Not 24 hours after Civil War II was unleashed onto comic racks, Marvel started teasing Marvel NOW!, their upcoming fall relaunch of new titles. Marvel NOW is going to—
Wait. Haven’t we been here before?
Yes. We have. Multiple times. Marvel NOW! All-New Marvel NOW! All-New All-Different Marvel! And now, Marvel NOW Again! In the past 6 years or so (really since the end of “Siege”), Marvel has consistently relaunched at new number ones time and time again, and they’re slowly killing the excitement that they’ve worked really hard to generate in years past. Customers hate it. The Internet hates it. So why does Marvel keep doing it?
Because despite it all, it works. Fans may complain non-stop about it, but they’re still buying the books. This “seasonal model” that Marvel Editor In Chief Axel Alonso has been promoting may seem to work for attracting new readers, but a majority of those readers jump ship once the next relaunch hits because none of what they just read “counts”.
But does it really not count? I’ve been reading Spider-Man since I was six years old, and while Spidey’s had 4 number one issues in the last 5 years, every one of those “new” series builds off of what came before it. Sure, you could jump in on the latest Amazing Spider-Man #1 and probably be fine, but you may feel lost when there’s a reference to Superior Spider-Man thrown into the narrative. Despite the renumbering, Dan Slott keeps chugging along, working in the new status quo of the world around Peter Parker, but not letting it dictate the stories he wants to tell. In a lot of ways, Dan Slott is the perfect writer for what Marvel’s doing right now. His overarching stories are malleable enough to allow him to work in whatever plan Marvel has in to them.
It’s books like Amazing Spider-Man that make me wonder why Marvel doesn’t include the “legacy number” or even a volume number with the “current’ issue number. This way it would appease long time fans that get upset over the constant renumberings, but also give new readers a way to jump in. In fact, they may not even notice them as much. Hell, Marvel used to do this very thing back in the early 2000’s, and are known for switching issue numbers at random whenever a book hits a “milestone issue” (a good example is literally any major anniversary of a Marvel character in the past few years). If Marvel is still counting these renumbered issues as continuing issues, why shouldn’t we?
While we don’t have any information on what titles will be a part of this new Marvel Now! relaunch, we do know that this is the method of release that Marvel has decided to stick with. It sucks and is annoying, but at least it gives characters the opportunity to headline a series that they may not have gotten before. I mean, would anyone imagine a Magneto or Karnak series before this type of initiative? Marvel’s constant relaunches may not seem ideal or convenient in the long run, but like all things in comics, it’s a fad that will probably run its course soon.