Legacy, Lenticulars or Just Plain Lunacy
It's interesting how a publishing company like Marvel Comics lacks the collective ability to properly process constructive criticism, much less complaints.
When retailers and fans said to Marvel, “Stop constantly rebooting titles with a new #1”. Someone who clearly doesn't understand English misinterpreted that to mean, “Try rebooting a title with a ridiculous number rather than issue #1“. Then some other genius at the House that ran out of Ideas decided to turn that into yet another gimmick. Even-though, Marvel's been told repeated, people don't like convoluted crossover events. If you need proof, just look at the poor sales for Secret Empire, compared to prior Marvel crossovers.
Now Marvel has started renumbering books in the middle of, you guessed it, recently rebooted titles. As an example, Venom magically jumped from issue 6 to issue 150 just a few months ago. How did they get to the number 150? Well, they factored in every Venom ongoing and limited/mini series to date, then changed the numbering on the current ongoing series to reflect that new number… Or “Legacy numbering” as Marvel calls it. Which is not in any way shape or form what should have been derived from the original criticism.
What should have been taken from this was, when you keep coming out with new #1 every time you turn around, it makes things confusing for new readers. It's also a pain in the @$$ for current readers/collectors. I've said this numerous times, “a new #1 isn't just a good jump on point, it's an even better jumping off point”. However the greatest jump off point possible is some absurd new numbering system.
When Secret Wars 2015 happened, Marvel had just recently rebooted all their titles. However at that time, a 20K unmaintainable sales bump was all executives at Marvel Comics could see… Not the long-term damage this would eventually cause.
Look at what happened with Silk and Spider-Gwen. Two very similar books, both started the same month. Both had respectable sales, yet both were cancelled roughly at the same time as a result of Secret Wars 2015. They would both be rebooted a few months later, just like everything else.
There was no reason to do that with Spider-Gwen because it doesn't happen in the Earth 616 continuity in the first place. Nothing, as a result of Secret Wars 2015, affected the title enough to warrant a reboot. As a result its sales were adversely affected. Magically Spider-Gwen is one of the few titles not getting Legacy numbering… I guess because it would only be a 5 issue difference, so why bother.
Typically comic sales seem to drop after a creative team leaves a book, and they are replaced with a different, or in many cases less impressive creative team. Sometimes sales drop because people are just tired of the book/character. Other times because the writer spends too much time on social media and not enough time doing their job… But that's another article.
If a title has a sales slump, PUT A BETTER CREATIVE TEAM ON IT! The answer is NOT to take a cover gimmick and beat it into the ground for yet another unmaintainable sales bump. Using a variant cover gimmick to con retailers into order 175% of a book they already can't sell… Common sense should dictate that's not going to fix the problem.
In November 2017 Marvel will release Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #36. Something I'm pretty sure nobody asked for. However it's the exact type of title that is 100% acceptable to release a new number #1 for… Because it's wasn't just cancelled, it was cancelled 22 YEARS AGO!
Spirits of Vengeance and Falcon are getting a new #1. So apparently the magic number for legacy numbering is 23 years or longer… Actually, there's absolutely ZERO logic behind it. Well, at least none I could find.
Silver Sable is getting her book resurrected is do to a movie coming out in 2018. In Sony's Silver & Black she'll co-starting with Black Cat… And while I'm thinking about it, Black Cat has a much larger cult following than Silver Sable… So where's Felicia's book? Marvel could start that with a brand new #1 since Felicia's has never had her own ongoing series. It'd be an issue #1 that would actually make sense.
If nothing else it would give J. Scott Campbell an excuse to draw a cover featuring Black Cat for an issue she actually appears in. The last time that happened was Amazing Spider-Man Vol 3 issue 2 for those keeping track.
A Black Cat #1 with a regular JSC cover would easily sell double the number of copies Silver Sable #36's will. Or better still, Marvel could just do a Black Cat and Silver Sable book to cash in on the future film. Why not put out a “Silver and Black” comic starting with a #1 since it never existed before… but I digress.
To wrap things up, Marvel needs to wake up. They need to knock off these gimmicks. Marvel is sorely in need of capable people running things, people who are concerned with publishing quality books rather than making a quick buck. Gimmicks like Legacy Numbering, Venomizing Everyone, Value Stamps, Lenticulars and all the other asinine ordering percentage nonsense are not going to right Marvel publishings slowly sinking ship. If you have doubt that the ship is sinking, Marvel published roughly 20 titles in August that sold less than 15K copies… That's not including the True Believers reprints.
Quality titles with good consistent creative teams would probably help Marvel out a great deal. I mean, It seems to be working for DC. That's how a book like Red Hood and The Outlaws, consisting of a B, C and D list character can out sell Totally Awesome Hulk at the same price point every month. Not to mention TAH introduced Batch H, which everyone seems to be wetting themselves over. Sadly, those TAH issues barely sold 23K copies each… With TAH22 not even cracking 25K copies.
Regardless, a quality slate of books seems to be about the only straw Marvel hasn't grasped at yet. Just imagine how great Marvel comics could be again if they put half as much effort into creating quality content as they do with all these gimmicks.
Unfortunately that's not going to happen until both readers and retailers stop buying into these gimmicks.
Till Next Week!
UPDATE 10/15/17 12:53pm: Thank you to everyone that's commented! I've tried to respond to everyone up to this point. Unfortunately I won't be able to continue to respond to comments because the replies are just taking too damn long. In some cases I'm addressing the same thing multiple times. So please read what others have written and the replies I've already posted to those comments. Thanks again to everyone that's read and replied to this article!