The Ninjabot

Marvel Now – A Rave

Posted on January 6, 2013 at 9:01 am by Tyler Waterman

There is indeed a bit of a nerd divide here at the GeekLegacy cyber-office, but my compatriot Jerd (@TheMightyJerd) has it a bit wrong. There are those of us who realize that Marvel comics are in the midst of blazing bold new paths and reinventing themselves in a calculated way, and then there are those other people who are so impatient that they can’t appreciate the incremental changes being implemented.

Our Editor-in-Chief asked us both to explain why we love/loathe this pseudo reboot, so sit back and let me explain to you the finer nuances of this new approach that Jerd just can’t seem to recognize!

Marvel NOW!-1

A new beginning, despite there having been no end.

Before I begin, I do want to echo Jerd’s sentiment that nothing said in either of our articles is specifically targeted toward any of the actual talent working on the books. I don’t think it’s too bold a statement to say the quality of work coming out of both DC and Marvel right now is some of the finest in their histories, and considering the companies I’m speaking of that’s high praise. Just like Jerd, there are books coming out of both companies that I love and books that I’m not too fond of, but this is more a discussion about two companies trying to reinvent themselves and the methods they’re taking to do it. However, I can’t disagree more with Jerd’s sentiment that DC has done a near-perfect job of it, while Marvel is failing miserably.

One point that Jerd did in fact hit on the head is the DC Universe has never been more accessible to the uninitiated than it has been post-reboot. Since nearly the entire universe has been restarted, and since every comic began anew, there’s never been a better time to get involved with their universe if you were too intimidated by the history to start before. However, Jerd might be reading those books with rose-colored glasses if he thinks they aren’t still pretty confusing! Yes, the reboot reset the histories, but trying to keep track of WHERE each title fits in the now-only-5-years-of-superheroes DC timeline is nigh impossible. Justice League is two years in yet sometimes references things that are happening now, most Bat-books are current but some seem to take place earlier, the Dark titles seem to be all over the place, and don’t even get me started on trying to figure out where Superman falls into all of this. I’ve read comics for years and even I find myself scratching my head, so a person new to comics may still feel lost regardless of the low issue numbers.

Jerd’s biggest knock on “Marvel NOW!” is that their attempt at a reboot pales in comparison to the New 52, and he’d be right, if Marvel considered “Marvel NOW!” an actual reboot. Here’s the thing; it isn’t a reboot. From the moment it was announced, Marvel fell all over themselves telling anyone who would listen that “Marvel NOW!” is in no way a reboot, and that nothing of the past was being forgotten or changed. Now, I do have my qualms with this. Renumbering the vast majority of your flagship titles and making sweeping creative changes to reinvent the majority of your major characters? Sure sounds like a reboot to me. But semantics aside, Marvel doesn’t view “Marvel NOW!” as a reboot, and that means to compare the two companies approaches from a “who did the best reboot” approach just doesn’t make sense. That’s like saying “these oranges you brought are way worse at being apples than the apples this guy brought.” Of course they are; they’re not apples, and shouldn’t be expected to be apples.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Jerd’s pot calling Marvel’s kettle black when it comes to his complaints about Marvel already pushing their upcoming crossover event The Age of Ultron. Jerd, I love ya, but to try and act like Marvel is just schilling their next big thing in comparison to DC’s approach tells me you aren’t paying enough attention to DC right now! This is a company that is running five crossover events right this very moment (Death of the Family, H’el on Earth, Rise of Atlantis, Rotworld, Rise of the Third Army) and is also Marvel-Nowadvertising an upcoming major event called Trinity War that they’ve been quietly pushing for over a year now. I can agree that crossover events are getting a bit overplayed, but DC is just as guilty of trying to make people buy books they wouldn’t normally buy, arguably even more so than Marvel is.

I like to look at “Marvel NOW!” not as a standard reboot per se, but as a whole new approach to an age-old concept in comics. Reboots are typically done to start fresh and open the doors to new readers, which makes the New 52 the perfect example of a classic reboot. “Marvel NOW!” is something completely different; it’s a reboot for current readers. New 52 sure did make things easier for new people, but for those of us who weren’t new, we had to give up a lot of history and a lot of things that we really loved for it to happen. “Marvel NOW!” doesn’t leave us feeling like that; yes, some of my favorite books have changed significantly, and some of these changes aren’t changes I ever wanted, but at least I know the memories I have of those books are still things that actually happened.

Plus, it’s absolutely still attracting new readers, but in two ways instead of one. Classic “overhaul” reboots get new people buying books, but those of us who aren’t new for the most part just kept buying the same books we were buying before. Sure, some of us did start buying new books too (I certainly wouldn’t have been buying any Animal Man books before the reboot like I am now), but we also stopped buying some books we used to buy because we couldn’t stand the changes being made to them, so it balances out. With “Marvel NOW!” I find they’re getting the best of both worlds. The majority of us are still buying the books related to the titles we were reading before, because the changes aren’t so massive. At the same time, the subtle changes being made in other titles have made many Marvel fans start to read books they weren’t interested in before, because now was the best time to get into them. Keeping old readers and getting new readers at once will never work perfectly, but the “Marvel NOW!” approach seems better suited to accomplish that than the “burn and rebuild” approach of the New 52.

Is “Marvel NOW!” perfect? Absolutely not. Navigating what comics are ending and what comics are beginning has been a pain, especially with the erratic release schedules and lengthy release window of the entire “Marvel NOW!” initiative. But for every spot where I feel “Marvel NOW!” is weak, I can find four or five points where it really shines, and since perfection doesn’t exist in the world of comics, that’s really all we can ask for. I firmly believe that once the dust has settled and “Marvel NOW!” isn’t a strange new thing and has become the status quo, angry Marvel fans like my friend Jerd will be able to step back and realize that the Marvel Universe as a whole is better for this having taken place, even if the heavy marketing has made that hard to recognize right now. Most importantly, it has people talking about Marvel, which means more success for the comic world in general, and that’s something that I know both Jerd, myself, and all comic fans will agree is a very good thing!

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Editor’s note:  Make sure to read The Mighty Jerd’s counter article, and tell us which side you think is right.  Let us know in the comment section below.

    • thejerd

      Oh, so much I want to say…

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