Marvel Comics and newly minted Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski announced last month the comic book company would be launching a linewide overhaul beginning in May of this year.
Cebulski elaborated in an announcement video, “Not since Marvel Now have we had such an overarching linewide change of talent on the Marvel Comics line.”
Joe Quesada added, “New fresh ideas, new fresh creators really are taking that perspective which is if you haven’t read a comic before and you are an old lapsed fan and you want to comeback, it’s the perfect opportunity to do it. Because these stories, as I say, they start and start and they are great jumping off points.”
However, as Marvel has announced a number of their new books, they haven’t really revealed any “new fresh creators” or had an “overarching linewide change of talent on Marvel Comics line.” Instead, they’ve doubled down with creators who have crippled Marvel Comics sales over the past two years.
Those creators include Nick Spencer who will now be writing Amazing Spider-Man, Ta-Nehisi Coates who will be writing both Black Panther and Captain America, Al Ewing who will be writing The Immortal Hulk, Donny Cates who will write Venom and a new Cosmic Ghost Rider miniseries, Jason Aaron will write Thor, Matthew Rosenberg will take on a Multiple Man miniseries, Saladin Ahmed will write a new Quicksilver miniseries, and Mark Waid will be taking over Doctor Strange and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Margaret Stohl will also be launching a new Captain Marvel series. She previously wrote The Mighty Captain Marvel.
If you’ve been following Marvel Comics over the past few years, none of these names are new. In fact, these are the names of the people who have ultimately tanked Marvel Comics’ sales. Nick Spencer single-handedly destroyed Captain America when he turned him into an agent of Hydra during the Secret Empire event. By the end of that event, Secret Empire only shipped 86,123 issues. Secret Empire #0 shipped 162,718 units That’s a terrible 47% decline.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has seen similar results with Black Panther. The first issue launched with 55,314 units shipped. Last month the book only shipped 21,321 units. That’s a 61% decrease! Even worse than Spencer!
Jason Aaron took over Mighty Thor with issue #4 in February of 2016. The book shipped 56,568 units. By September 2017 issue #23 debuted. It shipped 43,646 units. That’s a 22% decline. That’s actually pretty decent and was doing well. Marvel would then renumber the issues with Thor #700 coming out. Aaron would still be on the book and it would ship 115,662 units. That’s pretty impressive. But by issue #703, sales absolutely plummeted. Marvel only shipped 42,116 units. That’s a 63% decline. Three issues into a new Thor and it was doing worse than Mighty Thor #23.
Al Ewing is currently writing the Avengers and he started his run with Avengers #675. Marvel’s flagship book launched with 79,946 units shipped. Just four issues later in the same month of January issue #678 only shipped 37,403 units. That’s a 53% decrease in just one month! Let me repeat that again. The book saw a 53% decline in one month.
Donny Cates has seen similar numbers. He’s currently writing Thanos and took over on Thanos #13 which shipped 44,311 units. Two issues later and the book only shipped 22,743 units. That’s a 48% decline, which is actually somewhat respectable compared to his peers.
Saladin Ahmed had previously been writing Black Bolt. The first issue shipped 36,332 units. Issue 9 only shipped 11,994 units. That’s almost a 67% decline.
Matthew Rosenberg previously worked on The Secret Warriors, Kingpin, Phoenix Resurrection, and is currently writing the new Punisher series. Rosenberg’s The Secret Warriors #1 debuted by shipping 31,864 units. Issue #12 only shipped 8,305 units. That’s a 73% decrease! Kingpin #1 shipped 36,095 units. Kingpin #5 shipped 11,218 units. That’s a 68% decline. Phoenix Resurrection #1 roared to 145,057 units shipped. Issue #5 just a month later only shipped 46,689 units. That’s a 67% decline. Finally, The Punisher #218 shipped 62,929 units. Two issues later and the book was only shipping 23,940 units. That’s a 61% decline.
Finally Mark Waid was most recently writing Captain America, The Avengers, and Champions. Waid would debut on Captain America with issue #695 which would ship 87,101 units. Two issues later and it only shipped 37,030 units. That’s a 57% decline. Champions #1 would ship 47,457 units. Champions #19 would ship 19,804 units. That’s a 58% decline. In 2016, Waid would launch Avengers #1 to 81,885 units shipped. The latest issue of Avengers of which he is working with Al Ewing and Jim Zub shipped only 37,403 units. That’s a 54% decline.
Margaret Stohl’s The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 debuted with 53,263 units shipped. By July of 2017 and issue #7 it was only shipping 15,672 units. That’s a 70% decline. One of the worst.
If you don’t think these are abysmal numbers let’s take a look at Marvel’s chief competitor DC Comics. Batman: White Knight debuted with 86791 units shipped. By issue #7 it’s still shipping 73043 units. That’s a only a 15% decline.
Dark Nights: Metal #1 shipped 261997 units. Dark Nights: Metal #5 shipped 149076 units. That’s a 43% decline, but still better than Marvel, and if you look at the actual units shipped it is destroying any of the works these “new” Marvel writers have put out.
Doomsday Clock #1 which came out in November 2017 shipped 238,643 units. Third issue was still shipping 157714 units. That’s only a 34% decline.
Detective Comics #934 debuted to 96,581 units shipped in June of 2016. In January of 2018 the book still shipped 53,024 units for issue #973. Again like Dark Nights: Metal that only around a 45% decline. This is a book that has been going strong for nearly two years and seeing a lesser decline in readership than some of Marvel’s new writers after three books.
As you can see Marvel’s Fresh Start initiative is anything but. They haven’t introduced an “overarching linewide change of talent.” What they have really done is reshuffle their creative teams onto different books. Do they think readers are that dumb they won’t notice the entire marketing behind this looks like its a complete deception? Do they think readers won’t notice Nick Spencer is writing Amazing Spider-Man now? Will they not realize that Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing Captain America now?
I’m not sure what kind of data C.B. Cebulski and his team are using to make editorial decisions, but it definitely doesn’t appear to be sales data over the past two years. And honestly, this just looks like more of the same from Marvel which will result in ever more declining sales and just plain boring and bland stories. It might be time for Disney to actually take a look behind the curtain and figure out what is going on.
If this Fresh Start is anything like what we’ve seen from these creators on their previous Marvel books, what we’ll really get is a rotten apple.