I’ve been intrigued by all the recent discussion about Marvel’s position in the marketplace and what’s the cause of the recent decline in sales.

I mean, it’s actually caught the attention of some more mainstream entertainment websites, and it’s been quite the back and forth about what the House of Ideas must do to keep moving ahead.

With Marvel’s Legacy underway, it seems that the company has concluded that its future can be found in its past.

WHEN MOVING AHEAD REQUIRES LOOKING BACK

Marvel, Legacy, Thor, Batman, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, classic, hero, Jane Foster, Mjolnir, cancer, One of the big topics of discussion has been that Marvel’s recent attempts at diversifying its line-up hasn’t worked out well – at least, if you consider it from a sales standpoint.

My brother buys the female Thor comic, for example. He’s intrigued by the concept that Jane Foster is dying from Cancer, and the hammer gives her brief respites from that ravaging disease.

As much as he’s faithful in buying the book, though, he misses the original Thor a lot. When whatever the final outcome will be for Jane takes place, he’s not all that interested in keeping up with the book… unless the first Odinson is worthy once again to use Mjorlnir.

So it’s a temporary fix at best. I’m reminded of when Dick Grayson took on the Batman cape and cowl while Bruce Wayne was thought to be dead. I never for one second thought his time as the Dark Knight was permanent.

The bad news is that many of Marvel’s main characters are in this kind of situation. A female Iron Man. Yet another guy who is Captain America, never mind there being two Steve Rogers’.

It all smacks of plugging holes in the dam, trying to keep the water from rushing in and destroying everything in its path.

And it’s not really working.

So Marvel apparently has decided to look back to their classic heroes to save the day, something they’ve always done! Here comes Marvel Legacy, pitting new versions against older ones, making it possible to bring back those heroes long considered classic.

I WISH I COULD SAY THIS WERE A SURPRISE

Marvel, Legacy, Thor, Batman, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, classic, hero, Jane Foster, Mjolnir, cancer, I’m really fascinated by the responses to all this. Many are upset that Marvel is even considering bringing back the “old guys” and giving them titles while considering relegating the “newer verisons” to the sidelines. After all, it’s time to move ahead, not look behind.

Now, I’m not going to even begin to talk about the “diversity” conflict taking place. In my opinion, if you tell good stories, people will flock to read them regardless of who is in the costume.

What does intrigue me is that there’s a lot of talk that it’s the stories themselves that are the problem. They just aren’t good enough to spend $3.99 a month on, never mind $4.99, some say.

As you can tell, I agree that if the stories rocked so much that word of mouth was extremely strong, I think sales would clearly improve. But some people have told me I talk about storytelling too much, but I keep hoping someone at the House of Ideas will hear this and get rid of the “illusion” of change and actually worry about telling stories that make us say to each other, “Wow, did you read the latest issue of (insert title here)? It was incredible!”

I’m trying to remember the last time I said that about a Marvel comic! Instead, it’s the other companies who get all the attention when it comes to gripping and interesting reading.

Granted, there are still some Mighty Marvel Marching Society folks who say that, but the rest of us have been underwhelmed for a long time. Hence the decrease in sales, I believe.

GETTING BACK TO BASICS

IMarvel, Legacy, Thor, Batman, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, classic, hero, Jane Foster, Mjolnir, cancer, always like to point out that many of these heroes have been popular as long as they have because there’s something classic and basic in their appeal to comics readers. They work, after all, and I don’t believe that’s changed.

Now, if you want to make a NEW character that would put a different spin on things, I’m all for it! But with so many readers leaving comics behind, I think returning the classics by getting back to basics is the way to move ahead. I know, I know – It’s counter-intuitive. Moving ahead by going back to the past. I get it. But just because you bring back a classic character doesn’t mean you can never make a newer hero who takes a different path. Believe me, you can!

So as Marvel Legacy kicks into high gear, what do you think about this initiative? Should comic heroes from the past stay in the past? Or do you want to see the classic heroes make a comeback? Will you buy it, and which characters will you be rooting for? Whatever your opinions, be sure to share them in the space below!


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The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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6 Comments

  1. DekkuBlock
    September 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm — Reply

    Interesting article.

    I have to wonder, to those complaining about Marvel going backwards, if they’ve taken into account the films and TV shows. Almost all of those characters are the classic characters and storylines. Someone who might be more casual, would go into a shop pick up a Thor comic and be very confused. Nevermind Secret Empire.

    I also have to wonder, in the new reader vein, if Legacy’s re-numbering scheme might end up confusing readers even more. After all, while Captain America might have almost 700 issues, no one would be able to point to issue 500 or even 650. It might end up making people who aren’t aware of what’s going on be confused.

    While DC also has this issue between Rebirth and New 52, it seems like they’ve had a better job addressing it with the Trade Dress.

    • September 18, 2017 at 5:31 pm — Reply

      excellent points, Dekkublock

  2. September 18, 2017 at 10:41 pm — Reply

    Seems clear to me the biggest issue is the insane mass crossovers. Yeah, they hype up sales briefly but the cost is killing growing titles. Ms Marvel was really interesting then suddenly had all the stories stopped for a few months in order to do Secret Wars then restarted again but never regained the momentum it had imo. Ironheart was a good concept but she should’ve been in her own title from day one, not in Iron Man outside of as a handoff in a final issue. Infamous Iron Man should’ve been ‘Doom’ from day one. Jane Foster as Thor is OK as we’ve had others hold the hammer for stretches but we all know it is temporary. Ms Marvel becoming Captain Marvel made sense as she actually is a captain thus the name change had some logic to it, plus even Marvel seems hesitant to “permanently” bring back Mar-Vell. Making the Falcon Captain America was dumb imo as he already had a superhero identity and was very well established vs when Bucky did it as Bucky was always a sidekick thus in line for the position but Falcon never thought of himself as ‘in training’ for the position.

    Legacy could be a good idea but sadly it is probably going to be a mess due to a desperate attempt to have their cake (established white guys in all major positions) and eat it too (have diversity in characters). New characters, new stories, legacy in the way DC was doing before the New 52 killed it off with kids and sidekicks taking over from the originals (well, until some of my generation, gen x, took over and put back in place the old guys – sorry, Barry Allen died in Crisis and is still dead imo, still have no idea how they brought back Ollie nor do I want to know, Hal went nuts in a poorly done story but died heroically saving the earth in another poorly done story).

  3. The Mark
    September 20, 2017 at 8:10 am — Reply

    I want comic’s to go forwards not back but given the way they have screwed up this year running back to the shelter of the “good ol’ days” makes a sad kind of sense.

    the diversity is not the problem, Bad stories with hack writers who think they are talented has been the problem leading the disaster known as Secret Empire. the diversity era heroes have been on the wrong end of these hacks and have been tared with that brush.

    With sales so below target that marvel is right now doing a 2nd emergency kindle sale in 3 months.
    I mean God loves man kills is 60p I’d have a hard time buying a chocolate bar for that small amount of money

    Given how bad things are and that these sales seem to be on the regular I am just gonna buy my marvel bit on the kindle in the super sale. losing marvel even more money in the long run

    no matter is cap this week.

    • The Mark
      September 20, 2017 at 8:11 am — Reply

      no matter “WHO” is cap this week.

  4. cdrood
    October 5, 2017 at 9:59 am — Reply

    The problem is they keep trying to take shortcuts. Slap the shield on a different guy and call him Captain America despite the fact that the character has never really sought out that role. He’s always going to be the replacement.

    With Thor it’s even worse because it’s his NAME, not some powered up identity that’s tied to the hammer. Yes, I know they did it before with Eric Masterson, but that’s because the real Thor had been banished and wasn’t still around. He was Thor BEFORE he ever got the hammer.

    Keeping an AI Tony Stark around, which then starts flying around in armor to fight Carol Danvers only highlights how temporary the whole thing is.

    Building up Sam as The Falcon as an A-List hero is the way they’ve always should have gone. It worked for Luke Cage. It worked for Carol Danvers. Yes, she eventually adopted a legacy name, but it was one that had floundered about since the 80’s, not one of their iconic properties. Moving forward and diversity shouldn’t be about finding replacements, but about giving readers a reason to enjoy new characters and old characters with new roles and focus.

    I get that it’s hard to sustain a title long term, and that’s something the industry deals with no matter who the main character is outside of a dozen or so. However, replacing that dozen or so without truly ever committing to it doesn’t work. In this last round, the only one they truly got rid of was Thor, but that was AFTER the switch and was undone quickly and is again alongside the replacement. I agree with the above poster about The Flash and how even with the “out” Marv Wolfman gave them, they stuck with Wally West for 20 years and were the better for it. However, it was done as part of a long storyline progression, not for a sales spike or to correct some perceived wrong.

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