Saturday, June 24, 2017

Marvel's latest paint color is called "Legacy"

Marvel Comics has been having a rough year from a public relations standpoint, specifically, the Hydra-Cap storyline has been really poorly received. I've been one to defend it, but frankly I think it's been stretched out way too long.

In the midst of their recurring PR nightmares, Marvel announced Legacy. It was touted, basically, as Marvel's Rebirth event. All the announcements and all the PR made it seems as though the publisher had learned from some mistakes over the past couple of years, taken a hint from DC Rebirth's success and would finally return to a more classic take on their characters and create a bit more corporate synergy with their bigger markets (i.e. the movies).

Part of the problem with Marvel has been rather simple - their movies are wildly popular (and consistently good) and can drive new readers into stores. Of course, new readers can and should be pointed to classic stories in collected formats, but you also want to grab new, weekly readers - something of an endangered species in the comics industry. But when a reader comes in looking for a story about the characters they see on screen in weekly titles, in many cases that character is definitely not who they get. That can (and is) a turn-off for a lot of readers and can drive potential new customers away from the local shops and to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for readily available and (often cheaper) trades. You throw in weekly price points (which is it's own thread) and costs start to add up, especially for characters you may not be invested in because you didn't see them in the movies.

There are a million threads to comment on in regards to Marvel, but we'll focus on Legacy.

The key quote: “The Marvel Legacy initiative is a celebration of everything that makes Marvel the best in fiction and it’s a signifier of a new era for Marvel Comics,” said Quesada in Marvel's press release. “It’s a loving look at the heart of Marvel as we embrace our roots and move enthusiastically forward with all the Marvel characters you know and love starring in the biggest, boldest, best Marvel stories. All of which kicks off with the giant Marvel Legacy special.”

This sounded, for all intents and purposes, like Marvel Rebirth. The long-awaited and much needed actual reboot of the Marvel Universe. Not some "Secret War" that did nothing significant at the end of the day, but a full-fledged reboot akin to post-Crisis or even a softer reboot like Rebirth.

DC Rebirth has been a rousing success. After a period of what I call experimentation that began with the New 52 and culminated in Batman v. Superman, DC went back to their classic sense of wonder - their bread and butter.

With all of this, it seemed as though the long tradition of DC and Marvel mirroring each other would continue.

A big announcement was coming... the breadth of what Marvel: Legacy was going to entail was announced and it hit with a resounding DUD.

They simply revealed some of their Legacy titles, mostly current books, with variant covers that paid homage to iconic covers, many from 10 years ago?


Aside from Falcon becoming Falcon again and Thing and Human Torch starring in a Marvel Two-in-One, this announcement was nothing. Seriously, Marvel has a prime opportunity to directly connect and align their popular movie and TV properties and versions of the characters (DC did it, see Green Arrow and Flash) and bring in new readers with characters they recognize (without the baggage of say, Hydra-Cap) and introduce them to the newer characters of the universe.

Instead - at least from this announcement, and maybe there is more to come - it seems Marvel is going to Marvel and just put a single coat of light paint over wallpaper.

But hey, at least we got all those fancy GIFs for your social media sharing!

I love Marvel, make no mistake. But right now, they are their own worst enemy.

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