When S.W.O.R.D. Gets the Axe

I hope all of you have been enjoying the new crop of Marvel books as much as we here at iFanboy Central have. There are some exciting things on the horizon this year. I'm especially keen to see what Kieron Gillen and company have in store for this new book, S.W.O.R.D. It's only had three issues released so far, but already it is turning heads; why, our own Ron Richards made it our Pick of the Week just this Wednesday. If you haven't given it a chance yet, you really should check it out the next time it–

Wait! Oh, wait. No. It's been canceled. Canceled as of issue #5. That exciting thing on the horizon turns out to be the sun setting on creativity.

As you may be able to tell, I am in a fit of pique about this news. I would have merely been saddened if not for the fact that I heard about the S.W.O.R.D. cancellation mere minutes after finding out that another interesting new book, Doctor Voodoo, is also getting canceled before it can even hit its sixth issue. That decision is simply outrageous. Doctor Strange gave up the mantle of Sorceror Supreme fair and square. The Doctor Voodoo switch was announced ages ago. Now, Voodoo's time to shine finally arrives, and they yank it out from under him after a few lousy months? He never even got a chance to build an audience! It's like the network never supported him at all. And what are Andy Richter and Max Weinberg supposed to do now? Do they get a $50 million payout, too? The people on the staff have families, you know!


It is possible my anger about these cancellations may be coming from somewhere else.

Lately, it seems like a lot of things I enjoy, a lot of smart, interesting things starring people with unusual hair, have started getting strangled in the crib. And sure, I am aware that my tastes do not necessarily reflect the zeitgeist. As I've said before, sometimes I look at the top ten TV shows in the weekly Neilsen ratings and feel like I am observing a distant planet through a telescope. (NCIS? Like, the "Mark Harmon is still on television somewhere" NCIS?) I can't understand how any biped with a beating heart could be put in front of Arrested Development or 30 Rock and not laugh, but apparently stadiums and stadiums full of those people exist in an America I have not yet visited. It is possible, I suppose, to somehow manage not to "get" Firefly, a show with the impenetrably difficult setup, "like cowboys, but in space." Even though I know all this in my head– even though I should be used to everyone seeming to reject the things I like the most– I am a passionate man, and any time it comes up the conversation inevitably devolves quickly:

"Can you believe they're canceling X, while stupid Y is still out there stinking up the joint?"
"Y is a huge hit. Millions of people love Y."
"Millions of people can't find America on a map. Millions of people are imbeciles."
"I really like Y."
"Oh!… I see. Pardon me a moment, won't you? I just need to step away and call Child Protective Services to have your kids taken out of your home."

(Book titles redacted because I don't feel like having the Loeb Hulk conversation again*)

I am quick to anger when things I like get shuffled off to oblivion too soon. But what am I to make of the S.W.O.R.D. and Doctor Voodoo cancellations? These are cuts so swift and merciless, I didn't even have time to figure out whether or not I liked the books yet. The inevitable "Save S.W.O.R.D." campaign that is already underway (and it really is an ingenious old-school letter writing initiative; I urge you all to fire up your printers for it) might as well be called "Save S.W.O.R.D., Just On Sheer Principle Alone." Even if you read these books and didn't like them, how do you know you didn't just dislike the first story arc? To be completely candid, there were some things about Doctor Voodoo leaving me cold, but I just figured, "You know, I've never been a big fan of Son of Satan or Nightmare, but they'll move on to the next thing in a couple of issues."

No! No, as a matter of fact, they won't.

Is it too much to ask that I get a second arc before we decide the entire book is irretrievable and burn it to the ground? In 2010, you decide the book's canceled after it's been out for an hour and a half? At this rate of speed, they'd almost have to be planning to cancel it before it came out, wouldn't they? With that turgid zombie Spider-Girl still walking around like she owns the place after ten years, I can't get an issue #6 out of a concept that's actually interesting? Doctor Voodoo has to save the entire world from all supernatural threats, at a time when virtually no other book is using Marvel's supernatural characters! S.W.O.R.D. can dip a toe into any and every cosmic concept or alien world! Both of the books feature writers that you plucked from indie darlinghood specifically to do this kind of magic! These books are goddamn imagination factories, and you're shutting them down so you can, what, put out another couple o' Deadpools?

Ohhh, America looooves Deadpool, though. The way he breaks the fourth wall, and knows he's in a comic book? Ha ha, I get it! I've seen Family Guy; I get jokes. That same one-note premise getting re-re-re-re-hammered on every page… it hasn't been funny in over a decade! His "rapport" with Kevin Eubanks has all the warmth of an IRS audit, and Jaywalking and Headlines are just lazy, color-by-numbers excuses to highlight how dumb he thinks his audience is–!

…Sorry. I went somewhere else again. It's been a trying week.

These are not students of history. The last few decades are filled with examples of things that began life as unpopular ugly ducklings before being nurtured and grown into hit swans. The first episode of Cheers was the single lowest rated program on television that week. Seinfeld didn't get into the top thirty until its fourth season; after its first episode aired, NBC tried to give the show away. Luckily, Fox didn't take it. (If the people running Fox in 2010 had put Seinfeld on the air, the greatest sitcom ever filmed would have lasted maybe four episodes.) Precious Jay goddamn Leno was in the ratings toilet for almost two years before he, I dunno, found an evil genie or something that made people watch him.

After years of selling a mediocre 1 million copies a month (!!!) Marvel canceled The X-Men in 1970; only after they took a chance on reviving it five years later would the comic go on to be the most popular book on the shelf for decades, spawning an entire herd full of cash cows for the company. When they did revive the book in '75, it featured a character named Wolverine whom every letter writer in the readership vocally despised. Claremont and Byrne could very easily have said (back in the pre-healing factor early days) "Man, we have got to kill off this Canadian a-hole." If they thought like executives instead of writers, the world might be full of thousands of Banshee spinoffs today.

Oh, and the publisher thought Spider-Man was the worst idea he'd ever heard. He only let them go ahead with it because Amazing Fantasy was getting canceled anyway. (After fifteen whole issues.)

These trigger-happy cancellations are not the actions of innovators or chance-takers. This is not bravery or wisdom. This is a company that arbitrarily raises the prices on its books just to see what will happen, and there's no wiggle room for good new ideas? If only the marketing muscle and showmanship they're currently using to flip the bird at their competitors for no reason could be applied to marketing actual books. Hey, what about some variant covers? With Deadpool?

Could S.W.O.R.D. really deserve less of a chance than Heroes for Hire? Really?

Is Doctor Voodoo, just as a concept alone, not at least worth as many issues as Young X-Men, which by the way you must have rebooted and renamed at least three times before pulling the plug on such memorable characters as That One Mutant With The Wind-Blowing and That Other Mutant Who Is Exactly Like The Thing?

Did anybody read that Marvel Comics Presents anthology last year? Anybody besides me and the relatives of the creators? I don't know, but I know it got to at least #12.

I never thought I'd feel lucky to get so many issues of Captain Britain, let alone She-Hulk. It's a minor miracle that a book like Ms. Marvel could make it all the way to… oh, wait! Ms. Marvel just got canceled. Awesome.

I urge you, against all odds, to join the "Save S.W.O.R.D." campaign, and for Doctor Voodoo… I dunno. Stick some pins in a Dan Buckley doll or something. I'm not sure who to blame. Probably Jay Leno.


Jay Leno is the actual devil from the Bible; Jim Mroczkowski has charts. Twitter #teamconan just for the psychic release it brings.


  1. Aw man seriously! I bought all three issues of doctor voodoo when the third issue came out and I loved it. Still this was a great article that really got to the point of the matter. It would make alot of sense if(as far as entertainment goes) propertys were given time to devlope and get it legs before they were chopped off from underneath them.

  2. Great article, this is terrible news.  Kind of ruins my whole morning…

  3. Sorry that books you liked got cancelled. However, SWORD was inevitable. Not a single person at my shop read it. Though I cannot directly speak to it, that is bad news. I read Dr. Voodoo from the beginning and was not impressed. If the upcomign issue had not salvaged it I intended to drop the book.

  4. Doctor Voodoo is wonderful I’m so sad for its loss.  I guess all this canceling means I get to read Marvel Zombies 5.  Yep just solicited Marvel Zombies 5.  This is a great article and I’m in agreeance 100%

  5. I’m going to start investing my money in nice hats. Hat’s don’t get cancelled after their first few issues.

  6.  "If only the marketing muscle and showmanship they’re currently using to flip the bird at their competitors for no reason could be applied to marketing actual books"

    Truer words. . . 

  7. It’s the biggest problem I’ve run into as a 20+ year comics reader. I want new comics with new characters. I’m tired of reading the same stories with the same tired icons. I enjoy exploring the B & C list characters because they’re new and exciting with a lot of room for growth.

    The industry just isn’t built to support those books.

  8. Here’s an idea for Marvel.  Instead of creating an ongoing series then canceling it for not recieving mega hit sales.  Start out these kind of books in a miniseries and if it doesn’t get the the sales you want its over no one becomes butt hurt if it does do well though another mini and then an ongoing.  See there you go no one gets hurt.  Marvel Zombies 5!!!!! Seriously WTF.

  9. SWORD really wasn’t that great.

  10. Sad, just sad. I’ll be honest and say that neither of these books were able to keep me buying past issue 2, but it’s important for people to be doing this important work! Seriously, you think Spider-Man’s still gonna be interesting in 30 years when they have to de-age him to 15 so that he can meet his entire rogues gallery yet again? As Jimski said, the new ideas and the new hit characters come from these kinds of experiements.

    Check out Dc, for pity’s sake! CAT MAN has a starring role in a book! BOOSTER FREAKING GOLD is headlining a title, as is Power Girl! POWER GIRL! You never know which character you drag out of the gutter will go on to star in the next sleeper hit. Take note, Marvel.

  11. I wanted to add — of course it’s logical that companies cancel the books no one’s reading, and put out more of the books that they think people want to buy.  But demand is intertwined with the way the companies choose to market their books; demand doesn’t come out of nowhere.  

  12. Jim I agree with you 95% (I love NCIS 🙂 ) I buy a lot of books, but most buy a few at the most a week

     The problem really is people can not afford all the books they want to read. Marvel universe alone you have so many book groups that tie in together. Avengers books, which all tie in together, probably more x-men books , all the Dark Reign tie ins, etc.  If you spend your money on the group you like, you don’t pick up a new book to try. The price increases didn’t help the cause. Buy 4 $2.99 books, or 3 $3.99 books. 

  13. Great article.  I can only nod my head in agreement.  Marketing (and perhaps a title that actually meant something to non-Astonishing readers and wasn’t already the title of another comic on the stands) would have done S.W.O.R.D. a lot of good.  Everyone I know who actually managed to read it loved it.

  14. Good article, put it this way though:

    A property like "S.W.O.R.D." is lucky that it got five issues.

    Seriously. Don’t let your love for the up-n-comin writer fool you.

    And if it really is all that great, a year or two down the line it’ll get a vol. 2 mini.

    Same with Captain Britain. I loved that series, but it totally makes sense that a property like that would be cancelled a year and a half into the run. Especially if it’s 2009 or whatever.

    I think in general we all have to be a lot more humbler about what are…demographic is really worth anymore.

    Yeah, there really were that few people that cared about S.W.O.R.D., and Captain Britain. This is the world you live in. Also, most people do not think 30 Rock is that funny. You may love the endless hipster laugh-train, but most people don’t. They don’t care about Arrested Development, either. They. Do. Not. Care. You can criticize the masses on those facts–if you REALLY think the worst thing about the general population is that they might refrain from consuming EVEN MORE entertainment than they already do–but it’s kind of a mute point.

    You should be happy there was a S.W.O.R.D. mini-series that all. And don’t kid yourself, this isn’t like what would have happened if Sandman was cancelled after issue 5.

    Neat title. Shame things end sooner than we wish they would, but…Eh. There’s a ton of other books out there. Or: look forward to the extra ten minutes per month you’ll have. Do something different, productive, maybe introspective with those minutes.

  15. I thought SWORD was a mini. Oh well.

  16. @flapjaxx How do we even KNOW that no one cared about S.W.O.R.D. when we only have sales figures for two issues, it was never advertised, and the title told people nothing about the book?

  17. The sad fact about this is that the way the direct market is built, orders for the 3rd issue are in before the first one even hits stands.

    The decision on how successful a series is or isn’t is almost 100% in the hands of the LCS and not the actual consumer. Issue 3 of SWORD just came out, and it’s cancelled. There was ZERO chance this book was going to continue after the orders for issue 1 came in.

  18. I’m just as outraged as you. It’s so hard to call whether a book is going to be great or not on 6 or less issues. I was really enjoying S.W.O.R.D. (and Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Young Avengers, and the Runaways).

    The biggest problm with the small books is that they aren’t marketed right. They completely miss their audience because their audience largely doesn’t read comics. And besides the random price mark ups, not knowing how to target their audience is the comic industry’s biggest problem.


  19. Long story short, the way a NEW book survives is built on people pre-ordering something they have no idea what the actual quality is going to be like.


  20. I totally agree with what you’re saying Jimski. Frustrating doesn’t even cover it.

    I’ve blogging about it myself, here: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.com/2010/01/help-save-sword-and-word-on-state-of.html

    This is the third book I can think of in recent Marvel History to be axed at issue 3. SWORD. Doctor Voodoo. Jeff Parker’s eXiles.

    In order for a book to be cancelled for #3 a decision has to have been made already when the pre-orders for issues #1 & #2 were made – BEFORE THE BOOK EVEN CAME OUT!

    That’s just crazy. Why even bother frustrating readers and creators by putting it out at all if that is the state of play in the first place?

    But it’s not just these early cancellations which nark me. The ‘Marvel Universe’ titles used to be a brand in their own right – the very mat and potatoes of all of Marvel’s universe. Now, in 2010 there’s pretty much only Daredevil and Fantastic four left in that stable.

    Just look what we’ve lost in the past 3 years:

    Runaways. eXiles. Agents of Atlas. Blade. Doctor Voodoo. Ghost Rider. New Invaders. Captain Britain and Mi13. She-Hulk. Ms Marvel. Arana. New Warriors. Heroes for Hire. Alpha/Omega Flight (Omega Flight got downgraded to a mini, despite the creative team having plans for a first year). Nextwave. Eternals. The Order. Immortal Iron Fist.

    At least two of those had movies made! One even a franchise…

    Marvel seem intent to continue putting oput min-event comics rather than monthly ongoing books now. Maybe it the climate which dictates that, but to my mind what makes an Event work is the interaction with the other books in the comic brand’s stable.

    Not much chance of that when the backbone titles are all getting cancelled, is there? 🙁

  21. @theswordisdrawn Yes, yes, yes to the Exiles thing.  My heart aches for that book.

  22. It’s weird how most of DC’s ‘smaller’ books seem to be striving while Marvel has to cancel theirs before the first arc even ends. SWORD is a sad thing to see because Ron’s review did actually make me wanna go try it. I never heard really anything good about Doctor Voodoo so I can’t say I’m upset about it going away. Bendis seems to use the character more then anyone else so it might as well stay as his ‘baby’.

    Marvel just needs to market better, cause DC has marketed their books much better and that’s why they are staying longer. They also justify the price increasing by ADDING a back up feature to their smaller books as well. That’s why Booster Gold has lasted longer then it should have, because a huge wave of Blue Beetle fans wanted to see more of their hero. So once again, DC is making their fans happy while Marvel is pissing their fans off.

  23. Let’s be completely honest here…SWORD and Doctor Voodoo weren’t lighting the world on fire. Even on this site, we were pretty much turning a blind eye to it. Our discussions on SWORD were limited to how ugly Beast looked and our discussions on Doctor Voodoo were mostly how the book isn’t living up to its expectations. Its not like Captain Britain, where everyone was raving about how great each issue was from the get-go. Granted, it does seem kind of cruel to cancel a series with only 5 issues in the can and that a second arc would have been nice to let the series grow some legs, but in the eyes of the Marvel financial people, this is the easy fix for slumping sales. Yes, its a completely testicle-less move by those who dont understand the concept of value over time, but thats the way these people normally work.

    Also, if this series was cancelled at, say, issue 12 or so, I’m pretty sure that both these series would go more quietly into the night. It’s pure speculation, but if this series was getting the lukewarm reception that they have been getting before the recent cancellation announcements, I really think that no one will really care anymore. Did anyone care that Young X-Men went away?


    And say what you will about Deadpool’s resurgence, its happening because when he wasnt in any books, his fans DEMANDED he appear again. Every comic con panel I went to had a question about him reappearing, every artist in artist alley were doing sketches of him, and I cant even fathom the amount of mail that Marvel got. Case in point, Deadpool’s fans were adamant about their love for him, which is why Marvel took a huge chance with him. Theyre not going to take a chance on books that have been getting lukewarm receptions until this point. And you can make the argument that all the Deadpool fans are idiots, but at least they were smart enough to become increasingly vocal about their love for the character, and support the things he’s in. The lack of a Doctor Voodoo campaign speaks for itself, but hopefully this "Save SWORD" campaign can not only get enough steam to get the book saved, but to convince its fans to constantly support the book.

  24. That’s why they call it "show business".  it’s not "show friends".

  25. They should just brand new books under a more successful books heading like Avengers: The Initiative. If the book was just called The Initiative it probably wouldn’t still be around. I wonder how this would have done had they titled it ASTONISHING X-MEN: S.W.O.R.D.

  26. Dr. Voodoo was a gold ring.  SWORD was crap.  Either way they both get flushed.

    Conan is good, but lots of people don’t like him and don’t find him funny.  Ask around.

  27. I liked the Doctor Vodoo book, oh well.

    Stupid marvel.

  28. I have’nt been a big fan of Marvel for awhile I have just now started to relax and buy a few of their books ( Moon Knight , Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galxy) , but the way they are cancelling books to make way for more useless Deadpool books I may have to rethink buying any of their crap . I did’nt like SWORD or Dr Voodoo but at least they were’nt Deadpool ( a useless charecter if there ever was one ) or the Red Hulk ( don’t even get me started on that one ) . Marvel if you aren’t going to give these books a chance then why bother printing them in the first place .

  29. @skeets – I was wondering the same.

  30. People keep sayiong we are lucky it got as far as it did and that no one was enjoying it, but fuck..THREE ISSUES?  Come on people stop being so goddamned cynical.  Great article JimSki, but this is BULLSHIT.

  31. Issue 2 saw about a 31% drop in sales from issue #1 (22k to 15k). So it’s not a huge surprise.

    The "Save" campaign is a waste of time, those rarely work.

    The one and only way Marvel would change their mind is if sales of all 3 current issues and issues 4 and 5 saw a large increase.

  32. When a book starts with sales of 22,000 and then drops 31% in its 2nd issue, it’s getting canceled folks. This isn’t Marvel not "supporting" Freaks and Geeks. This is Marvel pulling the plug on a show that pulled the equivalent of a 1 share in the Thursday 8 to 9 slot. If we’re going to mix metaphors, let’s at least make sure they’re appropriate comparisons.

    Also, there seems to be a popular misconception here that the book was canceled before anyone get to read the first issue. That’s not true at all. Stores have the Final Order cutoff and adjust their orders up to 7 weeks after we folks who pre-order have to get ours in by. The stories rely on the FOC in order to keep themselves from taking a bath on titles that are lagging. 

    This was a book that just didn’t resonate with enough people. There’s nothing wrong or evil in that, and it isn’t something that a publisher should be blamed for. Would you rather Marvel not bother trying out quirky titles like this and seeing if there’s an audience?

    Also, Jimski, I love you…but this Deadpool comparison is a great example of elitism where it’s not warranted. I read SWORD, and liked it well enough, but I’ll be damned if it was some kind of high art, elevation of the craft that one compares to an Oscar film that doesn’t do box office. It was an OK, middling, entertaining B-list yarn. I love Deadpool AND I was reading and enjoying SWORD. I know many others that fit that bill. 

    By the way, if Deadpool is so god awful, why did THREE Deadpool titles outsell the three major Superman titles last month? No fan would blink an eye if DC solicited 6 to 9 Superman titles next month, yet Deadpool is doing better than Superman and yet its all anyone can talk about is how DARE Marvel waste time with so many DP books. 

    Nothing frustrates me more than when fans of something try to sound elitist by bashing what other fans prefer.


  33. Gonna siss Doctor Voodoo but not really upset about SWORD.

  34. @Wood, don’t feel too bad. I just wrote a thousand words about how upset I was that these books got canceled only to have five or ten people read it and decide to chime in with, "Fine by me! Didn’t care for it."

  35. @wood It’s just kind of depressing that we live in a world where (for the most part) new and interesting ideas get little to not interest from the general public when remakes and derivative things (NCIS franchise, CSI franchise, Avatar) do great.

    I loved Avatar and I enjoy Deadpool and plenty of other less interesting things but I STILL find it depressing that we seem to be moving farther and farther away from a society that rewards creativity and interesting/new ideas.

  36. If Marvel had to cancel two good titles to get such a great article from Jim… well it was worth it…

  37. This article really resonated with me. SWORD has quickly become one of my favorite books every month, but I knew before issue #1 came out that this probably would not make it.

    What upsets me is that I don’t think I am that unique. Sure, every person is different, but I can’t be alone in enjoying a well crafted story like SWORD. I feel like there is little effort on the part of Marvel to market to people like me that want a quirky book filled with interesting and new ideas. At the same time, there is an effort to keep pumping out tried and true franchises like Deadpool & Avengers. I understand, it’s cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find new ones, but goddamn, give me something that I (and many others) want to read.

    One of the reasons I have more DC books on my list than Marvel is that Didio seems dedicated to giving as much time as possible to new and interesting takes. Magog is failing miserably in sales. He’s a chracter few people are interested in. I didn’t care for him before this book, but Giffen and Porter are knocking it out of the park. It’s my kind of book. It should have been canceled by now, but it hasn’t. REBELS fits in this category as well.

  38. @gobo-apologies for going a little off topic, but Avatar was not supposed to be about the story, but rather about the technical innovation.  The story was even supposed to be derivative so that the audience paid more attention to what was visually happening on screen rather than thinking about the story.  The creativity and new ideas were present, they just existed on the technical side (they rendered the CGI in REAL TIME!!)  The real point about Avatar was about how the movie was made not what the story said.

    Again, apologies for going off topic.

  39. @MisterJ Brief OT Reply: I know that and I loved it, but it also backs up my point, in my ideal world it would be both an awesome visual feast AND a new and interesting idea and no one would have a problem with that.

  40. @gobo-fair enough, no problem with wanting more  🙂

  41. It’s a real shame that these series are being cancelled, but it’s true that the bigger concern is, as Jim points out, the fact that they’ve had absolutely no chance to prove themselves.  In the case of Sword, there’s basically been two issues, as number 3 was only released days before the cancellation.  That probably means the decision was made before the comic even hit the shelves.  This is not good news for any comic that is slightly different to the norm.

  42. I DO hope that everyone who loved SWORD for it’s fun and quirkiness checks out some creator owned stuff and doesn’t just stick with the big two.  Atomic Robo maybe? 

    If Marvel and DC aren’t doing it for you anymore there’s a TON of creator owned stuff that would needs your love.

  43. Nice article Jim.  I wasn’t reading either book, so I can’t speak to their loss.  I feel for those that loved the book though.

    The one thing that would be interesting for me to see is a point that TNC brought up.  Both Batgirl and Power Girl are doing well for DC, but I wonder if they had similar numbers to start with or if they have maintained this level and DC is A-OK with it… 

  44. Not sure about Batgirl, but Power Girl started off at #25 selling about 46,000 copies. Issue #7 sold about half of that. I think DC just gives series a much longer time to develope than Marvel does, which is probably why Marvel continually dominates the market.

  45. @Neb/Rustyautoparts: I think that’s it, Didio and others are sensible enough to keep a series going for a bit longer. Cause they know the fans that do read it love it, and they want to see if it can flourish. Unlike Marvel who just cancels it when a lag in sales happen between the first two issues.

    There’s another great point by Rusty. Because Marvel keeps renumbering things, cancelling things way to early, or bring it back a few months later (ala Agents of Atlas); I think that’s why Marvel dominates the way it does. If they followed the same method as DC does, it would probably be a closer race then it is. But if they continue to cancel and bring back series people love, then of course there is a huge bump in sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if SWORD/Cap Brit ever comes back in some capacity the #1 issue sale will be HUGE!

  46. If DC throws down on Power Girl I’m coming for Didio. I know where to find him!


    That or I’ll just be sad and they’ll stop getting my money.

  47. Now that I think more about it, even if SWORD had a few more issues to grow legs, it would still most likely be cancelled. Captain Britian had the legs of a soccer player, but that was still canned.

  48. Ah damn it! I’ve been looking forward to this book.

  49. Hey!  Heroes for Hire was good! 

    Jeez you do ONE tentacle pr0n cover…

  50. I’m wondering why they didn’t make sword and doc voodoo into mini’s first and then decide whether to make them regular series based on demand. I’m all for giving chances to off beat projects, but a Beast, Brand, Gyrich Lockheed space comic book just doesn’t stand a chance.

  51. Deadpool iz teh dumb

  52. I didn’t read it but Fine by me! Didn’t care for it.

  53. You know, you may hate me now, but I don’t understand all the fuss about 30 Rock. I just don’t find it funny at all. Love Arrested Development though, got it all on DVD. That’s super funny.  ;o)


    Anyway, boo to cancelling promising books before they’ve even had a chance to fail.

  54. I can’t belive it. they pulled the NBC move. They only gave these issues for 3 months.. =( Why did Jay Leno has to get involve ?

  55. SWORD and Doctor Voodoo – two books written by seriously overhyped writers who the vast majority of comic fans don’t know writing about characters no one cares about.

    You can have a small name writer or small-name characters in one book – not both in the same book.  This is why Brian Vaughn on Dr. Strange works and Rick Remender on Doctor Voodoo doesn’t and why Kieron Gillen on Thor works and Kieron Gillen on SWORD doesn’t.  When you put blockbuster names on blockbuster titles (i.e. Whedon on Astonishing, JMS on Thor, Hickman on FF) you get blockbuster sales but its hard to pull this off as the best writers usually want to do their own thing.

    This is the way its always been.  Marvel overestimated Remender and Gillen’s appeals – they’re both middle of the road talents at best and are thus best put on characters who already have a strong following (like Punisher and Thor for example).  If you like titles like SWORD and Dr. Voodoo encourage Marvel to entice a top-notch writer who would like to play around with some lesser names and give him or her the latitude to do so.

    I am honestly shocked that anyone is surprised by the cancellations, unless, like Marvel you were banking on Gillen and Remender becoming or already being heavyweights.

  56. FWIW Hickman is nowhere near a blockbuster name, and FF hasn’t had blockbuster sales in decades.

  57. While I love Ron’s passion, and agree with him in principal, I read two issues of both SWORD and Brother Voodoo and dropped them both.  They just weren’t very good.   I was thinking of grabbing SWORD 3 after it was POTW but forget it now.  I do understand the concept of letting something grow and mature, the problem is in todays market there are hundreds of comics cluttering the shelfs and just so many $$ in our pockets. If something doesn’t quickly come out of the gate, then it will porbbaly be cut.

    And yeah Leno sucks.

  58. I don’t read either books, so I guess I’m part of the problem, but I don’t understand why not let it run for at least a second arc to see if it can gain traction. I might have been interested in SWORD, but to be honest, I didn’t really know it was out and was probably going to check out the trade, and I still might, if it even get’s published.


  60. There’s no way I can post in this thread without coming off like a troll to those who hate these books/ these creators. I just… guh.

     Jimski, you’re right. Period. Everyone else making rash generalizations about what people like/dislike and why… just don’t. 

     @edward. You finally made me laugh. Thank you. 

  61. Five star article, sir. You hit every note that I’ve been too rage-filled and inarticulate to say myself (I’ve tried, it mostly comes out, "Frrrckin’ LNO!! NCISHIT!?!? DEADARRRGHHHPOOOOOLL? *snarlsnarl*") We live in a day and age where audiences (and their executives) lack patience and understanding and it’s sickening. I’m ashamed of my generation.

  62. Just cancel all the damn Deadpool books instead.

  63. As a Deadpool fan I do have to admit that this over abundence of titles it getting me quite pissed off. I was purely comfortable with having one, great title by Daniel Way and Paco Medina. Now we have two new, and very bad, ongoings going at the moment and a future one that literally will cause the universe to explode. Having four Deadpools and Rob Liefeld as the artist? This is not 1995 Marvel!!!

    Just cancel those three ongoings and keep with the one that started this whole mess in the first place.

  64. discussions like this make me hate comics

  65. Lots of other hobbies!

  66. Dare to dream Jim, dare to dream.

  67. It does surprise me when titles get cancelled so quickly. Before this, I thought the shortest run of an ongoing title from DC or Marvel that I knew about was the ten issues of JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA that ran in 1992-93. Shows what I know.

    I’m sorry for your loss, Jim.

  68. That’s to bad, I would’ve given them a chance but I have tons of good stuff and not enough money. Sucks.

  69. I’m not supporting what I wrote, it just happens to mostly apply.

    I would be thrilled with more small books – they tend to be the most interesting.  I’m also not saying that Gillen and Remender won’t hit, they both have proven their talents (Fear Agent, Phonogram) its just that many people who are a bit more Big 2 only in their preferences haven’t heard of them yet and are unlikely to try a book with a character they don’t know if they don’t at least know the writer…conversely Fraction and Brubaker on Iron Fist attracted enough of a following because yes it was good but also because they were known quantites to most mainstream Marvel fans.

    @gobo – you are right, Hickman is not yet a star but he has buzz and name recognition that Gillen and Remender don’t have yet and he is on a safer title although I stand corrected that FF is not a blockbuster.

  70. I thought Dr. Voodoo was a mini from the beginning. Anyway, these are fourth in the line of cancellations of fan-favorite books by Marvel over the past year. Seems to me that Marvel is only interested in milking their franchises and not building any new ones.

  71. It sucks that the book got canceled so soon, but if it’s really not selling, what else is the publisher supposed to do? All you can really do is be thankful we have TPBs now, so that a book like this has even a shot at second life (if they decide to put a trade out that is).

    The real travesty in this whole situation is that if Marvel had slapped a Dark Reign or Siege banner on these issues, they would’ve probably sold at least twice as well (Note: I don’t have the sales figures in front of me, so that’s a number pulled straight from my ass).

    And on a extremely tangential note, Craig Ferguson, the funniest man currently on late night TV (and maybe all TV), should be hosting The Tonight Show. #teamferguson, who’s with me?

  72. What I find so incredibly annoying with discussions like these is the number of people who try to simplify the situation by stating ‘well… if it doesn’t sell?’

    This book was most likey cancelled when quite so few retailers ordered #1 and #2. It almost has nothing to do with how many people actually bought it, in the end. And that’s the problem with the way the direct market works. Until there is a way of cutting out Diamond’s stranglehold on the industry thgat’s not going to change sadly.

  73. Could this be the first sign of a more ruthless Disney/Marvel?

  74. I really liked Sword #1, I had it added to my pull list striaght away. I like #3 as well, this has come as bad news. They really should have put a Dark Reign banner on it, it does tie into Norman’s reign a bit, and if that would help the sales, go for it.

    I supppose this explains why Kitty is coming back in Uncanny rather than Sword.

    Sad news and the years only just started. (Also I like Deadpool, I read the original Deadpool book, but he’s getting so over exposed I’m sick of him, I know I could cancel Deadpool from my pull list and he’ll still show up in the other books I’m reading. This is why I don’t buy Wolverine books).

  75. 1) I’m sad about Doctor Voodoo, because I was digging it quite a bit. However, generally speaking, the only "magic" character in Marvel that can sustain an ongoing sems to be Ghostrider. Dr. Strange has had a bunch of ongoings and they always get axed due to low sales (though it’s fair to say they all lasted more’n five issues).

    2) I honestly don’t give a crap about SWORD. I read all three issues and, honestly, they weren’t particularly good.

    3) I’m not sad about Ms. Marvel being cancelled ’cause I dropped it after the last arc. The story was just dragging on.

    4) Deadpool is entertaining, but he ain’t a consistant $3/month worth of entertaining.

    5) And as far as late night TV goes, it’s all about The Daily Show, All the network talk shows SUCK.


  76. And how are "S.W.O.R.D." and "Brother Voodoo" supposedly "imagination factories"? They’re ripoffs too. One’s a spinoff from Astonishing X-Men, and a takeoff of SHIELD, and also the ten billionth space-bureaucracy fiction of the last ten years. The other one is derivative of Marvel horror titles–the title character has been around for thirty years and maybe there’s a reason why he never succeeded.

    Hey, I like X-Men Forever. That’s completely derivative. But the difference is that I know it’s derivative.

    On the one hand the author says that these titles are real bastions of "creativity"…yet he admits that he can’t even really tell if he likes them. Isn’t this just cookie-cutter outrage about little"good" things getting cancelled? Even when Ron made SWORD #3 his PoTW–he couldn’t even really say WHY he liked it! Don’t get me wrong, that’s totally fair game. I don’t always know why I like things, either. But if something is really creative, unique and good–then its fans should at least be able to say why they like it, or have read enough to know whether or not they like it, period, without needing a second story arc.

    Also: shows like Conan are not really "smart". It rankles me whenever someone says that all the really "smart" people watch things like "30 Rock" or the Daily Show. No, all the really smart people don’t watch much tv, period. Nothing on tv is all that "smart".

    Maybe that’s harsh. But there are illusions that need to be dropped if people want to understand the world better.

    You’ve been able to watch HOW MUCH THOUSANDS of Conan shows in your lifetime? It really should not fucking matter whether another one is ever produced. Is it a bitch that he’s off the air for a while or whatever? Sure, I can understand that. I think stating your dislike of that is perfectly reasonable and valid. But it is not such a big deal. It saddens me to know that thousands of people are actually devoting hours of their life to complaining about this. Life is so much bigger than that. Something as typical (it really is typical) as SWORD being cancelled, or another late night show being off the air, does not effing matter.

  77. And yes, I meant to write "HOW MUCH THOUSANDS". It’s part of my new initiative to speak like a caveman whenever addressing corporate television programming that’s supposedly "smart". That Tina Fey?? SHE SMART! SHE LIKE SMART BUSINESS WOMAN!!!! BEEN IN GUD MOVIES TO!! Jon Stewart???? HE FUNNY WITTY NEWS GUY!! JOKES LIKE ‘IRREVERENT’ ALL THE TIME! BOUT EVEYTHING IN NEWZ! SAME GRIMANCES AND PAUSES IN ALL HIS JOKE ROUTINES!!! LIKE HE’S INDINGNANT BOUT EVERYTHING–FUNNNNYYYYYYY SMART!"

  78. It certainly is infuriating that people like things. I’m sorry nothing is smart, but I do appreciate your devotion to things being bad and getting canceled.

  79. @flapjaxx Sure, the main concept of SWORD is a ripoff. Space agencies are a staple of scifi. It becomes an "imagination factory" in its execution. This is where SWORD excels.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I love SWORD for several reasons. The first is Kieron Gillen’s writing. His pacing is breakneak. He crams so much into each issue. In this world of decompression and tradewaiting, it feels refreshing and new. I also love his dialogue. It’s quick and witty, yet deep and rewarding. I love the dynamic he’s created between Brand and Hank in three issues. It feels like a natural relationship. I also feel like Steven Sanders is nailing it. The art matches the writing so well. I also love how he renders technology.

     If SWORD is typical, then please tell me what I should be reading instead.

  80. I don’t read either of those titles but I think the fact is, if it’s not selling it’s gonna get dropped. Marvel isn’t about pushing any boundaries or appreciating art unless either of those things is going to make them rich. It’s not the way I like things to be but it is. There’s no point in getting mad at Marvel and it doesn’t make sense to either. It’s business. It also doesnt make sense to be mad at all the Deadpool comics. I’m assuming they’re selling? It’s not different really to when a band gets signed, puts out an album, flops and gets dropped. It’s the harsh reality of capitalism.

  81. @deadspace-Your points are all valid, the problem here is that by Marvel cancelling SWORD at this point, they essentially made the decision for cancellation the book based off of how many copies the first one or two copies sold.  With the procedures of the direct market, it really is not fair to make this decision so quickly.

    That much having been said, to kick off a series that has questionable viability without doing a mini-series on the subject first, is a great way to lead to cancellation at Marvel.

  82. It’s the curse of Captain Britain and MI:13!!!!  BOOOO!

  83. @MisterJ – I do agree that they’ve pulled the plug rather fast and does surprise me a little even looking at it from a business standpoint, but I think they must have pretty good reason to cancel something this early on. They must feel, for whatever reason that the book wasn’t going to pick up (in sales) and therefore didn’t want to spend any more time on it when there are other things that are and will make them more money. Like I said, it sucks but it’s the way things go unfortunately.

  84. Wouldn’t it have been better to start these off as limited series and see how they did, that way if it didn’t work they have a nice little trade that they can keep selling rather than have the stigma of a failed book?

  85. @deadspace-I agree completely, my only point is that given how the series started (new property with creators who are not ‘big name’) low sales for the first 5-6 issues was nearly a certainty.  With leaves the question, ‘Why did Marvel even bother making it?’   

  86. I do wish people would not bring up stuff being ripped off from other stuff. Everything is a variation on tropes that the Greeks and Romans were perfecting. Don’t worry about the inspirations worry about the execution and Characterization.

    I do think an ongoing should be given 12 issues and 1 trade to catch its legs. Some comics don’t sprint well but they marathon do a helluva marathon. 

    Either way, I’ve heard very mixed reviews for both of these books so I’m not surprised. 

  87. Bashing television and reducing it to brain-sucking entertainment is definitely not smart.

    Television is a tool. It is not some sort of demon. Don’t blame the tool for how it is used.

    Same bullshit argument people have been ranting about television can be applied to comics.

    There are bigger problems than television.

    I’m bummed that both series are going to be gone. I was bummed when Exiles went as well, Captain Britain and Agents of Atlas.

  88. That volume of Exiles was gone so quick, I forgot to be upset about it. That’s another solid premise that may be just a bit too "inside baseball." The original series did an arc on a world where Uncanny X-Men #190 turned out differently. That is… not new reader friendly.

  89. We can argue all day whether the books were good or bad, whether they could have gotten legs or were doomed, whether Marvel should take some chances and support its creators more.

    I think the source of Jim’s rage is the same one I have been developing for networks that cancel their shows in 3 episodes. Why would I as a reader/watcher ever pick up a new title or television show? Sticking to comic books for the moment, if Marvel won’t commit to a book for a year, why should I invest the money, time, and emotional energy to collecting it? Marvel is telling me to never buy a new book. Instead I should wait to see if it gets canceled. If it doesn’t I can buy the trade and jump on later. Basically they are saving money in the short term, in exchange for making the development of new properties harder and harder and harder, as more people hesitate to jump onto what will likely be gone in 5 issues anyway. 

    This is a bad decision not because SWORD was so awesome (it was), but because it pushes away fans. Sure, they are a small % of the market, but do this on multiple books and suddenly that is a lot of unhappy fans. Who can decide that this expensive hobby might just not be for them anymore.

    I do think the intro-mini is the way to go. Commit to 5-6 issues. See how it sells. See how it reviewed. See if there is any buzz about it. Then you know whether it might have a chance and better know how to market it. TV tries this with small episode purchases, but comics are much better suited to do this cost effectively.

  90. @kickass – Do you enjoy anything? Just curious.

    @crucio – Glad someone made that point.

    I think this article should strike a chord with everyone who reads it. It’s not necessarily about the two or three books that it mentions. It’s about anything that’s nipped in the bud before it has time to come into it’s own. It’s a shame that we live in a world where mediocrity is rewarded and experimentation is generally frowned upon. 

  91. luckily there’s heaps of great results from experimentation and daring outside of Marvel. very little within.


  92. Marvel should just relaunch Marvel Comics Presents and let publish these stories anthology style.

    They could do one every year or so.

    Marvel Comics Presents: Wolverine (1 of 12), Marvel Comics Presents: Deadpool (1 of 12), etc.

    Have their featured "star" on the first story and stories about Dr. Voodoo, S.W.O.R.D, Capt. Britain and the rest get the remaining 14 pages.

    Could even make it interactive and have fans vote for who to feature next.

    Not telling Marvel to do their job but c’mon. 

  93. I would like to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt for a minute and assume this has something to do with the outcome of Seige?

  94. How about some Siege #3 variants for all those copies of S.W.O.R.D. and Dr. Voodoo out there?

  95. Wow, I literally just got finished listening to Ron Richard’s pick from last weeks podcast and was thinking of picking this up. Guess not! 

  96. I think the main flaw in the comparison to the Conan O’Brien thing is that Marvel is not replacing things with titles that had even poorer sales.  I’m willing to accept that something I enjoyed (Conan) isn’t popular with everyone, and needs to be replaced by something new.  But he is being replaced by someone who had worse ratings, and whose own show had to be cancelled.  It would be like SWORD and Doctor Voodoo being replaced by Heroes For Hire and Secret Invasion Chronicles.

    Personally, I didn’t care for either of these titles, and they didn’t sell at all at any of the stores I work at.  Though both were technically "new" stories, they both relied just as heavily on continuity as, say The X-Men or the JLA.  I am not the least bit surprised or disappointed that they’re canceled.  Maybe this will give Gillon and Remender more time to work on their own creations.  Personally, I haven’t enjoyed anything I’ve read by either of them, but they both seem to have huge fan bases on this site.

  97. @akamuu: I think you need to recheck your facts vis a vis Conan’s ratings vs. Jay’s.

  98. I feel bad for Gillen and Rememder. They sign exclusive deals and their work isn’t being well received at all.

    Granted Punisher is selling good for now cause of the Frankencastle story. Gillen is also doing Thor, but he’s gonna be off that in a few months so….What are these guys gonna do?

  99. @TNC

    Gillen doesn’t have a exclusive contract… yet. I do have knowledge that he will take a exclusive offer though.

  100. @miyamoto

    It’s just a matter of time. Mavel was pimping him at SDCC last year and from reading his Marvel stuff, he fits in quite well. I was quite impressed with his New Universal 1959 and I’m loving his Thor. 

  101. @miyamoto/valo: Well if he gets it or not that is one thing. But they got these two, arguably, huge names in the indie world and so far the majority of their work has crashed and burned.

    I hope Gillen gets another job, cause his run on Thor is great so far. Shouldn’t have put Fraction in so quickly like they did.

  102. @conor: I’m talking about Conan’s ratings on the Tonight show, and Leno’s ratings during his 10:00 show.  Not Leno’s Tonight Show ratings, which, I assume, were much higher.

  103. @akamuu: You still need to do some research. Of all three shows you listed Conan’s were the lowest. It goes like this, ratings-wise:

    Leno’s 10pm show > Leno on The Tonight Show > Conan on The Tonight Show

  104. @TNC

     Remender has only done two Marvel works though. And one is a success. Well, technically he did co-write Punisher War Journal. But you never know with the co-written books. His exclusivity has been too recent to judge to be honest. I actually have a column’s worth about the Marvel Indy Creator Wasteland but I’m too lazy to buy a domain name and put my stuff up.

    If Gillen doesn’t get a exclusive soon (he should the way they were pushing him with Thor) that’ll be a sign that Marvel is aware of the Wasteland. I was hoping SWORD would be his breakout title (had it been given another arc, I think it would’ve been as he seemed well aware of the flaws). I’m going to guess he’ll get handed Astonishing X-men after Ellis and Iron Man after Fraction (though I think Iron Man may be a while). What I would really love is a ASM arc written by him and drawn by McKelvie. 

  105. So far I’ve bought every issue of Doctor Voodoo. I’ve scanned over the pages quickly, but really haven’t had a chance to read any. I was going to let the pile build up a bit more and then sit down one night and have at them.

    It’s funny, for the briefest of seconds I thought "Oh, I really should have been reading the comics, and that might have save Voodoo from cancellation." Then it hit me that its not a TV show with Nielson ratings. I’ve already done the necessary purchasing.  (I was thinking how I hadn’t been watching The Tonight Show and thus Conan loses his job.)