There is a channel on YouTube called What Culture Wrestling where host Adam Blampied records a segment called “How WWE Should Book…” where he takes past, current, or possible future story lines and walks fans through how he would write them if he were in control of the WWE creative team. I’ve taken that idea and done what every comic book fan dreams of and tried to answer the question, “How would I run things if I was in control?”
So I give the CC fans my own take on this with…
How I would re-launch Marvel Comics
Let’s be honest. The current Marvel line of titles is a confusing, mixed up mess. There have been too many mega-events in just a short span of time, each with their own fall outs, tie-ins, and spin offs. From Secret Wars 2 to Axis to Civil War 2 to All-New, All-Different to Marvel NOW!…Fans are at a loss as to what continuity is the right one and new fans—forget new fans. There is no way to explain to a newcomer just how all of this fits together in a way that makes any real sense. It’s time to strip the universe down to the bare bones and start over.
My proposal is so radical that the marketing department at Marvel would probably die laughing, but creatively it would be the biggest fan service any publisher has ever attempted in the business. I would cancel all Marvel titles for one year. Every. Single. One. No Spider-Man, no X-Men, no Avengers, no Hulk, no Thor—all of it would stop dead. There would only be one Marvel title on the shelf for one year.
This title would be the sole Marvel offering for twelve straight months. One issue a month. But it wouldn’t be just a standard single issue. This would be more like a monthly graphic novel that you picked up to follow along on the events that re-launched the company.
Now I couldn’t possibly lay out the creative story that would be needed for such an endeavor, but that’s where bringing in Marvel’s impressive stable of writers comes in. Marvel would need to build a brain trust that would navigate this re-launch with aplomb and resolve. No stopping six months in when things get rough and marketing and the business side start screaming about the bottom line. (This is a long-term plan; there will not be an immediate payoff in the eyes of corporate)
For one year you bring your entire fan base together under one title. You set the foundation for the continuity and build a solid following for the spin-off titles that happen at the one year mark. Now instead of Marvel going back to their normal business formula of flooding the market with too many titles for one fan to collect you bring back a core series of books that resemble graphic novels instead of single issues.
Now I know that I’ve just made collectors cry with that last sentence. No more single issues? Just trades? WRONG. The trades would be shipped to large chain stores for the first time. Think Target or Wal-Mart. The single issues would become available only in brick and mortar comic shops across the country. If you want that first appearance to add to your collection you’re going to have to buy it from outlet that supports the industry. By and large however most of your causal fans would come from the trades.
After one year of MARVEL: ORIGINS the company would release six new titles. They would be:
MARVEL: AVENGERS – This would contain the adventures of not just the team but also include solo adventures of CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, THOR, AND HULK
MARVEL: SPIDER-MAN – This title would cover the Spider universe; from Peter Parker to Miles Morales to Spidey 2099 and beyond.
MARVEL: X-MEN – This title would be the solo offering of Marvel’s mutant books. It would also include solo stories for WOLVERINE and DEADPOOL.
MARVEL: ULTIMATE – This would be the re-launch within the re-launch. A chance to bring back a cohesive Ultimate universe that is different from the regular brand.
MARVEL: HEROES – This title would be more like an anthology of rotating characters, creators, and story lines. Here you find characters like DAREDEVIL, DOCTOR STRANGE, GHOST RIDER, FANTASTIC FOUR, INHUMANS, NICK FURY and others.
MARVEL: ULTRA – This is the experimental title for the re-launch. This would be sold as Marvel’s answer to the Vertigo line. This would become Marvel’s mature line. An else-worlds branch that creators could use to tell adult themed stories involving Marvel’s stable of characters without the restrictions of having to write for a younger audience. It’s Marvel MAX, but given the proper backing and focus. This title would feature a rotating cast of characters and creators as well.
It would be with the launch of the six core titles that Marvel would need to make an agreement with the fan base. “We will not release any outside series or spin-offs for two years. After those two years we will only release titles that the fans have voted on and want as new releases.
By the end of this three-year project you have assembled a strong continuity among a loyal and informed fan base. Bringing all of your readers back under one banner is a risky but a strong maneuver. Keeping with the idea of monthly trades gives customers incredible bang for their buck, but also makes the single issue market a haven for collectors by strengthening the offerings given to local comic outlets that can thrive on the mark up.
By limiting the number of releases, you stop the over-saturation of the marketplace, you also force your creative teams that are working under the same single graphic novel to communicate and build better stories. This would lead to an increase in quality. Now fans could look forward every month to getting a great trade for a great price, and by venturing into retail outlets you will also tap into a new vein of readers that don’t make use of the local comic shops.
I understand that this is far from perfect. The logistics of this would be tough. There is also the problem of Marvel having to suffer a financial loss for one year while they restructured their publishing branch. But that’s the beauty of an article like this. It’s all conjecture and hypothetical “what-if”. But there is an outline here on how to strengthen and broaden your readership… and you never know who is reading an article like this. It might just reach the right eyes and a germ could be planted that shapes the house of ideas for decades to come. Until then it’s all been in good fun.
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