If you kept track of comics last year you knew that Marvel was having a rough year. True they had fantastic books like: Black Bolt, Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, and All-New Wolverine; but their flagship books were suffering in sales and drawing a collective “meh” from critics. So earlier this year the “House of Ideas” did what they have been doing annually for the past 5 years or so, they rebooted their comics. This time it was dubbed “Legacy”, it was very apparent that this was a last minute decision given that nothing really came of it. Now with that CB Cebulski has controversially taken the reigns of the company it is understandable that he would want to implement some changes. One may wonder what his first big decision would be. It turns out things are being rebooted……again….like the last reboot was only a few months ago. Part of me wanted to instead of write this article, just post a picture of me slamming my head on a keyboard.
So this summer we have Marvel’s Fresh Start to look forward to. One of the good things which came out of the Legacy reboot was the fact that the books went back to their originally numbering. Speaking as someone who has let out some choice words while figuring out how to sort multiple Thor #1’s this made things a lot easier. But that is now gone as Tom Brevoort has announced the books would be getting new #1’s……again. I hope nobody was looking forward to a big milestone issue for Avengers #700. The following day Brevoort came back and said not “all” books would be getting new #1’s, just some of them. So it looks like they planned this out to be organized and not confusing at all.
To promote this Fresh Start, the publisher put out a piece from artist Jim Cheung featuring several classic iconic Marvel characters. What is missing is a number of the newer Marvel heroes who have been building fanbases and bringing a new generation of fans. This image has a noticeable lack of: Ironheart, Falcon, America Chavez, and other characters of that ilk. Needless to say these fans were worried, and apparently rightly so. It has recently come back that after an incredible run in All-New Wolverine, Laura Kinney will be going back to being X-23, and losing Tom Taylor’s gifted writing to guide her adventures. Personally I had not obsessively bought and read a Wolverine series since “Old Man Logan”, yet I devoured every issue of All-New Wolverine I could. I have the strong suspicion that there will be more changes like this to come. When you look at everything that has been announced regarding this move, it all focuses on books starring white guys. Given the manner Bruce Banner was recently resurrected was simply because he can be, Marvel is not above being hamfisted with these changes. This is nothing against the classic heroes who everybody loves; but these younger legacy characters Marvel has been developing have fans of their own who will probably be driven away.
It is not just the younger and diverse characters who seem to be brushed aside in this reboot as many great runs are coming to an abrupt end. Rainbow Rowell has been the first writer since Brian K. Vaughn to craft a great for the Runaways. You would figure with the Amazon TV series, Marvel would want to capitalize on this. Apparently they do not, as that book is ending. Writer Donny Cates just wrapped up a fantastic arc on Doctor Strange where Loki has taken the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Those hoping more greatness to follow from this debut are out of luck; after the current Damnation crossover his run ends.
As many have pointed out Marvel’s trend of constantly rebooting books drives readers away in the long run. It is hard for consistent readers to invest in a book when they know it will all end and restart in 12 issues. I have personally heard from retailers that the new younger fans Marvel have been trying so hard to draw are the ones who are the quickest to drop books out of frustration. With recent announced moves, their competition at DC Comics has shown they are more than willing to pursue this audience and claim them away. On the creative side of things, it must be difficult for writers and artists to plot long term when they know it’s only a matter of time until the next reboot (unless it’s Jason Aaron’s run on Thor). Marvel definitely needed something to freshen up their comics, but perhaps another reboot was not the way to go. Given that many responded to this announcement with eye rolls and sighs, this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back with the constant relaunches at Marvel comics.