This started out as a comment in response to the Civil War Machine Derailed post and accompanying web-based criticism of Marvel’s decision to delay Civil War due to shipping concerns.
Regarding all the uproar, I couldn’t disagree more.
There seem to be two prongs to this argument – a case made on behalf of the shareholders, and a case made on behalf of the fans.
Marvel is indeed throwing away short term sales, that’s true. But this commitment to the story as a whole – and not as a sum of monthly parts – is a wise move that will pay off in the future. Marvel sees the obvious writing in huge block letters on the wall – that the real money is made in trade format on the bookshelves. And while I can’t really imagine a scenario in which someone will refuse to buy the Civil War TPB because of a fill-in artist (unless it’s Brandon Peterson, and that person would be me), it shows that Marvel is approaching these arcs as independent entities that need to be presented as such.
Marvel is continuing to change the paradigm of what an arc is, and that’s where the long-term advantages for both the shareholders and the readers overlap. The transition has been happening for a while, with storylines being constructed for easy reprintability, but there were still things like dangling plotlines and fill-in artists forcefully reminding you that you were reading a fragmented serial and not a story to be appreciated on its own.
I have an anecdote to back up how a lack of this approach failed them in the past. I loaned a friend my copy of a Daredevil TPB, in which the first six issues or so were done by the brilliant Alex Maleev, and then the last two or three were done by a fill-in artist. This turned my friend off, pulling him out of the story, and he wasn’t interested in any more.
It’s fair to argue that might be an extreme reaction or something along those lines. Fine. But you wouldn’t enjoy a movie where they change the actors midstream. Loyal followers of soap operas bemoan the substitution of actors. Abrupt halts take you out of a story. And Marvel is showing consumers and shareholders that they are treating their stories differently than they have in the past.
I completely agree with Tom Brevoort’s rationale on the whole thing. They have a market plan, and they’re sticking to it, in spite of short term losses. For that commitment to a vision, and refusal to dismiss that vision in a moment of panic, I have more faith in Marvel than I have in some time.
It’s very easy to put together a wet-dream list of fanboy favorites to put in place of McNiven. But McNiven is not some sort of anomaly in his inability to put together an epic on a monthly basis with no lead-in time. So when you’re pulling someone off the bench, you get the people who aren’t working. And so you get crap.
And Jean-Claude, in your comment from the previous post that people weren’t talking about the art from IC 7, I present the following conversation:
Jean-Claude Van Doom: My biggest gripe: what the heck was with the art? I’m not sure if it’s that I don’t like Jimenez and Perez, or if they were just too rushed (even though it ran way late), or if they had to cram too much into too small of a space, but it just seemed really weak in spots. The Superman & Superman vs. Superboy fight had no grandeur. The final splash page was such a boring superhero collage that I didn’t bother looking at it for more than a few seconds.
Fin Fang Doom: The art was definitely rushed throughout the entire series. Phil Jiminez was apparently just not the right choice to keep this book on schedule. Besides Mark Bagley, I can’t think of any comic artist that has been able to churn out 32 or more pages of high-quality art per month for six or seven months.
Jim Doom: the art suffered because they had to bring in a lot of extra inkers. It’s too bad some of them are as bad as they are, because some of those pages really did lose their impact. Notice the pencils left in the first huge battle splash page? That’s unique to this issue. It worked because of the distance, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the first choice on how to present that page.
Doom DeLuise: Like when Superman was leading the charge, and he said something like, “You want to destroy our universe? Y’know what I say to that?” and then the next page is supposed to be this intimidating splash page where he’s saying, “Like hell,” except that it looked like SHIT. Yeah, that’s a bummer, but the line was still cool, so it was cool with me, kind of.