In an effort to answer fandom's call for more accessible content, Marvel Comics is launching a new initiative designed to pull new readers into established comic book runs via self-contained, 22-page stories priced at $2.99. Branded "Marvel Point One," the plan is to include a ".1" issue in the midst of ongoing series like The Amazing Spider-Man and Wolverine, giving new readers a chance to hop into a wider story after sampling a single issue. Today's announcement came during Marvel's "Next Big Thing" phone conference, where press learned how the publisher plans to plant jumping-on points within its flagship runs and what it could mean for both new and longtime fans over the course of the coming year.Marvel Vice-President Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso, along with Senior Vice President of Sales and Circulation David Gabriel and Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi broke down the concept throughout the course of the conference, characterizing it as a concentrated focus on giving fans a good story with a low buy-in threshold, similar to previously-released discounted issues and Free Comic Book Day material.

"I think that the key here is that the creators, especially the writers, here, understand the challenge: to hook readers in one issue," Alonso said during the call.

Current readers confused by the numbering can essentially look at the issues as a regular addition to a current run, in many cases created by the book's current creative team. For example, The Amazing Spider-Man #654 will be followed by #654.1 and then #655. Point One stories are designed to stand alone, but will play along with current continuity and, in the case of Spider-Man, serve as a major turning point with the reveal of an all-new Venom. Readers who miss the issue by mistake aren't at much risk, though, as Marvel plans to collect the material as it fits into wider story arcs. Basically stories will stand alone while fitting in (like the way Wolverine is a "loner" on 39 teams?).

Marvel emphasized a commitment to its direct market retailers a number of times during the phone call, noting the importance of coordinating releases that support both parties and counting on stores to help educate their buyers on how the special Point One numbering system works. The assembled speakers also noted that the reason for running Point One numbers on select titles had to do with keeping their number of releases manageable for stores. Books like Daredevil and the Fantastic Four, which currently contain fairly continuity-heavy stories with major character shake-ups, were skipped for now, although depending on retailer and reader response, Marvel's willing to try the initiative again down the road.

There are currently no plans to release the Point One issues in stores and through digital platforms like Marvel's comiXology iPad app simultaneously, which digital fans will likely find frustrating. When asked about the possibility Marvel cited the possibility of using digital to drive readers into stores.

You can read a rundown of the new titles, along with a full version of Paolo Rivera's Wolverine #5.1 cover below:




WOLVERINE #5.1 (cover by Paolo Rivera)

MARCH 2011



HULK #30.1

THOR #620.1


APRIL 2011




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