all the books that sell well you’re left with the books that don’t? Fascinating observation.

    A publishing strategy is under no obligations to follow the “rules” people think the industry usually adheres to. Shipping a book more than once in a month? Cheater!

  5. @Steve Morris, Aaron’s X-Men must be of a subjective quality, because it and (X-Factor) are the only X-titles I read — they’re the only books that sound “right” to me after 25 years of reading X-books. Especially Kitty.

  6. Ryan, I know that you are particularly sensitive to the doomsaying that crops up in these threads, but for once Todd has a point–he isn’t talking about comics sales in general, but specifically how Marvel’s sales are pretty weak once you get beyond the top echelon. Comics sales might be up overall, but that doesn’t seem to be true of Marvel’s mid-list.
    I for one don’t think that Marvel wants to do a line-wide relaunch, but I do wonder if DC’s success with the new 52–at least so far as the hype goes for those who like to hate on DC sales–hasn’t boxed Marvel in a bit. How often are they asked about whether or not they are planning on following DC? Their stock answer from last summer–we don’t need to relaunch/reboot/etc.–probably doesn’t have the same forcefulness given where a lot of their books sit, saleswise.

  7. If they want attention drawn back to them from people who have left them, and more permanant sales how about going back to $3 comics! Or increasing the content of the $4 comics. Thats the ONLY way I’ll be picking up and trying out their titles.
    I refuse to pay $4 for 18-20 pages of story – that ends up only being part 1 or a 6, 8 , 10 or 12 part story!! Its just not worth it!!!
    The weird thing is, is that in the last how ever many years they have had the price jacked up, I haven’t even missed reading their titles. Its given me more time and opportunity to try other titles from different publishers.

  8. Adding to the possible switcheroo madness, I get the feeling that Brubaker might be leaving Captain America soon. His last couple story arcs haven’t quite had the same zip that the rest of his run has, and now it looks like he’s gotten his mojo back with Winter Soldier. Plus, Cullen Bunn (who took over Cap team-up) is co-writing the next story arc with him, so it could be more of a “soft handoff” than a hard switch.

  9. have to agree that a reboot seems unlikely and a company wide relaunch seems pretty unlikely too (tho’ maybe certain x or avengers titles might get the relaunch treatment after the end of AVX to usher in a new direction for certain characters in the aftermath of AVX).but then again, maybe not. what seems more than likely will be writers and artist switching books, with maybe some new blood creative teams getting a shot at some of the higher profile books. fine by me, bendis has been on the avengers for waaaay too long and some fresh writing and artwork would be a welcome change (then again, be careful what you wish for). guess we’ll all know soon enough.

  10. If writers stop writing superhero comics for Marvel, then what happens to Icon?

    Two unknowns: digital sales, graphic novels. Marvel has a horrible sales record with graphic novels.. The Event books don’t seem to generate excitement a few months later when the collections are issued.

    Digital sales are split: DCU subscriptions, which generate a conglomerate profit and which Marvel can use to gauge interest in specific issues; single issue sales via secondary websites.

    If these sales continue, then how do the corporate overlords react?

  11. I don’t get this article. The author just threw out Marvels titles that sell well and is asserting the titles that don’t sell as well don’t sell as well. Now I know why Marvel Aand DC ignore the Internet.

  12. I think Fraction is unpopular with the very hard core Thor fans. There is a feeling that he doesn’t really understand Thor. While Gillen seems popular with them.

    On a more general note there are a lot of Thor fans who are disappointed with the way in which he seems to have been depowered recently. There was a time when he and the Hulk seemed at rough parity in terms of strength. Yet nowadays the Hulk seems all over Thor.

    As an Aussie sci-fi writer:
    I’ve written a solid collection of Marvel (espec Thor) fan fiction, why not check it out?

  13. “The author just threw out Marvels titles that sell well ”

    The clear answer is that AvX (and associated bumps to the parent books) is INHERENTLY unsustainable.

    The strength of a company is not short-term self-contained projects, but month-in, month-out sales of their ongoing books.


  14. I only buy 3 Marvel titles these days because I finally gave up. Every comic has lulls where it’s just not as good as it was but then another run gets your interest again if you truly love the characters. Marvel hasn’t done this for me. Since Civil War, the Marvel characters don’t “feel” like the characters I love (I starting buying my Marvels in the early 80’s and I have an older brother that was buying them in the early 70’s). They feel like pieces that are put into place so that a superstar writer gets to tell a story that he wants to tell. Marvel gets their sales but their books started to seem like they were in wait mode until the next event. Every story doesn’t have to “matter”. I finally just gave up on everything but Captain America, Daredevil, and Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers. Brubaker has been good with his Steranko-esque take on Cap, Daredevil is everything almost every other Marvel title to me is not: fun, and Dark Avengers is on a wait and see because Jeff Parker is very good and I love the Thunderbolts. I just can’t get into anything that is happening in just about every other title.

  15. I would like to know if New Mutants v3 will continue or not. I can find no info at all. All signs point to it being canceled as part of this shuffle. Marvel seems to be clearing inventory issues ahead of October (they’re going to publish 8 issues from May-September which could be the rest of this years’ issues compressed into a tight time frame). The title was not part of this years’ event, which is not a vote of confidence. The writers are launching their own independent comic after having their DC title canceled. The solicitations have the same three-part “Fear the Future” story listed in #44-46 and #47-49, as if the copy was reused from one to the next. (Does this mean #46 is the surprise last issue?) Marvel is giving this title zero publicity, and it’s not really even being treated as an X-Men property with the “Exiled” crossover.

  16. Marvel (and DC Comics) sucks. How many of the comics would a ten year old actually enjoy reading? Not many and that is the reason why sales are down. The only people buying are fans from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and they are dwindling. In the 1980s all I bought were Marvel and now I haven’t bought any title on a long term consistent basis in over a decade. The comics suck and are always rebooting or simply one story spread over six issues intended to be read in one hardcover collection so what’s the point of buying the monthly comic?. Big crossover events are also killing sales long term because if you read Spider-Man you don’t want to buy 10 other comics to understand the story. SERIOUSLY BRING BACK JIM SHOOTER TO SAVE THE COMPANY AGAIN. After he left the quality slowly started going downhill and now 99% of the comics from Marvel are garbage. If you want to commit to a title for the long term and buy and enjoy it on a monthly basis there is nothing being offered from Marvel that fits.

  17. I unnecessarily speculate that your reasonable speculation of people’s gross speculating being strictly speculative is definitively speculated!

  18. Funny how Hickman and Fraction are propped up as top A list creators when most of their books (specifically the ones without gimmicks/stunts) sell like crap. Hell, most (if not all) of the books written by the so called “Architects” have not exactly been setting the sales chart on fire. Here’s a thought. Maybe the “Architects” are part of the problem and are NOT the solution.

  19. Clearly, the problem is that Marvel isn’t publishing the same comics they did when I was 10. Why isn’t Claremont still writing the X-Men? It sold really well under him. Oh, sure, there was X-Men Forever but that was crap without John Byrne drawing it (although it did bring me back to the days when I would read my comics while listening to my Hall and Oats cassette and eating the PB&J sandwich my mom made me).

    Now I look at the comic stands and have no idea what’s going on! There’s a book called Fury Max? Who’s Max? Everyone knows his name is NICK Fury. What a way to fuck things up, Marvel.

    You know, there was once this Avengers story where Hawkeye saved the world with a coin toss while all the “super” Avengers were laid low by the villain. I haven’t read it in years but I’m sure it’s just as good as I remember it. That’s the story that the movie should have been based on!

    I clearly know what I’m talking about because I don’t actually buy comics.

    Also, “Gary Friedrich” and “Jack Kirby”.

  20. The issue probably isn’t so much about the creative teams, as it is that Marvel embraced an increasingly Event-centric market. Readers show up for the “important” events and the rest of the titles fall by the wayside. Having what seems to be a runaway hit in AVX only serves to highlight the disconnect between Events and “normal” issues. DC managed to break out of this cycle with the relaunch. Oh, sure, their mid-list dropped off pretty fast, but they have a reasonable top list again and the market is healthier for it. Marvel needs to get people buying “regular” issues in bigger numbers. What will November numbers look like if they don’t have something to replace AVX with?

  21. “Clearly, the problem is that Marvel isn’t publishing the same comics they did when I was 10.”

    Technically true. I wouldn’t necessarily let a 10 year old read the Avengers Prime story where Iron Man, Captain America,and Thor bond over each of them nailing Hellcat

  22. I wouldn’t necessarily let a 10 year old read the Avengers Prime story where Iron Man, Captain America,and Thor bond over each of them nailing Hellcat

    That makes me glad I didn’t get any issues of the AVENGERS PRIME miniseries. If I’d read that sequence, I might have thrown the issue across the room.


  23. @Brian- I agree that AVX has given X-men and Avengers titles a sales bump. However, the X-men, Amazing Spider-man and Avengers titles have been remarkably steady over the last few months before AVX. That suggests that the problem isn’t with quality (like some suggest) but probably because of the absence of major events tied to them or told through them (Blackest night tied directly in Green Lantern and it’s sales never went down after that point) and absence of hype. DC had a mega event in Flashpoint and re-launched all their titles as an event (new 52 slogans everywhere). In as much as fans cry over the internet, the casual fan feeds off events. It’s no coincidence that as Marvel backed off line wide events that their sales went down (there was no line wide event between Siege and Fear Itself). I’m pretty sure that Marvel will come out with some big media publication and hype before launching their next big things and people will eat them up because of said hype. The comic audience is a fickle bunch.

  24. I think one of the reasons Marvel might not be saying much is to not spoil the outcome of Avengers Vs. X-Men. There seems to be a few things in there that could freshen up the status quo — undoing the mutant ‘Decimation’, for a start. Second might be a restructuring of the Avengers as an organization, since Cap’s been running them as a paramilitary pseudo-government strike force, and there’s been much anti-Avengers sentiment as a subplot. Third is Cyclops seemingly being groomed to take Magneto’s spot as the tragic antagonist: given his actions in A vs. X, there’s no way he’s just going to be able to say he’s sorry for what he did. Deposing Scott as the mutant community’s figurehead would end the whole Schism between the X-Men and coupled with undoing the House of M’s Decimation, that leaves the X-men titles prime for a mass revamp — I don’t know if Jean will actually return, but it feels to me like Professor X will step back into a more active role.

    Overall I think Marvel needs to break ranks and step away from the event mentality and focus on building momentum on the individual titles. They’ve been trying to have their cake and eat it too with events, pushing the main story as a seperate by-product and as a result, the tie-in issues are far less essential and really, to a point, unnecessary. A Vs. X is a clear example of this — aside from a large cover logo branding issues of the individual regular series as a tie-in, there’s no indication as to which order they should be read in, and many of them require that certain ones be read before others in order to make a cohesive narrative. That’s poor editorial planning there, something that could’ve easily been fixed with some sort of numbering system connecting the tie-ins with certain issues of the main event book. It’s ultimately confusing and frustrating for the reader and goes against the whole point of an epic event story — it seems more like a bunch of related stories than a single unified whole.

    Either go the whole way and do an intricately plotted story with a couple dozen chapters, or just do a mini-series featuring a large and diverse cast. You can’t play it safe and try to appeal to everyone by making them feel they don’t have to buy the event book and then expect people to buy into the event and go out looking for the tie-ins and get wishy-washy stories that dance around the very idea of being a tie-in.

    Ultimately, they need to find creative teams who truly want to be on the books they’re involved with, and not just as contractual assignments, and give them the freedom to build up momentum without having the shoehorn in some arbitrary crossover event every ten or twelve issues. The whole meta aspect of the Marvel universe is being overdone — Avengers I.D.s are being passed out like business cards, and there can’t just be a guest appearance and a team-up between characters without it having to be some huge multi-title event. Each of the books needs to back off from feeding into the meta aspect and use the Marvel Universe as a backdrop for stories, rather than one huge ongoing shared epic. Characters need to have some clearly-defined boundaries: you get to be on ONE team, period (sorry Logan). If you’re an X-Man or member of the Fantastic Four, you shouldn’t be an Avenger.

    Some of the best stuff going on at Marvel right now are the books that are doing their own off-stage thing and have a distinct personality — Waid’s Daredevil, Rucka’s Punisher (which is sorely underrated — Rucka has figured out how to connect Frank Castle to the larger Marvel Universe by keeping to the fringes and picking characters and concepts carefully), Aaron’s Incredible Hulk, Brubaker’s Winter Soldier. These are really well-done, fun books that aren’t interested with being part of the big picture, but are just telling great stories about their protagonists. There needs to be more of that vibe across the board.

  25. This is just my opinion but Marvel as a whole could learn a lot from the success of Daredevil’s current run. Here’s why:

    1- Mark Waid got back to the essence of what makes the character work by simplifying things and not making the reader feel like they need to have read the comic for the past decade.

    2- The stories are mostly self-contained and last no longer than two issues

    3- Fantastic art

    4- The series hasn’t been involved or touched by no major crossover, multi-title storyline which requires you to buy more than two titles to get the full story.

    5- The comics are fun to read

    I’ve dropped Marvel titles over the last year till I only ready two now. Part of this is because of the $3.99 price point for less comic, and also because of there being better comics being put out by Image, DC, IDW to name a few.

    Sometimes I wonder if Disney buying Marvel was the worse thing to happen to them.


  26. I don’t read much Marvel at all these days. Six Guns was awesome. Do more like that. Most stuff I would buy is 4$ and I refuse to pay that, which makes me hesitant to look at Marvel books, so there are probably 3$ books I could be buying, but I just ignore them. Everything seems very homogenized. I’m just turned off by Marvel. Just trying to help them with why I no longer buy their stuff. Loved X-STATIX, NEW X and ULTIMATES were good. That stuff was like a million years ago.

  27. A reshuffle isn’t gonna get me buying their books. Two things that would??

    1. Lower the over inflated prices. Your not worth $4 for 18-20 pages. Period.

    2. Cut the decompression out! 6 – 12 issues storylines are the norm now! Its ridiculous!

    What we end up with is one storyline a year – costing $48!! Cut the bullshit Marvel (and DC)!! And maybe people will buy your books instead of leaving by the in droves every year!

  28. Steve, Kieron is leaving Uncanny X-Men for Iron Man. So stop buying Uncanny X-Men and buy Iron Man. It’s easy.

    Odds are Namor will suddenly turn up trying to get off with Pepper Potts.

  29. Well, Phil really called that one…

    Phile: “I get the feeling that Brubaker might be leaving Captain America soon.”

    06/23/2012 AT 12:00 AM

    “Confirmed: Brubaker Leaving Captain America”

    JUN 24 2012 AT 8:52 PM

  30. Kieron on Iron Man?




    DAMMIT! Everytime I try to get out they draw me back in.

    But please, leave Greg Land on X-Men and we’ll call it square.

  31. Wait, just read Greg Land is following him to Iron Man.

    Well, it was fun while it lasted.

    Why is Keiron stuck with this guy? One of comics finest writers stuck with one of the worst hacks.

    Guess there’s always Journey into Mystery. Gonna enjoy that while it lasts.

  32. I also noticed that the collected trades for Marvel are now around 112 pages for $19.99, so waiting for the trade doesn’t work either. This price structure has to be killing the LCS. Who wouldn’t order their trades through Amazon?