Big change up this week in Comics Disassembled, as the ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics get a rare bonus eleventh point! That’s right! This one goes to 11! Let’s get to it, as we start with a shoe that we’ve been waiting to drop for a long, long time.
1. Marvel Comics, Disappearing
This isn’t giant news, so it’s sort of an atypical bit to lead off the column, but it is answering a long-standing question: what the heck is going on with a whole swath of Marvel comics that were put on pause at the beginning of the pandemic? While some have resolved themselves, ranging from Children of the Atom to Runaways and Black Panther, not all of them had. Now, at least a quartet have resolution, as the Morbius ongoing series concludes with its already released fifth issue (I THINK) and three minis just end altogether.
The most surprising? Marvel’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker adaptation, which ends before it ever began. Now, there’s a number of reasons that makes sense. Releasing a Rise of Skywalker comic now, almost a year after the film’s release, wouldn’t really fit. The movie itself was…let’s say…mixed in its reception. And, you know, it would just be random? But at the same time, it is a Star Wars comic, and those sort of always move, seemingly. I wonder if this one came from the Star Wars side of the world directly, because I can’t imagine Marvel wouldn’t have been interested in squeezing one more Star Wars title in the mix.
I honestly cannot recall other titles we’ve heard nothing about to date from Marvel’s pandemic hiatus. I’m pretty sure The Punisher vs. Barracuda is on a looooong pause, but it’s evergreen so it could be seen again. I have to imagine everything else that hasn’t been revealed as departing or returning is likely the former, but maybe we’ll see. What a weird year.
2. Diamond Numbers, Dropping
The October 2020 numbers for Diamond dropped this week, right after December hit, continuing the relative slowdown for publication of these numbers. While these charts are still not a little wonky feeling, I did want to note one thing that stood out to me from them, and that’s the Swords of it all. I’m not saying this is a bad thing or something worth being alarmed about, but these numbers do make me wonder how softly retailers ordered X of Swords, the recently concluded X-Men crossover.
There would be a lot of non-qualitative reasons, with the top one being that Marvel is one of the few houses not offering returnability in this weird time. But there are a lot of curious results here that makes me wonder if the size of the crossover resulted in shops playing it safer than we normally would expect. The top seller, X-Men, finishing sixth, albeit behind some obvious winners in the en fuego Donny Cates duo of Venom and Thor, the resurgent Spawn, and a big anniversary issue of Amazing Spider-Man its follow up. The big pillar issue of X of Swords: Stasis not showing up until ninth, finishing behind Spider-Woman of all titles. And most perplexingly, the eight chapter – Cable #5 – not showing up until #36.
None of those titles are necessarily individually concerning. But the gap 30 spot gap between X-Men and Cable is perplexing for a 22 chapter event, and when you factor in DC’s releases, I’d wager every entry drops out of the top 10 and Cable likely falls out of the top 50. Having such a massive gap chapter to chapter has to result in a tough spot for readers, unless there was less interest there than I expected as well. That kind of thing is bizarre to me, as those gaps make it feel like a self-fulfilling prophecy that interest will wane as readers can’t get each chapter, although I say that as someone who does not have the absurdly difficult job of trying to determine the right amount of X of Swords to order.
Again, I’m not saying this is a big deal. I don’t have a lot of confidence in any of this data meaning anything given the craziness of the year, and orders do not always match heat. But I will say this: it’s strange.