As many of you have probably heard already Marvel is planning yet another relaunch in May 2018. I often hear DC Comics get criticised for how often they relaunch (I’m using the term relaunch instead of reboot, as the issue numbers get changed but the continuity of the world has not changed) but it is actually Marvel that does it far more often. Since 2011 DC has only relaunched 3 times. New 52 (2011), DC You (2015), and Rebirth (2016). Where as Marvel has done it twice as many times since 2012. Marvel NOW! (2012), All-New Marvel NOW! (2013), All-New All-Different Marvel (2015), Marvel NOW! 2.0 (2016), Marvel Legacy (2017) and soon Marvel Fresh Start (2018).
As a retailer these relaunches can be a nightmare. We have to try to manage an entire line of 50+ titles changing names and order codes with some customers wanting to continue, others wanting stop, and new customers joining in. We highly recommend if you are subscribed for a title that is going through the change to let us know if you’d like to continue it or drop it that way your account is up to date. The first round of these relaunch titles should be in the March previews and in our system the 1st week of March.
We get asked why is this happening again a fairly often. And while we don’t know the answer for sure, we can speculate a bit. Over the last few years Marvel has tried a number of things to keep itself relevant. Introducing more female characters, more minorities, or greatly changing classic characters (Captain America being part of Hydra for example) seemingly needing a new #1 every time they change direction. While some of these have had success the vast number of them missed the mark. They felt like poorly written, half formed ideas that left many readers scratching their heads, wondering what the point was or what happened to the classic character they’ve known for decades. The drop in overall sales are proof of that. Now long time editor-in-chief Axel Alonso left Marvel last year and was replaced by C.B. Cebulski. Cebulski no doubt sees the issues and will be looking to right the ship. Further evidence of more change being needed is Joe Quesada stepping back from Marvel TV and movies to return to print media. The big question will be, is Marvel actually listening to its readers? DC Rebirth has been such a success because they listened to what fans had to say and made the right changes. The DCU isn’t as bleak as it was in the New 52 era. Heroes are heroes and Villians are villians. Characters are for the most part what you expect them to be. They’ve even started to introduce some new characters like Damage and The Silencer that are getting good early reviews proving you can still do something new. It just has to be well thought out.
Now as a reader, what does all this relaunch business mean to you? Honestly, it doesn’t have to mean anything. If you enjoy Captain America, the Avengers, X-Men or any other Marvel title don’t let a change in number stop you. As the saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The continuity of the Marvel Universe and the characters is not changing. They will be presumably be seeking to further move the characters back towards what many readers have come to know over the years. They seem to have had some success doing that with the Legacy brand. If you are not currently reading a Marvel title, it will no doubt be a good jumping on point as they start new stories. Win-win for readers.