Why Marvel's 'Season One' Graphic Novels May Not Be Such A Great Idea

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Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

Several days prior to this year's San Diego Comic-Con Marvel announced that they would be launching four graphic novels titled 'Season One' which will focus on four of their biggest properties. These graphic novels would serve to tell the origin stories of the original X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Spider-Man, respectively.

The announcement was later confirmed at SDCC 2011 and when Vice President at Marvel Tom Brevoort revealed in an interview with USA Today that the focus for these graphic novels would be to draw in a new, younger audience and introduce them to the origin stories of some of Marvel's biggest characters.

"We're hoping to introduce folks who have never read any of these characters to these characters in this format, and also provide an interesting and illuminating story for people who have read a lot of Fantastic Four and Daredevil," says Brevoort, Marvel's senior vice president and executive editor.
"If you want to dip your toe in the water and find out the essence of what Marvel is all about, here is a nice place for you to start in big, sizable, meaty chunks."

The way Marvel sees it, publishing these graphic novels is their way of giving a younger generation of fans who have never read the Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stories an opportunity to see them told through the perspective of new creative teams. But is that a good thing? And if they they have to re-tell these classic tales, why do they have to be retold by new creative teams? What's wrong with the original stories?

== TEASER ==

The way I see it is this: the original origin stories of these characters are classic, however in terms of the current Marvel continuity they are irrelevant. These characters are different now than they were when they were first created -- some of them don't even exist in the regular Marvel universe (Yeah, I'm looking at you Jean Grey and Johnny Storm).

These origin stories are classic tales told by comic book greats, so why should they be re-told by a new creative team? What's wrong with the original stories? If the publisher wants to draw the attention of new audiences to these classic origin stories, why don't they simply compile the original stories told by the original creators and reprint them into a graphic novel like an X-Men omnibus, for example? Marvel could even brand them the same way, marketing them towards new readers and selling them in the same format.

In fact, the publisher could even throw in a modern version of the characters by including issues of a recent story arc in the back of the graphic novel, demonstrating to the reader just how much these characters have evolved over the course of their character history. They could even include an accompanying wiki for the characters and allow the reader to judge for themselves how the character have changed over the years.

Based on Brevoort's quote, the purpose of these books is to target a new and very different audience. The question remains, however, what is the ultimate goal of the publisher in releasing these 'Season One' graphic novels? You would think that if you want to draw in a new audience, you would give them an accessible story that would make it easy for them to jump into the current ongoing story arcs. However, based on what we know about these books, drawing the reader in for more don't necessarily seem to be the ultimate goal.

Even if these books sell, shouldn't the publisher want the readers to come back for more? The problem with the 'Season One' graphic novels is that while they are introducing these characters to readers "for the first time," what will these readers read after they complete these books? Take for example the 'Season One' X-Men book which highlights the original team (Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Iceman and Angel). If a new reader were to pick up a current X-Men title they would find out pretty quickly these characters have all radically changed and some aren't even on the X-Men team. And what about the 'Season One' Fantastic Four? Currently, there isn't even a 'Fantastic Four' ongoing title, not to mention one of the original members is presently dead.

While we shouldn't judge without having read the books, it's a little hard to believe that these books will be a "nice place to start" knowing what we know about them so far. My only hope is that the original stories told by the comic greats will not be forgotten. What do you think of Marvel's 'Season One' graphic novels? Do you think it's a good idea? If you found yourself at a book store, would you pick this up? Check out the 9-page preview of the 'Season One: Fantastic Four' graphic novel as well as the covers of all four 'Season One' books below.

#1 Edited by sinful (149 posts) - - Show Bio

i prefer reprints myself as well.

#2 Posted by Mr. Dead Pool (2625 posts) - - Show Bio

Hold up! This Cyclops looks like one of the Monarchs henchmen!

#3 Posted by CrimsonAvenger (1162 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, some of these titles are no longer even relevant in terms of how the current Marvel Universe is. If I didn't know there wasn't a Fantastic Four team right now and read that, and then wanted to pick up their current title (If they had one); I would be sorely disappointed to find out there wasn't one because Marvel would have lead me to believe there was.

#4 Posted by Baddamdog (2223 posts) - - Show Bio

I AGREE COMPLETELY. When these were fist announced, I was like 'Am I supposed to be excited about this?'

I think it's a quite obvious attempt to re-create DC's successful 'year one' titles. But these 'season one' titles just don't carry the same heat. They lack exciting writers and artists and I don't really appreciate Marvel trying to shove them down my throat, telling me that in actual fact I am excited by them, when I'm really not. These origin stories are like fairy tales, everyone knows them and everyone can re-cite them off by heart. I just find this series unnecessary and underwhelming.

I would love 'Season One' comics based on specific time periods. Like a season one for the Australian X-Men team or a season one for the first year of Spidey and MJ's marriage, those I would buy and get excited about.

#5 Posted by ninjacommando (104 posts) - - Show Bio

Remaking movies, enhanced versions of games, digitally altering classics... comics aren't safe either it seems.

#6 Posted by PrinceIMC (5421 posts) - - Show Bio

Sounds to me like their chance to retcon. $20 says that Sue is going to be a scientist and Xavier is going to mention under his breath at one point how Jean Grey and Iceman have the greatest potential of any mutants he's met.

#7 Posted by ReVamp (22863 posts) - - Show Bio

Real Talk.

@PrinceIMC said:

Sounds to me like their chance to retcon. $20 says that Sue is going to be a scientist and Xavier is going to mention under his breath at one point how Jean Grey and Iceman have the greatest potential of any mutants he's met.

Not sure about the first one, but the second one speaks the truth.

#8 Posted by Or35ti (1101 posts) - - Show Bio

Times have changed since the 40s and 50s and 60s. Comics need some fresh life injected into them. DC is doing this with the relaunch which is really good and Marvel is doing this with Season One which should be interesting. The problem with reprinting something from so long ago is that the writing and art styles are soo different then what we see today and like @CrimsonAvenger said, way too misleading compared to comics today.

#9 Posted by labarith (670 posts) - - Show Bio

A couple of things:

1. I think it's important to note that comic art has improved substantially in the past 60+ years. New art seems like a good idea.

2. I think these could work exceptionally well if they keep the dialgoue (more or less) and script of the originals, just updated to near contemporary.

3. I don't like the idea that these are graphic novels. I think they could do 6 issue minis then graphic novel-ize them easy enough.

4. I hope we don't get changes of history, like making Sue a scientist. But yeah, hearing the professor lust over Jean wouldn't be bad, I think.

#10 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6885 posts) - - Show Bio

Definitely smacks of similarity to DC's "Year One." Clearly seems to be an alternative to Marvel Ultimates. Intent seems uncannily parallel to DC's New 52 with regard to retconning. I'll bank on all three comparisons as being the real intent behind this. Good stuff but seems to be Marvel's way of staying in the sudden acceleration DC has made with its revamp. I am intrigued, however.

#11 Posted by neillius (49 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't understand the comic industry's fetish with the origin story. Its like we get it already. I completely understand that the origin story is a defining moment for that character, but we do not need to constantly revisit it. THe origin tale is just one piece of that character though. So much other shit happens to them, which is arguably more important as all that other shit makes the character say " you know what its still worth getting up in the morning for". reprint the origins and move on, stop telling crap and drivel stories and invest more in great ones.
#12 Posted by MastaKilla (24 posts) - - Show Bio

i think we can all agree that marvel has officially jumped the shark..... instead of coming up with fresh ideas they recycle everything...very hollywoodesque....

#13 Posted by LB70145 (191 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't see what's wrong with that. I mean they have been doing children's books and kids comics based on origins and classic stories as well. I think that this strategy will work in the long run. It will certainly pull people in who want to see the origin but don't want to by the marvel essentials. This option will also pull in current fans (like me) who want to see how the creative teams retell these stories. I don't see what is wrong with reproducing old stories. I mean if anything people will want to know the stories that take place after the origins and they may start getting essentials or masterworks. Or maybe they will just jump right in and start reading from where ever they want and learn on the way.

#14 Posted by Joe Venom (1275 posts) - - Show Bio

isn't this why they have all those Marvel Adventure titles out there?

@Mr. Dead Pool said:

Hold up! This Cyclops looks like one of the Monarchs henchmen!

lolz, yea he does

#15 Edited by MrUnknown (1700 posts) - - Show Bio

The older comics are a bit of an acquired taste. Even if you regularly read comics now chances are you won't actually enjoy reading the old originals. I think this is a good venture unnecessary though it might be to introduce people to the characters and to modernize some origins... kind of like the new DC Universe. Not sure at all about the creative teams but FF looks interesting!

#16 Posted by haydenclaireheroes (8867 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it will be cool to hear our favorite heroes origin stories retold but it does remind me a lot of Dc Year One.

#17 Posted by CATPANEXE (9368 posts) - - Show Bio

They must sell is all I can say. Marvel continually pumps out origins type comics, and right along with this has a line of Avengers Origins stories hitting the shelves (after Fear Itself). I really avoid these like I do Ultimates for the reason that I have enough to read and focus on already, though I have read a few now and then and found nothing wrong with them either.

#18 Posted by Wattup (648 posts) - - Show Bio

I am quite startled Marvel has decided to go this route. I would have thought they'd make a four month EVENT out of this with 6-8 spin-off tie-ins!

#19 Posted by pikahyper (11480 posts) - - Show Bio

Such a stupid idea, these origin stories already saturate society, doesn't matter how young the reader is they know the origin in one form or another; cartoons, movies or video games.

Being an actual graphic novel makes even less sense since the cover price will be at least $15 if not more and kids are not likely to drop that kind of money on something they may or may not already know.

It would have been a good idea if they did this for lesser known characters that could be positive role models like Black Panther, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Darkhawk or any other character that doesn't get much play and instead of a regular graphic novel they should be $6-10 pocket sized digests. The Marvel Age/Marvel Adventures digests are popular for a reason why break away from that.

#20 Posted by kingoftheworld (254 posts) - - Show Bio

Marvel saw that DC made bank on Earth One and decided theyd like a piece of that.

#21 Posted by GundamHeavyarms (701 posts) - - Show Bio
@PrinceIMC: Since Sacasa's writing it, he'll probably make Sue stand out more than the other three.
#22 Posted by hitechlolife (194 posts) - - Show Bio

Ben has blue eyes dammit.

#23 Posted by elayem98 (458 posts) - - Show Bio

i disagree. new readers wont be attracted to 60s dialoge and art. that is more for longtime fans.

also...why would the thing lose a finger when he turned rocky??

#24 Edited by FoxxFireArt (3546 posts) - - Show Bio

I find it annoying when they keep retelling origins, but I think we take it for granted that everyone should already know these stories since they are basically almost etched into our DNA. I have no idea when I first learned the origin of Batman or Superman. Those just now getting into comics most likely don't know these stories.

When I was watching the Giant Bomb TNT for the Uncharted 3 beta. I was shocked that one of the interns at Whiskey Media had never seen Ghostbusters.

The update in art is more than likely trying to appeal to that new audience by the definition of the project. Someone young is not very likely to pick up a comic with art work from the 60's or 70's. We have an appreciation for the retro quality, because we are already into the medium. Much in the same way someone young is more likely to pick up a Harry Potter book before anything from Conan Doyle or Christie.

On the other hand. There is this magical device called the internet. Anyone who's curious enough about something only needs to check Comic Vine or wikipedia (thought they should be checking Comic Vine first).

I would like to draw attention to one point, Sara. There is a culture shock of having someone reading this "Season One" then trying to jump into current events. This is the same problem I have with comic book based movies. They always hope people who get into the movies will look into the comics. It can't help matters when the movies depiction of characters is nothing like what happens in the comic. These movies don't so much of anything to get people into comics. They're more than likely to try looking at the comic and see the things they thought aren't even there. How about more comic based movies where the characters are actually based on the comic rather than a poor adaptation?

Also, how does it help a new audience when these new readers aren't likely to follow comic websites or comic media? You have to advertise it to let people know it's coming. Anyone who is already into comics either already knows these stories or where to find out about them.

I really like Tony's idea of adding some of those comic trailers for events onto movies based on comics. Show them what's happening in the comics as they are ready to watch the movies.

#25 Posted by danhimself (22275 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't understand why anyone would possibly think this is a bad thing....isn't the goal right now to try and get new readers into comics? isn't one of the major complaints that early stories aren't accessible to new readers? doesn't this make it easier for new readers to get into the characters without having to read out of date 60 year old books that they feel they can't relate to? if Marvel can update the origins without changing continuity isn't that a good thing?

#26 Posted by zmanm407 (135 posts) - - Show Bio

@danhimself said:

I don't understand why anyone would possibly think this is a bad thing....isn't the goal right now to try and get new readers into comics? isn't one of the major complaints that early stories aren't accessible to new readers? doesn't this make it easier for new readers to get into the characters without having to read out of date 60 year old books that they feel they can't relate to? if Marvel can update the origins without changing continuity isn't that a good thing?


#27 Posted by SebastianShawShank (28 posts) - - Show Bio

I think this is a very smart move by Marvel. The iconic origin stories of these heros are lost on this generation of comic readers because of the cheeziness of the 40's to 60's verisions. I love classic comics as much as the next guy but they definately dont blow mind like the comics of today (and are a painful read.) Also lets face facts, comics are a whole different medium these days. I am very excited for this.

#28 Posted by mikeclark1982 (424 posts) - - Show Bio

give me a reprint any day of the week. seriously, and is it me or do the logos for these books look a like like the new justice league cover.

#29 Posted by ssejllenrad (12847 posts) - - Show Bio

I think these Season Ones are better than any Year One I've read with the exception of Batman and Man of Steel. But then again, this is premature judgment.

#30 Edited by ArtisticNeedham (2232 posts) - - Show Bio

The Fantastic Four's original origin was about how Reed wanted America to be the first to go to Space. So he stole a rocket and went into space. They were hit by Cosmic Rays because that is what space is made up of... because no one in the comics or in real life had been to space yet at that time. So you could get away with saying that if you went into space you would be hit by cosmic rays and get super powers. It would be like changing it to Reed wanting to go to Mars first.

Marvel Mythos sort of did this anyway. The FF were updated a little, being a team on an orbiting space station that was suddenly hit by cosmic rays.

So I understand why things must be updated from time to time. But the original stuff by Lee, Ditko, and Kirby, are so great. I read them all. Reading the old stuff like that is important, especially if you are working in comics as I am. You have to know where you have been.

I think what Marvel could do is to reprint the original comics, maybe as back up stories to these new ones. Like you get the new FF story and in the back are a few issues from the original.

When I was younger, 4th or 5th grade, my school library had these white hard covered books that collected various comic stories. Like the Spider-Man book had the issue featuring Spider-Man drinking some chemical and waking with extra arms, and the origin of Morbius. Then there was also info and diagrams about his web shooters and his mask and so on. The FF book collected a story featuring the Inhumans and the FF in some glass bubble dome. I don't know what they were called but they did a good job of featuring both new and old stories and advertising the characters.

So I guess what I am getting at is that it is vital for comics to get new readers and appeal to a young demographic (last I heard the average age of comic readers was 30), I think its a bad idea to rewrite and forget the classic comics of the past. Same with the New 52 at DC. They shouldn't forget the classic comics of yester-year.

I think if Marvel, or DC, really wanted to appeal to a younger demographic they should advertise on TV, during cartoon shows. Like DC comics has Cartoon Network and Marvel has Disney XD. When a cartoon show is based on a comic they could even advertise during that show, like the Tick cartoon could have shown tick comic commercials during that show. That, and they need to make comics safe for younger readers again. If Spider-Man features a character getting his head chopped off on a page, with no obscuring it or toning it down, then make that grading Teens only. I have noticed comics go back and forth one month a issue will be T+ and the next issue of that comic will be all ages. But that gets into another matter.

#31 Posted by RainEffect (3240 posts) - - Show Bio

Dennis Hopeless?
What a horrible surname.

#32 Posted by harleyquinn12 (1767 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe if you tried looking at it from a positive angle? These books might make new readers go out and pick up the Essentials of the old stories. Maybe they won't become lifetime fans, but they might pick up a trade now and then, or buy one or two monthly books. And they've got Jamie mcKelvie drawing one of the books. i see nothing wrong with that.

#33 Posted by Tigerstriper (455 posts) - - Show Bio

I will say this, the art on F4 looks great.

#34 Posted by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the originals just fine, but if I'm honest about the way of things, I know that most kids aren't going to give an old comic with what they perceive as "bad art" and dated lingo, a second look. In the end, making both types available from time to time, seems best to me.

#35 Posted by TheBlackHood (291 posts) - - Show Bio

This seems silly to me only because all four of the initial titles they've chosen have all been given the movie treatment with various levels of success. I think that the movies are much more accessible and likely to attract a new audience than simply remaking previous stories. I would rather see re-tellings of the original Defenders, Iron Fist, Tomb of Dracula, or other books that haven't had movies made out of them.

#36 Posted by Jamiracles (351 posts) - - Show Bio

I dont think releasing these new stories can possibly affect the original tellings in anyway particularly because OG readers have endured worse in terms of gimmicks.

Furthermore I dont think this is gimmicky in the least and things like this should be done from time to time. Everything is cyclical especially popculture and given the success of the New 52 revisiting and revising classical origins is fun. Comics have come a long, long way lets take a breather, reorient ourselves and continue.

#37 Posted by Primmaster64 (21138 posts) - - Show Bio

Earth One wanna bes?

#38 Posted by Trodorne (2572 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mr. Dead Pool said:

Hold up! This Cyclops looks like one of the Monarchs henchmen!

His name is not cyclops its henchmen 21

#39 Posted by hulk_beyond (89 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't see this idea as any worse than the New 52 at DC.

#40 Posted by Zomboid (740 posts) - - Show Bio

Honestly I think it's a good idea. New readers and a younger audience aren't really going to go for the dated art style and language used in the classics. They may check those out at some point, but I think this really WILL give a good introduction to some popular characters for the modern generation of young readers. Sure, everyone knows the origin of Spider-man. But if kids are looking to actually get into comics beyond the movies they've seen, they're still gonna want to start at the beginning, that is, the character's origin story. New titles like these will surely be more appealing for them as a youth of the modern age. And even if this doesn't draw in a younger audience, what's wrong with redoing origins every so often? I think it's good for them to be updated and brought up to modern times and expectations. There's already been a couple origins retold for most characters, but what's wrong with another new one? It just gives readers more of a selection when they're looking to check out a new character.

#41 Posted by jordama (4225 posts) - - Show Bio

I cannot stand the older issues so a new version is a lot better in my book. 

#42 Posted by Gambit1024 (9890 posts) - - Show Bio

I honestly am looking forward to this. I love origin stories and their retellings. If Superman can have his origin retold 5 times since the 80's, I think it's ok for these guys to do theirs now.

#43 Posted by Darkmount1 (1269 posts) - - Show Bio

Hang on a second, guys and gals---there's also the fact that times have greatly changed since the original origin stories were printed. Way back in the first issue of Fantastic Four, the foursome went on the space mission so they could beat the Russians there. That was 1961, 51 years later there's no longer a Cold War, so they need to rework the reasons WHY. They did the same thing with Iron Man, but back in the early 2000's. Old origin: Stark is captured by Viet Cong agents--that was 1963. Nowadays (and reflected in the movies), he's captured by Middle Easter terrorists. Like I said, times have greatly changed, sometimes a character's origin needs to be updated to reflect current world sentiments. Probably the only exceptions to the rule are Batman, Spidey, and basically any comic character whose time frame didn't reflect his origin. Batman as a kid saw his parents gunned down before him, but they didn't specify what year it was. I'm thinking with these Season One graphic novels, they'll have a version of the origin that can be universally accepted and not confined to a specific time period. There's no changing the fact that the old FF origin took place during the Cold War--it's plainly there in those first few pages.
#44 Posted by Darkmount1 (1269 posts) - - Show Bio
My sentiments exactly. Information is power.
#45 Posted by Maki_P (275 posts) - - Show Bio

This is just nostalgia, harmless nostalgia, unlike certain other things (yeah I'm looking at you One More Day) it's not about new readers, it's about old readers! And that's not necessarily a bad thing, I just read Avengers: The Origin, which is a retelling of the first issue of Avengers from way back in 60s (I'm still amazed by how they managed to expand 1 issue into a 5-issue Miniseries), and it's actually kinda funny since it's the same thing, but different.

Now I'm not saying retelling everybody's origins is the way to go, just that it doesn't have to be so bad

#46 Posted by SC (12691 posts) - - Show Bio

The only problem with this criticism is enough comic fans love the idea enough to make it work financially, and enough non comic fans will buffer up those sales. Maybe only if temporarily, but similar premise exists with all superhero movies. Now hands up all those who have seen a superhero movie that was basically origins of character or character doing something you already know story wise they have done before? Exactly. Only novelty is the medium, well funnily enough, the new Season One GN's will have similar novelties. Considering I am not set to lose millions of dollars on being wrong? I tend to sway my own criticism over such business decisions, whilst eternally chanting criticism as far as how business effects creativity and long term sales. 

#47 Posted by Cafeterialoca (1502 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the best part about these are that it gives a new format for comics.  I hope they sell so this format can continue.

#48 Posted by Meteorite (3351 posts) - - Show Bio

I can see where they're coming from, the 60's stories are a bit dated. This is a good idea, and they're just trying to draw in more readers. 
Plus, I love that costume of Cyclops!

#49 Posted by Deadcool (6809 posts) - - Show Bio

@Mr. Dead Pool said:

Hold up! This Cyclops looks like one of the Monarchs henchmen!

DAMN!!! You are right!!

#50 Edited by MysterioMaximus (931 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sure I'll get some trash talk for this...but I really have to say, this article I found very poorly done. These stories are no longer relevant to modern Marvel? These stories MADE modern Marvel. Origin stories are the road that began everything. They're the crux of every single character, why they do what they do, why they continue to do what they have done for decades up until present day to even future. If Uncle Ben never died...Spider-Man wouldn't be doing whatever it is he's doing today. If Daredevil's father was never murdered, would he ever have become the superhero that battles Bullseye and Kingpin? These stories, above all else, are what need retold THE MOST. Because they literally are the characters motivation. Why they exist! They are the vitality of the caricature. The problem is datedness. For as charming and quirky as the original origin stories are, they're very ...campy. Lovably so, but I have no problem with them modernizing things so long as the bare bones script is unaltered.

Because you don't like classic stories doesn't make them irrelevant. Not to mention...Google Marvel Masterworks. Classic stories are regularly reprinted.

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