Marvel Comics had a number of projects to announce to retailers at ComicsPRO in Memphis, Tennessee, this morning. I Am Groot, Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mother Entropy, The Spectacular Spider-Man – and the return to a down-on-his-luck Peter Parker, the deal with Archie Comics and the big one, Generations.
But the word, expressed to me by a number of retailers, is that as we suggested, Marvel is going to be making changes to the line through 2017 to reflect retailer concerns regarding content – but will be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I am told that the title of the fall Marvel branding will be "Make Mine Marvel". And that this will encompass the attitude Marvel wish to engender. You could probably add "Again" on the end.
Marvel will be bringing back the classic characters to their roles – but then again, they always were. But they have been hearing from retailers who are hearing from their customers that they don't like the fact that the Marvel Universe seems unrecognizable to them at the moment. It's not just Steve Rogers having been replaced by Sam Wilson as Captain America, but that it's every major character being replaced at the same time.
And more importantly, having diverse characters take over the mantles of the originals means that they will always be seen as doppelgangers. These characters need to establish their own identities.
So here's how you don't throw the baby out. You give characters like Miles Morales, X-23, Ironheart, Sam Wilson, Amadeus Cho and others more discernible identities – or in some cases, return them. The Generations poster should give some indication about where Marvel is headed. As is the return to making X-Men prominent again, and bringing back a bit of the old mutant dollar to comic book stores. Consider that a dry run for everything else Marvel has planned.
And while Marvel characters will remain political – in that they always have – there may be not so much wearing it on the sleeve. And for those worried about Secret Empire, retailers are assured it will be politically provocative but not partisan.
There are outreach plans, Marvel mentioned the Archie Comics plan as a way to try and get people who don't go to comic book stores hooked on reading the Marvel movie characters in comics form, but there are plenty more to come. They say they want to make retailers money, to keep the market healthy and blame DC Comics returnability for tying up retailers cashflow for low fourth quarter sales.
And at ComicsPRO, plenty of opportunity to discuss the details.