If you have been keeping up with the kerfuffle:
last week, David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of sales and market, stated in an interview with ICv2.com that retailers have told Marvel, “people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.”
The bold emphasis is mine. He has backpedaled a bit, and you should read what he said, not just my bold which seeks to provoke. Gabriel is claiming this is what retailers have told them. Maybe this is true. Maybe not. Is this him saying it? No.
But, I think the implication is that Marvel doesn’t necessarily continue trying out new titles that they might qualify as “diversity.”
They don’t want to compare their sales drought to Mein Kampf.
I think this is a dick move, even if retailers did say this.
I am a Marvel guy, through and through, but I am trying to think of the Marvel titles and events I have enjoyed post-Secret Wars. I am trying to even think of the books I was looking forward to and disappointed in. I am enjoying Thor, but my patience is waning. The Bendis Iron-Man books are good, and ones I was legitimately, cautiously excited for. I wish International didn’t end. Champions is fun. Hellcat amuses me. I really liked Ant-Man and Mockingbird (both cancelled).
None of their events post-SW have been enjoyable at all. Pleasant Hill had potential, and I liked the Illuminati book (which had the only Pleasant Hill moment that was decent. Pleasant Hill instead was a waste. Poorly plotted and executed and with no repercussions. Civil War II, I wanted to like, but what an awful hot-mess of a book that made me doubt my fealty.
Before I get into my theories, I want to quote a friend of mine, when I posited that Marvel said, without words, they felt their sales would be better with more books led by white males:
“Here is the thing. I would like that. I want my Cap to be a hero; I want my Spidey to be a down on his luck everyman. I want Thor to be Thor. I want Tony to be Iron Man. Those are the heroes I grew up on. That’s what I want from Marvel. They’re the legacy publisher. I want DC to be the passing of the mantle publisher. I love that there’s been 5 Robins in 30 years. I love that DC heroes retire and move on. But, I want my Avengers team to be the big 3 plus Wasp, Hawkeye, Vision, etc“I want my X-Men to be the team they just announced for X-Men Gold.”
Prior to Secret Wars, Marvel had most (7 on average) of the Top 10 comic sales every month, with their titles in the Top 10 selling 70,000 or more. Now, they have two titles in the top 10 (both Star Wars related, and with bipedal rabbits!), their highest selling superhero book coming in in the low teens and selling barely 60,000. Before folks jump down my virtual throat, I know that these sales figures do not indicate digital sales, etc. But, facts are facts, they are getting their asses kicked. It has nothing to do with diversity. Their editorial direction sucks. The stories suck. Why does Thunderbolts look like a bad 90’s Image ripoff?
Let me make my point clear:
THE STORIES ARE NOT VERY GOOD.
DC was sucking for a long time with reboot after reboot and finally had to tie everything to the Watchmen and do the hardest soft reboot ever to reinvigorate readership, it also meant scrapping much of what they had done and committed to for the past 5 years. But their sales sucked, so they did it.
Marvel has committed to Secret Empire, the event that has evil-Cap leading Hydra in some villainous ways. I will hate-read at least the first issue. And, when that is over, and nothing happens, Marvel is bringing us Generations, where the old heroes will fight alongside the legacy characters, or some bullshit like that. #toolittletoolate
I remember a time when I read the Avengers and I liked it. I remember a time when there were multiple books I was excited to read each month, and when the events had lasting effects. But, this was quite some time ago. I enjoyed Secret Wars, and it made so much more sense than the ham-fisted tripe that was Convergence, and I wanted crazy shit to come out of it. Instead, we got dull comics, weak events, and a focus on mediocrity.
Retailers should be complaining the mediocrity is killing Marvel sales. It isn’t diversity. All New X-Men was in the top 20, selling around 60,000, in February of this year it was in the low 70’s selling barely 30,000. Those are facts.
I will not use this space to bash Marvel and their events any more, and I will not defend Gabriel’s comments. Marvel was/is making some good books that feature diversity, and humor, and were not just part of big sweeping events. Many of these books have been or will be cancelled. But, if their Big Name titles were performing the way they should be, perhaps these other titles would not be sacrificial lambs sent to the slaughter. If Marvel wanted to dedicate themselves to quality books, they should cancel books that are underperforming. A new title, like Mockingbird, cannot underperform, because there are no expectations. But, the Avengers? This title should sell.
Marvel is protecting their weakness and destroying innovation.