DC, Marvel Hit Reset Button

Comics shake up their worlds, risk fan alienation

The Marvel universe ended last month — and not with a bang but a whimper.

That’s right, True Believers, the worlds of the Hulk, the Guardians of the Galaxy and even Spider-Man (both of them) blew up and reformed into something completely … well, old.

DC Comics did much the same thing two months earlier. For both major publishers, whole worlds or alternate realities that were once thought lost — whether they feature Batman or Captain America — have been brought back and merged together into the “real” world.

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In the case of DC, it has taken the form of the recently wrapped Convergence event, where the villainous Brainiac assembled a collection of worlds once thought lost. Similarly, Marvel has blown up its primary universe as well as its Ultimate Universe and reconstituted multiple versions of our familiar heroes running around the construct known as Battleworld.

In both cases, the result is a refreshed storyline. DC is reintroducing characters — from Bat-Mite to Bizarro — not seen in years. Marvel is taking it a step further by merging its two universes and restarting most of titles. Comics that have been around for decades, like Avengers and Iron Man, are starting again with issue #1, though Marvel insists it’s not a reboot.

In both cases, the result is a refreshed storyline.

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The publishers obviously hope that these periodic refreshes will draw new readers to their titles. And why not? Who wouldn’t be intrigued to learn what life is like for Superman now that the world knows he is actually mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent? Don’t you want to see two versions of Spider-Man (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) fighting on the Avengers?

Actually, my answer is, “Not so much.”

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Yes these new starts might be a good place for some people to being reading our heroes’ adventures, but for current readers, it could have the opposite effect. Anyone who is tired of the familiar plots or sick of the constant multi-title storylines that plague these major publishers may view these new developments as a great opportunity to stop reading the books altogether.

Look for huge numbers from Marvel this fall when it rolls out 60 new #1s across its titles.

To be sure, there are great stories coming from Marvel and DC, and I won’t go as far as saying I’m done reading their books. Titles like Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and even Batman are breathing fresh life into the genre. But I’m finding that I’m less and less interested in what these publishers are selling. In fact, in the last month, I’m probably spending half of what I typically spend on comics — much to the delight of my wife.

And when I head to the comics store on Wednesdays, more often than not, I end up spending money on smaller publishers like Image Comics titles which has been innovative with such books as Descender, Sex Criminals, Chrononauts and the Luther Strode titles.

Am I in the minority? Probably. Look for huge numbers from Marvel this fall when it rolls out 60 new #1s across its titles. Collectors will likely gobble up those issues along with the myriad variant covers — editions sporting alternative cover art. And some of them will likely be fascinating reads. But for the true fan, it may be too much to handle.

It’s not exactly the way Marvel and DC want the story to end.

Read more at PopZette:

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