Thursday, August 26, 2004

The End of "New Marvel"

With the publication this week of the final issue of X-Statix, the oft-called New Era of Marvel (or, derisively, 'Nu-Marvel') comes to a close. This was the era heralded by Jemas and Quesada's balls-up management and editorial style, which often failed (and infuriated) but also brought some great work as well. It was an 'anything goes' era, where Marvel was willing to try just about anything creatively in order to stave off final bankruptcy. With little to lose and everything to gain, they brought us Peter Bagge & Paul Pope doing Spider-Man stories, Milligan & Allred subverting X-Force for all it was worth, and entrusting the X-Men franchise to the guidance of Grant Morrison. It was a time when you didn't really know what to expect from a Marvel comic.

Sure, today there are still a few remnants of that era left--most notably the Ultimate line--but the time of trying and experimenting is gone. With millions to be made from movies and the like, Marvel is now a safe company again, back in the black and at the top of the market (at least the comic book direct sales market). In many ways, it's like the last 5-10 years haven't happened: dozens of X-Men & Spider-Man books flood the stands, Peter David doing Hulk & Madrox, Rob Liefeld on X-Force, and the Avengers once again facing 'their biggest threat ever.' Not that any of this is necessarily bad or good (your tastes may vary), but it's doubtful we'll be seeing any projects announcements from Marvel that are surprising anytime soon. Seriously, can you imagine today's Marvel releasing anything resembling Morrison & Quitely's excellent We3 today? (Remember--not too long ago these same guys were doing The X-Men.)

So rest in peace New Marvel. It was a ride while it lasted.

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