As we come to the end of another month, there is no better time than to take stock of how well Marvel’s latest rebranding phase – All-New Marvel NOW! – has done so far in terms of quality. Over the course of the week and beyond, we’ll take a deeper look at the adventures of some of the new (and not so new) heroes that will be appearing on Marvel’s comic book covers. For now, though, let’s just see how the comic book publisher’s third attempt at attracting new readers in as many years is shaping up.
Unlike the original Marvel NOW! relaunch at the end of 2012, when even the comic book covers were redesigned to reflect the very drastic shift in the hopes of attracting new readership, this year’s rebranding takes on a more subtle change. Over the past several weeks, several Marvel titles showed up with a “.NOW” appended to their issue numbers, as well as a somewhat misleading “#1” on the top right corner of the cover. The obvious intention, of course, would be to indicate opportune “jumping-on points” both for new and lapsed readers of the title.
In the final week of last year, Avengers #24.NOW was the first of such titles, followed by Avengers A.I. #8.NOW, Thunderbolts #20.NOW, and so on, sticking with the same Marvel NOW! concept that there will be a something new for readers on the shelves every week. Of course, such an undertaking, especially with titles that have already picked up steam, would require some deft writing and marketing to cater to new audiences. Some titles, like Thunderbolts and Thor: God of Thunder, seem to have been able to run with the opportunity, while others, like X-Men and Captain America, may have squandered it by not giving new readers enough to sink their teeth into.
Not that there weren’t any actual #1 issues, of course! This month saw twice as many titles making their debut as last month, and in the week ahead we’ll look at some of the twelve #1 issues and see if they bode well for what else may show up.
What is immediately obvious is this – there is a lot of quality in the new All-New Marvel NOW! titles. Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto have proven that a top-notch Black Widow is capable of sustaining readership even with two $3.99 issues a month. Coming off the news that Nick Spencer will be taking on full writing duties on the newly launched Avengers World, you can be sure the high level of adventure will be sustained. All-New X-Factor still has the brilliant Peter David at the helm, yet promises a fresh start for readers too intimidated to join the fun during the writer’s previous eight year run on on the title.
With the bulk of new titles still to come over the next several weeks, it would definitely seem that Marvel seems committed to engaging a whole new generation of comic book readers. There’s really something for everyone, with the upcoming relaunches of familiar titles like Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel and Daredevil, to the debut of eclectic characters like All-New Ghost Rider, Moon Knight and Iron Fist: The Living Weapon.
One thing is for sure: Marvel has definitely figured out how to do a rebranding right. Cancel titles that are doing poorly sales-wise, relaunch flagging titles if there is a good in-continuity reason to, but never stop experimenting with new characters, new concepts and new creative teams. The journey ahead looks exciting!
In the coming week, be sure to look out for HereBeGeeks’ reviews of All-New Invaders, She-Hulk, New Warriors and everyone’s favourite new superhero, Ms. Marvel!