Marvel Comics has been following a growing trend of releasing the digital editions of comics on the same day as the print. This is stimulating sales through its own portal and through established partners like Comixology. Recently Marvel announced the first big comic event of 2013 with the Age of Ultron. The ten part mini series will run March to June 2013 and will feature prominent villain Ultron. Michael Bendis commented on the series premise recently and said “Ultron, who is one of our biggest villains, finally fulfills his destiny, which is to accelerate his super-intelligence and does what he always wanted to do, which is take control of earth. And he does. From the very first page, the Marvel Universe has been overtaken by Ultron. It has been changed. It has been altered. There have been shocking amounts of death and devastation and casualties in the Marvel Universe.” This new series announcement had many comic book fiends thinking, is Marvel moving too fast with these events?
Marvel has been fast-tracking events over the course of the last year, with Avengers VS. X-Men being very guilty. The entire series released two issues a month, along with various crossovers. In some months, you would have close to six different issues being released that tended to overwhelm people. One of the latest editions “Avengers Arena” is pumping out two editions a month or more, but luckily is not spawning a million crossovers.
Statistically Marvel generates more revenue with its massive events than with the monthly releases. Dark Reign, Seige, AVX, Age of Apocalypse, Fear Itself, and Secret Invasion all sell big numbers in the comic stores and via digital sales. Not only do the single issues do well, but there is a lot of cash being made with the graphic novels on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and other retailers. To be fair, Dark Reign was probably the best modern event done right.
In the past, big events tended to last over a year or more. The writing and art style tended to be better and the entire development team had more room to map everything out. The original Infinity Gauntlet series is one example of taking your time and it has stood the test of time. It seems over the last few years, events are happening too quickly and that almost seems like a cash grab. Most of the crossovers tend to be very poor and most customers tend to avoid them altogether. Most modern Marvel events do not resonate well with customers and are not very memorable.
Memorable series and events are what makes every comic lover continue to read. Marvel had a similar problem in the late 90’s with such an inundation of crossovers that fans stopped buying them. Marvel has new distribution systems in place and is breaking digital sales records. Hopefully, it’s with quality content.