Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Three Years of the New 52, And Marvel NOW-ER

This marks the start of the fourth year of the new 52, or else the end of the third year. Whichever you prefer. Here's a quick rundown on the raw totals of books:

The last year before the reboot: 48 books
Year 1: 36
Year 2: 35
Year 3: 15 books.

Ouch, the bottom fell out there. I can't really say what happened, other than the obvious point they didn't release anything I was terribly fired up. Everything is Bat-related, or a Lantern book, or else some weekly title, and I'm not getting into weekly books. I have really enjoyed Deadpool, and even so, it taxes my limits by shipping 3 times every 2 months. There's no way I'm up for buying 4 or 5 issues of a book each month. It's too much of a financial commitment.

At any rate, DC's looking at its worst year for me since 2007, when I bought 12 new comics from them the entire year, which was less than 8% of the total. They'll beat both those marks, but not by a whole lot. For me, DC is in this weird place where they want me to care about these characters based on a past history with them. Except DC supposedly got rid of that past history, so is it the same character? They have a Wally West now, but does he bear any resemblance to the previous Wally West, and if not, why would the fans care?

Also, I'm still leery of trusting the books to reflect the talents of the creative team after all the complaints about editorial meddling some time back. I haven't heard much about that lately, but it's hard to shake the wariness. Overall, it's just hard to be enthused about most of their line. But, adding Klarion to Harley Quinn brings me back up to 2 ongoings, so maybe it's the start of another upswing. Or maybe it'll prove to be a temporary fluke after Klarion is canceled at 8 issues. In quality terms, it's harder to say. Harley's book is OK, but nothing great  It makes me laugh sometimes, and I appreciate what Conner, Hardin, and Palmiotti are trying to do. Katana, in addition to the rushed ending, suffered from inconsistent art due to a lot of shuffling of the talent involved. Hopefully that won't be the case with Klarion, though I don't know how long Trevor McCarthy can maintain a monthly schedule. Or how quickly DC would move him to something more high-profile if the book tanks.

Meanwhile, Marvel's having a bit more success with me. I was, as of July, up to 10 ongoings from Marvel, which is the first time I've been buying that many since about June of 2007. So Marvel's continuing strategy of seemingly letting a creative team take a character or concept they like and run with it for a year or two suits me pretty well. The fact Marvel usually - though not always - lets the book run its course doesn't hurt. I can generally be assured I will get a complete story out of it, at least as complete as the writer and artist had in mind. Dial H and Katana both had the feel of books with much longer threads planned, that had to be abruptly crammed into a scant few issues and resolved hastily. Which is less satisfying for me, even if it might make better sense for DC as a business. I don't know that it does, having collections with rushed endings, but that might be less of a concern than allowing an unprofitable book to continue until its writer is finished.

Of course, Marvel is still burying us under a relentless wave of BIG EVENTS, but the titles I buy are apparently ancillary enough they mostly don't get sucked in, Deadpool being a notable recent exception. But other than it and Daredevil, Original Sin passed my pull list by. Infinity only tagged Captain Marvel, I dodged Age of Ultron entirely (good, since it sounds like it was a nonsensical load of garbage), and Avengers vs. X-Men only mucked around with Secret Avengers. Granted, it really mucked around with, presenting my with an interminably boring 3-part story about how swell Mar-Vell was, when I could not care less about him if I tried, but at least it was just one book that got the AvX stink on it. There's also the fact Marvel can't resist running anything that's remotely successful into the ground. The Spider-Ock thing got a positive response, let's do an entire SpiderVerse thing. Deadpool's book is getting good reviews? More Deadpool mini-series! To be fair, they do that every time Deadpool gets a little positive buzz? Remember two or three years ago when he had something like 4 ongoing series at once? That was crazy. What the hell were they thinking?

So last year, Marvel had a year roughly equivalent to 2010, and better than either 2011 or 2012. This year looks to be even better, on par with 2009. Quality-wise, I'm pretty happy. Despite my fatigue from the excessive shipping and frequent tie-ins, Deadpool's very good, Daredevil's maintained its quality, and Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk are both excellent. Rocket Raccoon is going to present an interesting test, since I like the book in theory, but the portrayal of Rocket is a possible stumbling block. Superior Foes of Spider-Man has presented a similar challenge, and it has mostly been good enough I can roll with it. Nightcrawler and Captain Marvel are probably the two weakest books in the bunch. Well, maybe Hawkeye, when it comes out.

The question is whether it'll maintain. Three of the books I'm buying are ending in the next 3 months, and thus far, nothing is popping up to take their place. Combined with other decisions on my part, and Marvel could be back down to 5, or even 6 books, by the end of the year. Which would be a pretty abrupt swing, Marvel going from a 10-to-1 ratio over DC, down to 3-to-1.


SallyP said...

The state of our funnybooks is not...good. Continuity abandoned at DC, as you said, why should I care about characters that aren't the REAL characters? You can call someone Wally West...but he isn't MY Wally.

I just wish that this three year long exercise in fan fiction at DC would end already.

As for Marvel...I'm enjoying the smaller and more quirky books, but I'm staying as far away from the big crossovers as possible.

CalvinPitt said...

Your strategy for Marvel is a smart one. Some writers can do good stuff with event tie-ins, but it's so hard to tell going in. Like, I thought Peter David did well with X-Factor's tie-ins to Civil War. But the book's part of Messiah Complex was awful (though that was kind of different).

In general it's smarter to just pass it by, and then if it gets good word of mouth, you can always pick it up in trade or back issues later.