Marvel Comics Gossip – Empyre, Knull and a Focus on the Core

The following is gossip. It should be treated as such. Nothing here is confirmed, some of it will have been through a number of filters, but here is what has reached me regarding a recent virtual Marvel Comics Editorial meeting held – I think – last week, from a number of sources.

First up, I am told that, while this won't necessarily be seen until the middle of next year, we are to expect fewer limited series, one-shot specials and solo books featuring non-A List characters – though there may still be room for new legacy characters. Though Marvel doesn't like to use that term – there has been a lot of success spinning off one character into many, with greater opportunities for media exploitations, such as Miles Morales (Spider-Man), Jane Foster (Thor), Riri Williams (Iron Heart), Cindy Moon (Silk) and more. Having a well-received book like Iron Heart has really helped too. Just don't expect them new characters to take over the leads of the main books anymore. Especially a DC has abandoned that plan with 5G.

As a result of current financial concerns, I am led to expect greater concentration on core titles, and that cancellation thresholds has been moved up. Marvel already has a relatively high minimum sales number for comic books, and they don't make a loss, but there is always minimum a profit expectation. Internally, Marvel has used other revenue streams such as collections, digital, book fairs, special projects and more, to justify publication of individual titles. That may be dropped as well, monthly serialised will have to make enough money in the direct market, as well as elsewhere. It has been noted that DC Comics has approached the current challenge by increasing their bookstore line, and making one in every two direct market comics a Batman book – or at least it seems that way. Marvel Comics may be doing similar, albeit on their own terms.

There was concern over the upcoming Empyre event, before the shutdown, the early numbers for Empyre were very low – at least for a big Marvel event. However, after the shutdown, I understand that orders are significantly up on what they were before – though still not at numbers Marvel may have expected.

They are confident in the appeal of the story, however. The unexpected success of Empyre's co-writer Al Ewing's Immortal Hulk coupled with the memory of Dan Slott's successful Amazing Spider-Man run, and the movie it spawned, is also being relied on. The suggestion is that, once published, Empyre will bring critical acclaim and a lot of attention to Marvel – especially the changes it is planning to make to the Marvel Universe. We may even see a multi-media adaptation in the foreseeable future as well.

Earlier discussion considered the cancellation of all of the Empyre tie-in titles save for the Avengers, the X-Men and Fantastic Four spinoffs. They didn't go that far, but many tie ins have been dropped. The question was asked why Empyre had so many separate mini-series, as opposed to crossovers with the ongoing series. The choice to crossover or not is usually down to the lead creative team of that title, and the reason why most of the big books passed on tying in with Empyre is that they are all keeping their powder dry for the Big Knull Super Event, the cosmic sequel to Absolute Carnage led by Donny Cates and Jason Aaron for 2021 which everyone seems to be lining up for.

In the summer of 2021, will everything may look like a Venom comic book.

Marvel Comics Gossip - Empyre, Knull and a Focus on the Core.
Marvel Comics Gossip – Empyre, Knull and a Focus on the Core.

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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