Can Marvel Win Me Back?

One thing I have noticed over the years is how much easier it is for me to start letting go of things. I guess I am just beginning to appreciate new ideas, new experiences more than my tried and true, “this is what I like, and that’s how it” things.  When it comes to books and television shows and movies, I find myself not nearly as worried about finishing them if I am not truly enjoying them, since I know that something else will come along that will also be good, even if it’s, you know, different.  And if there was a theme for 2011, at least in terms of comics, it was, “Just because you’ve always read it don’t mean you always have to read it.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I read five Marvel books now. Maybe a couple more, it depends on what I remember to pick up when I go to the store, which has, thanks entirely to digital comics, become a once-a-month endeavor. I know, for a fact, that I am missing out on Marvel books because by the time I get to the store, I have either forgotten what to pick up, or the store has long since run out. The only ones I know I read are: Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force, Punisher MAX (which only has one more issue left) and Wolverine and the X-Men. And Wolverine. I know there are more I should buy, but I just haven’t done so.

The old me, the “me” of a year ago, would literally drive all around town to 3-4 other comic book shops if I missed an issue, and I didn’t care at all–it was actually fun, especially if I found the issue I was looking for!  But now? Now…I don’t care.

This is not a story about me not caring about Marvel books, because there are all kinds of Image, DC and books by other publishers that I used to care about. This is me wondering, “What can Marvel do to win me back?”

Let’s face it: once you stop paying $4 for a 20-something page comic you only read once, and you stop doing so for a few months in a row, your brain chemistry changes to the point that trying to do so again just sounds dumb. This is not about Marvel getting its act together in March and finally offering the majority of their titles digitally, with the hopes that now they have finally figured out how I want my comics will somehow fulfill the why I want to buy them.

Too late. It’s too late for that.

In other times, perhaps Marvel would just shrug and say, “Hey, that’s okay, we got over ten years of business from customer 3492342, which is 20% longer than 76% of our customers, resulting in $x amount of business, a y% increase from FY10. Maybe the film division can squeeze some more money from him this summer — we have more customers coming.”

We all know that the last part is not necessarily true.

What can Marvel do?  And for that matter, what can DC do to bring me back to Superman and other books I’ve had to drop?  In days past, I would feel guilty–literally, I would feel guilty about this, and for the first few months, I really did. But, you know what? I am really busy these days. I already have two jobs, and keeping the comic book industry afloat is not one of them.

What can Marvel do to bring readers like me back? Well I know of a few ways they can make sure I stay away:

– Events.  I am not buying any more of your events, Marvel. I’m done. They have no stakes and are not worth the wait, or the expense.

– Killing characters. I buy your comics because I love your characters. Killing them off is exactly the wrong thing to do.

– Creating more books with the same characters in them and then merging story lines so you force me into buying books I wasn’t buying in the first place.

– Publishing comics that are $3.99 that are basically the same number of pages/content of the $2.99 books.

– Taking your readers for granted.  Which is why this article came to mind in the first place.

Look, it’s not like DC is doing everything right. I’ve dropped most of the New 52 books for a variety of reasons.  And digital delivery doesn’t mean much when crappy art and mundane stories are just as irritating on a screen as they are on paper.

And I’m not asking for a full on reboot, though I can imagine your investors are. No, Marvel has to do something that is, at its core, Marvel.  It’s in your damn company name—make us MARVEL at your books, dammit!

We’ve seen good things, right? Most of us would agree that Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and the X-Men are all pretty fantastic titles. I will speak to the first two because I have fallen behind on the third, but one thing is clear, the writers are doing what they love with these characters and story lines. Matt Murdock is a revelation now. He could easily become this year’s Wolverine, popping up in various books, just because writers are going to want this guy around. In Uncanny X-Force, Rick Remender wrote a fantastic space opera with characters we love, with stakes that mattered.  There was something refreshingly different about these stories, they broke free of all the malaise that seemed to drag the other books down and just invited the readers to escape for a few minutes.

Same thing with the art. Opeña, Pulido and Martin drew their hearts out on these books. Their pages were brimming with new ideas, with different story telling methods, with gorgeous renderings. They inspired the rest of the industry to do better.

These books are great because they are fundamentally great comics. They did not rely on events or crossovers. The deaths and losses were real deaths and losses. There was true emotion in the words, true emotion in the art. Just damn good books that stood on their own. These are books that you, the comic book community, told your friends about. There may have been marketing moves behind Uncanny X-Force but I certainly didn’t see anything. Marvel wanted us to believe that Fear Itself was what we were supposed to pay attention to.

What a joke.

You want to win me back? Let the creators make good books and celebrate those books. Don’t tell me what’s important, let me discover (and re-discover) what I love about Marvel books! And for goodness’ sake, I don’t give a damn about who your “architects” are, you should drop that whole effort right now—don’t embarrass yourselves. Let your great writers do their work and highlight their great stories, not their egos.  I didn’t buy my Mac because Jonathan Ive designed it, right?

Look, this is not meant to be a screed against Marvel. I am a fan of Marvel’s characters and there are a few books of theirs that I really like, but I am not a fan of those books because of Marvel, I am a fan of those books because they are good books that were recommended to me by people like you.  Marvel has to stop with the marketing gimmicks and give their creators the freedom to tell compelling stories with some of the most original characters ever imagined — then I’ll come back.


Mike Romo maintains a steely resolve to continue being an actor in Los Angeles. You can reach him through email, visit his facebook page, connect with him on google +, and collect his tweets on twitter.


  1. Totally agree with what Marvel is doing wrong. I only read like 4 Marvel books and it’s mostly because of the stuff said in this article.

    • okay, time for my two penneth. l have been reading comics since i was about nine (started with Superman).
      didnt know or recognise marvel. introduced soon after by a friend and was hooked. i have been privileged to
      have held and read some fine books. there has been a lot of years of collecting paused briefly by work and girls (in whichever order).
      the thing that drew me back (no pun intended) was coming across a shop while on holiday with a rack but, the owners daughter was a fan and had a large back issue stock in back. after being given carte blanche to look thru these i ended up spending a small fortune buying up. what started me back……..? the impact of art by luminaries such as John Byrne
      (i was already a fan of Neals via his X-men, Thor, Avengers and all his dc work. in the last five or more years i have given up on all titles as for me there are practically NO top flight artists in Marvel, i say practically….there are a few. my distaste is that such artists of the calibre of Byrne etc are cast aside after sterling work lifting titles like the F4 , X-men (superb from 108 on) his Avengers run which is what brought me back to comics initially. strange art from newcomers which i feel haas made characters i have loved seem totally alien to me now. i know there are fans out there of different artists and their styles but….such as Aldred to me does not seem to be suited to these characters, again only my opinion but, its these type of things that has driven me away from comics i would eagerly await for delivery day and take home roughly 30-40 comics and devour (both companies with a few others in the mix).
      sad but no more as about 40 years of love for the medium has been ruined for me by M and DC due to poor art.
      good god, that took some getting out.

  2. Marvel has lost me as a fan as well after the past few years, and I don’t see how they’re ever gonna win me back. Left a real bad taste in my mouth. I’ve read a ton of Marvel books in the past but like you I wonder if they are ever gonna change how I feel about them. I really do feel like you said in reason number 5, they take their readers for granted. I have not and will never be a Marvel Zombie, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love some of their books in the past.

  3. NOPE

  4. A lot of this is why I don’t read any Marvel or DC, although a part of it is due to a very limited budget. I have trouble really caring about anything they do anymore, to the point where I care more about the movie versions than the comic ones. I know they have great books, but I’m more often embarrassed or roll my eyes whenever I see a Marvel announcement.

  5. I’m really puzzled by the amount of negativity towards Marvel there seems to be on iFanboy these days. There are SO many GREAT Marvel books coming out at the moment.

    Journey Into Mystery
    Uncanny X-force
    Secret Avengers
    Moon Knight
    Punisher MAX
    Wolverine & The X-men
    Ultimate Comics: Spider-man
    Ultimate Comics: Ultimates
    Fantastic Four

    All fantastic books, which is surely all that matters?

    • Forgot Venom on top of all that.

    • Agreed. And the list goes on.

    • And don’t even get me started on the quality of Art on all of the above. Some of the best looking books on the stands.

    • Defenders, Amazing Spider-man, Avenging Spider-man, Incredible Hulk, Uncanny X-men…

    • @TheGoddamnDeadpool: You are, of course, assuming that everyone holds the same opinion about the many books you are listing that you do.

    • And let’s not forget that your list includes only a fraction of the 100+ books that Marvel releases every month.

    • The negative view of Marvel likely stems from the $3.99 price point, double shipping(which causes constant artistic changes), gimmicky numbering, and the disappointing recent events(Fear Itself specifically). All of these problems are serious issues that Marvel should and will likely address eventually. Another factor that compounds the negative view of Marvel is the fact that Marvel publishes almost twice as many books as DC, so there are inevitability more bad Marvel titles than bad DC titles. You named a number of great Marvel titles, most of which I read or have heard great things about, but those titles are only a small percentage of Marvel’s output. The biggest problem many have with Marvel is the company’s attitude compared to the attitude of the competition. When DC raises a titles price, the company concedes that readers are on a limited budget and it makes an attempt to provide additional content. DC also appears genuine when discussing its excitement about stories and its cross-overs appear more natural than cash grabs. Yes, DC did re-number all of its titles recently but prior to the relaunch re-numbering was rare. Marvel on the other hand says they charge $3.99 for certain comics because people will pay for it, and Marvel also shamelessly uses numbering and title changes to manipulate readers into buying new series. I won’t shut myself completely off from Marvel because there are some great Marvel titles but I can express my disappointment with the way the company does business by cutting back on borderline titles.

    • @conor Obviously I’m not saying that every single one of these books is for everyone. Though close to every book on the list (or rather, my initial list. I’ll admit that I’m probably stretching a little bit on my second smaller batch) has been praised at some point on the iFanboy pick of the week podcast in the last 6 months.

      Out of interest, out of the books I’ve listed, which have you read recently and would consider bad?

      @Neb I’m not sure how to respond to that. No single comic company that publishes more than 5 comics can be expected to have line-wide quality.

    • I’m with you. I think the griping has just reach a certain level of critical mass that it becomes self-fulfilling (at least on the internet).

    • I think Marvel’s recent direction, being more event-focused, is something that turns me off and I think DC does a better job in that sense. Still though, there are so many great Marvel books right now that I’m a little confused when people talk about how much few pulls they have from them. If you don’t like half the books on TheGoddamnDeadpool’s list that’s fine, but it does make me wonder what you ARE looking for in a comic.

    • “I’m a little confused when people talk about how much few pulls”

      I’m a great writer

    • @TheGoddamnDeadpool My point is that when you put out that many books per month and only 10-20% of them are critically loved, there is a perception created that the rest of the line is ho-hum. Also, when you put out that much product, creators, editors, and marketing have a harder time producing quality with deadlines and a lack of creative focus.

    • @Neb, Actually, looking at the solicits for January, excluding reprints/collections, creator owned books, licenced books (such as Cars – Route 66 Dash), Marvel has around 66 seperate titles coming out each month, if my maths is correct. This is including all the miniseries too, so it’s really not that much more than DC are putting out.

    • @TheGoddamnDeadpool Somehow, you nailed your list nearly perfectly in my opinion. I’d also add Cap and Bucky, and Battle Scars. Nice to find a kindred spirit 🙂

    • @TheGoddamnDeadpool Ok, so maybe when I posted 100+ books, it was a bit high, but in the end Marvel typically puts out more product than DC OVERALL. I don’t think anyone can argue otherwise. If you look at the Feb. solicits they have over 80 titles coming out, not to mention the multiple HCs and TPBs they’re putting out.

      In my opinion, the ratio of quality product to product put out is just better at DC. Not saying there are titles I’m not enjoying at Marvel. I just think there’s more at DC at the moment.

      In the end, all these things are cyclical and we’ll be talking about how DC is struggling in a few years while Marvel is riding high.

  6. Between Daredevil, Punisher, Uncanny X-Force, Aaron & Gillen’s tag teaming on the main X-books, and Thunderbolts, I think Marvel is starting to do exactly what I wanted them to do: giving the keys to these characters to the talented creators and letting them drive like madmen into the sunset. Marvel currently has some of the greatest creative minds in their employ, so I’m glad that the company is letting great imaginative guys like Remender and Parker run buck wild.

  7. wow, thats great. Really nailed some of my feelings especially on the events and pricing.

    Innovation and experimentation is tough in any business and its always risky. There seems to be a “low risk, low reward” mentality at play. We know when certain B-list books are on cancellation watch before they are even published. No one is shocked when certain characters and titles fail, but its always rinse and repeat. The event thing…i don’t understand why those sales kill. thats our fault.

    I’m seeing a lot of formula and contrived PR driven stuff more than new ideas and experimentation. The medium is becoming a bit stale and Marvel is content. I dunno…i’m sure they know how to shake things up, but some of these moves are being dictated by spreadsheet numbers more than creative choices.

  8. I’ve never been a huge Marvel reader, but I have read a number of books over the years. I generally like their characters and enjoyed some high watermark runs: Bendis’ Daredevil, Waid’s Cap, Ennis’ Punisher, the recent Hickman books… so I have some basis for my opinions.

    I would totally agree with all your points. I’ve been burned, REPEATEDLY, by Marvel’s events. You’d think I would learn my lesson by now, but I bought 7 issues of Fear Itself before I decided to stop the insanity. I’m done, thank you. If something stellar comes out, I’ll but it AFTER the initial run as cheaply as possible.

    Also, enough with the meaningless deaths, only to bring them back shortly there-after. DC has done this too, I’m not giving them a pass, but Marvel has done it a lot lately.

    If they write a good, interesting book that I enjoy, I will read it.

    • Oh yeah, $3.99? It better be fantastic.

    • In this economic climate, with limited entertainment $$, I look at $4.99 and $3.99 priced books and laugh.Then I go to my app and buy LAST month’s DC title for$1.99!!
      sorry Marvel but its all about price point

    • Couldn’t agree more! After taking a break from comics for a few years, my perspective has changes on the price of single issues. I understand some people roll there eyes when people like me bitch about Marvel costing on average a buck more, but price is absolutely an issue for me. At $3.99, when you compare it to other forms of entertainment, it just does not hold up anymore. So, I find myself waiting for the trade on Marvel books, and usually forget to pick that up too. I mean, if I told my friends or my girlfriend what I spend on just a few comics a week, they would think I’m nuts. I love comics, but times are tough. Not my job to support them if I can not afford it, or find a better use for my money.

    • Multi, you don’t know how right you are. When my local store asks if I want a copy of the receipt, I say “Hell no, if my wife finds it you’ll never see me again!” 🙂

  9. AMEN.

    Marvel seem to have dollar signs in their eyes and are alienating everyone because of it.

    If their target was improved artistic integrity, and they weren’t focussing on sales, they’d probably actually end up more financially successful almost as a by-product.

    • it reminds me of that show “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare’s” Every single time, the restaurant in peril is cutting corners and doing things fast and easy because they think thats the best way to be profitable…and they’re always failing. When in reality, trying new things, focussing on a quality product and treating the customer well is what makes you successful.

    • @wally: As much as I wish that were true, it seems that in comics some of the strategies you mention aren’t truly rewarded by consumers (mostly “trying new things” and “treating the customer well” because by and large there’s a lot of quality talent out there these days). There are countless examples of books from the indies as well as larger publishers that are critically beloved with amazing innovative ideas, yet they fail to light up sales charts.

      As much as I hate to say, I think the reason is that the majority of comic book readers (myself included) don’t always behave rationally.

      In almost any other industry, if the customer dislikes the product, they stop buying it. But how many comic book fans (again, myself included at times) will buy a book they don’t like because they love the characters, the creators, or just can’t bring themselves to interrupt their collection? THAT’S INSANITY.

      If sales tanked across the board for Marvel and DC in favor of more “innovative” (in quotes because it’s subjective) books from other publishers, you better believe we’d see some changes from the big two.

    • We’re not discussing innovation. @Wally was just drawing a comparison.

      We’re discussing whether Marvel’s intent, their strategy, their reason for being is to make people happy by telling good creator-led stories or whether every single decision they make is based on profit and profit alone. It’s the latter.

      Before you give me the oh-so tiresome “Oh grow up and live in the real world, it’s a business!” spiel, what I am saying is that ironically, going for the former would actually reap greater reward. You see this all the time.

      I’ve worked for a lot of business, and those who have high powered meetings where money is the topic of conversation, talking about customers as numbers and not caring what tactics they employ to get their cash, may succeed in the short term but always fail longer term. Those who discuss improving things for the customer (and genuinely mean it) succeed.

    • yeah i know i know. Its a fascinating case study of an industry that won’t get out of its own way at times. Most of the brands i deal with professionally would kill for the loyal customer base that comics have. “you have customers who will pre-order your products months in advance–sight unseen with minimal to no external advertising, price discounts or incentive programs….and they’ll even evangelize the product for free. SIGN ME UP!!!!!”

      Its weird how we the fans are treated by the publishers. There isn’t much concern to reward loyalty or provide real added value as a true free bonus. “Saying Thanks” and all that. I do see creators and publishers blame the fans for all of their problems though.

      i dunno maybe the real issue is publisher’s forget that the “fans” are actually customers. They expect them to be there and consume no matter what. I think the comments on this thread are proving thats not something you can count on.

    • @boosebaster–excellent points. Striving for excellence and pushing the envelope usually pays off better than gimmicks and PR stunts.

    • @boosebaster: Sorry, I only meant that innovation is one of the things that suffers when the strategy is “give the people what they want” where “what they want” equates to whatever sells the most. And I agree that it’s a lousy long-term strategy. Especially when it appears that Marvel and DC don’t really ask readers what they want in any meaningful way (outside of anecdotes from individual fans here and there).

      I’ve been working with a market research group for an automotive manufacturer for the past few months, and the degrees they go to to capture the voice of the customer and the academic rigor that goes into interpreting the data they obtain has made me wonder if Marvel and DC have ever done customer focus groups or opinion surveys.

      Seems like good market research might help them develop a strategy based on an actual understanding of the customer rather than merely sales figures and anecdotal evidence.

    • @ken-well DC did do that Nielsen thing during the New 52 launch, but i don’t know what kinda data they were collecting.

    • It’s not even about finding out what comic fans want and providing that though. That would be disastrous. You put the reader first by putting the story first.

      There is a world of difference between a writer crafting an X-Men story and then saying “Holy Shit! I’ve just realised that this would put them at odds with The Avengers!” and an editorial meeting that starts with “OK guys, we need a big crossover, let’s have our two biggest teams fight. How do we force the story to fit that? How do we get there? I know lets get a shitty writer to knock up a shitty Cable story. Doesn’t matter that they guy can’t write, or that he’s distracted with the huge task of launching our entire TV output. All we need is a B to put between A and C.”

      One comes from an organic and truthful place of story first, one is faked, it’s forced. And the sad thing is, all of the Marvel creators defend this bullshit approach to story, I’d like to think they would stand up and say “Look, I’m passionate about my craft, I’m not happy with this approach to storytelling” but they don’t, they’re staunchly in defence of it.

    • I am completely certain that Scott Snyder would have gone to DC and said “I think I have an idea for this owls storyline which will be really cool and really big and take in the other bat titles” whereas with X-Men Vs. Avengers it was Marvel going to the writers saying “this has to happen”. I’m not saying the writers won’t try to make the best of it, maybe it will be awesome, but they are starting off on the wrong foot.

  10. I don’t know if they can when me back and I hate it. I only get Iron Man and defenders and most likely dropping defenders. Even Iron Man, there was a time that it was my #1 book but now something is broken in my brain….

    I used to read sooooooo many Marvel books just a short time ago. It’s weird I say!

  11. I’ve always read comics for the stories and not the marketing, so I’ve had no problem purchasing their product. The creativity there is miles beyond what is going on with the mainstream books from across the street. I’m down to 4 DC non vertigo books, and my Marvel pull is steady if not growing. Secret Avengers, ASM, Venom, Ult Spidey, the X books, DD, Punisher Max and Punisher non Max, Thunderbolts, Hulk, JIM, Thor, Cap, and that is off the top of my head.

    Sure I’d like the books to be a dollar cheaper, but I swallowed that pill years ago and am willing to pay more for a superior product. Events? Don’t buy it if you don’t want to read it. I find it odd that a publisher putting out product one doesn’t want sours them to the entire companies output. If you put that logic up against any Movie distributor, Music distributor, or Book publisher, it becomes completely illogical. Am I going to stay away from all Lion’s Gate movies because I don’t enjoy the Saw films? No…

    • While you make a solid point about events souring others, I find it important to point out that most Marvel events encompass almost all of their main books as well as miniseries. I know as a fan, I really don’t enjoy when a book I’m liking completely changes tone and direction, just to tie into an event. There’s only been a few times that its been done successfully in my mind.

      In the end, DC/Marvel is just a taste thing. You may not dig what they’re doing at DC and that’s just fine. Marvel’s style just fits you more as a consumer.

  12. Marvel books haven’t lost me as long as they keep things fresh. Marvel corporate? Different story. I’m currently reading the Stan Lee bio. Just finished the section where part of Stan’s strategy was showing readers what went on at Marvel “behind the curtain”, through the Soapbox and announcements. It made people feel like Marvel was listening AND responding. Doesn’t seem like that right now, and for that, my opinion of them is pretty low – corporate-wise.

    Still loving several books though.

    A recent iFanboy podcast brought up a good point about DC. It’s been a few months since new 52 and now we’re seeing how people feel about the books now that we realize the company didn’t follow through with its motives. Most of the books were supposed to be “complete new starts” for many of its characters. A few were, but essentially they were still influenced by 80 years of continuity, no matter how you look at it.

    Or maybe I’m jaded because I’ve been following them for years and expected more out of this promotion. Yep, in my opinion this turned out to be a promotion, not an event. I am glad they developed fresh books that stepped out of stereotype “hero” books (like Demon Knights, Frankenstein, OMAC and I, Vampire), but if I was someone who didn’t read comics, none of what they did would entice me to walk into a shop and buy a book.

  13. I’ve stopped buying Marvel monthly because of their price increase and all of the other reasons above. I will however buy their TPB at a discount on Amazon when their released. This includes Uncanny X-Force, Daredevil, Venom, and Secret Avengers.

    The main issue that pisses me off is increasing their prices during a time when so many are struggling. Plus $4.00 for a DIGITAL single issue? Good try.

    • Yeah man. Marvel books are expensive. All other books are like 2.99 while their’s is like 3.99. That’s some BS

    • I think what most people are unhappy about is the $3.99 for 20 pages. that is totally fair enough but then you should move to trades. i moved to trades years ago .. like 2005 and i don;t regret it at all. Sure it is hard hearing about a book like Daredevil and having to wait, but i get it cheap, in a nice hardcover and if something promising turns south i don’t order it.

  14. Also randomly I’d like to say I want Mark Waid on Spider-Man. I miss enjoying Spider-Man, but then again maybe I just grew out of my Spider-Man phase. I buy a lot of Image these days.

    • Well, to follow up on your randomness, I was just thinking the same thing about Spider-Man. Was my favorite character and now I wonder if I have out grown him as well. Mark Waid sounds like a cool idea though.

  15. It’s been talked about here before – that over the past 6-mo or year or so, Marvel has been doing a “soft-reboot” of sorts. There are some great titles right now & great creators – but then over top of that, there’ve been these very overt marketing screw-ups… or at least, attempts to increase revenue that failed (which isn’t terrible, if some of those experiments worked & if they learn from the rest).

    But that bad taste of being tricked or let down can kind of overpower the good feelings of reading a great or even good story. I think that probably factors in to the stigma Marvel is taking on at the moment.

  16. I feel the trouble with Marvel is the constant inconsistency of book release dates, as in bi weekly, monthly and a bunch of Jason Aarons books coming out every 3 weeks and then a bunch of times issues coming out back to back weeks for no apparent reason. Even the changing prices like with the move of Remender and Hardman on the Secret Avengers title making it raise to 3.99 instead of the expected price of 2.99 you would have previously paid for that title. I understand why they did it and sadly as a reader im still going to buy it which proves the fact that it works but you just feel wronged by a company that you spend hard earned money on when things like this happen unexpectedly.

    As a reader and someone trying to reduce comic spending but at the same time a fan of those series i feel forced into purchasing them in order to keep up with series im enjoying and therefore feel swindled at the same time. I understand thats no ones fault but my own for purchasing them but at the same time i find it frustrating when if i was expecting to purchase a comic continously and follow a series i would like to know when its coming out and how much i would need to spend in order to do that.

    • I know this may be a very unpopular decision but why not just torrent the issues of series you’re unfamiliar with as a sort of demo to see where they’re going? Or just torrent everything on and issue-by-issue basis and then pay for the trade paperbacks of the ones you like?

    • @whynotmetoamorpho: Because then you’d be a thief. You don’t get to try something out for free just in case you might not like it. Buyer Beware applies to comic books too.

      (On this day of all days… Sometimes I think we deserve SOPA.)

    • I don’t torrent comics as thankfully I have a pretty trusted source on what is good or not for my tastes (yes, you lot), but there are plenty of arguments that piracy actually increases sales.

      I’ve spent thousands of pounds on music that I would otherwise have saved for my future if I hadn’t heard the albums first. Sure, some I haven’t bought, but then I wasn’t going to anyway.

      If I was going to try and pirate something I was unsure about, and you said “you can’t do that, you have to buy it if you want it” my response wouldn’t be to buy it. It would be to shrug and miss out. No-one wins there. The idea that every pirated copy of something is a lost sale is retarded, it would only be a tiny percentage of that.

      Saying “you’re a thief” as if that’s the end of it, is a gross oversimplification of a very complex area.

    • @whynotmetamorpho: Ya I’m not sure what that suggestion has to do with what I mentioned but I don’t have a problem paying for my comics and rather not do that. it’s just I don’t feel like being taken by a company’s stupidness or neglegance towards decisions made for their products which effects a customers experience thus making comics not as enjoyable

    • It’s really not that complex. The pirating environment causes any incarnation of the product (comics, music, etc) to become more disposable and worthless. It changes the mindset of everyone ingesting the product, as it’s no longer something you have to save for and anticipate buying when you have the money to, but instead something that you can instantly download without paying a penny. The direct impact on sales MIGHT not be colossal, but the damage is much deeper. Thanks to pirating, we now live in a world where we balk at the notion of not instantly knowing if something is bad or good, so you’ll just download it quickly and freely because “WHO CARES?! It’s not like it’s hurting anyone!” Here’s the thing though…it hurts you. It happened to music where Napster and its ilk made music disposable (though that was circumvented from total annihilation by having good ways to preview online, having good legal ways to purchase, etc) and it’s having a very strong effect on comics…probably even moreso since the comic crowd was small to begin with.

    • @comicBOOKchris I agree with you so much. It does hurt the consumer, they forget what it is like to actually appreciate the value of something earned. The Entitlement Generation is so quick to consume and move on that they never actually take the time to appreciate what they have for the 5 minutes they are thinking about it before the next shiny thing comes along.

    • @Neeks it was particularly in response to this part of your post:

      “As a reader and someone trying to reduce comic spending but at the same time a fan of those series i feel forced into purchasing them in order to keep up with series im enjoying and therefore feel swindled at the same time. I understand thats no ones fault but my own for purchasing them but at the same time i find it frustrating when if i was expecting to purchase a comic continously and follow a series i would like to know when its coming out and how much i would need to spend in order to do that.”

      I should have clarified that it’s a way of not feeling so swindled. Also it would decrease the number of disposable events.

    • @comicBOOKchris I would tend to disagree with you on piracy cheapening the product and @SEChambers I’m not sure which generation you’re referring to. Online piracy isn’t restricted to a specific age group and if you think it is then you’re delusional. To both of you, I don’t pirate everything and in fact I don’t really even pirate comics. I generally buy the trades. The only comics I torrent are the ones I’m unsure of. If the internet didn’t exist these would be the comics we’d see in a store and flip through, maybe read a bit of before either purchasing or putting down. I use it mainly as a way of gauging whether or not I’d be interested in a series. Get off your high horse. It’s not piracy that cheapens products, as diminishing sales rarely, if ever, lead to a shittier product.

    • Diminishing sales lead to NO product.

    • the piracy issue is always an endless grey area debate. This article today on Slate written by an economist was one of the most intelligent and moderate commentaries on the subject that i’ve read in a while:

    • @ whynotmetamorpho fair enough I got ya

    • @whynotmetamorpho

      I’m not on a high horse, but you might want to get a tad less defensive if you feel the need to justify theft. It never looks good.

      In regards to my delusions of which you speak, I have plenty of friends that think music/movies/comics should be free. Many of them are in their mid-late 20s and it’s something that about ten years ago starting brewing and now it’s just accepted that you don’t need to pay for something. The only thing many kids these days know of is digital media, and it’s as simple as a mouse click to get it. If you don’t pay for it, you don’t appreciate it. When it comes to comics, if you are pirating (and I don’t care what your intention is, call it pirating, borrowing, sampling, whatever) the book – you aren’t investing money in it. You aren’t going to take time to evaluate it like you would if you spend time working to obtain money and make a choice to purchase it. When you actually pay for something, if you think you like it or not, you will take more time to evaluate it’s quality as opposed to scrolling through a .cbr file at a rapid pace. I would have to say that not paying for what you sample does skew your opinion of the product.

  17. The gist of this article seems more like a blog post of a disgruntled comic book fan. Its also a hard thing to really have any sensible argument and discussion with, since it hinges on such an subjective concept as “good comics”. Basically, the author wants more “good comics” from Marvel, whatever that means, and he’ll buy more of them. He throws out three examples: Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force, and Wolverine and the X-men. Please note how these books contradict his points he listed earlier. Daredevil, UXF, and Wolverine and the X-men are all $4 dollar books with the same $3 dollar page count. Uncanny X-Force entire reason for existence is killing characters, including Warren Worriginton III. Daredevil had a crossover with Amazing Spider-Man, a book he didn’t state he was collecting.

    I agree, those books are damn good, despite doing things the author said he hated. There’s plenty of other books I enjoy from Marvel as well:

    -Amazing Spider-Man
    -Secret Avengers
    -Avenging Spider-Man
    -Journey Into Mystery
    -Two great recent mini-series in Red Skull: Incarnate and Vengeance

    So…your original statement is “Marvel isn’t making good comics anymore, so I’m not buying them”. To that I say, no, they are making plenty of good comics, and I think its silly to try and make it seem like Marvel is some greedy money-grubber that just make terrible events and rip-off customers. They are a company of talented comic book creators making stories they hope are financially successful and enjoyable to consumers, like every other comic book company in this country.

  18. My Marvel stack has diminished as well. I think it mostly stems from two factors. The first is that I’m getting really tired of buying some of my books 2x a month. That’s a big commitment and for me, most of those books waver between great and just ok. Also, I guess I’ve become more self aware that Marvel is constantly trying to manipulate me to buying more. LIke this double shipping thing or merging titles so that you have to buy two. I guess that, psychologically, I can accept a certain amount of marketing/branding before my brain reacts with disdain.

  19. Amen! These days I’ve been reading 4 DC titles to each Marvel comic book. And I started reading only Marvel some 20 years ago. The quality gap has been widening, and it’s mostly due to “events”.

  20. I hate it when a comic I read starts or has part of a story arc that is then continued or started in a comic that I do not read.

    • … coercion sales or trickery. I hate it, too. Interwoven stories are okay once in awhile, but “crossover epic stories” seem to have become the norm. “Events” have become not necessarily “poorer quality,” but rather encompass too many titles. Here is where one of the ground-level, reader-in-the-door problems for Marvel lies, in my opinion.

  21. There does seem to be a lot of Marvel hate on ifanboy, but yet there is a handful of really good books at marvel, is it all of the books they produce, no but is all of the DC 52 good books toe read no. At the end of the day a good comic is a good comic, if you like what you read buy it if not don’t.

    • No one has said that Marvel publishes NO good books at the moment. I think a handful is an accurate term.

    • Curious.

      How many comics makes up a “handful”?

      When has any comic company published more than a handful of great comics?

      How many great comics must a company produce to be seen as creatively healthy?

      What would happen to sales if all the major comic companies produced only great books?

      Are most dedicated comic buyers buying about as many comics as they can afford already?

    • Look, you can still love marvel, and read a lot of Marvel books but also admit that there is a “general consensus” that they are moving in the wrong direction. There’s always going to be subjective opinions as to what is and isn’t good, but I think to say everything is fine at marvel is to put your head in the sand.

    • The whole industry is far from fine.

      In the end, Marvel will be “finer” than the rest and that still won’t save them.

  22. Going back and reading your list Mike its funny because i almost have the exact same list as you as my current titles im reading lol.

    My current Marvel list

    Amazing Spiderman
    Punisher Max (one more issue left)
    Uncanny X-Force
    Ultimate Spiderman (might be dropping)
    Wolverine (probably going to drop after Jason aarons last arc)
    Wolverine and the X-Men

    And Soon to be Secret Avengers with the first Remender issue

    Anyways with that being said i feel thats enough of my Marvel fill anyways, and am glad im not intrested in any other titles at the moment… is that a bad thing?

    I guess it is to some who would say that means Marvel isnt good at the moment but at the same time that doesnt mean Marvel isnt good it just means the titles i havent decided to follow dont intrest me enough, they may very good i just dont care enough to find out.

  23. Yes, fear Itself was horrible, but I’m to blame for fooling myself into thinking that this time things would be different. Marvel has some good stuff going (Mystery Men was great, yet went unnoticed), but that is outweighed by the merging stories that only drown the characters. Daredevil seems to be headed in that direction and if it does I’m out because I won’t be suckered again.

  24. Being economical doesn’t mean cheap, it means finding great value and using time wisely. When I have a stack of books and I look at what I need to cut to maintain a monetary and time budget, Marvel tends to hit the chopping block for one main reason:

    Competitive pricing vs equivalent, or in some cases, superior, story telling

    There are great books out there that not only cost less, but are more accessible due to cheaper back issues. I was interested in Avenging Spider-Man, but wanted to wait a couple of issues to see how the reviews went. But in truth, I may never jump on because the back issues are $3.99, 50% vs other equivalent back issues. Economically, does not make any sense to read Marvel, when you have Image, DC, Boom, etc. at 50% off.

  25. That little Marvel eh? Oh well, your loss.

  26. I still say it is not Marvel that is bad now. It is Bendis that is bad now. At least his avengers stuff. I don’t buy Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers, New Avengers, or Spider-man, but I’m still more interested in Marvel then DC.

    • I buy all of those plus more and I’m still more interested in DC. Sometimes it’s not them, sometimes it’s you, and that’s ok. It takes different strokes to move the world.

    • And that’s just fine. I’m just saying that the books that people think of as the flagship books aren’t the best books at Marvel by a long shot.

    • Very subjective statement.

      I haven’t checked sales stats for any of the Avengers titles but New Avengers for a long time was the highest selling comic and I’d guess is still in the top 15.

    • Those first two arcs on Avengers rocked my face, then the book has been a 3.5 star book since. Not great, but not to the point I want to drop it.

    • I never said they weren’t selling. Just that they aren’t the best books they publish.

    • How do you measure “best”?

      By what you think? By buzz? By what people on the internet say?

    • See my response to Roivampire below. I was being a bit arbitrary. Just picking the books with movies out that I don’t read.

      And “Best” is always personal opinion.

  27. But “best” is such an arbitrary term. This is all opinion. In my opinion the best books Marvel is publishing right now are Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Force, Amazing Spider-Man and Thunderbolts. See how that list looks a little different than your top 5 books?

    • That’s true. I would put Daredevil and thunderbolts at the top of my list as well for my favorite books. I guess I was just being arbitrary about the books I named because those are the franchises with movies coming out so they would be the one’s the general public would think about.

      And of course opinion is everything.

    • And I just realized you were probably talking to Mike in this post.

  28. @Firevine Even back then Bendis was losing his shine to me. All of the characters just seemed to either play to their stereotypes and ignore what had happened in their own books, or speak in exactly the same voice. I haven’t read Avengers in a while so I’m not sure if this is still the case.

    • Valid criticism of some of Bendis’s weaknesses.

    • While we are on the subject, one of the things that bugs me about Bendis is that he has no issue with telling one part of a story in one title, say “New Avengers”, and then telling another part of the story in another title, say “Avengers”, and then finishing it up months and months later in an Annual or one-shot. To boil it down, he writes his books as if he is unaware of the title and number on the front of the book. Personally, I think it is insulting and egotistical to assume that if someone reads one of his books that they read all of his books.

    • hahaha

      Angers some people. Gets others to buy them all.

    • Felt like saying the same thing. And many of those others who buy them all don’t understand those who don’t. Well of course that isn’t a plot hole! He fixed it in blah blah blah! So there! I’m better.

  29. “Their pages were brimming with new ideas, with different story telling methods, with gorgeous renderings. They inspired the rest of the industry to do better.”

    I would apply the above quote to the writing of those series as well, and I think you have a winning recipe.

  30. They lost me with Fear Itself, and wooed me back with Daredevil and JiM. We’re cool now.

    • I have to agree, adding Amazing Spiderman to your list. I completely skipped Fear Itself and DC’s Flashpoint. Just not that into ‘event’ books. How about they just bring back ‘What If?’, as sort of a creative release valve instead?

  31. I think the problem with MARVEL is that the heart of MARVEL is the Avengers. And right now the Avengers comics just aren’t good. It started with FEAR ITSELF which was awful, and now the Avengers titles have just become repetitive.

    There are lot of great titles I see mentioned above..I personally buy FF ( both titles), Wolverine & The X-men, Ruck’s Punisher , Punisher MAX, THOR ( yeah I’m probably the only one), Journey, Venom, X-force, Uncanny, Ultimate Spiderman & Thunderbolts and quite enjoy them. Yeah I do buy more DC’s but I think because the Avengers line has gotten so stale, it hurts the whole company and actually makes it look worse then it is. The $3.99 thing is a stinker, but I’ve been complaining about that forever, its not new.

  32. Honestly my main problem with the Avengers books right now is Deodato on NA. I loved him on Thunderbolts but it’s almost like he’s just phoning it in since Fear Itself.

  33. Why mention DC in this article? Was it necessary to get his point about Marvel? Just asking… And why is so important for people to buy Marvel? So many great books out there currently that aren’t marvel books and maybe thats a good thing . Maybe marvel will listen to the buyers and get their butts out of that bubble their surrounded themselves with… It seems as if they laugh at people complaining about what they’d like to read and not be force fed. For me what turned me off was Civil war hated it and if didn’t get it then I had no choice had to read civil war related stuff. But I moved on and started buy more comics other than marvel… So if you stop buying maybe they’ll listen.

    • ^ This

      vote with your wallet, not with your internet complaints. or better yet, write them and tell them why you stopped buying their books

  34. I keep trying to get back into Marvel… and they keep slapping me in the face. The latest for me was Schism. I know lots of people liked it. But I just couldn’t get past the fact that Wolverine and Cyclops decided to get into a scrap while a freaking Sentinel was bearing down on them. It made me feel like they were X-idiots. Oh, and the freaking Hellfire Babies. Ugh.

  35. Fear Itself was terrible. The Avengers books are as stale as can be. There are too many events billed as the end all, be all. The PR hype machine is constantly spoiling key story points. Marvel really could benefit from toning things down a tad.

    But besides that, the rest of Marvel is just fine, IMO. I realize the things I mentioned are all problems that need fixing. But they don’t change the fact that Marvel is still putting out a good number of quality books. I won’t bother making a list, as others already have. But there are more than a few good Marvel books right now. Books that you can read on their own, free of all the giant events and Avengers whatever. If Marvel was a different company that just put out the non-Avengers/event books it does, people would think entirely differently of it.

    Therein lies the problem. Many aren’t able to separate these other books from the mainstream Marvel status quo. Fear Itself was the big Marvel event. It sucked. So Marvel sucks. The Avengers books, which have been written by the same guy for a long time now, are feeling stale. So Marvel is stale. Don’t get me wrong. If those books are your main concern and interest when it comes to Marvel, that should be how you feel. But there’s so much more out there. It’s hard because Marvel really sells itself on it’s shared universe (that’s how they get you buying more and more stuff). But it really helps if you take and judge each book on it’s own merits.

    We’re always talking on this site and others about not being slaves to these books. Not feeling you have to read everything to stay current. You don’t have to be “all in” on a publisher. You can pick and choose which books are for you, and which ones are not. If the big grandiose event is lame, pretends it doesn’t exist. Concern yourself with the exploits of Daredevil or the X-Men. If Avengers X-Sanction sucks, let it suck without you. But most comic readers have a thing for either being all in, or always reading the “important” stuff.

    I can only speak for myself. But Marvel is putting out a lot of books that I am thoroughly enjoying. None of those books are Avengers or event titles. If I put all my stock and opinions in those ones, I’d probably feel a lot more in line with this article. And even though I do not exactly agree with it entirely, I most definitely do understand it.

  36. Marvel’s other media stuff (aside from the Capcom fighting games) has turned me off for a long time. It spills over into comics for me. I’ve been almost exclusively a DC comics reader for years.

    That said, Wolverine and the X-men looks great. I bought the first 4 issues today. Quality trumps everything else.

  37. Im finding lately that everything that they do is of no consequence. Thor dies, bucky dies; but then they are right back in the next months solicits it just seems like there is no real stakes to any of the stories. I can’t get behind anything they do now because I like a fool read fear itself and in one of those point issues they completely undid everything that they just spent a year building up. I don’t know what the point was in telling this earth shattering story to only basically remove it right away. The best stories are the ones that have a long standing impact, and in the last year I just have not seen that from Marvel.
    (Uncanny X-force, Dare Devil, WandX-men, Uncanny X-men: There best books right now love them cause they have a clear scope and the creative teams have been left alone to do what they want)

  38. You make a lot of good points, Mike. The line about “customer 3492342” struck home and I found myself nodding.

    I dropped all my Marvel books several months into the “Heroic Age” period. It was Secret Invasion that brought me back after years of reading almost no Marvel books (except the various Marvel Zombie series) and I stuck with over a dozen titles through Dark Reign and its follow-ups. I just found that except for the Captain America books I didn’t care enough. Eventually, once the film came out I gave up on even Cap.

    At 61 yrs of age, I’m certainly not Marvels (or DCs for that matter) target audience. I’m just finding more titles from the smaller/independent companies that still give me the thrills & enjoyment that I used to get from Marvel decades ago. To be honest, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be getting all of the dozen DC 52 titles currently in my ‘pull list’. I think my interest in super-heroes is waning again, as it has several times since the end of the ’90s and I’ll go back to reading nothing but stuff from Dark Horse, IDW, and WALKING DEAD from Image.

  39. My Marvel books: X-Factor, Fantastic Four, FF, Wolverine and the X-Men, Journey into Mystery. Marvel is struggling. But I want to take a minute to plug Journey into Mystery and X-Factor. These are two books were forced into crappy crossover after crappy crossover and instead of being dragged down actually succeeded in elevating the material. David has been writing X-Factor for over 80 issues straight now. It is entirely character-driven, witty, has heart, and yet remains a mutant noir title. And now with Luppachino it also has great art. Gillen’s Journey into Mystery is what you would have gotten if Walt Simonson and Neil Gaiman collaborated on a Thor book. It is literary fantasy at its best and Kid Loki is one of the best characters going at Marvel right now. I realize everyone has different tastes. X-Force didn’t do it for me though I may try again sometime. And I haven’t read Daredevil because I still haven’t read all the Miller and Bendis books sitting on my shelf. That being said if you have an extra $3 or $6 a month try Journey and X-Factor. I’m fairly confident most people will like at least one of them.

  40. The pricing sucks but I still a good amount of Marvel.
    I gave up on all the flagship books in Marvel and stick to the Marvel secondary books.
    Uncanny X-force, Daredevil, Punisher, FF/F4, Tbolts, Venom. And adding Scarlet Spider, Winter Soldier, and Secret Avengers. I just pick up only the 2.99 books with the exception of my 2 Remender books. Plus still pull Batman, Animal Man, Shade, American Vampire, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Batwoman.

    Just buy the cheaper books. More bang for the buck. Most of all the books I’m getting are secondary books. Forget about flagship books and big events. Secondary books are the way to go.

  41. Daredevil is about the only Marvel book I read anymore. A big part of it is the fact that DC is publishing better books for a dollar less than Marvel, but because when I do get into a new Marvel book, they feel the need to tie it into a boring mega event that I have no interest in and thus have to drop the series I was reading because I have no idea what’s going on in it anymore. I also hate the fact that Bendis and Fraction get to run ammok and do whatever they want in Marvel with their mediocre talent, when Marvel has truly great writers on their staff who are due for a big break.

  42. Love Marvel! And really enjoy reading all my books every week. But I see the price point issue with the company. But that an issue is 3.99 doesn’t mean the issue sucks! If you like it pay for it, read it and enjoy it.

  43. the only Marvel Books i read are FF/Fantastic Four, Journey into Mystery, & at least for the current arc, Uncanny X-Force (i normally get it in trade), Marvel’s crossover madness + double shipping may keep me from getting Secret Avengers in singles.

  44. Some suggestions:

    1) Subscribe. Think $3.99 is too much to pay for comic books? Stop paying retail. Subscriptions at Marvel are 47% off cover price. Yes, it locks you in for a year, and yes the books come a week late. Well worth the price break. If you take a year-and-a-half of Amazing Spider-Man, it’s 65% off cover price. Two issues a month for 18 months. It’s a not a bad deal, at that price, and it’s a pretty good magazine at that price. I get nine Marvel titles that way, and after I type this, I’m gonna go order two more. My store wonders why I keep canceling Marvel titles. Or maybe they don’t.

    2) Get a pull box. You get sold out of stuff that you want regularly? But, you preview and review comic books for a website. You must hear about what’s coming out, no? If I get sold out of something, I call around before I spend all day Wednesday chasing an issue. Marvel usually reprints anything they can make a buck on. Wait a week or two and look for reprints, for unsold pull box returns to stock, or for back orders for “sold-out” comics coming in. Don’t feel like you have to read every “hot” comic in issues. Post a Wish List on a back-issue thread on a message board and wait.

    3) Unclench. Don’t worrying about reading every “hot” title in issues when it’s coming out. Read the trade. Use the public library. Skip the events. Read last year’s hot stuff in cheap trades this year. If somebody is telling you about the great comic book you absolutely MUST read, insist that that guy loan you his copies.

    4) Skip the events. Just read the titles that you like. If they cross over with something else or get diluted by something else, that’s a drag. Buy the other title or not. If something in a comic doesn’t conclude there, but in some other comic and you didn’t get a sense of closure, that sucks, too. It’s a big universe and they reward the people that are immersed in it the most.

    5) Thy these. Recommended continuing series:

    Uncanny X-Force
    FF & F4
    Secret Avengers
    X-Men (since issue #20)
    new Captain America

    6) Or these. Some good recent minis, maxis, limiteds, canceled series, concluded series & trial balloons

    Black Panther
    Legion of Monsters
    Avengers: EMH
    Avengers: Children’s Crusade
    Secret Warriors (last TPB arriving soon)

    7) Take a decade off. Stop reading Marvel. Stop buying superhero comic books. Or mainstream comic books. Or comic books at all. Or issues. Or print. Or digital. Just buy art/indy comics for a while. Buy just minis. Or just “small” books. Be the expert on what was good last year and is cheap this year. Be the expert on how not to let ’em get to you.

    8) Enjoy. Read some DC. Read some Pogo. Read some Nancy and some Little Lulu and forget all about next Wednesday. Or the Wednesday after that.

    Cheers. See you back in the fold in 19 years or so.

    • So agree with you on this 100%. player1.

      Great recommendation on the continuing series. I buy most of them lol.

    • “Enjoy. Read some DC. Read some Pogo. Read some Nancy and some Little Lulu and forget all about next Wednesday. Or the Wednesday after that.”

      Well, yeah, at the end of the day….. supposed to be entertainment and aesthetics. Not a stressful drudgery. No guilt involved. No bitterness needed. Have fun or don’t bother.

    • You forgot to say “skip the events” a few more times. After dropping Fear Itself in the middle, I’m swearing off events for the next decade. No A vs. X, no nothing, not even anything from DC, unless the event crosses into the books I read, like Spider-Island.

      I’m happy with the events of the past ten years (Disassembled, Civil War, Dark Reign, Siege) because they all tied into each other (liked Secret Invasion for the premise, execution sucked). Just… lay off Marvel. We’re happy with status quo for the most part. Leave us alone. And DC, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t do any events for a while until your “completely new universe accept for a few books” titles have had a year to work out the bugs.

  45. I am not sure if anyone has made this point yet, as I tried to read every reply to this post. But my eyes started to do and Fred and Ginger and I got overly anxious and decided to post any way.

    My first comic at the tender age of 11 was a Marvel comic. Im and will continue to be a Marvel comic fan, unrelenting fan, for the rest of my life. My loyalty comes from the many years where Marvel gave me enjoyment that I could not get from DC comics, or any other comic book company.

    Having said that, I have not always been pleased with a lot of what comes out of Marvel. In fact I’ve been outright disappointed with a great many things that I’ve read, that Marvel comics produced. And my immediate response to that displeasure, was to not buy that book again.

    But the Point I’m trying to make, is that apart from the last few years marvel’s kicking ass. They were doing great things, they had great writers, they had great books. And then they were purchased by Disney. And, while not being 100% certain about this, I think that’s when things changed.

    Given all of disney’s wonder in amazement, there public persona, they are a very large company also owned by ABC. And with that ownership comes a good degree of focus on the bottom line. And while comic book companies have to focus on the bottom line, their demographic is a unique one. As a demographic that I’m sure Disney had not fully understood, and maybe just recently started to figure out. At least in my opinion.

    And yes marvel can be over reliant on events. But in marvel’s history there have always been event comics, it’s kind of their history. And there’ve always been that writing, and that art. And that may not change, because to marvel’s defense they may be just trying out new talent. Or relying on talent that many have seen better days.

    But, that’s the way it is with th anything you give your attention and loyalty to. Are going to be bumps, and they’re going to be false starts, and maybe even great disappointments. But you weather those to get to the good stuff. I think that’s just the way it goes when you’re dealing with th anything creative. It’s not always going to be a home run, but you hope in the very least, it’ll be a good read.

    And, if it’s not a good read there’s always something on television. That’s just my 2¢.

  46. Do we need a dozen Avengers books about the same exact people? Especially w/ the same writer? While doubel shipping is kind of cool, it’s actually hurt my purchases. And I buy digital, so the whole not-lowering-prices is really irksome.

  47. Agreed on all points, especially the Events thing. We’ve been voicing our complaints on those for years, but for whatever reason events are what sells. For me the best books are self-contained not relying on other books to complete their story, and having a yearly (or twice a year, hell seemingly constant) line-wide event puts a big damper on Marvel books for me.

    When catching up on X-Men books or even Fantastic Four over the years, we have to stop along the way for awkwardness as Civil War and every other event crashes through it’s continuity. Ay yi yi.

    If Marvel could take some of the simplicity of indie books and not feel the need for constant events shaking things up we’d have much stronger Marvel runs to look at lasting years. But unfortunately, that would probably end up meaning they’d make a bit less money, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day for Marvel.

    DC, while we’re at it, was similarly convoluted with another crisis or big event every couple years at least, but with the new 52 I’m loving how so far we’re event free. Assuming they make it 12 issues into the new 52 without an earthshattering line-wide event, that’ could be a world record for Marvel/DC in recent years.

  48. I used to buy bundles of Marvel stuff but OMD a few years ago was kinda of the last straw for me and ever since then my Marvel pull list has been diminishing week in, week out to the point where I now don’t actually buy any Marvel at all.

    I think the ‘taking the fans for granted’ thing is really what it comes down to, they do seem to be more interested in their own opinions than those of the fans and generally seem to lack a bit of class when it comes to their business strategy.

    Are all DC’s books good, nope. Do I buy them all, nope. Am I more willing to try new books from a company that seems to respects it’s fans, yes indeed.

  49. Some of Marvel’s best book are $2.99 but they often sell less than the $3.99 books. Which is weird and sad.

    Some examples:
    – Avengers Academy
    – Black Panther Most Dangerous Man Alive
    – Captain America and Bucky
    – Daredevil
    – Fantastic Four
    – FF
    – Journey Into Mystery
    – Punisher
    – SHIELD
    – Thunderbolts

  50. I read about 6 dc books a month which is probably less than before the relaunch. I don’t read any marvel.

  51. I’ve been a fan of both Marvel and DC for years. My budget for comics is pretty good, but since I still have to limit my comics to about 24 titles, it was a tug of war to fit both into my monthly list.

    Here are my Marvel comics –
    Fantastic Four
    Winter Soldier
    Captain America
    Ultimate Spider-Man
    New Avengers
    Secret Avengers
    Avengers Assemble
    Avengers vs X-Men
    I get 12 DC titles as well, 1 Image, and 1 Dynamite comic

  52. My issues with Marvel is an ever increasing list: First, I get tired of the constant relaunching and renumbering and .1ning and changing names and story and lead characters but leaving the previous higher issue count. It’s weird. I get tired of the endless deaths. It is becoming more and more of a joke.

    Their events seem to be the worst kind of earth shattering, changes everything, nothing is ever going to be the same crap that usually only ever results in roster shake-ups after only having a solid team for 7 issues, or an entire story change in a title that was already in the middle of it’s own story! And yes, yes, I know there haven’t been any new mutants for like 7 years, but what does that even mean? All the mutants you could possible care about are still the same. DC had FINAL CRISIS which only affected Flash and Batman and is a much talked about stand alone story with themes and concepts and subtext. Flashpoint and Blackest night were natural progressions of Flash and Green Lantern.

    The BIGGEST thing is the titles available to me: DC has done with the new 52, what I’ve been wanting. There are so many different flavors you can try out with strong directions. Western titles, War titles, horror titles, superhero titles. I can read Frankenstein and Animal Man for godsake and both are selling!!

    With marvel it’s X-Men, Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, or Daredevil. That’s it…oh and MOON KNIGHT!

    You want a B-character…maybe you’ll get a mini.

    There’s a connectivity that is exciting and organic with DC. When I hear Andrew of I,Vampire tell Constantine that there is a war coming and if he has any wizard friends he better get them ready….well that makes me want to buy JLD issues 7 and 8 to find out what part they will play.

    I want to root for Marvel, but monthly I only read Iron Man now and am trade waiting two other titles. There’s just nothing there. And I don’t care about who would win in a fight good guys vs. good guys.

  53. Can any of Marvel’s struggles be attributed to Axel Alonso taking over as EiC?

  54. I dunno. I think you’re burnt out on the things you mentioned. You just gotta clear your head of negative preconceived notions and try out some of the highly regarded comics Marvel makes. They’re out there making really good titles. You just gotta find them.

    The one criticism I disagree most with is the Architect comment. While I don’t care about the “Architect” branding, I buy most of my comics based on the writer. I almost never go wrong with Hickman, Brubaker, Waid, Rucka, Johns, Snyder, Azzarello, Simone, and on titles where he’s revitalizing individual characters or building them from scratch, Bendis. And Fraction, Remender, and Aaron are making building some serious credibility outside on individual titles.

  55. I guarantee that AvX will be the highest pulled book on iFanboy the week it comes out. the audience is there problem here

  56. Excellent article Mike! You hit on pretty much every issue I have with Marvel these days. I am def more a Marvel guy than a DC guy, but these days, I am definitely buying more (and in many situations enjoying more) DC books than Marvel.

    I’m buying my books from DCBS these days, so I can afford to get more titles, but I’m getting about half the amount of Marvel books Vs. DC books. And if Marvel double ships a title (as they have been doing a lot lately), I have to drop things so as not to exceed my monthly allloted budget to put towards comics.

  57. Just a couple more of my 2 cents. I’ve really enjoyed most of the “events” Marvel has done in past years, even “Secret Invasion” had it’s good points.

    When “Fear Itself” was first announced, I thought to myself, “that doesn’t sound too interesting, but I’ll give it a whirl. Marvel hasn’t really let me down in any of the “Major” events dating back to “Civil War” (that was the first big one I can remember, correct me if I’m wrong. Though I’m sure you could say “Avengers Disassembled” was an event, just not with a Main Mini Series…though I guess you could say that “Avengers” was the main book in that case…but now I’m rambling LOL!)”

    “Fear Itself” was absolutely the first major letdown for me. I didn’t know what was going on for the most part. I didn’t care what was going on. I read almost none of the tie-in’s. The only bright spot of “Fear Itself” was Kieron Gillen’s “Journey Into Mystery,”

    I can say that I am interested in AvX, so I will be reading that one. But, if my interest and investment in the story wavers by issue 2 or 3, I must say I will be dropping it. You won’t get me again like you did with “Fear Itself” Marvel…Do you Hear me?!?!! You won’t be getting me like that again!!!

  58. i believe “how do we win back Mike Romo” was one of the topics at the latest marvel retreat.

    bendis said “who’s mike romo?” and then tweeted about powers
    remender and aaron said “what do you mean get him back” and high fived
    breevort said “kill him and polybag him”
    alonso said give him his own custom spiderman cover

    seriously mike, if they offer the spidey cover, take it!

  59. I really don’t think Marvel gives a crap about their readers. They don’t want to win you back, they’ll just say there are plenty of Marvel Zombies out there who buy any crap they put out, they don’t need you.

    I for one won’t buy any more Marvel Comics unless they start discounting the digital issues after they’ve been out a while. It’s outrageous that they still have not dropped the price of anything that came out at $3.99 6 issues ago. All other companies drop the prices down to $1.99 after a month. Marvel is still full price.

    So if Marvel wants more sales they need to do the same. Until then, no more Marvel for me. It’s too expensive.

    • I particularly love how you slam Marvel for not giving a crap about their readers, and then in the next breath complain that they’re not giving away digital comics for half the price because it’s the only thing you buy. If ‘giving a crap’ by your definition means selling comics at prices that would ruin them in two years, then I’m glad they don’t give a crap about me and just keep selling me books by great creators that I want to read.

      I’m not sure you quite fit the definition of a customer Marvel would give a crap about.

  60. I’ve always been a DC reader and rarely touched Marvel – but recently I’ve found myself picking up issues (usually after seeing them recommended here) and I’m actually enjoying them. The real focus for me has been Dan Slott writing Amazing Spider-man. But from buying zero Marvel eighteen months ago, I’m buying something like 7-8 titles a month. (I also secretly enjoyed Fear Itself and don’t understand what all the hatred was about: big guys hitting other big guys with hammers. Worked for me).

    I really believe that we’re in a great time for comics. I don’t see the situation as negatively at all. Quite the opposite.

  61. You know those Lexus commercials at Christmas time? Spouse surprises spouse with new Lexus with giant bow on top of it (and the TV viewing populace rolls its collective eyes).

    Well imagine the next door neighbor of that Lexus gifting couple and the world of hurt one spouse is in when they exchange gifts and there’s no new automobile.

    Now it’s not that the Lexus gifting couple is more talented, well-off, or dutiful than their neighbors. All we know is that one couple got a Lexus.

    Marvel, your neighbor DC bought its fans a brand new Lexus last year.

    ‘Nuff Said.

  62. I am reading more Marvel books since DCNu than before.

  63. Sorry but i’m giving this rant a D-

    It sounds like the real issue is price and it’s getting dressed up with a few extra minor problems. The other complaints seem trivial moans, cross book events have been around as long as I remember, hell Executioners Song is one of the things that got me really deep into comics, but still you’re not obligated to buy all the books.

    Killing characters in comics is an issue for you? Really? Given the average time spent dead for a Marvel character is 12 months that’s a pretty odd complaint.

    As with multi book characters you are again under no contracted obligation to pick up spin off titles with characters and be angry for the creators for trying to maintain a consistent narrative. It’s hardly a manipulation, and even if it was, how many times exactly are you going to let them fool you into buying a book about a character you like? The scoundrels!

    The only issue you have no personal control over is cost, which is a legitimate gripe for US readers. But books are always going to go up in price over time so vote with your wallet, as you are doing. Living in Australia the price hike hasn’t hit us, with the climbing Aussie dollar my LCS has kept issues at the same prices price point I’ve been paying for going on ten years.

    I pick up about eight Marvel’s a month give or take a miniseries here and there and would be hard pressed to drop anything right now.

  64. @Agent Spanky For me, the fact that the average time spent dead for a Marvel character is 12 months IS the problem. As great as I felt the death of Johnny Storm was handled, I was still bugged. Being exactly 12 months before their giant anniversary issue, I had a hard time taking it seriously. I felt the publicity stunt all the more clearly. In the case of FF, 12 issues only amounted to a single story arc before Johnny was brought back.

    I don’t really want to see EVERY major character get knocked off and brought back again instantly. .We all know that Marvel and DC can handle a hero’s death with the appropriate gravitas, but it still needs to be done SPARINGLY. A character’s death should still shock and stun us, when they do it, we should all be wondering how the Marvel or DC Universe will go on without the character. Pull them off the table for a while…three years? five years? Think Jean Grey or Barry Allen, those are the deaths that mean something in the long run. In two or three years, noone will even remember that Johnny “died”.

  65. As it stands right now, comics are priced right out of my wallet. they’re simple to little content for too much money. As to digital? Nah… not interested in buying “air,” especially over-priced air. It’s much cheaper and easier for me to simply be patient and wait for a collected edition to come out later. It also allows me to be very, very choosy about what I do or don’t want.

    You know what would bring me back to reading monthly comics?

    One word: Digests

    They used to be all over the place in the “Good Ole Days” and with the economy and industry the way it is I think they could be a hit. Once a month books on newsprint, consolidating the months “family” books into one smaller less expensive digest a month after they’ve been released at the newsstand. For example, the July “X-Men Digest” would collect the (core) issues of June’s X-books. Throw out “special digests” that collect x-overs and one-shots

    I’d easily pay 5 or 6 bucks a piece for something like this. it might even expand my serious buying TPBs of titles that I might have not tried otherwise.

  66. I have been flying up and down and all around for the past week and I had not been able to get a chance to read these comments—I flabbergasted, this article has generated more conversation than anything else I’ve written over these many years. Thanks so much for reading, I will read what you’ve said and try to keep your thoughts and ideas in mind as we watch what Marvel does in 2012.

  67. Latest example of Marvel stupidity …Scarlet Spider . Recycling a lousy charecter from a lousy story arc is not a good idea .