2015 is supposed to be the end of the Marvel Universe. And the end of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. After the third Secret Wars everything is supposed to change and never be the same. Again. For the Umpmillionth time.
Didn’t we just have Marvel NOW three years ago? A big event that was supposed to make comics easier to access to new readers? An entry point that would make comics enjoyable again?
What happened in two years to make Marvel Comics so FUBAR that the Universe needs to end? Why do we need yet another reboot? Have the creative teams just painted themselves into yet another corner like they did in 1994-1996, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013? Seriously is it THAT HARD to write a 32-page comic book for 12 issues a year? Why can’t writers just get creative? Why can’t they just tell good stories? Why can’t they tap into Marvel’s rich history for story material? Why can’t they just pick up where another creator left off? Why do we need so many got damn new number one issues? Why do comics have to keep starting all over again the got damn time?
The sad thing is that no one at Marvel seems to have learned from their past mistakes. All of 1994 and 1995 (So many BAD stories and concepts I just can’t list them all.) Onslaught in 1996. Heroes Reborn in 1997. Heroes Return 1998. The 2001 creative implosion. Civil War. The Heroic Age. The 2009 Marvel implosion. Marvel Now in 2013. All promising change. All Promising that things will never be the same. Marvel’s editors keep doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result.
The rest of the world calls this insanity, but insanity is becoming the norm at Marvel over the last 22 years.
What will happen after this latest reboot? More new number one issues. Another short-term spike in sales, followed by another rapid decline 12 to 24 months later. Time after time this has been the result, with Marvel losing more and more market share to indies like Image, BOOM! Dynamite Fantagraphics, Archie, and even Webcomics. None of which have rebooted a single title. And all of these publishers are currently producing some of the best comics in the medium right now while Marvel’s editors are still trying to figure out how to reinvent the wheel Stan Lee created 75 years ago.
The editors in chief at Marvel are still looking for a huge surge of readers to come back to comics. So they keep throwing shit at a wall with these gimmicks and stunts. I’m sorry but scores of new readers are not going to come back to comics. It doesn’t matter how many stunts Marvel does. It doesn’t matter how many reboots Marvel does. The 1990’s are OVER and everyone at Marvel needs to GET OVER IT.
The days of selling a million comics to speculators are OVER. And the time to start rebuilding the audience of new readers was 22 years ago. But instead of Marvel’s comic book editors and publishers rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work of focusing on stories that get new and casual readers to care about their characters, they keep focusing on gimmick and shock marketing stunts to irk older fans and pander to speculators looking to make a fast dollar on an event.
Sadly many editors, writers and artists who came up in the comic medium during the 1990’s didn’t learn the craft of storytelling. And they’re still trying to apply a 1990’s approach to the comic publishing business in a 21st Century publishing world that changed in 2008. And that’s why Marvel Comics keep rebooting every 2 to 3 years instead of their creative teams doing the work of building a following for their characters through great storytelling.
It’s hard to tell your friends about a great new Marvel comic when Marvel titles get cancelled like clockwork every 24 to 36 months and rebooted with new number one issues with a brand new direction and a brand new premise. It’s hard to CARE about characters when you know everything you just read will end in 24 to 36 months and start over with a new number one issue. I mean, just when fans get into a Marvel comic, it’s cancelled. And if you look for a collected trade of said comics…it’s out of print. It’s hard to get into Marvel Comics because they don’t STAY in one DIRECTION LONG ENOUGH for readers to FIND THEM or GET TO KNOW ANYONE in their UNIVERSE.
Y’know what would really get the attention of a comic fan at Marvel? For something in their universe to actually STAY THE SAME for a while. For a character to wear the same costume for a while and maybe even keep the same codename and secret identity for a while. Have the same adventures for four or five years. Actually go a year or two without a mega cross-over event between every title. Just spend four or five years of creative teams telling great stories of good guys vs. bad guys. Take the time to establish some characters. Give them some roots. Establish their strengths and weaknesses. Have them build a rivalry with some bad guys. Build a rogues gallery. Give a creative team the space to tell some stories. Have them make a commitment to stay with a title for a while. Maybe if Marvel’s editors went this simple approach a title could go 50,75 or 100 issues for once. And maybe readers could get into a character and become fans of the comic version of a character and not just the movie version of them.
If anything, the announcement of ending the Marvel universe is a sign of frustrated creative people throwing up their hands and GIVING UP. Unfortunately, the more Marvel’s editors promise us things will never be the same Marvel the more they actually wind up the being same as they were in 1994 and 1995. In three to five years the same dysfunctional editors will be telling us the Marvel Universe is back after the fourth Secret War. And Shawn will be saying I told you so just like I did back in 2012.