Monday, 12 January 2015

An open letter to Marvel

Please note: This was meant to be published not long after my DC article, but I had computer troubles.
Great as they are, they could be greater.
Dear Marvel,

Sorry, I already admitted that DC was my favourite, but if it’s any consolation, you’re what got me started on comics. I remember buying an issue of Wolverine when I was nine, and feeling like I was holding pure gold- and this was the notorious 90s. The first graphic novel I ever read was the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider Vol. 1: Life After Death. So yes, while DC is my favourite, I have a deep love for Marvel’s work.

That said, there are some things I really hope to see from you. Call it my wishlist, if you will, I did the same thing with DC yesterday, but if my favourite publisher has things I think they could do better, so do you.

Lower the prices

One day, I'll have enough money for either this or the
Inhumanity Hardcover.
$US4.99 is too much for a portion of a story. $20.00 is too much for a trade paperback that only contains five issues. To illustrate my point, a DC TPB, relatively new, costs around 17-19 dollars. It contains six issues, on average and often some preliminary sketches along with full-page variant covers. The best-value trade paperback I ever bought had to be Superman Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel. It contained 8 issues, back-up stories and sketches with commentary from the creators.

In a Marvel trade, however, I get five issues (one or two of which are sometimes taken from another series… infinite comics Guardians of the Galaxy… urgh!), and some variant covers, usually 2-4 covers a page. Yes, I know, you’ve put in all that stuff with the AR app- but an electronic addition that rarely works doesn’t justify the pricetag. Lower the price, plain and simple.
Oh, Great, I thought to myself. There goes my favourite
Marvel book...

Stop the guest-stars thing.

I’m glad Wolverine’s dead; at least for a little while. He’s appeared in way too many books that weren’t his to appear in and when it’s happened, you could often count that particular title as dead to rights.

So here’s my suggestion; don’t bring us a new Wolverine. I would be just as irritated, possibly more, if you started having Thor, Captain America, or (and I’m gonna go underline this one) Iron Man appearing in every book as a way to temporarily inflate sales. It doesn’t fix anything and tends to disappoint readers.

Care about your non-cinema properties

I know this makes Kevin Feige cry, but seriously?
I don’t think you cancelled Fantastic Four to spite FOX- that’s ridiculous. I think you cancelled it because you don’t care about it anymore. You can’t make highly lucrative movies based on the characters, so there seems to be little point in continuing the series. And sure, dwindling sales make cancelling a title a little easier too; you have something to blame other than the fact that, face it, your focus isn’t so much on the comics these days.

I mean, how else could you justify having, by my count, nine titles with the word “Avengers” in it since the beginning of Marvel NOW!? I know, X-Men have just as many, but the concept of the X-franchise lends itself to multiple books. All of these Avengers teams- that aren’t even in different locations- are there for one reason, and one only: Avengers is making money in Hollywood.

It’s time to care about all of your titles. Care only about your movie properties and you’ll alienate a large portion of your fanbase.

Diversify your creative teams

Looking diverse is different to being diverse.
Yay, a black Captain America!

Yipee, a female Thor!

Both books are written by white males!... wait…

You really want to reach non-whites and non-males? Hire more of them! It’s that simple. I’m not even gonna write anything more on that.

Stop sexualising characters

Sad part is: this is the covered-up version of this character.
Read my open letter to DC here. That gives the sum of it, but if you want specifically Marvel examples, that Milo Manara cover for Spider-Woman was kinda disgusting. The costumes for Magick and Emma Frost in Uncannny X-Men aren’t exactly hallmarks for gender equality and there should NEVER have been the swimsuit covers.

And, yes, you sexualise men too- Chris Hemsworth’s abs have nothing to do with Thor’s story, nor does Captain America need to be shirtless at any time. This is not to say that the sexualisation of women is therefore okay just because men are sexualised. Actually, it means the exact opposite. Stop sexualising people and just write compelling characters, dammit!

So there you go; here’s to what’s hopefully a great 2015, and all the best, Marvel!

Sincerely,

Tom