News came out of NYCC this weekend about the new Marvel weekly title Wolverines. This small tidbit of news may not sound too important, but it’s a huge deal, for a lot of reasons.
Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes will team on writing duties with Young Gun Nick Bradshaw drawing a weekly comic spinning out of the aftermath of Death of Wolverine. Here’s the word from Marvel itself.
Picking up the pieces in the aftermath of DEATH OF WOLVERINE, THE WEAPON X PROGRAM and THE LOGAN LEGACY, the writing team of Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes tackle WOLVERINES, a new weekly series featuring art by Nick Bradshaw.
WOLVERINES brings opposing forces—such as Mystique, Daken, X-23 and Sabretooth—together to investigate Logan’s death. In the process, Soule and Fawkes assure Marvel.com, characters will be pulled into many unexpected directions!
I don’t really have an opinion of this book as a Marvel title. I think putting all the Wolvie family together in a single book is way overdo, and Fawkes/Soule is an awesome combo. I’m sure Bradshaw won’t be on the book the entire time, so it may open some opportunities for lesser known artists to do some standout work. I’m wondering about cover price…but I’ll get to that in the minute. First, some comments on this bigger than you think announcement.
Wolverine Is Dead! Long Live Wolverine!
And the Death of Wolverine book is a huge hit. Issue #1 and #2 of the mini were the best selling books of a month that saw DC take a huge piece of the market with Futures End month. In his death, Wolverine has never been hotter. Why do I bring this up? To quash the fanboys who love to decry killing off characters. It works! Stop blaming the publishers for doing what they’re in business to do, because, if this trend that’s been around since before Captain America was thawed from the arctic ice continues, we’re going to see more (not less) character deaths, changes, and other things that will obviously not last for ever, with this fact inevitably being snarkily pointed out by fanboys across the world. Character deaths happen because they work when it comes to selling comics, and that’s what publishers are in business to do. Sorry, I shouldn’t be talking smack on passionate fans simply hungry for something different, but maybe I’m bashing the folks buying the death events…Either way, that’s not the biggest part of this news.
The Weekly Worry
It’s easy to say that Marvel is ripping off DC’s weekly strategy because that’s exactly what they are doing. Sure, Batman Eternal and New 52 Futures End aren’t selling in the top 25 every week, but they ARE selling in the top 75 (Eternal is in the top 30 regularly), and they hit readers up 4 sometimes 5 times per month. A book hovering around 75 selling 4 times a month might as well be a top 10 book. Marvel’s already had success selling Avengers twice a month, and moving events to twice or three times a month, so this was bound to happen, but it’s solidifying a trend that has me worried. More weekly books means I’m paying more for the story, and any success of those titles makes it easier for a publisher to not only do more, but put out more twice and three times a month books and not feel so bad about it. It’s the same sort of slippery slope that led to price increases, and to weeklies and ‘more-than-monthlies’ in the first place. And speaking of cover price, certainly Wolverines is going $2.99, right? A $3.99 weekly is a precedent I do not want to see set.
I don’t have a verdict, I have a warning. We cannot have it both ways. Either we hate character deaths because they are overused tropes that by their very definition in comics are never permanent, or we love them so much that they not only define comic book storytelling, but also define comic book promotion, creative approaches, release schedules, and so much more. I really have no opinion on Wolverines as a story. It’s got a great creative team, a dream concept, and should have some strong beats with the rapid release schedule, but Wolverines means a whole lot more than just another comic book. I’ll revisit this rant, as I do all my rants, in a few months or so to give the market time to adapt to trends, but I’m betting I’m worrying for some good reasons.