The week Frank Miller finished illustrating death of Elektra, he went to a convention where fans were rejoicing Elektra's victory over an army of ninjas. Two months later, Elektra would die in Matt Murdock's arms, and it would become one of the most iconic moments in comics history. Aside from the masterful pacing, artwork, writing, and lack of racist undertones that created it, there was one more defining attribute that launched this moment into the emotional infamy. Surprise. Fans were not expecting the death of Elektra. Why would they? Bullseye could be easily defeated by such a master assassin as Elektra. There were no indicators that her death was coming.
Surprise has been lost in the Marvel universe. Readers have an idea of what will happen three months from now as several story lines for various books have been announced. As I said last week, there is little to be excited about. Next month, Secret Wars will end (sort of), and we know exactly who lives and the awful alternative versions of characters that will be shoved down our throats. I expect this fact to wear on fans very soon.
There is something else I've mentioned here that will surely drain Marvel, and ironically it is the thing that many, myself included, have been asking for. Diversity. All New, All Different Marvel is rolling out alternate versions of your favorite characters. These characters are meant to make the Marvel Universe more diverse, and they do... kind of.
Marvel answered the call for diversity, but it was done half-heartedly. Those who cried loudest for it took offense at shortcomings such as Hercules' sudden heterosexuality and the hiring of Nathan Edmondson (who has been called both the worst person on the face of the earth and a nice guy persecuted for his conservative beliefs) to write Red Wolf. This is unfortunate for Marvel, because now they have lost their target and are going to lose those who didn't want to see change in the first place. It is not that those who are displeased with Marvel's diversity efforts are wrong either. It is apparent that many of the changes are purely superficial attempts to cash in, and fans are beginning to recognize this thanks to the aforementioned missteps, along with the fact that diversity is still quite lacking when it comes to who Marvel hires to make their comics.
This disregard for reader concerns surpasses editorial decisions and leaps into the editorial staffs' behavior as well. On numerous occasions, at the cries of fans for answers and action, Axel Alonso has shrugged his shoulders at fans' concerns, assuming he even acknowledges them at all. Meanwhile, Tom Brevoort continues to belittle fans who ask well intended questions on his Tumblr. Also, some writers are overstepping boundaries. Dan Slott has often been found harassing Spider-fans who have said they dislike his books on social media. This has led some fans to find creative ways to not say his name so that they could publicly express their opinion in peace. Other have chosen to just not speak at all because they don't want to deal with him. This crappy treatment has been costing Marvel significantly and will only continue.
Marvel will soon plummet for these reasons and many others, but not next month. No. Next month, Marvel will have record sales and will begin to brag. I concede this because Marvel is great at selling issue #1. The problem is issue #2, and they know this. That is why Marvel announced their "bold new strategy" to promote the second issues of their series.
In my LCS this week I heard a man place orders specifically for the first issues of Marvel books, but only for the first issues. When I asked him why only issue one he said that the book has to prove itself to him. I expect a lot of readers will hold that sentiment, and I also expect a lot of these books to fail. The best creators are leaving Marvel, and those who come in will likely leave when they see the editorial mandates that seem to be abundant. Stories are unoriginal, forced, or just uninteresting.
Marvel is the ship that not even God could sink. It this Titanic is only peaking because it is sinking nose first. I hope I am wrong. I hope all 60 books drop and are excellent stories with immaculate art, but I don't see that happening. Marvel is about to take big financial hits.