Considering the current creative direction of both Marvel and DC, it would seem as though both are on two completely different paths. DC Comics seems to be focusing on a return to what matters, telling quality stories and embracing tradition, continuity, and legacy characters. On the other hand, Marvel seems to be in a perpetual cycle of re-launch, similar to what has ironically plagued DC for the past several years.
One of the most obvious differences I mentioned in the podcast was the pricing strategy. Marvel’s price strategy isn’t as budget friendly as DC’s new pricing declaration. Civil War II #1 was priced at $5.99 and was around 40 pages long. DC Rebirth was around 80 pages long and was priced at $2.99. This $4.99-$5.99 price point seems to be a trend for Marvel events.
Of course this was a special occasion for DC. This in effect seems to be one last ditch effort to get the comics community reinvested into their universe. Based on the results of last month’s comicbook sales, it worked. Now that DC will be releasing their main titles bi-monthly and at a price point of 2.99, DC is offering more bang for your buck. And with the re-focusing on story-telling and the core competencies of the characters we know and love, dare I say DC has become the offering of quality and value as well.
This new initiative launched by Geoff Johns is definitely reciprocating throughout the line. After reading Batman #1, Green Arrow #1, Titans Rebirth, and Green Lanterns #1, I can say that all of those books are good and worth checking out. I did feel a quality and consistency to them that I haven’t truly felt with Marvel since Secret Wars began. Honestly, at the $2.99 price point, I could foresee replacing some Marvel titles I’ve felt on the fence about, for some of these DC titles.
Perhaps it’s just me, but Marvel’s books have been floundering for a while. Of course, the quality was still head and shoulders above DC which is why DC received so much attention. But in reality, Marvel just hasn’t had the same feel since the Heroic Age was initiated after the purchase of Disney. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Disney for the state of Marvel comics. However, I have to admit their corporate influence is really starting to bleed over. For example, it’s convenient that Marvel’s summer event this year is another Civil War just months after Captain America: Civil War premiered in theaters. I see the similarities of this event with the real Civil War story arc, but I feel a more creative approach could have been considered, and certainly a different name.
Also ironic is the similar situation of the Xmen crossover event Apocalypse Wars currently taking up all of the main Xmen titles. The thing is, this is not an actual crossover at all. All three titles involved in Apocalypse Wars have a common subject but no common plot point. While all titles are dealing with Apocalypse in some form, none of the stories seem to be related at all. So what is the point of the event other than to capitalize on the release of the premiere of Xmen: Apocalypse in theaters?
Marvel’s storytelling has suffered because of its need to cross promote its other corporate interests. Nothing is more telling of this than the fact that the rivalry between the Inhumans and the Xmen, a plotpoint Marvel has been building since Secret Wars, will boil over and become a part of Civil War II. This is an issue that should be its own event in and of itself. Perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions and ultimately it will be its own event next year. However, it just seems an injustice to not spotlight a centerpiece conflict that has been a major plot element across the entire Xmen line.
The final proof that DC Comics may have a better outlook at this point is the latest announcement from Marvel. Marvel will again start a Marvel Now event starting this fall. This is a tactic Marvel has utilized almost every fall since 2012. I was under the impression that Secret Wars was supposed to take care of the need for the Marvel Now initiative. Obviously I was mistaken.
So as DC begins its renewal, Marvel doubles down on its seasonal strategy of soft re-launches. As DC strives to give comicbook fans a sense of hope and trust in the characters, Marvel continues to focus more on events rather than their characters and stories. As DC all but shouts from the rooftops that their cycle of re-launching is over and a return to embracing continuity has returned, Marvel continues to announce that its ever-changing universe will continue to change without taking a breath to allow fans to adjust to the changes already made previously. It’s not difficult to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that DC right now is starting to look better and better while Marvel in comparison, is starting to become the company leaving a bad taste in comicbook fans mouths.