Over at Sequart.org, Tom Shapira published a column talking about Marvel's insecurity complex, in which they feel obligated to squeeze as many dollars out of the pockets of existing readers using gimmicks like #1 issue reboots to trick them into buying comics rather than trying to build a bigger audience with consistent long-term quality storytelling. Shapira makes the case that comics with low prices and/or extra value for the regular price in their first issues show faith in the material to build and maintain an audience, while super-sized and overpriced first issues show a lack of faith because Marvel is trying to get as much money as possible up front before people abandon it.
One of the examples Shapira uses is the upcoming Uncanny X-Men relaunch in November, which is packed with 72-pages of stuff, but is selling for $7.99, which is twice the price of a normal comic and an abnormally high barrier of entry for someone who might be a lapsed or new reader, especially at it comprises just one part of a ten-part story, so further investment is required.
Of this, Shapira writes:
This kind of practice only makes sense if the people at Marvel are convinced that only the first few issues will sell and everything after is on a swift downward path until the next cancellation and relaunch (and these come faster and faster nowadays). If one looks at the Marvel sales charts – which are of only limited use because they cover only print sales and only in the USA – one might consider that they are right. But this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: with its behavior, the re-numberings, the first issue price hikes, Marvel is constantly telling the readers that only the first issue matters.
It's definitely worth a read, so check it out here.
More importantly, while we might debate the causes of Marvel's practice — lack of respect for readers, lack of faith in their own product, and pure, unadulterated greed could all conceivably play a factor — the fact remains that Uncanny X-Men is objectively the best comic book franchise of all time, it's relaunch is objectively the most important thing to happen in comics for decades, and Marvel ought to be trying to put it in the hands of as many people as possible.
So yes, the issue has already been solicited, but would any retailers really mind if Marvel dropped the price to 99 cents? Look, we're not asking to change the price of comics forever like an economic super-mega-crossover event. Just this one comic. It's got a ton of hype behind it, and it will surely do well in November. But how much better would it do if it cost just 99 cents to buy a copy? If anyone who ever had any interest in the X-Men could hear about this comic and, on a whim, without having to make a major financial decision, just impulse-buy it. They'd be subjected to 72 pages of what we personally believe will be a great story by an incredibly talented creative team. They might like it so much they're willing to come back and pay four bucks an issue for the rest of the story.
It's not too late, is all we're saying Marvel. We told you to release a weekly Uncanny X-Men book with an ensemble creative team and you listened. Listen one more time, do the right thing, and make the first issue of that comic affordable.
Here on Bleeding Cool, we lettered the unlettered preview of Uncanny X-Men #1 in the latest Improbable Previews, which you can read here. We also talked about C.B. Cebulski's wishlist, the top of which he says is bringing back John Byrne, which is sure to get a mixed reaction. He also verified that we'll be getting even more Chris Claremont X-Men stories after Claremont's upcoming Magneto one-shot, so that was probably the best news we've heard all week (and also another thing Marvel's taken our suggestions on).
Is C.B. Cebulski a regular reader of this column? Sources tell us he denies it, but Akira Yoshida is our number one fan.
What we're trying to say is everything's coming up X-ual Healing! Which reminds us, there's still lots of X-books that came out last Wednesday that we need to talk about here in the internet's number one pun-based weekly X-Men recap column, so let's get this column started.
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities, but with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
(W) Ed Brisson (A) Pepe Larraz (CA) Mark Brooks
Cyclops. Iceman. Angel. Beast. Marvel Girl. The original team of teen mutants brought together by Professor Charles Xavier many years ago have been shunted through time to find a world they barely recognize but were determined to help. Now, finding themselves targeted for death, the future of mutantkind lies squarely in the hands of its past. Writer Ed Brisson (OLD MAN LOGAN, CABLE) and artist Pepe Larraz (UNCANNY AVENGERS, AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER) answer the biggest question of all: can the fate of the X-Men be changed?
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
Extermination #2 starts off with Kid Cable abducting Calvin Rankin, A.K.A. Mimic, to be used in his evil but as-yet-unrevealed schemes. At the Xavier Institute, the X-Men have gathered to discuss the current crisis as everyone tries to blame themselves. Rachel, for instance, thinks she should have seen Ahab's attack from last issue coming because her hound marks have been coming back in recent issues. Cyclops believes it's his fault Bloodstorm died because Ahab wanted him. Kitty puts an end to the pity party by saying that the X-Men will break up into four teams and each team will take one of the time-displaced original five X-Men and protect them.
Cyclops doesn't like this plan and storms outside, to be followed by time-displaced teen Jean, Angel, and Beast, with apparently nobody inside paying attention because they're soon attacked by Cable, who incapacitates Beast and kidnaps Angel before disappearing. Distraught, time-displaced teen Jean Grey wants to go with the inexplicably reformed original X-Force team. As adult Beast wakes up time-displaced teen Beast, they surmise that Kid Cable must be desperate because he's acting so hastily. Cut to Kid Cable's base, where he saws off Angel's wings. Meanwhile, Ahab attacks the mansion again and turns Old Man Logan into a hound.
The stakes are getting higher, the bad guys are winning, and the teen X-Men are getting picked off one by one. But all we can think about is, seriously, nobody noticed that all the X-Men they were trying to protect wandered outside until two of them were taken down and one captured? Weren't there multiple telepaths in the room? Get it together, X-Men!!!
Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends
(W) Charles Soule (A) Ramon Rosanas (CA) Marco Checchetto
THE HUNT IS OVER.
The hunt for Wolverine is over… Now the time has come to put the pieces together and see what was learned. Kitty Pryde, Daredevil, Tony Stark and Sabretooth may have found what they were looking for…but it wasn't what they expected. Where has Wolverine been? What has he been doing?
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
Ah, it's Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends, the final issue of act 2 of the long and drawn out return of Wolverine. Iron Man and Daredevil head to the Xavier Institute to meet with Kitty about their investigations and to receive some X-status-quo updates. For instance, did you know that Psylocke is Caucasian again? Kitty abused her power as headmistress of the school by making a student create a power point presentation of her findings for extra credit. X-pository dialogue recaps the events of each of the Hunt for Wolverine mini-series, as well as the conclusion we already know: that Soteira, whoever they are, are behind all of this.
On queue, four projectiles are fired at the Xavier School which will evaporate a large part of New York City because of science. Iron Man, Storm, and Firestar (where's she been?) take to the skies to stop them, which proves to be a flawed strategy because there are four projectiles and three superheroes. Thankfully, Kitty saves the day with a massive display of power, phasing the earth itself to allow the missile to crash into the planet's molten core.
It turns out this was all a diversion, as a new villain called Persephone, who leads Soteira sent an operative to lay out ten corpses on the X-lawn. She tells the heroes that she's used Sinister's database from the Adamantium Agenda mini-series to track down all the people who have the X-gene but haven't manifested their powers yet (people who conveniently cannot be tracked by Cerebro). These ten are examples of what will happen to all of them if the X-Men keep getting all up in her business. She also appears to have Wolverine, yes, the real one, ol' Hot Claws himself, prisoner. She tells him, and the readers, that all of this torture will be over soon in the Return of Wolverine mini-series.
Well, we're just glad it's over. Also, Persephone has threatened to commit genocide against children right in front of Tony Stark and Daredevil, so presumably all the heroes in the Marvel Universe will band together to put a stop to this, right? Right? Or, alternatively, everyone can just go about their usual business in their own books because Marvel doesn't even really try to keep their timeline and continuity in order anymore. Time will tell.
X-Men Blue #34
(W) Cullen Bunn (A) Marcus To (CA) R. B. Silva
• Time-traveling Magneto must team up with the future counterpart X-Men in order to save mutantkind from extinction.
• But in order to do so, will Magneto submit to his darker instincts?
• Don't miss a major turning point for the Master of Magnetism!
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
In X-Men Blue #35, the future-adult-former-time-displaced-teenage X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, and Angel) confront Magneto. They accuse him of some unnamed horrible acts in the name of mutant defense sometime after he left the present to visit the future. Magneto points out they're not doing so hot themselves, having apparently lost Iceman somewhere in the last 20 years. The future mutant children believe Magneto is a hero and the X-Men are screw-ups. The X-Men point out that Magneto erected a bunch of gigantic Magneto statues all over the place, which is hardly something people who aren't evil despots do. Magneto figures out that the X-Men killed him after that, sometime in the past of this future, which is of course the future of Magneto's past. Time travel is hard.
Anyway, a fight breaks out, naturally, which Magneto wins. Jean Grey says she should have killed him back at the beginning of this series, but Magneto is like: you snooze, you lose. Then he heads back to the present, parts ways with Danger, and heads to the offices of Kirk Jansen, who has been creating emotion-powered robotics that Magneto knows will lead to hate-powered robots, so he kills everyone in the office and destroys the building, using the wreckage to erect a giant Magneto statue. Jeeze, dude, you just came from a post-apocalytpic future where those things were everwhere!
Magneto retreats to New Asteroid M, dons his old school villain costume, and gathers his new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Well, we're coming up on a big status quo change for the X-Men so Magneto's gotta be a villain again. That's just the way these things go. Until the next status quo change when he can become a hero again, and so on and so forth.
There's two more issues of X-Men Blue left! On Twitter writer Cullen Bunn bid the X-Men farewell, and you can read about it here.
(W) Saladin Ahmed (A) Rod Reis (CA) Mike McKone
Blink's original time-traveling companions make an appearance, including fan-favorites Sabretooth, Morph and Nocturne! And they're just in time for a showdown with the gunslinging Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! But what does that mean for Blink and her NEW family of Exiles? And the Exiles aren't the only familiar faces in town. They call him "King," and you do not want to find yourself in his Vibranium crosshairs. Who is the Black Panther of the Wild West – and what does he want with the Exiles?!
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
Exiles #7 sees the remaining, non-kidnapped or dead Exiles — Blink, Valkyrie, and Li'l Wolvie — team up with the alternate-universe cowboy Black Panther to hunt down the Magnus Gang, which is an alternate-universe cowboy version of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Alternate-universe cowboy Moira McTaggart hooks them up with some horses and they head out, only to be immediately ambushed by the Brotherhood. When original Exiles Morph and Nocturne show up, they turn the tide… against the Exiles because they're being mind-controlled by the Magnus gang.
But Jude Terror, you say, nobody in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants had the power of mind control (though Mastermind is kinda grey area). Well, when the Exiles are brought back to the Magnus Gang's camp (and reunited with the previously captured Iron Lad), we learn that the gang is led by an alternate-universe cowboy Charles Xavier in a wooden wheelchair who is evil and completely off the deep end, believing he's doing the work of God by mind-controlling mutants.
Magneto fetches Blink to bring her and the Exiles to be brainwashed by Xavier, but he reveals that he secretly wants to fight back. He tells Blink to wait for his signal. At the ceremony, Blink tries to reason with her old teammates, angering Xavier, who kills Valkyrie's horse, Elendil. A battle ensues and Magneto tries to take his gang and escape, but the Panther stops him, reveals that Magneto killed his father, alternate-universe cowboy T'Chaka, and kills him in a duel. Meanwhile, Blink manages to kill Xavier, but with his last dying act, he kills Morph.
Later, everyone gets drunk and mourns, but they're interrupted by angry watches who accuse them of colluding with The Unseen (who used to be Nick Fury). The Exiles will be brought to trial in front of the Watcher tribunal next issue. Remember when these guys used to just watch?
Though it took a bit to put the team together in the first arc, Exiles has been really fast-paced since then, with a lot of stuff happening and multiple ongoing storylines just 7 issues in. That's as a comic should be, of course, but so many tend toward decompression these days, with one single story drug out to the length of a trade paperback, that it feels refreshing here.
(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Juan Cabal (CA) Mike Choi
Laura has faced plenty of threats in her day… And when those threats take aim at Gabby, all bets are off. But the stakes are even higher – and the consequences more dire – when Laura comes up against a psychic superthreat: the Cuckoos!
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
X-23 chases after Honey Badger, who was kidnapped by the Stepford Cuckoos last issue with the intent of transferring the consciousness of the resurrected Esme from her failing cloned body into the body of Honey Badger. The chase occurs with X-23 leaping from car to car on a busy highway until she catches up with the van she believes Gabby was taken in, only to learn the Cuckoos planted Gabby's scent in there to throw her off. X-23 heads back to interrogate Dr. Marks, who explains that she did indeed clone bodies for the Cuckoos, but that the bodies were unstable and that X-23 or her clone sisters (such as Gabby) would make perfect hosts instead. X-23 threatens to kill Marks if she ever clones again. Stay off clones, kids!
X-23 calls her (ex?) boyfriend Angel to give her a lift to the secluded Cuckoo base, but she arrives too late, as Esme's consciousness is transferred into Gabby as the issue ends.
If Gabby dies, we riot.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #6
(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Adam Gorham (CA) Ryan Stegman
• The shocking conclusion is here!
• Magik and the New Mutants have been wondering what their true mission is, and what they discover will shake them to their core!
• Secrets will be revealed…questions will be answered…and it will be the worst thing that's ever happened to them.
In Shops: Aug 29, 2018
It's the final issue of New Mutants: Dead Souls, so all of our questions will be answered, right? Well… it sure starts out that way, with Danielle Moonstar, on behalf of New Mutants proprietor Karma, investigating the ruins of the house where Warlock was killed in the side-stories of past issues, placing that event at three months prior to the present. Dani is infected by Warlock and seems to merge with him. It looks painful.
In the present, Magik investigates that same site after looking through Hatchi Corporation records that Karma didn't want her to see. Karma confronts Magik about what she's been doing lately, but Magik turns the tables on her and reveals that she's got Karma's brother, Tran, trapped in a pentagram in the room. Magik gets answers, namely that Tran is still a part of Karma, and Karma's actions have all been for the purpose of reuniting her psyche with Tran's. Karma possesses Magik and uses her soul sword to kill Tran, absorbing his essence into herself.
Karma tells Magik that she and the other New Mutants are monsters, but before Magik can react, Warlock/Dani attack, backed up by Warlock-clones of the original New Mutants — Magik, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, and Magma. They're just copies, but not for long, as the real Wolfsbane enters the room only to be infected. Magik teleports Boom-Boom, Rictor, and Shatterstar (who was hanging around naked in the kitchen earlier) and brings Strong Guy back from limbo to even the odds, but he's old now, and he has a heart attack. To save him, Warlock/Dani infects him. Magik is next. Then, as Karma is calling the evil General Callahan to offer up Magik and the New Mutants as test subjects for whatever he's been planning over in Astonishing X-Men, Magik grabs her from behind and infects her too.
"We're all monsters now," Magik says as the issue ends.
Wait a minute, ends?! But mini-series are supposed to be the comic book equivalent of sitcoms, all neatly wrapped up in six issues with no lasting impact on overall continuity?! What do Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Gorham, Michael Garland, and Clayton Cowles think they're doing here?! More importantly, does this mean this team will be launching a New Mutants ongoing after the Uncanny X-Men reboot? Because they goddamn better be.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #6 is the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week, somehow managing to leave us hungry for more despite the fact that we've gotten a belly full of meaty story. Congratulations to the creative team on winning the most coveted grilled-meat-based X-Men comics award in the entire industry.
We'd tell them not to let it go to their head, but Rosenberg's is already clearly bloated.
Well, it's been a fun week. Next week has five X-books, including the penultimate issue of X-Men Gold. See previews here, and head back next weekend for more recaps, wit, and wisdom.
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