Monday, December 26, 2011

The end, but probably not.

By this point, I've written a ton of "The End" posts, and still have next to the computer a medium-sized pile of last issues I could do. But, when I looked through a longbox and found four 'last' issues--almost five, I was missing one--for two series that were currently running; it struck me how many of these books were what I call "Marvel-cancelled." That is, cancelled only to be relaunched with a new number one, usually in short order, to cash in on the sales bump a first issue gets seemingly no matter what.

It's not like no one else does that, but Marvel had the most egregious example with Heroes Reborn/Heroes Return: long-running books like Avengers and Fantastic Four were cancelled so Liefeld and Lee could reboot with new number ones. Reborn petered out with #13, the heroes returned to the Marvel Universe proper for another #1, barely a year later.

And, y'know what? That's fine...aside from the aneurysms it gives the more organized collectors when they have six number ones and a return to the old numbering on a single title. It's just marketing. Personally, early on I was more conditioned to be excited or pick up a book for an arbitrary special 'anniversary' issue--"Wow, issue #25!"--than for an arbitrary 'first' issue. And it's not like anyone reasonably expects a lot of closure for Captain America's 'last' issue: it's just the last one until the next one.

But reviewing some of these posts, I became a little alarmed how many of them were relaunched. Granted, some like Blue Beetle or Manhunter feature completely different characters, but the old ones are often still in play as well. Then I got to thinking about how many times titles like Hawkman or Alpha Flight or Doom Patrol have been cancelled and relaunched and cancelled...even setting aside how much I personally like some of these low-selling characters, after the fourth or fifth try it might be time to give up.

I love the Creeper, but I know there's just no way the market is going to support a solo book for him. Will that stop him from getting a new one, or at least another limited series? No, of course not. Should Marvel and DC (and everyone else, I suppose) stop putting resources into vainglorious attempts to turn Claw the Unconquered or the Defenders into a successful comic, and start trying to find something new? Probably. (Defenders should be a lock, a sure thing; yet it's been cancelled two or three times...)

By the way, that longbox I was looking at, that started this train of thought, had Deadpool #69, Cable & Deadpool #50, Iron Man #332, Iron Man #88/433 (the second-to-last of that series) and Xombi #21. Admittedly, my filing system makes no goddamn sense on any level. Deadpool and Iron Man are of course still going; and even Xombi got a second chance this year. 'Last issue' rarely means "the end," they'll be back again someday. Probably.

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