Friday, August 29, 2014

Why Marvel's De-emphasis of the X-Men Would Be a Good Thing

Because the conversation and rumors surrounding Marvel's plans for the X-Men don't seem to be going away (this was posted on Tom Breevort's Tumblr page today), I thought I'd add my two cents...

Fourteen. That is the number of current ongoing Marvel titles featuring the X-Men, a subset of X-Men, or a solo series for a character from the X-Men. Add in Specials, Annuals, One-Shots, and mini-series and your total cost for X-titles will be over $60 per month. To be fair, the Avengers titles do have more ongoings if you count anyone who's been an Avenger. Though almost everyone has been an Avenger at some point in their superhero career.

When I started collecting, I typically bought three to four titles a week. At the time, there were only four in continuity X-books: Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor, and X-Force. So each week I got my one X-book and had enough money left to pick up some other titles.  Maybe it was Captain America, Batman, Wonder Woman. The next week I'd pick up another X-book and two or three others. Maybe this time it was Spawn and Moon Knight.

For those of us that enjoy the shared universe and like to follow all of the storylines for our favorite characters, this is almost impossible today. If comic book pricing suddenly dropped by 50%, I might be able to manage it. However, the number of titles in each family today means I need to make a choice.  I can either read all the X-books and their solo titles or give up on some continuity and pick up a few other series. Talk to DC readers and you'll hear the same complaint about the Batman family of titles.

This is one of the primary factors for low sales of B and C list characters. I'd love to pick up an issue of All New Ghost Rider or Elektra as I've heard these are fantastic series. There's just no room on my pull list to get these books if I'm interested in continuity for my favorites. I've read the first four issues of Dan Slott's Silver Surfer. It's not for everyone, but I loved it. Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to add it. So this progression follows; consumers with limited budgets trying to keep up with continuity or crossover storylines leads to low sales of B and C list characters which leads to cancellations which leads ultimately to less familiarity with these characters.

Here's where that will come back to bite Marvel and DC. Eventually, an actor's contract runs out (already seeing this with Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans) or an actor will get older (Anthony Hopkins can't possibly live as long as the All-Father, Odin). This means that film franchises will end and they'll need to replace it with a new franchise. People flocked to see Avengers because they'd been waiting almost 50 years for someone to make that movie. However, in my opinion, the Guardians of the Galaxy success is a bit of a fluke. Yes, Marvel Studios did everything to make it a success: perfect director for the film, the perfect ensemble cast, and fantastic marketing. What's not obvious to most people who saw that film is that incredible source material already existed to base that script on.  If Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning hadn't had an opportunity to create their stellar series in 2008, that film wouldn't have been possible. Will there be similar recent material for Inhumans?  Not if Charles Soule's series doesn't start selling better. It should be selling better because it's very good.

Armchair quarterbacking here, but if I had any sway at Marvel I'd be slowly reducing the number of titles in each family. This would leave room in comic buyers budgets for a new Black Panther or Dr. Strange series or the current Inhuman series. With all of the rumors swirling behind the outcomes of Axis and Time Runs Out and a possible refresh of the Marvel Universe, maybe this is already underway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Key Issues - The Uncanny X-Men - Part Two

Uncanny X-Men #268 by Jim Lee
It's been over 8 months since I posted Key Issues -The Uncanny X-Men -Part One, but I finally found time to put this list together.  Part Three definitely won't take that long.  As always, let me know if I missed anything.

Uncanny X-Men #200 - Magneto becomes headmaster of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
Uncanny X-Men #201 - 1st appearance of Nathan Summers.
Uncanny X-Men #210 - 1st appearance of the Marauders, Arclight, Harpoon, Malice, Scalphunter, Scrambler, and Vertigo.
Uncanny X-Men #213
by Alan Davis
Uncanny X-Men #211 - 1st appearance of Riptide.
Uncanny X-Men #213 - Psylocke joins the X-Men.  1st cameo appearance of Mister Sinister.
Uncanny X-Men #215 - Longshot joins the X-Men.  1st appearance of Crimson Commando, Stonewall, Super Sabre.
Uncanny X-Men #219 - Havok joins the X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men #221 - 1st full appearance of Mister Sinister.
Uncanny X-Men #226 - Storm regains her powers after losing them in Uncanny X-Men #185.
Uncanny X-Men #229 - 1st appearance of Gateway, the Reavers, Pretty Boy, Bonebreaker, and Skullbuster.
Uncanny X-Men #234 - Madelyne Pryor becomes the Goblin Queen.
Uncanny X-Men #235 - 1st appearance of the Press Gang, Hawkshaw, Pipeline, Punchout, Jennifer Ransom, and Genosha.
Uncanny X-Men #236 - 1st appearance of Phillip Moreau, Wipeout.
Uncanny X-Men #282
by Whilce Portacio
Uncanny X-Men #244 - 1st appearance of Jubilee.
Uncanny X-Men #248 - 1st Jim Lee on art.
Uncanny X-Men #249 - 1st appearance of Whiteout.
Uncanny X-Men #250 - 1st appearance of Worm.
Uncanny X-Men #255 - 1st appearance of Matsu'o Tsurayaba.
Uncanny X-Men #256 - Psylocke is a ninja!
Uncanny X-Men #266 - 1st appearance of Gambit.
Uncanny X-Men #268 - Captain America, Black Widow, and Wolverine story during WWII.
Uncanny X-Men #279 - End of Chris Claremont's run.
Uncanny X-Men #281 - 1st appearance of Trevor Fitzroy.
Uncanny X-Men #282 - 1st appearance of Bishop, Xavier's Security Enforcers.
Uncanny X-Men #283 - 1st appearance of Gamesmaster.
Uncanny X-Men #287 - 1st appearance of the Witness.
Uncanny X-Men #291 - 1st appearance of the Friends of Humanity.
Uncanny X-Men #399
by Tom Raney
Uncanny X-Men #298 - 1st appearance of Unuscione.
Uncanny X-Men #300 - 1st appearance of the Legacy Virus.
Uncanny X-Men #316 - 1st appearance of the M Twins, Claudette and Nicole St. Croix.
Uncanny X-Men #317 - 1st appearance of Blink. 1st appearance of Skin.
Uncanny X-Men #318 - Generation X is formed.Uncanny X-Men #327 - 1st appearance of Magneto's clone, Joseph.
Uncanny X-Men #332 - 1st appearance of Ozymandias.
Uncanny X-Men #345 - 1st appearance of Maggott.
Uncanny X-Men #390 - "Death" of Colossus.  He won't be seen for nearly 3 years until Joss Whedon brings him back in Amazing X-Men #4.
Uncanny X-Men #399 - 1st appearance of Stacy X.

Key Issues - Uncanny X-Men - Part One
Key Issues - Uncanny X-Men - Part Three

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We Need a Stars & Garters One-Shot

Cover by Mark Brooks

The title Stars & Garters or the fact that we need Marvel to make a one-shot for it, won't make any sense until you've read Original Sins #5. It was the first thing that I read after getting back from the comic shop today because Bleeding Cool teased the "death" of a character in the issue. The Young Avengers story had a pleasant ending, but this comic is worth $3.99 just for Chip Zdarsky's two page "The No-Sin Situation" story in which our heroes confess not in continuity sins. Once you read it, I hope you'll join me in my quest to get Marvel to let Zdarsky do a one-shot for Stars & Garters.