Monday, September 09, 2013

Wait, Marvel’s rolling out what, now…? (This is not a joke, but it reads like one)

AllNewMarvelNow-LogoNot so long ago, Marvel unrolled its not-a-reboot-honest Marvel NOW initiative. In their latest move of re-branding (or added-branding?), the company announced today that in December we will see… All-New Marvel NOW! I find this rather funny. Is this the “and a cherry on top” approach to branding? And I now wonder how long it will be before we see “Ultimate Marvel NOW!”…? Naturally, I meet this announcement with some mockery and sarcasm, but believe it comes from a place of endearment.

Here’s what the press release had to say about it…

“This Winter, the Marvel Universe heads in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Rick Remender, Dan Slott, Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen & more,  join the top Super Heroes – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and other Marvel heroes – to deliver  the best comics on the market with all-new ongoing series, AND must-read .NOW entry #1 issues for all readers!”

Avengers-24.NowThis new initiative will start in December, when Avengers #24.NOW (which is Avengers #1 in All-New Marvel NOW!), which is helmed by Jonathan Hickman (Infinity, Avengers) and Esad Ribic (Thor: God Of Thunder, Uncanny X-Force). This issue, the release say, will lead the Marvel Universe in “a bold new direction”. At least one new series will be launched every week. The publisher is going for “unique mission statements, epic scales, and bigger conflicts than ever before” in their new series. I hope this doesn’t mean story is going to take a back-seat to pyrotechnics – at least keep it a little bit more Bruckheimer and less Bay, ok? Judging by the synopsis (brief as it is), I may not get my wish. In Avengers #24.NOW,  the Avengers team must re-assemble like never before after the devastating events of Infinity. In the wake of that game-changer (and the endless, previous game-changers)…

“As a rogue planet hurtles towards Earth, only the mightier-than-ever Avengers can prevent the annihilation of two worlds!”

Hm. Rogue planet. Riiiight…

AllNewInvaders-01In January, ANMN (sorry, I feel silly writing the full title) heads “to the battlefront” with James Robinson and Steve Pugh’s All-New Invaders #1. Robinson, the Eisner Award-Winning writer of (among others) Starman and Earth 2 recently exited his roles and series for DC Comics as part of the (now-well-documented) editorial issues facing Marvel’s number one rival. Steve Pugh has come to prominence for his work on Animal Man (talented fellow). This series actually sounds pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing Robinson et al meet expectations:

“Brothers-in-arms Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Namor, and the Original Human Torch re-band for an all-new, all-different kind of war! But when the Kree Empire discovers a way to weaponize Norse Gods, can these timeless allies survive the deadly cosmic trenches?”

Inhuman-01Also in early 2014, Marvel’s new initiative will be asking, “Are You Inhuman?” (This necessitated a lot of “teasing-but-not-compelling” images that simply had “Is he?” and “Are they?” written on smokey backgrounds…)

This third series, Inhuman, will be written by Matt Fraction (the writer of the incredible, near-perfect Hawkeye) and artist Joe Madureira (Avenging Spider-Man, Savage Wolverine – let’s skip over the fact that Madureira’s name is misspelled in the press-release). Fraction’s involvement makes my ears and interest prick up, certainly, so I am sure I’ll be reading at least the first story-arc. The series “thrust[s] the Inhumans into the spotlight as the newest power players in the entire Marvel Universe.” Showing my ignorance, I have no idea who the “Inhumans” are (or what makes them different to mutants), or what this is all about. Inhumans also unfolds in the wake of the cataclysmic Infinity event, as new Inhumans spring up around the globe forcing the once-secret society out into civilization:

“With Avengers-level powers and abilities, will they chose to stand with Earth’s Mightiest… or against them? As the chaos consumes the globe, discover the fate of King Black Bolt and his royal family as the world becomes Inhuman!”

I have no idea what this means for any of the old Marvel NOW titles. This endless re-branding, though, makes me concerned about following Marvel’s titles. Coupled with the flurry of cross-over events, I’m just not that interested to fork out quite as much money as would be needed to keep all the stories straight. And also because, thus-far, I haven’t been too impressed by the Events, all of which have fallen a bit flat towards the end, and not delivered on the over-hyped promise. At the moment, I’m only following three of the newer series: the aforementioned, awesome Hawkeye, and also Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (really like Miles’s story), and Ultimate Comics X-Men (rather enjoying this, too). I also recently picked up the rest of the pre-Marvel NOW X-Men series (another ComiXology sale), because I like the characters.

[And hey, CBR regurgitated the whole press-release, hyperbole and all! Seriously? No commentary?]


  1. I kind of get the reason for rebranding and refreshing - it makes the market more accessible for first timers and newcomers to the Marvel Universe, but doing it over and over again is a little much.

    1. Does it need to be refreshed? After just a couple of years? Why does it need a whole new re-brand? Why not just create three new series?

      "doing it over and over again" seems to be Marvel's approach to everything, really. It's the increased number of cross-series events that is most frustrating, and most likely to turn me off reading any given series. That's why I've stuck with the Ultimate series (which, true, just had a cross-over event...)

  2. I disagree with the reasoning of the re-rebranding. Frankly, this smells of desperation. The #1 of the NOW titles may be top-seller but after that, DC has been kicking Marvel's ass. This second or third rebranding is both stupid and desperate. If Marvel want to stop the rot, they should focus on expanding their titles beyond the Averangers, Spiderman and X-Men or else it will not work. Another rebranding will give them a (very) short sales boost but outside that...nothing!

    1. I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say it was "desperation", I just think it shows a lack of imagination when it comes to corporate strategy. "Marvel NOW was a success!" and "DC's New 52 was a success!" seem to be their jumping off point, but instead of trying to come up with a way to make these series self-sustaining, they have just gone straight to gimmickry - "Let's start again... AGAIN!"

      I've been reading some of the 'older' titles, and been liking their ability to stand on their own, regardless of what other series are doing. Brubaker's Captain America, in particular, has been superb (reading from the start of his epic run), and so far hasn't required me to read any other series to follow the story completely. THIS is how the characters should be approached, in my humble (and demanding) opinion.

      By diluting each series' ability to stand on its own, almost every decision they make looks almost like greed. If each series cannot be read on its own, then you may as well scrap them all, and just release weekly (or, more likely, daily) issues of MARVEL, and leave it at that.

  3. Thinking about that "All-New Invaders" series. Is it just me, or would a series re-imagining World War-era stories - but written with modern, gritty sensibilities - be absolutely awesome?