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Thursday, December 05, 2019 

Screen Rant says Marvel's sabotaging their X-Men relaunch

Actually, they already did by rebooting with the millionth numero uno issues, but now, Screen Rant's willing to admit what other mistakes Marvel's made in the past few months:
Unfortunately, Marvel Comics seem to be unwittingly sabotaging the X-Men's success. The problem is that the comic book publisher has realized they're on to a hit, and as a result the X-Men range is once again expanding. Unfortunately, Marvel isn't doing a particularly good job of staggering the books - as noted by ISnowNothin on Twitter, the X-books double- or even triple-ship most weeks until the end of January. The week of December 18 is particularly brutal, with no less than five X-Men comics coming out on the same day. Each issue is priced at just $3.99, which means anyone attempting to follow all these books at once will have to pay out just under $20 - the week before Christmas.

It's not hard to see why Marvel has done this; they're operating by the most basic laws of supply and demand. Right now, there's clearly a demand for the X-Men, so they figure they might as well dine out on it. Unfortunately, this is a short-term strategy, because it essentially forces the various X-Men titles into a match of "survival of the fittest" that would make Apocalypse proud. The simple truth is that, at this kind of price, most readers are going to have to choose which books to prioritize - especially so close to Christmas. Hickman's flagship X-Men is probably safe, but all the other X-Men comics are effectively competing with one another on the day of their release. A more staggered approach would prevent this competition, and ironically probably result in better sales performance across the range. Marvel's strategy is pretty wrong-headed.
That just about sums it up. Besides the mistake of sticking with monthly pamphlets that cost $4 or more for little more than 20 pages of tale, they turn out too many spinoffs to boot. But, does SR think more spinoff books would really work wonders? Maybe if they used the same approach used with individual Avengers members who have their own books like Captain America and Iron Man (it certainly worked for a time with Wolverine back in the day), but if it's just dozens more team books, that only makes it more of the same, and the price tag doesn't help matters.
Making matters worse, Jonathan Hickman's X-Men franchise appears to be far more closely coordinated than is typically the case. Each one of the comics is exploring important concepts that were seeded through Hickman's Dawn of X and Powers of X miniseries, and they all link together in quite an interesting way. Major events from one book are having repercussions across the range; X-Force #1 saw Charles Xavier assassinated by an anti-mutant conspiracy, and the repercussions have been felt in every title. This means there's actually a risk readers will unwittingly miss a crucial issue, and as a result Marvel risk the entire range beginning to lose traction.
Xavier's demise in the first X-Force issue is [hopefully] already being undone in the 2nd. But, there's validity to the argument of too many spinoffs kept running like a crossover posing the risk of readers missing out on an issue, and winding up with a gap, just like in the old days. This wouldn't be so likely if most comics, serial or otherwise, turned to trade format instead, and then, you could justify spinoff titles more easily, since they could be kept self-contained.

And, if Hickman's not opposed to turning out so many spinoffs at all once, then he's part of the problem. I also can't see what's so "interesting" about a story taking a non-powered woman and turning her into just another mutant with whatever power they see fit just to slap the "mutant" sign onto her. The X-Men continue to be one of the most misused franchises in Marvel, with the Avengers faring no better.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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