How not to – by Marvel Comics

Death of Spider-man

I read that Marvel will be making the Ultimate Universe’s new Death of Spider-Man storyline available on line at the same time the comics hit the streets. This “day and date” delivery will be via the Marvel Comics app through iTunes.

Marvel, like all the other publishers, is trying to figure out how to successfully deliver their products through apps and downloads. With this move Marvel is basically trying to give a massive push to their delivery of comics via download plans. They are upping the quality of selection ante by adding such a highly publicized event into their “day and date’ selection.

Ultimate Spider-Man was launched back in 2000 and it boasted an excellent creative team (writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley) that collaborated for ten years. Nothing grows a customer base in comics like the delivery of a high quality product in a timely and consistent manner over a very long period of time.

It seems, to me anyway, that Marvel is going about this “let’s use Death of Spider-Man to boost our downloads” business the wrong way. They are sacrificing their star right from the get go. This may bring press, this may bring extra downloads but then what. You’ve just killed off the reason people want to download. Sure, nobody in comics stays dead long and perhaps Spider-Man Reborn will also be “day and date” but if the goal is to build a new customer base of readers shouldn’t you be doing it via the quality and consistency that enabled the whole Ultimate Universe to flourish in the first place.

Marvel recently announced that the Ultimate Spider-Man volume 1: Power and Responsibility graphic novel has surpassed the 1 million copies sold mark. Power and Responsibility?

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Do people actually still fall for “death” story lines? Apparently Marvel think so and if sales of “Death of Captain America” is any indication, people still do. “Death of Captain America” was also hyped and retailers were told that they weren’t printing any more then the initial order. I remember some people paid up to $250 on eBay to snag themselves a 1st print for a book that was released the week before… But then it turned out Marvel printed extra skids that were just sitting on the floor (in anticipation of the demand) which technically was still 1st print but just wasn’t bound yet. Next thing you know, the market gets flooded with a new batch of “Death of Captain America’s” and he’s brought back from the dead soon after. Today, those same $250 books can be found in $1 bins at stores like BMV.

    Based on patterns and history, the take away is this:
    • Marvel will screw it’s fan base in order to increase sales.
    • Major characters don’t stay dead for long.
    • Bendis is capable of good writing but he’s just a man with his eyes set on the next pay check.

    Conclusion: Buy the book, not the hype.

  2. I agree with Charlie, readers who constantly and consistently read comics from both DC and Marvel don’t care about ‘death of’ stories anymore at all. Every time someone brings up a death of storyline it’s with an eye roll and a head shake. The only death in the past 3 years I’ve seen that’s had ANY impact on readers was that of Nightcrawler and it wasn’t an ‘event.’ It just happened.

    Marvel is a whole guide of ‘what not to do’ though, so I don’t expect too much from them.

  3. The frustrating part about this whole thing is that Marvel is hoping to attract new customers, perhaps customers that have never stepped into a comic book store and maybe even never read a comic. We longtime readers of comic books are totally jaded by all the “Death” issues but this will potentially be many people’s first foray into comic books. Some shmuck with a iPad and some time to kill may sample some of these comics and Marvel is assaulting them with gimmicks.

  4. Speaking of death stories, any comments on yesterdays release of FF#587. The sealed poly bags, a sudden shortage of first prints… It all feels so familiar, and yet it still seems to work. The only reason I was able to snag a copy was cause I had the day off and was at the local store earlier than usual.

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