Is “Ragnarok” Coming for Marvel Comics Publishing Division?

This is just speculation for now, but as Cosmic Book News recently reported, there are people wondering if Disney will close Marvel’s publishing arm in the forseeable future, because sales receipts everywhere really are that dismal, and specialty stores have been closing at significant rates:

The comic book industry is presently said to be in a state of collapse, and following the recent news of troubles within DC Comics, now it is being speculated Disney may actually be considering shutting down Marvel Comics.

Speculation about problems within Marvel Comics comes from a press release issued by the company where Marvel Comics Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and Editor-In-Chief C.B. Cebulski are attending the upcoming SXSW where the pair will be hosting a panel and putting it forth how Marvel Comics is responsible for the success in other markets, such as film, TV, video games and merchandise.

All except their own original print offerings, of course. And this panel’s being attended by at least one company manager who’s today viewed as anathema in fandom circles, Quesada, because, lest we forget, he was the one who brought Marvel down to the rock bottom levels even before Axel Alonso did, and Cebulski’s clearly no improvement.

Bleeding Cool actually puts it forth the reason Quesada and Cebulski are doing the panel is, in essence, to save Marvel Comics, as sales have been dwindling for years and they need to convince Disney that publishing Marvel comic books – even though they are losing money – is still a good idea because it is the inspiration for markets that do make money, such as Kevin Feige’s insanely popular MCU.

As it so happens, there’s all sorts of products no longer officially in publication or manufactured that serve as inspiration for markets, like sci-fi novels, so what they’re arguing isn’t necessary. It’s not like screenwriters need to base their ideas directly on something still in publication in order to produce a movie with entertainment value. Something that may soon change, if the Captain Marvel movie is any suggestion. In the post-Stan Lee environment, it does look like things are changing for the worse (plus, they no longer have him around to promote their films and other extended merchandise). And a lot of the stories we’ve seen produced in past years, including – but not limited to – company wide crossovers, seem to be written specially to give screenwriters material they can build off of, which is ludicrous, mainly because the source material itself is very poor, no matter the movies’ merits.

Also of interest is this transcript of retailer Brian Hibbs’ speech at a Comics Pro panel, where he says, among other things, that:

National sales are very poor – there are comics in the national top 100 that aren’t even selling twenty thousand copies. A significant number of stores have closed — perhaps as many as 10% of outlets.

And adding to the problem is that a lot of publishers are wasting tons of money on variant covers, instead of promoting their items based on story merit. Blatant leftist politics don’t help either. There’s also Marvel’s upcoming crossover called War of the Realms, which is unlikely to improve the situation, as the audience is clearly burned on company wide crossovers too. As I figured, they were unlikely to abandon crossovers for long, and if this is any sign, they’re now boomeranging back on something that’s brought them down in the long run, ever since 1984’s Secret Wars.

And why exactly aren’t the people most guilty of bringing down comicdom held responsible, and asked to resign? Quesada and Dan DiDio are both disliked figures, a negative influence upon their products currently holding positions that enable them to do damage while remaining out of the direct picture. If they’re not called out, it’s no wonder Marvel could be on the way out, and DC not far behind.

So it’s clear “Ragnarok” is coming for comicdom sooner or later, but unclear if anybody responsible for precipitating the demise of the industry will be held accountable. Yet for the Big Two, after all the bad steps they took in nearly 2 decades, shutting them down would do everyone a favor, mainly because then, they’d no longer be publishing so many awful storylines as part of an incoherent continuity.

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Originally published here
Follow Avi Green on Twitter @AviGreen1

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1