I stopped by the comic shop today on the way into work and was given a fantastic idea. And it’s a good thing because I am tapped the fuck out. The only toys that have been showing up with any consistency are the Green Lantern movie toys and I’m saving those reviews for the week the movie comes out so I can have a stupid theme. So no toy reviews, which are normally my fallback when I don’t feel like being very creative. Nothing is really going on lately and I’m seriously considering just taking next week off. I don’t even know if I’ve got any Vintage Troublemaker that’s worth reposting.
But today – thanks to Varis – I have got a treat for you! Well, maybe. I think it’s a great idea but I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to approach it yet. Varis and one of the other customers were discussing something from a podcast (I think) and he said I should write a post about it.
By this point you’re probably fairly irritated and just wondering what the heck this great idea is. Here you go:
Imagine you are handed control of Marvel Comics. Like, the whole shebang. Every title they publish. It’s yours.
You have to reduce the monthly publishing schedule to twelve titles.
Think about that for a minute.
I know, right?
I believe this was inspired by DC’s September “Reboot” (yeah, right) of the whole DCU.
Okay, so this obviously raises all kinds of questions and is definitely better suited for a night of drinking and debating in person than a blog post; but I’m going to lay it down here and see what shakes out. Keep in mind, I do not and have never worked in a comic shop. I love me some comics, but I know exactly dick about actual sales figures and orders and what books are actually making the money. My perspective is purely what I like mixed with what I think are the moneymakers. And with only twelve titles you’re going to need every one of them to be a moneymaker. Just to get that business perspective on things I’m going to try and convince Mrs. Troublemaker to at least submit a list even if she doesn’t want to provide any commentary (obviously she has more important things to do with her time). She’s the one that’s worked in a comic shop for the past 783 years.
I’m going to run through this little fantasy with Marvel and DC. I’m not sure I want to try Dark Horse, Image or IDW. We’ll see.
So the rules are pretty simple. Twelve titles, straight up. No one-shots, no extra mini-series. One hundred and forty-four comic books a year. Period. I’m not going to address creative teams or the impact this would have on the livelihoods of everybody working in the comic industry. Obviously none of this is ever going to happen, so we don’t have to agonize over how Paul Cornell is going to put food on the table (not that we would anyway – that guy is getting an ironclad lifetime contract from whichever company I’m running).
Let’s start with Marvel Comics and that publisher’s insanely overinflated output. According to Previews and my own personal opinion of what constitutes a title (this is anything competing for your regular monthly comic dollars, excluding trades or other types of collections), Marvel released seventy-nine titles in the four weeks of May:
ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN WOLVERINE
AVENGERS THOR CAPTAIN AMERICA OFFICIAL INDEX OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
BLACK PANTHER MAN WITHOUT FEAR
CABLE AND DEADPOOL
CAPTAIN AMERICA FIRST VENGEANCE
CAPTAIN AMERICA HAIL HYDRA
CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOTLIGHT
DAKEN DARK WOLVERINE
FEAR ITSELF HOME FRONT
FEAR ITSELF SPIDER-MAN
FEAR ITSELF YOUTH IN REVOLT
FORMIC WARS BURNING EARTH
HAWKEYE: BLIND SPOT
HEROES FOR HIRE
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
IRON MAN 2.0
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
MARVEL SUPER STARS MAGAZINE
MARVEL ZOMBIES SUPREME
NAMOR FIRST MUTANT
ORSON SCOTT CARDS SPEAKER FOR DEAD
OZMA OF OZ
PIXAR PRESENTS CARS
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST
SKAAR KING OF SAVAGE LAND
SPIDER-MAN POWER COMES RESPONSIBILITY
SPIDEY SUNDAY SPECTACULAR
STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND - NO MANS LAND
ULTIMATE AVENGERS VS NEW ULTIMATES
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN
WOLVERINE BEST THERE IS
WOLVERINE ENEMY OF STATE
WOLVERINE HERCULES MYTHS MONSTERS AND MUTANTS
X-FORCE ANGELS AND DEMONS
X-MEN FIRST CLASS MAGAZINE
X-MEN PRELUDE TO SCHISM
That’s a lot of fucking comics, and I don’t even know exactly what some of those titles are. I might have added a few things that shouldn’t strictly be counted as monthly releases (I know some of them are one-shots, but those count too), but even if you cut that list down by a third it’s still pretty unmanageable.
Before I make my list I want to be clear about just how ignorant I am. I know there are things involved with licensing that I am not considering. The Orson Scott Card and Stephen King adaptations, for example, are probably much more financially complex than simply creating a Spider-Man book. I don’t know if this makes them more or less profitable, I just know that such things are probably going to have to end when I take over.
Alright. Enough setup. Here’s my list:
- Amazing Spider-Man
- Captain America and the Avengers
- Fantastic Four
- Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man
- Marvel Comics Presents Journey Into Mystery Starring The Mighty Thor
- Marvel Comics Presents MAX
- Marvel Comics Presents Super Heroes!
- Marvel Comics Presents Tales to Astonish
Now here’s where I get clever (or cheat, if you will) – each book is thirty-two pages and 4.99. The flagship titles would be twenty-two pages of main story and a ten page backup each month, the others would be different depending on the title (see below). Nobody ever specified page count or price (to me), so for less than sixty bucks a month you could pick up every single book Marvel produces. That’s probably less than you’re spending each month right now. The backup stories would alternate and focus on different, book-appropriate characters. They might be one-shots and they might be three to four month arcs. These backups would be proving grounds for new artists and writers. Let’s take a look at each book.
I probably don’t even need to explain this one. It would be one of the flagship titles and the backup would be anything Spidey-related, from a story about a villain to a girl-centric Gwen Stacy piece. Three months of Venom backups could result in a Venom confrontation in the main book. Even a J. Jonah Jameson one-shot. The sky would be the limit on the backups. The only rule would be that everything is canon.
Captain America and the Avengers
I know a lot of people are probably going to wonder why Iron Man gets his own book and Thor and Cap have to share theirs. I’ll get to that. This would be Marvel’s BIG BOOK. The one that the whole universe sort of centers around. Cap gets the title cred because he is the heart of the Marvel Universe and the leader of the Avengers, the most important entity. The main portion of the book would be the standard world and galaxy-spanning adventures of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The backups would be ten pages devoted to individual members of the team, or maybe from time to time prospective members. This would leave open the possibility of stories about lower-tier Marvel superheroes or other branches of the Avengers.
I can only imagine the outrage over Deadpool getting his own book over Cap, Thor, Daredevil, Punisher and probably other characters I’m not even thinking of. Here’s the thing – 1) Deadpool makes Marvel LOTS of money, and 2) this title would be as close as my Marvel would get to any kind of What If… or other out-of-continuity stuff (well, with one exception). While the twenty-two pages of main story would be considered Marvel U canon, it would be understood that Deadpool is insane, so the things that happen in his book may or may not exist or have any kind of impact on the Marvel U at large. And the backup stories would have no rules and could feature any Marvel characters the creators wanted to use. If somebody wants to do a comedy piece about an alternate universe where Thanos is a sinister used car salesman; that’s okay. Another writer wants to make an ultra-violent story featuring Jubilee if she got turned into a vampire – sure. It sounds dumb, but I’m sure people would buy it. Absolutely anything goes in Deadpool. Think of it as MAX, Ultimate Comics and What If… all rolled into one.
This one is about as obvious as Amazing Spider-Man. The backups would tend toward Marvel Team-Up style stories, featuring individual FF members teaming up with other inhabitants of the Marvel U.
Also a given. While the backups here could center around any Hulk-oriented characters, I like the idea that they would mostly be flashbacks from Hulk’s life – almost like mini-episodes of the old TV show with Bruce Banner on the road. It would be a good way to maintain a focus on the Hulk’s human side regardless of what was going on in the first twenty-two pages.
Tony Stark gets his own book because he is the most interesting and evolvable of the Avengers. Cap always has to be a Man Out of Time and Thor always has to be the God of Thunder. There may be small variances from time to time, but in the end that is the default setting for those characters. I feel like Iron Man has a lot more sustainability thanks to the humanity of the character and his interaction with the real world. But that’s just my opinion. The backups here would be mostly about Rhodey and Pepper, but as with all the other books it would be up to the creative team on the backup to come up with ideas.
Marvel Comics Presents Journey Into Mystery Starring The Mighty Thor
Naturally Thor gets the most ridiculously long book title in my Marvel Universe. Journey Into Mystery would be one of four anthology books from Marvel. The standard format would be sixteen pages of Thor with two eight page backups featuring other characters of a more magical or supernatural slant. Hercules, Dr. Strange, those types.
Marvel Comics Presents MAX
Punisher, Daredevil, Moon Knight – any gritty or violent characters would be featured in this anthology title. The page counts could vary depending on who was featured and what was needed. You might get sixteen pages of Punisher, ten of Daredevil and a six page Blade story. Or not. I can’t decide if Blade fits better here or in Journey Into Mystery.
Marvel Comics Presents Super Heroes!
This is an all-ages title that would be its own separate continuity. It would be an anthology book that featured family-friendly versions of any Marvel characters, likely oriented towards whatever film was big at the time.
Marvel Comics Presents Tales To Astonish
This would be the sci-fi equivalent of Journey Into Mystery, only without a central recurring character. This anthology would feature Silver Surfer, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Starjammers, ROM (in a better world, anyway).
Yes, of course Marvel’s biggest cash cow gets his own book. Heck, this would probably be thirty-two straight pages of Canadian violence.
And this is where my heart breaks. Yeah, the backups could feature New Mutants, X-Force and X-Factor. But it just wouldn’t be the same.
See? I didn’t just screw up your precious Avengers. I had to slash my favorites, too. But don’t blame me, blame Varis. This was his stupid suggestion.
It looks like I’ve already written more than enough for a single post, so I’ll be back next week with my utter decimation of the DC Universe. I’m curious to see how many titles they have over there. I’m sure a shit glad I’m doing this before Flashpoint really started.
Until next time, stay creepy