With the arrival of Uncanny Avengers #1 this week, a new era of comics has begun – Marvel NOW!
Here’s how Marvel NOW! is described: “A new beginning for the Marvel Universe! Featuring the most popular characters, the most acclaimed creators and the most ambitious stories. This is Marvel NOW!”
By moving some writers and artists around on their titles, Marvel is obviously trying to breathe a little more life into their books. Then, too, the House of Ideas is creating some new titles as well, which is the case with Uncanny Avengers. It does make sense to take your two biggest franchises and blend them together to create a bigger, better one.
For fans of the Avengers and/or the X-Men, a lot of their favorite comics will still be around. For the collectors among us, new comics provides a chance to bag and board all the initial issues and save them for college (or a rainy day, whichever comes first).
It’s inevitable that Marvel NOW! will be compared to DC’s “New 52.” After all, it was only about a year ago that DC shook up the industry by revamping most of their line of comics.
Marvel’s approaching this new event differently. For instance, rather than putting all the new books out at one time, they’re spreading them out over several months. The theory behind this is to make the excitement last longer, and to also keep the collectors coming back to the local comics shops.
Like DC, Marvel’s putting different writers and artists on titles they’re not really known for. The aforementioned Uncanny Avengers has Rick Remender leaving Venom (a book he wrote that I really enjoyed) to kick off the new comic with a bang, pairing him with John Cassaday, who worked with some guy named Joss Whedon on Astonishing X-Men.
So, will Marvel NOW! equal DC’s “New 52” in creativity and sales?
That’s very difficult to assess because Marvel is in a very different place than DC was when the “New 52” hit.
You have to give the “New 52” credit because it has moved DC to a much better position than the company was before September, 2011. For instance, DC won the September 2012 crowns in both Unit Market Share and Retail Market Share. That was unheard of for years before last year. Also, DC’s often been dominating the top 10 lists many months as well.
Would Marvel NOW! be taking place if DC hadn’t launched the “New 52?” In my opinion, the answer is clearly “no.” When one is in first place and dominating the market, it’s crazy to upset the applecart.
I also have to say that it appears to me that Marvel got caught with their pants down by the “New 52.”
When I was out at the San Diego Comic-Con last year, I had to sit through a Marvel panel about how to present your portfolio to the company so I would have a good seat for a DC panel. When asked about the “New 52,” the person in charge of the Marvel panel dismissed it out of hand, saying, “Ah, DC does this every once in while. Didn’t they just do that ‘One Year Later’ event? It’s no big deal.”
I think the folks at Marvel might have been the ones most surprised by how well the “New 52” did, even more so than DC.
Given all this, I’m happy that things are where they are. In my opinion, it’s better for comics readers (and collectors) if Marvel and DC are competing on a healthy level as they are now. I think it makes both companies create better product!
I’ve been what I call a “fringe” Marvel fan for a long time. I have tended to buy titles outside the mainstream that the House of Ideas publishes, such as the “Oz” books, the “Anita Blake” mini-series’ and the “Ender’s Game” comics. I do buy some more common comics, like Daredevil, The First X-Men, Venom and Avengers Academy, for example. But I’ve been shying away from books with the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and individual members of the Avengers or X-Men just because, as a seasoned comics reader, I’ve pretty much read those stories before, some of them several times. I’m intrigued by creators who might tell different tales!
My reaction to Marvel NOW! is that I will give some of the books a try, such as Uncanny Avengers. Will I buy them all as I have with the “New 52?” No, I’ll pick and choose what appeals to me. For instance, I’ll buy Mark Waid writing the Hulk! And hey, that’s more than I was giving the House of Ideas before this, so they should consider that a victory!