Comic Store in Your Future: Marvel Needs a Resurrection

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

As most of you have most likely read or heard about by now, Marvel's former Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso has been replaced by C.B. Cebulski. I'm not surprised — what surprised me was how long it took Marvel to make a change. It was reported on and quoted that higher-ups at Marvel knew there were issues clear back in October of 2016.

DC just took the top seven spots last month on the Diamond sales chart, but Marvel still took the dollar and market share. October was when Marvel had the insane lenticular ordering thresholds. November's sales should be interesting. Marvel has far fewer lenticular variants, while DC had far fewer Batman first issues. Though Doomsday Clock, of course, will take the top spot.

Phoenix ResurrectionMarvel has now skipped going back to the first issue numbering of their titles and jumped ahead numbering-wise. Venom and Cable both recently had their 150th issue. For us, this did not help sales. It confused a lot of people.

The lenticular covers also confused a lot of people. People thought we were sold out of product when in fact the covers just showed another title. The Defenders lenticular was the most troublesome. Many people thought it was an Avengers comic since it was a homage to an Avengers past title that showed Captain America, and did indeed say Avengers on the title.

The gimmicks stopped working for Marvel. Marvel's lenticular covers for the month of October looked of lower quality than DC's — even though DC was doing them as well, and had been doing them for years.

Marvel has been very gimmick-focused and not story-focused. Marvel hasn't been listening to what their fans want or looking at their sales and seeing what the fans do not want.

Case in point: the Inhumans. How many times can the same characters in a title be in a differently named title and still get cancelled and relaunched? You didn't ask for this, but here it is again a month later after getting cancelled due to low sales! That's a winning sales model (not). Do we even want to add up all the cancelled Inhuman titles over the last six years?

Is this all Axel's fault? No, I'm willing to bet he was forced to do things he didn't want to do. As Rich Johnston would say, this is mindless speculation on my part. The Fantastic Four are being teased at now. The Legacy one-shot and the upcoming Thing team-up book has something to do with the Fantastic Four.  It has long been thought that Marvel has been unable to publish a Fantastic Four book thanks to a certain higher-up that is above Axel.

Axel said artists don't move the sales needle anymore. Yet Marvel had Jim Lee variant covers this year from old artwork for a card set he did years ago. Jim Lee, who works for DC and has for years. Marvel needs to find and hire artists that do move the sales needle.

Will we see better standards? At least standards such as, "A title has to sell x amount"? 20,000 copies at least, I would say. Mainstream titles that sell lower than that by Marvel seems needless. Mainstream titles that sell less than 10,000 copies by Marvel is a bad joke.

I do hope Axel lands on his feet quickly, just as I hope Marvel recovers soon — or at least another publisher fills the void left by Marvel.

Joe Quesada used to bust on DC for being owned by AOL/Time Warner and AOL not doing more at the time to promote DC Comics. Flash forward years later, and Disney now owns Marvel and Quesada seems fine with Disney doing nothing to promote comics. Marvel Comics hasn't been growing while under Disney ownership, to say the least.

New Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski already has his own headache to deal with. Marvel just doesn't seem to be able to catch a break this year.

After reading the Previews for February, I still am waiting for what I hope will be positive sales change from Marvel. How long will it take?

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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