This morning I read a tweet which had a link to an article on CBR‘s Robot 6 called Quote of the Day, which featured a quote from Mr Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games, regarding Marvel‘s upcoming Avengers vs X-Men crossover event and their statement that it represented the kind of creativity that will drive the company this year. Here is his quote:
“… After several years of super-serious Marvel events, all of which have had some kind of ‘torn from today’s headlines’ subtext to them, I’m actually kind of in the mood for an old-fashioned super-team slugfest. However as a retailer it’s more than a little disappointing. It’s a business as usual kind of move that shows the shallowness of short-term thinking at work that might help Marvel win the summer and us sell some comics. But in the long-term the survival of the entire industry hinges on a publisher’s willingness to appeal to more than its dwindling base.”
Not exactly an earth shattering comment but after reading this I felt I needed to throw in my opinion.
I actually agree with his first comment. Civil War is a good example of the ‘super-serious Marvel events’ he mentions. It wasn’t very good, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed it. It had some aspects that annoyed me greatly, but in the end it was an enjoyable read, a super hero clash with an interesting premise. It reminded me of the classic Secret Wars, which despite its silliness, remains a fondly remembered part of my youth and served as a major contributor to my love of comics. Subsequent Marvel events have been pretty poor to say the least, especially the dreadful Siege and lacklustre Fear Itself. So, I too am eager for a return to the classic slugfest style event that AvX promises to be. I also agree that the business thinking behind AvX is shallow. Almost all of these types of events are. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It may not further the cause of comics and their reader’s almost desperate need to be taken seriously, as a serious art form, but it will increase public awareness and increase sales, and surely that is good for comics?
I’m all for attempts to break away from the same old stuff we keep receiving from comic publishers and the trying of new things. I love comics that push the boundaries and use the medium to their advantage. These comics should be applauded and encouraged. But unfortunately they are less likely to draw in the new generation of young readers that this industry desperately needs.
Mr Bennett even mentions that AvX will ‘help Marvel win the summer and us sell some comics‘. Ignoring the Marvel winning comment, how can he be complaining that he will make money out of this event? I have no doubt that dwindling sales would have caused him concern in the past, yet when Marvel then give him an event he complains? I personally know a comic store owner who paid off his mortgage with the income he made from Civil War and the subsequent interest (and increase in customers) that event created. Of course this slumped again for awhile until the DC New 52 and it’s tremendous impact on new readers. I have no doubt that this event will bring in even more new customers. I’m sure he is rubbing his hands together in glee with every new teaser announcement!
Then of course it helps increase awareness of The Avengers. Thanks to the movies and aggressive marketing, it’s pretty safe to say that a huge number of school children would know what you were talking about if you mentioned the X-Men and/or Wolverine, but you would struggle for the same level of awareness with the Avengers. Of course the upcoming movie will change that, but an old school slugfest between these two teams wont hurt, and I guarantee an influx of new customers as a result.
Yes, this industry needs diversity and ‘good’ comics. And although they do already exist, we definitely need more, but we also need an event big enough to bring new readers into the shops. The New 52 did it for DC, Avengers vs X-Men is going to do it for Marvel.
And that is good for comics.