Friday, July 6, 2007

Shipping & Handling

In the latest edition of The X-Axis, Paul O'Brien makes a number of good points on Marvel Comics' current publishing strategies:

o The scheduling of the publisher's X-Men line leaves a lot to be desired. In the week of June 20, there was one new X-book, X-Men: Endangered Species #1. A week later, there were seven, with a crossover between Cable & Deadpool #42 and the major issue X-Men #200, the event tie-in World War Hulk: X-Men #1, as well as Ultimate X-Men #83, Wolverine: Origins #15, X-Factor #20 and X-Men: First Class #1.

This week, they were down to one again, Uncanny X-Men #488. And for July 11, four are on the schedule so far, with Exiles #96, New Excalibur #21, Ultimate X-Men #84 and X-Factor #21. Lord knows why they chose such a heavily crowded week to launch the new X-Men: First Class title - I don't imagine it's very helpful, at any rate. Obviously, there's some work to be done here.

o Speaking of the crossover between Cable & Deadpool and X-Men, O'Brien notes that Marvel, quite puzzlingly, didn't bother to advertise the fact anywhere. To be fair, the crossover made sense in the context of the story here, but those things are usually done to increase sales - and that won't happen if you don't let people know about them. Given Cable & Deadpool sales, the book could certainly have used the boost. But there you go.

o Speaking of World War Hulk: X-Men, O'Brien isn't convinced that the title's set-up is a particularly strong one.
The basic premise of World War Hulk is that the Illuminati - Mr Fantastic, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Dr Strange - fired the Hulk into space in an attempt to get rid of him. Now he's back, and he's very angry.

So why, you may ask, is the Hulk fighting the X-Men? Ah well, it's because Professor X is also a member of the Illuminati. He was missing at the time, and he had nothing to do with firing the Hulk into space. But he's still a member of the Illuminati and, as one speech balloon right near the end helpfully clarifies, the Hulk somehow extracted this information from Black Bolt. Presumably through the medium of charades. [Note: Black Bolt is a character who's effectively mute. --Marc-Oliver]

Having learned this, the Hulk has come to confront Professor X and find out whether he would have supported the whole "firing the Hulk into space" plan.

No, really, that's the concept. The Hulk has come to find out what Professor X would have done if he'd been in a story that he wasn't in. That's the big idea of this whole miniseries. Lame, isn't it?
O'Brien concludes that the book, though decently executed, is an exercise in pointlessness that dilutes both the X-Men brand and World War Hulk proper. It's hard to disagree.

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