Friday, May 10, 2013

Avengers Assemble?

After previously discussing the ever growing relationship between Marvel’s movie and publishing properties, let’s dive into another facet of the movies impacting the comics: expansion.

Marvel’s comic book publications start to aggressively expand whenever a film adaptation arrives.

This should be no surprise to anyone, as the company obviously wants to grab as many readers as possible when their characters are plastered on lunchboxes and buildings all over the world.

But how much is too much?

It seems that Marvel is constantly releasing series upon series whenever a new adaptation is released, and nowhere is this more apparent than with The Avengers, the superhero team that broke box office records last May.

Marvel is teasing a new series spinning from the finale of their latest event, Age of Ultron, titled Avengers A.I.. This new series and team  will be headed up by Hank Pym, and include other scientific characters like Vision, a reformed Doombot, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Monica Chang, a character from the Ultimate universe who’s being repurposed for the “regular” Marvel one.

With the release of this title, Marvel will now be publishing SIX titles featuring “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”. 

Never one to miss out on cashing in when the getting’s good (just look at Marvel Zombies and the seven sequels it spawned), it would be foolish of Marvel to not take the biggest money maker of 2012 and spin it off into a bunch of new directions.

But at this point, it’s impossible for people coming in from the movies to pick up an Avengers book and be expected to know what’s going on.  With the exception of the adjectiveless Avengers title, there isn’t an easy explanation for any of the books.  New Avengers has a really interesting take, but new fans will have to go all the way back to Marvel’s Civil War event to get the full backstory on the “Illuminati” of Marvel, consisting of Beast, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, and others.  

From the movie-inspired Secret Avengers
Secret Avengers sounds like a lot of fun as well, and would probably be the third book I’d keep if I was allowed to manage Marvel’s line of Avengers books.

As for the others? I feel like Young Avengers and Avengers Arena are splitting the customer base. The two books feature casts of young heroes and are pale imitations of series that were previously canceled (and seem to already be struggling). Avengers Assemble seemed like a good jumping on point for people leaving The Avengers last summer, but outside of a handful of issues, that book is unnecessary as well.

Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Captain America...wait a sec, this lineup seems familiar...

The new announcement of Avengers A.I. leaves me unmoved, especially when the only two characters I have a fleeting interest in are going to be surrounded by a bunch of new characters that will probably be killed off or forgotten when the series eventually ends.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on A.I.

It could be good, and I am basing my feelings on the press  release and first images of the book. But as a comic fan on an ever-tightening budget, I question if Marvel ever takes into account the fans that got them to the place they are today. At $4 a pop for a majority of their books, they run the risk of alienating fans not because of story content, but of cost and over flooding the market.

Marvel has a huge stable of characters that could all get their own ongoings, but instead, they choose to keep adding to the already overflowing IPs that they have. They know they sell, and that’s why they keep doing it.

Until fans stop buying all six Avengers titles, it’s not going to end.

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