For months we've all been talking about DC's 'The New 52.' Comic readers thought DC was insane and relaunching their books (even if they don't call it a relaunch) would drive away all the veteran readers. DC has made a huge effort to make all their titles accessible to readers, new and old. They've gone to great lengths to market their books in other markets, including television commericials. With new creative teams, some characters have gone through pretty big changes while others remained untouched.
We still have one more week of new #1 books from DC and we'll all be keeping a close eye on the sales of the books over the next few months but their plan is working so far. There are some readers that aren't happy with the changes but we have been seeing many comments from new readers thrilled to be able to jump into the new titles. The books are reaching record sales (compared to what they've been the past few years) and many titles have had multiple printings. Everyone is talking about the new books.
Marvel has held the top spot in comics for some time now. While continuity in any comic universe can sometimes called into question, we always hear new readers wondering where they should start reading a long-running book in order to understand everything. Jumping in and using the Comic Vine database can help but there's still readers hesitant to read issues that have decades of history. Would it make sense for Marvel to relaunch their characters as well?== TEASER ==
The first response might be that they already have done this. We have had the Ultimate Universe since 2000. These books did offer new beginnings and interpretations on the characters but wasn't a complete 'do over' like DC's current plan. The Ultimate Universe has been a mix of re-inventing the characters but sometimes feels characters undergo extreme changes just to make them different.
Those of us that have been reading, even if it's been a short time, would beg for this not to happen. We do not want to see years of continuity possibly tossed out the window. But it doesn't have to be a bad thing. We're seeing the Batman and Green Lantern books continuing pretty much as they were. Superman, Supergirl and Superboy have had some tweaks. Then we have characters like Green Arrow and Starfire experience more noticeable changes.
Marvel comics began in the late 1930s but the true Marvel Age really started with Fantastic Four #1 in 1961. One of the differences between Marvel and DC is Marvel really hasn't gone through changes in their continuity. DC characters went through the Golden and Silver Age with those stories not really holding in the recent continuity (things got pretty weird from time to time). There was also Crisis On Infinite Earths and other events that gave a soft reset to the continuity, giving readers a fresher starting point. Marvel hasn't had one of those, besides Heroes Reborn (which was reverted back after one year) and Brand New Day with Spider-Man.
If Marvel were to try to relaunch all their books, there would be an outcry. There would be obvious comparisons to DC but if it gave them attention and brought them new readers, would it really matter? Marvel and DC have, on several occasions recently, had similar event stories coinciding at the same time. If the comic market is changing and if people do want a fresh start, it doesn't matter who came up with the idea.
Is starting over the answer? Didn't Giant-SIze X-Men sort of relaunch the X-Men franchise? Again, the verdict is still out on DC's 'The New 52.' Forbes.com feels that DC is making the right decision. Some new life has been breathed into the books. There is a sense of excitement as we wonder how our favorite characters will change or stay the same. We've all heard how the state of comics hasn't been too great lately. With people pirating comics, it appears on paper that there is a low number of readers. 'The New 52' has brought in some new readers and had older readers return to DC Comics. How would Marvel approach a reboot? Would they start back with younger versions of the characters or have them in their current states with less history for us to worry about?
It was CV member bingbangboom that asked me what I thought about Marvel doing this. I don't think relaunching or rebooting is necessary. I will admit I am surprisingly enjoying some of the titles/characters that have gone through changes. At the end of the day, these are comic book characters. The stories are meant to be fun. I do not want to potentially see decades of continuity erased or ignored but we already know that every single moment in comic book history matters. I've said on several occasions that I was not happy with the decision to reboot some of Spider-Man's history but you know what? I am still enjoying the current Spider-Man stories. My vote would be for Marvel not to relaunch. I understand there are benefits and it could attract new readers. We do need more people reading comics in order for the industry to thrive. I would rather see another approach. 'The New 52' is working so far but it would be nice to still have some familiar territory, even if it's with another publisher.
Marvel and DC Comics are both great in their own ways. The focus should be on simply telling great stories. There are many outstanding independent titles that don't go for the flashy bells and whistles parade in order to sell their books. Then again, we also have to think about why Marvel and DC are at the top of the sales charts. Just give us really great stories that will appeal to everyone. Readers can jump into comics with long-standing histories. It's what most us have done. It's up to each individual issue to win over the new reader while still keeping the older reader engaged.