It’s been a while, True Believers, but Week of Marvel is back – your weekly MahMuse bulletin on all things Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios! Plus: a new feature, where we look at the ‘Best of the Rest’ to give you an idea of what’s going on in the broader comic book industry!
This week in Marvel Comics: Uncanny X-Men #600, Extraordinary X-Men #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #3!
Finally. If there’s one word that sums up the reaction of X-Men fans to the release of Uncanny X-Men #600 this week, it’s ‘finally’. The much-awaited conclusion of Brian Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men run was released this week, and it was a solid issue that nevertheless dropped a few balls (such as Havok’s Inversion, and some confusion between Dark Beast and the future Beast from the “Battle of the Atom” event). We’re still no clearer on why this issue was delayed so badly; many have guessed it was an attempt to dominate November’s comic book market, but, bluntly, Marvel’s reputation was damaged a bit with retailers by their weaker performance in September. They could’ve done with this book coming out sooner.
X-Men fans were also left in the slightly awkward position of reading the upbeat, hope-filled Uncanny X-Men #600 side-by-side with the devastating Extraordinary X-Men #1, where we finally got to see the state of mutantkind after “Secret Wars”. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
For all I’m uncomfortable with the general direction of the X-Men comics, personally I do think that the whole Extraordinary X-Men team did a decent job, and characterisation was clearly their strong suit.
There is one other stand-out from this week, though; one of the abiding mysteries of the All-New All-Different Marvel Universe has been the status of Reed and Sue Richards, who many are expecting to die at the end of “Secret Wars”. So far, all we’ve had is a throwaway comment that the two are “gone”, but in Amazing Spider-Man #3 Peter Parker (who’s now bought the Baxter Building) gives his thoughts:
Behind the scenes: sales performance
In general, Marvel’s “Secret Wars” event has been well-received, but the scheduling has caused a lot of problems. That said, the October launch of the All-New All-Different range has done well; first issues like Invincible Iron Man #1, Spider-Gwen #1, and Amazing Spider-Man #1 all dominate in the top ten comic book sales of October, according to Diamond Comic Distributors’ early sales figures. Marvel Comics absolutely dominated the market, coming in at 43.65% of dollar share (DC, their nearest rival, only came in at 21.85%). When you look through the details, though, this success story hasn’t really damaged anyone other than DC; there’s very little change in sales figures for the likes of IDW, Dark Horse, and BOOM!
Dig beneath the surface, though, and comic book retailers aren’t particularly impressed with All-New All-Different Marvel; the scheduling issues that have plagued “Secret Wars” have had a knock-on effect on this massive relaunch, leading to a sense that this was a missed opportunity. Over on CBR, Brian Hibbs had this to say:
“Secret Wars” starting shipping late from nearly the start, only putting out one issue instead of two in June, and entirely skipping the month of September, and, now that it has had an additional, ninth, issue added to the run, it’s very difficult to see how the story can possibly conclude before January (and February wouldn’t surprise me one bit) — long after “ANAD Marvel” launches, and spoiling at least some of the surprises.
I’m a big big supporter of creator vision, and taking the time to do it right, and artistic purity, as anyone who knows me can attest, but there is one single place that production is flatly more important than purity and that’s in the big linewide crossover series. Because you lose the two most important things from delays: the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief, and momentum. And, in today’s comics market of 2015 where you can sell in the 60K band and still make the Top 10, momentum and building a week-to-week chain of excitement for the reader is almost certainly the single most important rule you simply can’t break when you’re doing something across your entire line.
Other Marvel News from This Week
Marvel and games developer TinyCo have advertised the newest Marvel mobile game, Avengers Academy, which will return Marvel’s heroes and villains to school! Check out the trailer here: