DC Comics announced via its August solicitations the cancellation of six of its lowest-selling New 52 titles: All-Star Western, Batwing, Birds of Prey, Superboy, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. The books' final issues ship in August, one month shy of the third anniversary of the New 52 initiative which rebooted the entire DC superhero line with fifty-two new or relaunched series.
The total number of New 52 titles cancelled or discontinued in that three year period now stands at 47, which means just five more cancellations will tip the company over into a new New 52; fifty-two books that didn't work out. Is that level of turnover unusual, and if so, what does it tell us about DC's strategy?
Shortly after Greg Rucka was informed that he would no longer be continuing his absorbing run on The Punisher, he gave a scathing interview to Mark Millar's CLiNT magazine, in which he lamented the "Hollywoodization of the two main companies." In the case of Marvel's number one sociopath, that statement might turn out to be eerily accurate. The All-New Marvel NOW Punisher series from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mitch Geradsrelocates Frank Castle from the grimy streets and cluttered skylines of New York City to balmy, colon-cleansed Los Angeles. Does the setting make for an interesting new beginning for the Punisher, or is it bad location scouting?
The very idea of All-New Marvel NOW! is to try something new with the company’s legion of characters, and I can imagine that Wolverine presented one of the biggest challenges. People like Wolverine a lot, so putting him in an altogether different situation than readers are used to seeing, or somehow altering the DNA of the character, is risky. There’s a reason DC basically left Batman untouched in the transition to The New 52, after all.
To its credit, the first issue of the new Wolverine series by writer Paul Cornell, penciler Ryan Stegman, inker Mark Morales and colorist David Curiel, takes both of those huge risks. They take Wolverine out of readers’ comfort zone. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work.
Besides the obvious one, it’s hard to think of a writer more connected to an X-book than Peter Davidand X-Factor. (Chris Claremont and Uncanny X-Men being the obvious one, obviously.) After a two-year stint in the early nineties that remains a fan favorite, David relaunched X-Factor in 2005 and made it the most consistent X-book on the racks for his entire run. For eight years, X-Factor was routinely funny, inventive, filled with convincingly human characters, well-delivered messages, and twists that could knock you flat on your ass. The title wrapped in September of last year, shortly after David suffered a well-publicized stroke, and just a few weeks later, it was announced that the title would relaunch again as All-New X-Factor, which dropped this week. With Carmine Di Giandomenico on art, Peter David is again writing one of his most popular titles, but even with David at the controls, the new book has a lot to live up to. Does it?
Though he's done some work for Marvel recently, Kaare Andrews' output for the publisher has not been quite what it once was, as the veteran writer/artist has been mostly absent from monthly comics for the past few years. But that's about to change, as this morning Marvel announced Andrews will write an illustrate a new ongoing Iron Fist series, launching in the spring as part of the publisher's All-New Marvel Now initiative.
A theme of Marvel's recent relaunches has been creator change. More often than not, the announcement of a new #1 issue coincides with the reveal of some creative shakeup, whether it be a new artist, writer or both. Today's announcement continues that trend, as Marvel has revealed plans for Hulk #1, a relaunch of the current Hulk series with a new direction. Mark Waid will be staying on as writer, and he'll be joined on the title by new series artist Mark Bagley.
Since it's launch in 2012, Kelly Sue DeConnick's run on Captain Marvel has engendered a fan base unlike any other in comics. The Carol Corps does anything and everything it can to promote the series they love, and that passion shows up everywhere from comic shops to Tumblr to convention floors across the country. Simply put, they are well organized, and they come correct.
So when Marvel announced that the title would be relaunched with a new Captain Marvel #1, as part of the publisher's All-New Marvel NOW initiative, it meant the series' fans would have one more opportunity to spread the love for a number one issue. And helping to further the excitement is the presence David Lopez, who'll be taking over as series artist while also providing cover art for issue #1.
Today Marvel has provided ComicsAlliance with the first look at Lopez's two covers for the issue, both the standard and the animal variant featuring Carol Danvers as a cat, which somehow feels like an appropriate spirit animal for the popular Avenger.
At this year's New York Comic Con, Marvel rolled out plans for several new titles to launch in 2014, and one of the more intriguing projects was a new Ghost Rider series from Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore. Smith and Marvel shared that a new character would take on the Spirit of Vengeance -- and that the series' first antagonist would be Mr. Hyde -- but otherwise not much information was given.
This week, a bit more was revealed about the latest Ghost Rider, including his brand new ride: Ghost Rider is ditching his motorcycle for a Dodge Charger. And to assuage any immediate fears: yes, the wheels are still on fire.
Marvel's occasional Point One specials are one-shot comics compiling short stories designed to provide clues to or otherwise tease Marvel Universe events to take place in the months or years to come. Sometimes these events turn out to be capital-E Events, sometimes they're new series. In every case, the Point One books feel maddeningly incomplete but do the job of building anticipation among fans of the characters and creators involved. Based on the preview images released by Marvel on Wednesday, this year's is likely no exception.
Relaunches. They're the worst. A sign of desperation from an industry obsessed with gimmicks and stunts. A transparent attempt to drive up sales with no respect for the audience, no regard for the author, no consideration for the history of the title.
Or, they're the opposite of that. New #1s might actually be the smartest way to tell ongoing stories, and the best way forward for the genre comic industry. More relaunches and more #1s could be exactly what comics needs.
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