Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say “BLAARGH!”
As we head into the new year, Marvel NOW! has proven to be what we thought it would be, for better or worse. There’s no denying the phenomenal talent behind the newest initiative from the House of Ideas. Shuffling up creators has thus far proved to be a great move, creatively. Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder is fantastic, as is longtime Avengers scribe Brian Michael Bendis’s work on New X-Men. There’s a lot to like about Marvel NOW!. That’s not a metaphor of some kind. There is a lot coming out from Marvel these days.
The company’s notorious shipping policies reached a new height (or low, depending on how you look at it) towards the tail end of 2012. Not content to simply double ship a vast majority of their top-selling titles, they’ve taken to releasing some of these issues in back-to-back weeks. Marvel double shipped 12 series in December. From November thru December, All-New X-Men, Cable and X-Force, Iron Man, and Avengers Arena and even the tail end of New Avengers (which just relaunched this week) shipped issues in two consecutive weeks. The tally includes Scarlet Spider Amazing Spider-Man and Xtreme X-Men and more if you count .1 issues.
Check your social media outlet of choice and it’s perfectly clear that no one likes this schedule. Even Bendis is acknowledging the madness on twitter.
Those concerned about the frantic all-new X-Men shipping schedule, I promise you it is for a limited time only.enjoy it while it lasts
— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) December 4, 2012
Our own Thacher Cleveland has referred to this practice as Marvel “strip mining the fanbase.” It sounds harsh, but it’s pretty accurate. They’re asking an awful lot of their audience and it’s going to backfire in some capacity. Fans do have a limited budget and Marvel has now taken up not only competing with other publishers, but with their own books.
Uncanny Avengers didn’t replace a book like many had originally thought. Both Avengers and Uncanny X-Men will continue to be published in the new year. It’s just one more series. At least John Cassaday can be trusted to run late, so an aggressive shipping schedule won’t be a problem on that one until he’s replaced. The same thing happened with All-New X-Men. It could have easily replaced one of the ongoing X-Titles, but no. Another new ongoing series.
Fans are already reacting. Personally, I was going to give Avengers Arena a shot, but dropped it after I wasn’t blown away by two issues shipped in two weeks. Had it been a good old-fashioned monthly comic, I probably wouldn’t have been so harsh on it. The aggressive shipping on the new Thunderbolts means I’m dropping Dark Avengers. Marvel is making it very difficult for a mid-level title to thrive because they’re flooding the market with all of their big guns (and even some not so big guns). Last month, I thought Daredevil was running late, then I realized that it was just shipping once a month, like DC still does.
Across the board, comics have never been better. Fans are excited about not just what the Big Two are putting out, but the bevy of great titles from Image, Dark Horse, IDW and any number of small publishers. Something has to give, and a lot of the chatter online points to Marvel coming up short if this continues. They’ve been publishing some truly excellent finales lately that can serve as excellent “jumping off points” if they’re not careful. The new Iron Man book is really good, but I’m getting sick of it because they published it three times in four weeks. That’s too much of a good thing, and I hope it slows down, but the money has to slow down first. Marvel is winning the sales war, but they’re cheating and there’s a segment of the fandom that fully sees it.