As expected, The Marvel media train has kicked into high gear on the eve of Comic-Con. Last week, Marvel announced the latest trend to kick off their pre-Avengers vs. X-Men titles: Marvel NOW! , in which many titles will be relaunched under new names, creative teams, and directions. Titles like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and many Avengers titles are going to be starting over with new number ones, but unlike DC’s “New 52” this isn’t a continuity reboot, just new number ones. It seems like just yesterday that titles like Captain America and Incredible Hulk relaunched with shiny new #1’s slapped on their covers.
Oh wait, IT WAS JUST YESTERDAY.
Yes, Marvel is relaunching a number of their titles, including some that are barely 25 issues into their runs. That sound you hear is a million Marvel zombies ripping their new collections up. I understand the appeal of a nice, new #1 on a comic, but at the same time, what about the longtime readers of a series? Or, what about the mythical new reader who started picking up Incredible Hulk at issue one after seeing him in Avengers? Could anyone explain to him why the book is being canceled at issue 15, and will probably be relaunched sometime over the NOW! schedule? No. Relaunching and re-numbering books works counter to Marvel’s goal: while it may seem like it offers a good jumping on point, it in fact just causes more confusion for the consumer. Marvel needs to make one plan and stick with it: either start everything over from #1 or keep the original numbering.
Re-numbering is a pain in the ass for comic fans, especially those of us who value the collectability aspect of the hobby. In fact, it flies in the face of collecting them at all. Let’s say you’re new to comics and start collecting Thor, just the regular, plain old god of thunder. You started with the JMS run at issue 1. You go a few issues, then it renumbers to 500 (or 600, or 8,000). Simple enough, you can accept that. THEN another series starts up for the movie, and your Thor just became Journey Into Mystery. So, do you follow JIM or this new Thor? I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Everything becomes a frustrating mess that eventually pushes the new reader/collector away.
While I’m clearly not a fan of this whole renumbering business, I am excited about some of the Marvel NOW! books that have been announced so far. I think Jonathan Hickman will do wonders to the Avengers main series, a book that I dropped after feeling like it was all over the place ( I should point out that I wasn’t getting New or Secret Avengers). However, the book I’m most excited for is Uncanny Avengers, which will pair writer Rick Remender and artist John Cassaday on a book comprised of a members of both the X-Men and the Avengers. Remender is one of Marvel’s best writers, and Cassaday is one of our great modern artists, just look at his work on Planetary and Astonishing X-Men. The man is a god with a pencil.
I can’t quite put my finger on my interest in Uncanny Avengers. Outside of Thor, Captain America, and Wolverine, there’s no one else on the team (that’s been announced so far) that I’ve really followed. Maybe it’s because of the talent involved, or that it might be something just different enough to work, but I’m definitely picking up the first issue. Hey, if it sucks, Marvel will just cancel it after 15 issues and relaunch it anyways.